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Eph. 5:22-33 FROM DREADLOCK TO WEDLOCK

Intro: A marriage, especially a Christian one is supposed to be a thing of intense beauty, love and joy. However, too often, this is just not the case. Sadly, many marriages, even those where both partners are believers are in serious turmoil. The sad truth is that the divorce rate is the same for Christian marriages as it is for marriages where Christ is not in the picture. You know the story, a couple is deeply in love. Where you see one, you see the other. They do things together, they talk about their futures, they show their love one to another in a million little, seemingly insignificant ways. They date like this for several months or even several years. Finally they reach a point where they feel that they just can't bear to be apart any longer and they come together as husband and wife. For a while they are wonderfully happy. Then, after the dust settles and they get used to being together, it seems that the old flame that burned so brightly is now just a smoldering ember. She never had to open a door, now she opens them all. He never saw her unless she was looking her best, now, he sees her at her worst. There are surprises now that were never expected beforehand. There are issues that come up now that find them acting like warring nations instead of one flesh. Most of the married folk in this room know what I am talking about. When things reach this point, many couples throw in the towel and begin to look for fulfillment in someone else. When things reach this stage of development, many couples find themselves in divorce court. If they do not choose this route, they may decide to stay together "for the children's sake." Either way, there is division where God intended for there to be harmony. There are problems in what should be the happiest of all human relationships. Why do things reach this point? Either the people involved lack the tools they need to keep their home together, or they lack the commitment that is necessary to keep the home together. I am convinced, however, that things do not have to end that way!

Being realistic, what are married couples to do when wedlock turns into dreadlock? Is there hope for a marriage that seems to have gone sour? Is there a way to rekindle the old flame? Yes! But, don't look for magic formulas. Don't expect sudden breakthroughs that change everything radically and permanently. If your are going to turn dreadlock into wedlock you are going to have to work at it. It will require effort, humility, a deep commitment to the relationship and above all, a willingness to do everything God's way.

There are certain guidelines clearly laid out in the Bible, that if followed will make a difference in our marriages. My desire this evening is to help the married couples in this church to strengthen their relationships. I want to see you folks living as one flesh. I want those young people in this auditorium, who will one day be married themselves, to know that it does not have to be a struggle. God wants each of us to know this evening that there is hope for the home and that this hope will be found in our applying God's principles for living. When we do, we can turn dreadlock into wedlock.

I. V. 23-24 GOD'S PLAN FOR THE CHRISTIAN HOME

(The first requirement for a godly Christian home is that the husband and the wife both be brought under the headship of Jesus Christ. Before there can ever be unity as a couple, there must first be a growing relationship with Christ as individuals. The primary step in rekindling the old flame is strengthening our own fellowship with God.)

There are four main areas that need our attention:

A. Be Certain Of Your Salvation - It is absolutely imperative that both partners in the marriage covenant be believers. An unequal yoke produces a relationship that is totally out of balance, 2 Pet. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:5. Without the presence of Christ dwelling in both hearts, the marriage is doomed for trouble from the start. However, in a home where both spouses are saved and striving to serve the Lord, the Holy Spirit dwells in them both and is able to equip them to handle their problems and is able to love the other through them.

(Ill. There are rare cases where a believer and a non-believer have had a good marriage, but they are the exception and not the rule. More often than not, the unbeliever will eventually drag the believer down to their standard of living. Don't have the attitude, "Well, I can change them." First, if you really love someone, you shouldn't want to change them. Second, God, not you, is in control of salvation.)

B. Be Clean From All Sin - Sin should be confessed as far as it is known, Pro. 28:13. Be sure that all sin has been dealt with before the Savior, and where necessary, before your spouse, 1 John 1:9; James 5:16.

C. Be Committed To Your Savior - Be sure that in every area of life, Jesus possesses complete control.

1. Eph. 5:19-21 In Your Worship Life

2. Eph. 6:5-9 In Your Work Life

3. Eph. 6:10-18 In Your War Life

4. Eph. 5:22-33 In You Wedded Life

(Ill. This required that command of Eph. 5:18 be carried out in the lives of both spouses. If we expect to be all that God wants us to be both in and out of the home, then we must be walking under the power of His Spirit. We must be Spirit filled or it will show in all of these areas.)

D. Be Committed To Your Spouse - Eph. 5:31 repeats the mandate spoken by Adam in Gen. 2:24. All marriages stand a better chance for survival when there is a measure of independence from one's parents and in-laws. This would refer to physical, emotional and financial independence. That covers leaving, but there must also be a great amount of cleaving. Simply put, you marriage will never work until you reach the place where you are totally committed to your spouse. In other words, you must come to the place where your love for him/her surpasses your love for anyone, or anything except the Lord Jesus Christ. This would include one's birth family, one's friends, one's money, one's hobbies, etc.

(No Christian home will be successful without an ever-deepening relationship with God on the part of both spouses. I say both, because there will also be problems when one is seeking after the Lord and the other is at a standstill in there Christian walk. There will be a differing set of family goals and priorities when Jesus isn't the focus of both lives. It all rises or falls on your relationships with God.)

I. God's Plan For The Christian Home

II. V. 23-29 GOD'S PLAN FOR THE CHRISTIAN HUSBAND

A. V. 23 He Must Be A Leader -The man is responsible for the spiritual climate in his home. He is responsible, before the Lord, for leading his spouse and his family into a deeper relationship with the Lord. The husband will give an account before the Lord concerning his leadership within the home, 2 Cor. 5:10.

B. V. 25 He Must Be A Lover - This verse says that the husband is to love his wife. The word used is "agapao." It speaks of the kind of love Jesus demonstrated when He died for sinners, Rom. 5:8. This love is selfless, sacrificial and steadfast. All the characteristics of Christ's love for the lost are to be seen in a husband's love for his wife. When a man loves his wife after this manner, she will respond by willingly submitting to his leadership within the home.

C. V. 23, 25, 28-29 He Must Be A Laborer - These verses explain the work which a man is called upon to put into his marriage relationship.

1. V. 23 He Should Be A Protector - Most women have a deep seated need to feel safe and protected. A wise husband will create an atmosphere of safety in his home. He will live and love his spouse in such a way as to show her that he can be trusted to take care of every need she has. She needs to know that she can trust in his protective care of her life.

2. V. 25 He Should Be Pro-Active - That is, like Jesus, the husband should make the first moves. It seems that many times, both spouses sit back in the relationship and wait for the other to make the first move toward reconciliation or in any other area. The Bible teaches us that the first move belongs to the husband. If it seems that these verses are requiring more from men than from women, they are! With leadership, there also comes a greater measure of responsibility.

3. V. 28 He Should Be Precise - A wise husband realizes that meeting the needs of his spouse will prove beneficial to himself and will make his life happier. Most men want their homes to be havens of rest and peace and quiet. This will become more of a reality when the husband learns to take the necessary steps to meet the needs of his wife.

4. V. 29 He Should Be A Provider - Just as a man looks to the needs of his own body, i.e. providing food, rest, etc., he realizes that the wife is part of his flesh and he makes whatever provisions are necessary to see that her needs are met.

a. He Is To Nourish - Literally - To bring to maturity. A godly husband helps his wife to reach her fullest potential in God. He helps her to grow by meeting her needs and by being an encouragement to her life.

b. He Is To Cherish - Literally - To soften with heat. The husband is to give tender love to his spouse. This is the primary "want and need" of most women. They just want to feel loved and they crave special attention.

(Ill. Often this is hard for men to grasp. It is also hard for most men to come to the place where they can provide these things on a consistent basis. However, I am convinced that if we men could learn to treat our wives like the special creatures they are, it would result in a far more harmonious home life for everyone.)

(Ill. Women need to remember in this area that men are wired up totally different than women. Most men equate affection with sex. For the husband, sex is the "main event." When we are involved in that the act of sex, we are showing affection. The wife, however, may see affection as the main event. Therefore, a vicious cycle is often created because men become guilty of giving affection just to get sex, and women give sex to receive affection. When, in my opinion, if men would take the initiative to meet the woman's need for affection, he would find that his own need is met more often and more willingly. But, some men will surely say, "I am just not that way!" Then my advice to you is change. After all, what is more important in the long run, your male ego and macho pride or your relationship with your spouse? Ultimately, men, the ball is in our court and how we play it will often determine the temperature in our homes and marriages. Women, I would suggest that you pray patiently for your husband. The truth is, you are a mystery to him and he will never fully understand your need. Just help him all you can.)

I. God's Plan For The Christian Home

II. God's Plan For The Christian Husband

III. V. 22 GOD'S PLAN FOR THE CHRISTIAN HELPMEET

(Ill. Paul gives three words to the Christian wife that will go along way toward producing the desired results in the home.)

A. A Word About Rank - (Submit - A military term meaning to arrange in a military fashion, to maintain one's rank." Can also mean "A voluntary attitude of cooperation.") When a woman submits to her husband, she needs to realize that she is simply honoring God! God did not give this command to dehumanize the woman or to make her into a slave. He gave this command so that His order might be maintained in the home.

(Ill. Christianity gave women more freedom that they had know in 4,000 years. Up until now, women had been seen as property, disposable at the husbands whim. When this freedom came, the desire to dominate in the home also developed. God's words to Eve in Genesis 3:16 tell us that woman was to be ranked under the man and that she might possess a desire to take over the headship in the relationship. Therefore, Paul reminds women to maintain rank in the home.)

B. A Word About Respect - The idea of submission speaks more of respecting one's husband than it does of becoming his servant. Women could learn a valuable lesson here. While women thrive on attention, time and affection, a man loves nothing more than having his ego stroked. When a woman makes a man feel that he is absolutely essential to her existence, she has made him feel respected and important.

(Ill. When he does get it right, make a very big deal out of it. Tell him how strong he is and how much you need him. It will do a lot for his self-esteem. Men like to appear macho, but actually they are little boys who need reassurance, all the time.)

(Ill. Dr. E. V. Hill, a dynamic black minister who serves as senior pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, lost his wife, Jane, to cancer a few years ago. At her funeral, Dr. Hill described some of the ways she had made him a better man. As a struggling young preacher, E. V. had trouble earning a living. E. V. came home one night and found the house dark. When he opened the door, he saw that Jane had prepared a candlelight dinner for two. He thought that was a great idea and went into the bathroom to wash his hands. He tried unsuccessfully to turn on the light. Then he felt his way into the bedroom and flipped another switch. Darkness prevailed. The young pastor went back to the dining room and asked Jane why the electricity was off. She began to cry.

"`You work so hard, and we're trying,' said Jane, `but it's pretty rough. I didn't have enough money to pay the light bill. I didn't want you to know about it, so I thought we would just eat by candlelight.'

"Dr. Hill described his wife's words with intense emotion: `She could have said, "I've never been in this situation before. I was reared in the home of Dr. Caruthers, and we never had our lights cut off." She could have broken my spirit; she could have ruined me; she could have demoralized me. But instead she said, "Somehow or other we'll get these lights back on. But tonight, let's eat by candlelight."'

"E. V. continued, `She was my protector. Some years ago I received quite a few death threats, and one night I received notice that I would be killed the next day. I woke up thankful to be alive, but I noticed that she was gone. I looked out the window and my car was gone. I went outside, and finally, saw her driving up. I said, "Where have you been?" She said, "I...I...it just occurred to me that they could have put a bomb in that car last night, and if you had gotten in there you would have been blown away. So I got up and drove it. It's all right."'")

C. A Word About Realization - In maintaining her rank under her husband, the woman needs to realize certain truths.

1. It Honors God - It may make it easier to submit to your husband, especially if he is less than you think he ought to be, if you do it "as unto the Lord." When your husband is walking in God's will and you submit to his leadership in the home, it is in fact a submission to God.

2. The Husband Will Answer For The Home - At the judgment seat of Christ, the husband, not the wife, will answer for his leadership of the home. If there is no submission, however, the wife will answer for her rebellion to the will of God!

3. Submission Cannot Be Forced - Submission is an act of the will. You will either walk in obedience to the clear teachings of the Scriptures or you can live in rebellion to the will of God. Genuine submission begins in the heart and works its way out into the body. It is possible to be outwardly submissive and inwardly rebellious. I would remind you that God peers into the heart.

4. God's Law Always Supercedes That Of Your Husbands - (Col. 3:18) God never expects a woman to go against the clear teachings of the Word of God. Of course, a godly husband would never ask his wife to do anything that contradicted the Bible.

(What if the husband is lost? The wife is still to submit, but she always has a higher allegiance to her Lord. God's will is always paramount!)

5. More often than not, problems in the home do not lie with the wife, but with the performance of the husband! Now, you men will probably disagree with that statement, but I'll stand by it, because I believe it is true!

Conc: Has wedlock turned to dreadlock in your home? If so, the Word of God has just told us how to fix it. The strength to fix it comes from time spent on our knees before the God of Heaven. Let us begin the repair process by coming before Him this evening and asking Him to strengthen our marriages. Then, let's take these truths that have been revealed here this evening and put them into practice. As we do, I believe that we will see a change take place at home. God help us all to do what we know we should do.

Sermon By Alan Carr

 



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