Husbands, Love Your Wives! (Ephesians 5.25–33)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5.25–33 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT In the Roman Empire, men held tremendous power over their households. According to Charles Seltman, “A girl was completely under her father’s, a wife completely under her husband’s, power. She was his chattel … Her life was one of legal incapacity which amounted to enslavement, while her status was described as ‘imbecilitas,’ whence our word [imbecile].” With Seltman’s statement in mind, we can see that what Paul writes about a wife’s submission to her husband (Ephesians 5.22–24) expresses the classical world’s traditional wisdom. But do we also see that what Paul writes about a … Continue reading Husbands, Love Your Wives! (Ephesians 5.25–33)

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands? (Ephesians 5.22–24)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5.22–24 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT Ephesians 5.22–24 reads: “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.” This is one of my least favorite passages in the Bible for several reasons: First, it seems to teach a hierarchical model of marriage that makes basically egalitarian husbands such as me very uncomfortable. Second, it is sometimes misinterpreted … Continue reading Wives, Submit to Your Husbands? (Ephesians 5.22–24)

Black and White Morality in a Gray Culture (Ephesians 5.15–21)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5.15–21 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT The Bible portrays morality in black and white, but our culture sees morality in shades of gray. Take sex, for example. In the Bible, sex outside of marriage is immoral (Hebrews 13.4). But in our culture, it is routine, even among Christians. We know what the Bible teaches, but we prefer to ignore its teaching and/or generate rationalizations for our disobedience. (Someone has said that to rationalize means to offer “rational lies.” How true!) Or take anger. Jesus clearly teaches that anger is a form of murder deserving judgment and that it should be … Continue reading Black and White Morality in a Gray Culture (Ephesians 5.15–21)

The Indicative and the Imperative (Ephesians 5.7–14)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5:7–14 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT In Ephesians 5.7–14, Paul makes two kinds of statements. The first is indicative; it states who we are. The second kind is imperative; it tells us how we should act. Indicative statements include the following: “You were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (verse 8). “The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true” (verse 9). Imperative statements include the following: “Do not associate with them” (verse 7). “Walk as children of the light” (verse 8). “Discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (verse 10). … Continue reading The Indicative and the Imperative (Ephesians 5.7–14)

God, Sex, and Popular Culture (Ephesians 5.3–6)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5.3–6 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT We live in a sex-obsessed culture. Turn on the television during prime viewing hours, and you’ll see advertisements, entertainment news shows, sitcoms, and hour-long dramas awash in sex. Unfortunately, very little of the sex takes place in the context of marriage, and almost none of it has real-world consequences. When was the last time you saw a realistic portrayal of sexually transmitted disease, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or the financial disadvantage of single-parent homes? But sex, like every other human behavior, has consequences. Why don’t television and other popular media deal with those consequences realistically, instead … Continue reading God, Sex, and Popular Culture (Ephesians 5.3–6)

Imitating God (Ephesians 5.1–2)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 5.1–2 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT When I was in high school, I played basketball. One afternoon, my coach decided to forego practice and take us to see a movie instead. The movie was Hoosiers. Set in 1951, it told the story of Coach Norman Dale, who led a small, ragtag team of Indiana farm boys to the state championship. My coach took us to see Hoosiers for two reasons: inspiration and imitation. We, too, were a small, ragtag team that regularly played larger, more talented teams, and coach wanted to inspire a fighting spirit within us. But he also … Continue reading Imitating God (Ephesians 5.1–2)

Five Case Studies in Change (Ephesians 4.25–32)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 4.25–32 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT Yesterday, I wrote about the three-stage process of change Paul teaches in Ephesians 4.17–24: Put off your old self (verse 22). Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (verse 23). Put on the new self (verse 24). In Ephesians 4.25–32, Paul applies this process to five case studies. First, lying: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (verse 25). Dishonest speech violates the Ninth Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20.16). It … Continue reading Five Case Studies in Change (Ephesians 4.25–32)

Three-Stage Process of Change (Ephesians 4.17–24)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 4.17–24 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT A group of young men once asked me to talk to them about the use of pornography. They knew that using porn was unworthy of the life to which they had been called (Ephesians 4.1), but they felt unable to give it up. Why didn’t God answer their prayers and take away their desire for it? I asked them a series of very simple questions: Have you thrown away your magazines? Have you destroyed your DVDs? Have you asked someone who does not struggle with this issue to hold you accountable? Have you asked … Continue reading Three-Stage Process of Change (Ephesians 4.17–24)

Spiritual Gifts (Ephesians 4.7–16)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 4.7–16 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT Paul’s letter to the Ephesians naturally divides in halves. In the first half (chapters 1–3), Paul’s overarching theme is “by grace you have been saved, through faith…not by works” (2.8–9). But in the second half (chapters 4–6), Paul’s overarching theme is “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4.1). If I had to summarize the entire message of Ephesians, I would do so this way: Jesus Christ saves us by grace through faith for works. So, as we begin to study Ephesians 4–6, it is helpful to keep in mind that … Continue reading Spiritual Gifts (Ephesians 4.7–16)

A Worthy Life (Ephesians 4.1–6)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 4.1–6 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT In Ephesians 4.1–6, Paul writes: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. What … Continue reading A Worthy Life (Ephesians 4.1–6)