|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber continues to explain what the Scripture has to say to husbands about their relationship to their wives, and their responsibilities in the family|
Our problems are not in our homes as much as they are in our hearts. We have to let the Spirit of God, who lives within us, strengthen us with power in the inner man. How does that work? By letting Jesus dwell in your heart by faith. In other words, accommodate Him by your willingness to obey Him in all of the rooms of your heart. When you let Jesus be Jesus in you, when you learn to obey Him in every area, the thoughts, the emotions, the attitudes, all the areas of your heart, your home will be different. That causes Spirit-filled families.
God has the only design and this design, when it is fulfilled in the power of God’s Spirit, will cause us to have spiritually functional families. We hear the term “dysfunctional” a lot these days. The only real functional family is the family that functions the way God has designed it to function. It is God’s idea, not man’s.
There are three things I want you to see in verses 31-33. First of all, in verse 31 he quotes from the Old Testament. This verse is also used in the New Testament. It is found three times in scripture. Moses used it, Jesus used it and Paul uses it here in verse 31 of Ephesians 5. I want you to see first of all God’s intention for marriage. What is God’s original intention for marriage that has never changed even though we live in the 20th Century?
Turn with me to Genesis 2:18. God said “It is not good for man to be alone.” This was God’s idea! Marriage never began with man. Man is not smart enough to know what he needs. God knew what he needed. Verse 18 continues, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” That word “helper” in the Hebrew is the word that has the idea of help-mate, one who is assisting someone. It is not a demeaning word. God uses the same word to describe His own character, and I doubt very seriously He would use that for woman if He meant to demean her. She is a helper. I have heard all kinds of people talk about what that word means, but that is what it means, a helper, one who assists.
To make it even more understandable, he goes on in the verse and says, “suitable for him.” In other words, corresponding to him. The wife that He makes, the woman that He makes for the man is one who completes the picture of a man. It is not good for man to be alone. He is incomplete. He needs a woman. Whatever he lacks she supplies. Whatever she lacks, he supplies. When you put the two individuals together they are one unit. They are one flesh. One needs the other. They are equal, yet they need one another. One balances the other. Man should not be alone.
Now everything else in Genesis was good. The light was good in 1:4. The earth and the seas were good in 1:10. The plants and the trees were good in 1:12. The sun and the moon and the stars were good in 1:14-18. In verse 21, the creatures in the sea and the birds of the air were good. In verse 25 the animals were good. But it wasn’t good for man to be alone. God said, “I am going to make someone exactly for what he needs. I am going to complete the picture. Man is incomplete, therefore, I will make a woman.”
As a matter of fact in verse 23 when man sees what God has made, not from under his feet, but from his side, he says, “‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” I had a very notable Hebrew scholar tell me that if you wanted to put that in 20th Century vernacular, what he really said was, “Hot diggity dog! This is exactly what I need in my life!” Man was too stupid to know what he needed. God said, “I know what you need.” He made the woman and the man said, “Whew! This is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.”
Well, God came up with the idea. Then in verse 24 we find the verse that we are looking at in Ephesians 5:31: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Now I need to make sure we understand this. Marriage is a union that does not involve mama and daddy. They are not designed to live with mamma and daddy. There is a leaving and a cleaving.
On our church marriage retreat there was a couple who came to us. They were not doing well. I thought maybe it was between the two of them, but it really wasn’t. They loved each other. They loved Jesus. They loved His Word. I couldn’t understand what in the world was going on. What is the problem? He said, “I am living with my in-laws.” I said, “I want to tell you something straight out. As quickly as you can get out of there.” In the Hebrew “leave” means leave! When a man and a woman marry, they leave mamma and daddy and become one flesh. That is the way God designed it.
Some kids don’t want to leave mamma and daddy because it is good to stay around mamma and daddy. God says you had better leave and start trusting Him. Grow up and become mature individuals. Learn that you are now one flesh. There is a leaving, but there is also a cleaving. Do you know what the word “cleave” means? The word “cleave” is the word for glue. I like that. You can even use it for cement. You know glue is called cement sometimes. It is something that cements two things together. God doesn’t mean my wife has to walk around with me saying, “Are you okay?” That is not what He is talking about. He is talking about the union. The relationship is something that is sealed. It is glued. It is cemented, and that cement is never to come apart.
Now you see, we don’t like this. We are living in a day when the cement has been broken so much that you almost have to apologize for what God’s design originally was. Folks, I am not here to preach on what God did not design. I am here to preach on what did God design. That is the key. We know God’s grace. We know God’s mercy. God can take broken pieces of anything and put it back together. He can take tomorrow and make it the first day of the rest of your life, but as you live the rest of your life, you know and I know that we live with the scars of the wrong choices we have made when we fragment God’s design. There is going to be a consequence. His mercy helps us bear up under it. His grace will transform us in the midst of it. His forgiveness will cleanse us and restore our relationship with Him. But the consequences are always there. God hates it when His cement is broken. He says in Malachi that he hates divorce.
I have never talked to a person who has been through a divorce who doesn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, they have been my best friends when we have ever talked about what God’s design is all about. They have come to me I don’t know how many times and said, “Keep preaching it. Keep preaching it. I can’t go back and unscramble eggs, but I wish I could have known God’s design from the beginning.” Thank God you might can know it now. Many can’t look back. Paul says, “Forgetting those things which are behind me, I press on.” All of that is built into scripture. What I am trying to show you is that God’s intention was that cement, that cleaving never ever be broken.
That takes us to the second time we find that verse ever used in Scripture. Turn to Matthew 19. You know and I know that this is a most controversial chapter. It has divided more conservative Christians than just about anything that I know. We are looking at God’s original intention. What is God’s intention for marriage? That we leave and that we cleave and that the cleaving never be broken. I want you to see this in chapter 19.
The culture of the day when Matthew 19 was written was awful. As a matter of fact, it was so much like the 20th century it is hard to look at it differently. They were putting their wives away for little or nothing. If they didn’t like the way the wife wore her hair, they would put her away. It was awful. Let me show you how bad it was. In verse 10, after hearing what Jesus says about it, look at what the disciples say. “The disciples said to Him, ‘If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.’” That shows you how bad it was. They are sitting there thinking, “Good night, if it is that tough, I’m not going to get married.” See. They couldn’t understand what He said. They were thinking in light of the permissiveness of their culture.
Folks, we have the same problem in the 20th century. To hear what God says about something pulls us so far back from where we are, we think we are imbalanced. We have forgotten what dead center is all about. Look back at verse 3. “And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall leave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?’”
Here was their trick question. Why did Moses command. I want you to notice what Jesus said. Jesus said, “He never commanded anything.” “He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.’” You see, there has been a clause put in. Jesus goes on to say in verse 9, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Of course many of us could go over to I Corinthians 7 and see what that says. The original intent was that the glue never be broken. He says here, “except for immorality.” That is what Jesus said. You see, folks, we try to cover bases that we are not supposed to cover. Jesus said, “Except for immorality.” Now, He also said, “Moses permitted it.” That is not what He suggests and that is certainly not what He commands, but evidently there is an exception. Paul talks about in I Corinthians that if an unbeliever leaves and will not return, the yoke is broken. The word means you are no longer enslaved. There appears to be some permission here, but I want to tell you something. That is never God’s original intent. Never. Never. “Well, what about me. I have been through it.” Listen, precious friend. God has grace and mercy and forgiveness. Go on and get up tomorrow morning and live the rest of your life and let God develop a brand new plan for you wherever you are. You don’t unscramble eggs. What I am trying to point out is God’s original design was not that the cleaving ever be uncleaved, that the glue ever be broken. What did God say the rule is? You cleave and that cleaving is forever, until death do us part.
Secondly, there is God’s illustration of marriage. This brings it out very clearly. God’s illustration of marriage. In Ephesians 5:32 we find the illustration of marriage from God. God’s own illustration. We have His intention. It is very clear. Leave and cleave. We also have His illustration. It says in verse 32, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” One of the beautiful things that Paul does is weave in the illustration of Christ loving the church, what Christ has done for the church from verse 22 all the way down to verse 32. In verse 23 He is the Savior of the body, the church. In verse 25 He gave Himself up for. In verse 26 His love cleansed her. In verse 27 His love keeps her from being defiled. In verse 29 He loves the church because in verse 30 the church is a member of His body. He keeps showing you. Here is the illustration.
What is He trying to show us? That a man should love his wife as Christ loves the church. How does Christ love the church? Listen, guys, the key is with us, not our wives. How does Christ love the church? Jesus doesn’t cast us away. I am glad, aren’t you? Even though we deserve to be cast away. He loves us when we are unlovable. He blesses us when we do not deserve blessing. He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him. God’s intention is that husband and wife love one another in the same way Christ loves the church. Ironically, the only way to do that is by being strengthened in the inner man by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that He produces this kind of love. A man cannot do it outside of being filled with the Spirit of God. That is God’s intention, and His illustration is clear. As Christ loves the church, so you are also to love your wife.
Paul is wrapping it all up, and I am kind of glad. As he wraps it up he says, “Nevertheless...” He comes right back to what he has already said and gives the final instructions towards marriage. They are very simple and yet they are very complex. This time he doesn’t start with the wife. He starts with the husband. I knew it all along and so did you. We know we are the problem. Look at what he says in verse 33. “Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself.” Now what does that mean again? To provide for, to protect her, to please her, to preserve her and to praise her. Those are some of the things it means. Sometimes we run across situations where the wife works and the husband doesn’t and won’t. I want to tell you something, friend. In God’s word, you are to provide for your wife. Now whatever the wife does, that is between you and God and her. But the man is responsible for providing for his wife, to protect her, to please her, to preserve her, to praise her. Why? Because we are to love her as Christ loves the church. He is the one who does it all for the church. In us, he gives us the power to do the same thing.
“...and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.” What does the word “respect” mean? It means to revere. It is used even with God. You respect Him. Now how can a wife respect her husband to where he really feels like he is the man of the home? By her willingness to submit to his leadership.
You see, wives help your husband be what he ought to be. Put him in a position. Listen, we have covered this ground. Some of you are smarter than your husbands. Some of you are definitely better looking than your husband. Some of you have more personality than your husbands. Some of you, if they would just give you the chance, could run the show. I know that and so does God. Back off. Let the man get with God and respect him in the position that God has put him in. Watch the miracle that will take place in your family. God says it won’t work unless you do it My way.
What I am telling you is “Yes you can.” If you say you can’t do it, you are saying you won’t do it because in Ephesians if you are a believer, he says be strengthened with power in the inner man. “Power” means the ability to do what you couldn’t do until you received Jesus in your life. I love the Nike commercial. Three words, you know it. What does it say? “Just do it!” That is it. God says, “You know what to do. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” You do it My way or you are going to have a dysfunctional family.” It is only functional when it is what God says it ought to be.
Isn’t it wonderful how practical the Word of God really is? I mean it is clear. What isGod’s intention? Leave, cleave. What is God’s illustration? Christ and the church. What is God’s final instructions? Husbands, love your wives as you love yourself. Wives, show respect to your husbands by being willing to put them in the position that God has designed them to be. That is so simple. I want to tell you something, folks. If the seminars work on marriage, if the marriage books that you can buy work on marriage, then tell me why three out of every four marriages are entering into divorce. If they work, help yourself. But if you want to do it God’s way, it is pretty simple. First of all, get your heart right with Jesus. Let Him come into the heart. He is already there if you are a believer. Let Him fully reign in your heart. Then the rest is history as you just choose to obey Him.