Marriage, God’s Great Illustration Part 2
Ephes. 5:22-33 (ESV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Last week we learned together just what is expected of a godly wife. We learned that when a wife is walking in the spirit she will live a life in submission to her husband. We also looked at the proper motivation for her to obey this text of Scripture. We said that her motivation should not be to necessarily have a better marriage but the motivation to glorify Christ through her submissive obedience. If you remember we took a look at a case study using Adam and Eve’s role reversal and the effect it is still having on all humanity.
Now, I want us to see a husband who is walking in the spirit. What is the husband’s role in a marriage relationship that will bring glory to Christ? What does he look like?
Husbands are commanded to love their wives in the same way as Christ loves the church.
 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.
The problem for husbands wanting to obey this text is that when we read it, it’s like looking up at Mount Everest and someone telling us to jump over it. It’s impossible. How can a fallen, sinful husband love his wife like Christ loves the church? I don’t think Paul is here telling husbands to love exactly like Christ loves the church but with a measure of Christ’s love. A converted husband can love like Jesus in many ways. The key in this text is to see that what Paul is getting at is the type of love that will honor God, not the extent.
One important note is that Christ still loves the church, but in this text it comes to us in the past tense. So, it looks like what Paul is thinking about is the way in which Christ loved the church while He was on earth. We should be careful not to get caught up in the technicality that would say that the church was first formed at Pentecost in Acts 2. The church…God’s people…have always been around since man was created.
How did Christ love the church?
1. Christ Loves the Church Sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25b)
25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Husbands, we should now ask the question: In what ways did Christ give Himself up for the church? Or we could ask what sacrifices are required of me to love like Christ?
He gave up His privileges.
Philip. 2:6-8 (ESV)
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This giving love of our Lord was determined in ages past before anyone was ever created. Jesus’ love toward His people is an act of grace. In other words, we didn’t deserve it in the least.
Husbands, the world outside Christianity believes that love is based on an object or some trait. In marriage it goes like this…I love my wife because she is beautiful or has a great personality or whatever. Husbands are to love their wives because it is God’s will for us to do so. Our motivation is not to have a better marriage but to glorify the Lord.
One part of marriage counseling is to have the young man and young woman look into each other’s eyes and to tell them that their spouse to be right now looks as good as he or she is ever going to look. If their love is based on appearance, it’s only down hill from here.
If love is to increase while beauty is fading then it must be a different type of love. It must be like the love Jesus has for His bride…a giving love.
The reality is that men are taught to think of themselves first to be men and to go for the gusto. God says to be a man means to give yourself to others, especially to your wife.
2. Christ’s Love Sanctifies the Church (Ephesians 5:26-27)
 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
The love Christ has for His Bride, the church is a love that promotes her purity. He takes the impure and sanctifies it or makes it pure. Jesus takes an impure and blemished bride and loves her until she is no longer impure and blemished. The bride of Christ…the Church…will someday be spotless and adorned in pure white. We are to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Leviticus 16:30 (ESV)
For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.
Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
As the Bridegroom, Jesus is in the process of cleansing His Bride from her sin.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus loves His bride with a purifying love. A purifying love is a love that promotes sinless ness. If a husband is to love his wife like Christ loves His church then his love must bring his wife closer to Christ. The question husbands should ask themselves is this: Is my relationship with my wife one that is promoting godliness in her life? In other words, am I a help or a hindrance in my wife’s purity and in my wife’s walk with the Lord?
In the ancient world it was a common custom for the bride to be would be taken down to the river to be bathed. This was a ceremonial bath to rid her of all impurities of her past life. She would then be dressed in her bridal garments and then she would be prepared for the wedding.
What the ancients knew needed to take place is what Jesus actually does for His Bride, the church. There is no symbolic purification, but in fact, Jesus actually makes His Bride pure. The difference is that Jesus doesn’t bathe with water to purify His Bride. What does it say He uses?
 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
I’m sorry, but our Church of Christ friends miss the point here. This text has nothing to do with water or with baptism. Paul is telling us that what purifies the Bride of Christ is nothing but the Word of God. The Word of God powered by the Holy Spirit will clean us up a lot like water does in a bath.
Paul uses this kind of language in his letter to the Corinthians.
2 Cor. 7:1 (ESV)
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
Husbands, I believe these verses teach us that we are to love our wives with the Word of God. How do we do that? It’s important that we are in the Word. If we are not reading the Word then we sure can’t sanctify our wives with the Word. I think the best thing a husband can do in this area is to share with our wives things we have learned as we have been in the Word. When something hits you talk to your wife about it. Include her in your Bible reading. Also, be there for her to share her insights as well. As couples talk about God’s Word and learn it together, they are picturing Christ and His Bride.
3. Christ Cherishes the Church (Ephesians 5:28-31)
 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The Scriptures assume and assume correctly that there exists within the human heart self-love. It’s already there. We don’t have to work on it too hard. Many want to talk about the problems some folks have may be brought about by low self-esteem. I disagree, many times we esteem ourselves too highly. At any rate, we are called to care for our wives like we care for ourselves.
Leviticus 19:18 (ESV)
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
This is legitimate self love. We are given the quality by the Lord to love ourselves but only in the sense that it motivates us to care for our wives in a stronger and more consistent way.
Paul is speaking about a type of love that is caring and courteous. Husbands if we are to love our wives in these ways we must pay attention to our wives’ needs. We must try to be sensitive to what she is going through or what she needs.
This caring type of love is seen in things like opening the door for her. Talking to her and asking questions about how her day went, and then listening to her reply. Here we need honest communication in love.
Proverbs 24:26 (ESV)
Whoever gives an honest answer
kisses the lips.
Martin Luther’s haustafel or house table verses for husbands and wives are these:
Ephes. 5:22 (ESV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephes. 5:25 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,  but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Last week we looked at where Eve went wrong in the confrontation between her and the serpent or Satan. We saw that she stepped up and usurped Adams role as head and Satan exploited her sin or usurping her husband’s role.
This week, I want us to focus on Adam and his sin of not loving his wife the way he should have. Last week we also said that Eve could have responded differently. She should have said something like, I don’t know about all that but here is my husband, why don’t you talk to him.
How could Adam have loved his wife better in this text?
Adam should have stepped up and placed himself between Satan and his wife, just like we would if someone pulled a gun on us. Husbands, our role is protector. Adam should have stepped up and placed himself between Satan and his wife and said something like, Eve, I’ll handle this…
Satan, God specifically told me that if we eat of this tree we will surely die. You say we won’t surely die. I think we will listen and believe what God tells us rather than you. Leave us alone.
The Fall is often called the sin of Adam. Eve ate first, but Adam let her.
Husbands, I pray we look at this text and apply it to our marriages. Maybe you want to obey these verses but are not sure where to start.
Start by acknowledging that your lack of obedience to these verses is sin. Like any sin, the first step is to repent and ask the Lord to forgive you and then go to your wife and ask her to forgive you for not loving her like you should.
Like with the wives last week, start small. Begin communicating more, begin to open doors for her, when you’re going somewhere in the car, husbands, you drive. Begin doing these small things as simple acts of love toward your wife.
1. Give of yourself
2. Help your wife mature in her walk with Christ
3. Care for and cherish her.
All for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.