BY GUY CYGNOR
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. We are told to be imitators of God as His children. Likewise, we should see fruits evident in our lives that imitate God (fruits of the Spirit) one of them being love. We have ‘heard about Him and were taught in Him as the truth is in Jesus.’ (Ch 4:21) Therefore in verse 22 in Ephesians ch 4 it says since we have trusted in Him and have been forgiven, saved from eternal damnation, to ‘put off the old self, which belongs to a former manner through deceitful desires’. This putting off the old self in the original Greek refers to a one time deal in the past. At that point of salvation the old self was put off, which belongs to a former manner of living in which we were in bondage to our deceitful desires. In Ephesians Ch 2 it says we ‘carried out the desires of the body and mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind’ (vs 23). The idea of the word ‘desires’ in the original Greek involves seeking something with great diligence. We sought out sin at one time with great diligence.
Therefore, we come to verse 23 in Ch 4 where it says after stating who we once were ” to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self,created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”Since we have been saved we are no longer in bondage to sin for ‘We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin, might be bought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6) We are a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we have had a spiritual rebirth (John 3), and have been regenerated (Titus 3:5). We no longer set our minds on things of the flesh (rom 8:5), that is, having our mind which involves our thought processes, will, emotions, and essentially our whole disposition set towards sin. We’ve been made a new creation therefore we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. We are being sanctified in our thought processes which will inevitably show in our speech and actions. We set our minds on whatever is true, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil 4:8). This should impact us as we ‘put on our new selves’ which is the continuing process of progressive sanctification. To set our minds on these things should impact our actions towards others.
A way we imitate Christ is to imitate Him in His love. We are told to ‘walk in love’, that is in our daily living should be a consistent outflow of love. This love towards others is manifested in different ways in Ephesians ch 4 such as ‘speaking the truth with your neighbor’ (vs 25) not stealing but sharing (vs28), talk that builds up (vs 29) and to put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander along with all malice (vs 29). Christ loved us in an Agape sense; that which is not done because of personal desirability but because of the content of His character. He loved us and gave Himself up for us. “God shows His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). He loved us even though we were enemies and He reconciled us through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10). Likewise we are to imitate Him in His love in that self sacrificial way “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”. (Eph 4:21) His love is a submissive love. As Christians we exhibit this submissive love, submitting to one another and forsaking self to spur one another on in Godliness. This is a servant’s love.
Then out of this mutual submission towards one another it branches off on how that submissive attitude should be carried over into the marriage relationship when He says, ‘wives submit to your own husbands, as to The Lord.’ Authority is delegated in all human institutions for a specific purpose. Without authority chaos is bred. Without government crime is rampant for nobody to enforce the law. Romans ch 13:4 says” For he (government officials) is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out wrath on the wrongdoer.” Without shepherds, teachers, and pastors in the church congregations are left in spiritual disarray. The Word of God is not being preached, the saints are not being equipped for the work of ministry (eph 4:12), the body isn’t being built up, their is no unity, the knowledge of the Son of God is lacking, we are not becoming mature, and may very well be deceived by every wind of doctrine (v14). Authority is essential for human institution. Without authority their is anarchy.
Each wife should submit to their husband as to The Lord. (22) For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself it’s Savior. (23) The relationship between husband and wife is a picture of Christ in the Church. Christ being the head ( eph 5:15;1:22) is whom the Church is submissive to. When a Christian in the Body of Christ is submitting to Christ’s authority and the people to whom He delegated authority, attaining knowledge of the Son of God and understanding sound doctrine and when a Christian is submitting to The Lord in all areas and aspects of His life he will ‘grow up into every way into Him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph 4:15)
Then in verse 24 it says “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives submit in everything to their husbands.” Much like the way Christians submit to God in all things (or should be), and we submit to the government in all things (besides evil works, obviously); so the wife should submit to the husband in all things even when he is not doing his job as a husband. This submission and holy attitude will set an example for the husband, convicting him and hopefully driving him to repentance. Also when a wife lives a holy and godly life, upright and blameless it can bring the unsaved spouse to salvation without even without a word. 1 peter 3:7 says “Likewise, wives be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
I’ve been reading this book called Same Sex Attraction in The Church by a man named Ed Shaw. He addresses many issues but one of them is that ‘men and women are equal and interchangeable.’ Yes, men and women are equal but they are definitely not interchangeable. This has posed problems across a spectrum of issues regarding sexuality (I.e, gender fluidity, homosexuality; all valid reasons to speak concisely about it) in the church but it has posed a big problem in regards to the submission issue in this passage. Well yes, there should be equal rights for women and men (right to vote, fair wages, etc.), God created men and women for two very unique and special purposes in which they are able to glorify Him. We see that delineation in Scripture already in Genesis 1:27 in which God states ” so God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created males and females for specific purposes each unique to glorify him. If that is not clear enough through this passage, it is revealed enough just through nature itself in which we see many distinctions between men and women just in their physical bodies and their character attributes. This is not an uncommon issue either, nor is it the only issue in marriage, nor is it the only thing that a wife is called to do, yet I believe that it is stressed in this particular passage because it is an issue in which the wife commonly wants to have authority in the household. We see this dilemma even in Genesis when it says in 3:4 “Your desire shall be be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The wife’s desire will be to rule over her husband but God ordained it that the husband should be the leader. We need to have a better understanding that yes, we are created equal and the wife deserves to be treated with respect and honor, but the ” the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, his body”.
Furthermore, this idea of interchangeability causes problems in other areas of marriage like in what the husband and wife should be doing.The wife’s primary responsibility is to be in the home. The culture has elevated the successful, independent, career-oriented women to something that is revered and honored in our culture while the woman who stays home, cares for her husband and children, provides for the needs of her family, instills good morals, teaches and applies the Word of God to her and her children’s life as something less than vitally important to the success and strength of the family unit and is frowned upon. While this is being frowned upon the primary providers for the family become secular day care workers 5 days a week and don’t teach the Word of God, don’t have the unique bond a mother has with her children, and may not be as attentive as to the children’s individual needs as that of their mother. The parent- child relationship becomes weaker because proper time has not been put into it causing a ripple effect through many of the practical issues of child rearing. A child who has not been around his or her family may feel abandoned, or at least neglected, causing the child to act out in disobedience in a “Why should I listen to you anyways? You are never around” type of attitude. Teaching children to honor your father and mother and other authorities also is not being done and may possibly cause the child to get into trouble in their later years. The Church has done well in going along with the flow of culture in this area, downplaying this important role in the household to something less than essential, as demeaning, and as something not worthy of praise and honor from the husbands eyes as well as society.
This idea of interchangeability has bred the idea that a woman is not equal with her partner, unless she herself has a career outside the home. This has changed the practicality of one fleshedness in the marriage relationship which involves each spouse loving one another self sacrificially and caring for one another to an independence from each spouse. It has changed it to a cohabitation of people in the same household that do not receive the benefits of this God given spiritual union in which the blessings of a healthy and happy Christian marriage is made when each person is obedient to The Lord in what the Scriptures say each person should do. The wife’s job in the household should be elevated within Christian circles to that of a career and the understanding that she is working just as hard as the man. The long days and hours of caring for her husband and children can at times prove nothing less than wearisome.