Father, thank You for saving me from a life of sin to a life that can truly please You. Help me reflect Your greatness in all of my relationships—as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, neighbor, church member, and employee. Give us strength to stand firm against the onslaughts of those who are Your enemies. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Ephesians 5-6
Ephesians 5:1–16 A new way of life, or in Paul’s language, a new “walk,” had replaced the Ephesians’ old walk of disobedience (2:1–3). The Ephesians used to live in opposition to God, but now, as followers of Jesus, they are called to walk in a way that conforms to God.
In other words, churches should reflect God’s character. As He loved them in Christ, so should believers love one another (5:1–2). As Jesus is light, so the church should be an instrument of light in a dark world (5:8–9). The distinction between the church and the world must be kept crisp and clear. This translates into pure ways of relating and talking to one another (5:3–7). Discernment and diligence will be needed as the church navigates the path that is “good and right and true” (5:8–16).
Ephesians 5:17–6:9 Time is precious, Paul wrote, so the Ephesians shouldn’t waste time in drunkenness. The church must give itself to understanding the will of the Lord and “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” with thanksgiving in each individual’s heart (5:17–20). The Spirit saturates the church’s time together in these spiritual songs and produces a way of relating to one another that seems foreign in this world. Instead of domineering over one another, the Ephesians should submit to each other out of reverence for Christ as Lord.
RAISE THEM IN HIS IMAGE, NOT YOURS
Watch Melissa Kruger, Jen Wilkin, and Kristie Anyabwile discuss paradigm-shifting moments in their experience as moms. (6:37 min)
By Thabiti Anyabwile. Copyright © 2016 The Gospel Coalition, Inc. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org. Used by permission
This submission takes shape in three particular relationships: wives to husbands (5:22–33), children to parents (6:1–4), and employees to employers (6:5–8). Marriage, family, and work become avenues to display our reverence for Christ. Those in authority don’t abuse their authority but lead as Christ did, putting others’ interests before their own. Husbands serve their wives sacrificially (5:23–28), fathers nurture (6:4), and bosses don’t enforce their authority but engender it through humble leadership (6:9).
When we submit to God’s design and seek to serve in our leadership roles, we give the world a glimpse of how good submission to Christ is. Paul spends time unpacking the marriage relationship more thoroughly because it specially illustrates God’s activity in the mystery of two becoming one (5:31–32).
Ephesians 6:10–24 Paul begins his conclusion with the word “finally” in 6:10. Our war isn’t over, and the church finds itself in the middle of a struggle “not with flesh and blood” but cosmic forces of evil in the heavenly places (6:12). By being “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” and taking “up the full armor of God,” Christians will be able to stand against the devil’s scheming (6:10, 11, 13, 14).
This armor imagery originated in the Old Testament; it includes images of how the Messiah will be clothed in God’s armor and emerge victorious from battle. Taking up His armor, the church is assured of victory because He has already won (1:20–23). In Him, the church is strong and will triumph. Christians, therefore, take up this armor prayerfully (6:18) and in faith as they claim God’s promises, which are theirs in Christ (6:16).
Because the evil one is losing ground, Paul encouraged the church to pray for the “troops” on the front line. Like Paul, these troops are taking the “mystery of the gospel” to places and people who hadn’t heard yet it. The Ephesians should pray for these servants’ boldness and clarity as they proclaim the good news. After all, as Paul wrote, Christian workers are messengers of peace during this war.
The line between the church and the world must be kept clear, which is why Christ created a new way of relating to one another in love and submission. As we are conformed to God’s character, we will look increasingly odd to a world at war. Though the church still faces opposition, we can be confident she will emerge victorious, as believers depend on the strength God supplies.
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Conformity to the world both blurs the line between the church and the world and dilutes the potency of our witness to Christ through the church. Are there ways we need to repent of impurity in speech or practice? Turning from these sins may require us to seek help from others in the church. Whose help do you need? Who can you help? Do you need a resource like Covenant Eyes to help you stay pure?
- Where can you seek to be more submissive in your daily life? If you’re in a leadership role, how can you bless those who have been entrusted to your care?
- Do you know anyone who is on the frontier of gospel ministry? How can you pray for them? What people group has God placed on your heart? If there isn’t one, talk to your church leaders and begin praying!
- To stand against the devil, we need to take up the armor of God. What promises are you actively relying on to enable your stand against the devil’s schemes? What promise can you encourage someone else with today to help them be strong in the Lord?
- Ask two people close to you if they see ways your life is conforming to the world and is not in line with God’s Word. Ask them for help and prayer.
- Plan a time with your community group leader, pastor, or someone who knows you well to seek their evaluation of your gifts. Let them know ahead of time so they can prayerfully prepare. [Being a Disciple, Local Church]