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Ephesians 5:21-6:4

Living as a Spirit-led Family

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 29, 2022

Many people compartmentalize their spiritual life. Their relationship with God is reserved for those times they go to church. In other words, they go to church to spend time with God and pay their respects.

But if you’re continually being filled with the Holy Spirit, then God is with you wherever you go, filling you with joy and peace and wisdom and strength. It should have an impact on your everyday life, especially in the family.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Living as a Spirit-led Family
Ephesians 5:21-6:4
June 5, 2022

Relationships are so important. No man is an island. We were created to be social beings, connected and interdependent of others around us. Anyone who has ever been very sick even just with high fever and a horrible flu will attest to this.

This is why, at the end of Ephesians 5 and beginning of Ephesians 6, Paul gives guidelines for some primary relationship areas in a child of God’s life.

In this section he focuses on the family, specifically marriage and children.

Many people compartmentalize their spiritual life. Their relationship to God is reserved for those times they go to church. In other words, they go to church to spend time with God and pay their respects.

But if you’re continually being filled with the Holy Spirit, then God is with you wherever you go, filling you with joy and peace and wisdom and strength. It should have an impact on your everyday life, especially in the family.

I.  Be Filled by the Spirit in Your Marriage

Marriage is one of the primary building blocks of a community. From marriage springs forth a family. Many families together form community. It then stands to reason that a healthy marriage is the basis for a healthy family, which is the basis of healthy communities.

If we understand this principle, we will understand why there is such an attack from the enemy on marriages and families. He is trying to destroy the fabric of society by attacking the family-threads one by one.

This is why Paul gives a very clear direction to ensure healthy relationships in the family as you are led by the Spirit in your marriage.

A.  Submit to one another in humility

  • Verse 21 – be subject to one another in the reverence of Christ. The heart that is filled with the Spirit has regard for others; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said.

Mark 10:42-44, “You know that those who are rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… But it is not this way among you, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all.”

  • That attitude changes everything. God’s ways are distinctly different than the way the world does things.
  • Interestingly, Paul says this before he starts to give directions concerning marriage. The attitude of a husband and a wife should foremost be one of serving one another with humility in love.
  • It lays the foundation for everything else he’s about to say in regard to marriage and parenting.

B.  Husbands, love your wives

  • We need to understand the whole marriage synergy in the light of verse 32. Paul finishes this chapter with the words, “This mystery is great; but I’m speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” In other words, marriage is an illustration of the relationship that we have with Christ.
  • We can learn a lot about how the interaction in marriage works if we look at the model of Christ and the church.
  • Just as the church responds to the love of Christ, wives were created to respond to the love and affection and care of the husband.

1 Joh 4:19, We love, because He first loved us.

Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 

  • As Christians and Christ’s bride, we respond to the love we have received from God. This same principle is true with husband and wife.

Illus. – When a young guy wants to ask a girl out on a date, he treats her with kindness and respect and goodness. Imagine if he would ask her out on a date like this: “Hey girl, I’m going to let you go on a date with me. I am so awesome and it’s a privilege for you to be with me. I will pick you up at seven and you better be ready because I won’t wait. Make sure you look fine because I don’t want to be embarrassed while being with you.” Do you think this will go down well? How will she respond?

What if she sees godly character in him, that he has a servant heart? That he has humility? The heart of Christ is a beautiful work of God. She will have a different response.

  • God created the natural longing in a man to pursue a woman and for a woman to be pursued by a man. How a man treats his wife will have a great effect on how she will respond.
  • Husbands, if you treat your wife with love and she feels honored, loved, adored, respected, and valuable, she will respond towards you the same way.
  • One of the Greek words for husband means ‘farmer.’ Adam husbanded the earth. There is a sowing and reaping principle in marriage as well.

Luke 6:45, The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 

  • The words you speak and the things you do come back to you either as good fruit or bitter.

Illus. I heard a story of a man coming to a pastor to complain about his wife…

  • What do you do if you’ve been sowing bitter things into the marriage?
  • Turnaround; go the other way. Start speaking words of life and by faith know that you will reap good fruit if you just keep sowing what is good.
  • Otherwise, if you don’t, things will only get worse.
  • There is an authority structure that God has established so there can be order and peace in our relationships.
  • Husbands should come under the authority of Christ in their lives and be filled by the Spirit to be the husband God wants them to be.
  • How can you ask anyone to be under your authority if you yourself are not demonstrating what it means by being under the authority of Christ yourself?
  • Now we can say, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” How did he love the church? He died on the cross, giving Himself up for the church whom He loved.
  • Jesus gave us the heart of ‘servant-leadership.’

Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

  • Be a servant – and lead by building consensus.

C.  Wives respect your husbands

  • Verse 22 – Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
  • This is not necessarily a principal that everyone appreciates or agrees with. But God has established that there must be order within the family as a building block of the church.
  • Subject does not mean a servant. If this is understood the right way, it should give a wife security and is something beautiful.
  • A good description of verse 22 is: The wife subject to her husband, not to men in general, not as inferior to him, nor in violation of her Christian ethics, but honoring her husband as the protector and head of the home, respecting the responsibility of his position and his accountability to God.
  • This principle certainly has nothing to do with value or significance. Jesus came under the authority of His Father and yet also said, “I and My Father are one.”
  • Emerson Eggerichs wrote a book on marriage called Love and Respect. The subtitle is powerful; The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.
  • When husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church and they give that love out of reverence for God, they bless their wives also, and receive a blessing in return.
  • In the same way, when wives respect their husbands- out of reverence for God, they bless their husbands and receive a blessing in return.
  • Paul brings us to a great crescendo when he quotes from Genesis 2:24; these are important keys.
  • “A man shall leave…” and, “shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” Leave father and mother, but also leave anything from the past that will drive a wedge between you. And then cleave…
  • Notice that this is a command. Do this because God asks you to, and the two will become one. Where you put your treasure, your heart will follow.

II. Children and Fathers unto the Lord

  • Verse 1 – Obey your parents. The key is the phrase ‘in the Lord, for this is right.’
  • In other words, do these things out of reverence for Christ because you want to honor Him in your life.
  • It is such an important principle, that God made it the first commandment with a promise!
  • Parents have a mandate from God, have responsibility and are accountable to God on how they bring up their kids.
  • If they teach their kids in God’s way, it is because they want a good godly life for their kids – kids who are filled and led by the Spirit of God as well.

A.  Honor your father and mother

  • The word ‘obey’ means to come under. As Jesus was under the authority of His Father, He is directing children to come under their parents’ authority.
  • But Jesus was under that authority very well. In other words, he didn’t chafe against it, He knew that God would give Him authority because He was under His Father’s authority very well.
  • Obedience is contrary to their natural condition. Children are born rebellious by nature. You don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, or to lie, you don’t have to teach a child to throw a temper tantrum.
  • A child is disobedient, selfish and self-centered because it’s their nature. In other words, a dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, a horse is a horse…

Illus. – The Minnesota Crime Commissioned published a report that describes this perfectly: Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants, when he wants it – his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmates toy. Deny him these wants and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous, were he not so helpless. He is dirty, he has no morals, no knowledge, and no skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child will grow up to be a criminal, a thief, a killer, and a rapist.

  • Paul wrote in another place that in the latter days this will only grow worse.

2 Timothy 3:1-4, Realized this; in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

  • If children obey their parents, Paul says, a blessing comes with it, “That it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”
  • Rebellion and disrespect in a child will make for a very difficult and trouble-filled life. The school of hard knocks is the most painful way to learn.
  • If a child can grow spiritually, filled up with all the fullness of God, there is a spiritual bearing that will bring God’s blessing on their lives.

B.  Fathers do not provoke your children

  • It’s interesting that Paul starts with this admonition. Parents have authority in their children’s lives, and we should be very careful with that authority.
  • Parents need to be under the authority of Christ themselves so that they parent out of reverence for Christ and with the wisdom of the Spirit.
  • Notice also that he specifically speaks to fathers. God wants fathers to be engaged in raising up their children. Many delegate this to their wives. I can’t tell you how many wives are asking for their husbands to be invested in their family.
  • Don’t provoke your children, Paul wrote, raise them up in the instruction of the Lord. There’s a great difference.
  • There are many ways to provoke a child; teasing a child by holding out a treat and then pulling it back, thinking it’s funny, but it only aggravates them.
  • Another way is by tearing them down or breaking their Spirit. God’s heart is always to build up and edify, never to tear down or aggravate.
  • “Raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” Paul wrote. Correcting a child is a spiritual opportunity. We should look for those opportunities to teach spiritual character lessons.
  • Notice, though, that this is parenting that comes out of being filled with the Spirit, having the heart of God, doing it out of reverence for Him.

In conclusion, God’s plan for the family is to be a unit where each individual grows into the image of the Godhead, whatever their specific position in the family is at the stage, being a living testimony of God’s love for us as His church and our love for Him as His bride, so that it will replicate into future generations with a beautiful legacy of Godly people.


21 [a]and subject yourselves to one another in the [b]fear of Christ.

22 Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [c]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Chapter 6

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may turn out well for you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.


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