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Knights of the New Kingdom

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Our Scripture lesson is taken from Ephesians 5:22-33:
Ephesians 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.
I still get a smile on my face as I remember two boys of our neighbor running around in their yard with handgun shaped sticks in their yard yelling, “Bang! Bang!” What made such a common sight so funny? Their mother was a “Women’s Study” major. This was back in the 1990’s, long before “Toxic Masculinity” became a hot topic. She, like the feminist of today, vowed to combat traditional masculinity by disarming and emasculating he sons.
As I watched her sons run around in the yard, I could not help but think to myself, “Dear women, you may take guns away from your sons, by you will never take the warrior’s heart out of your sons.”
You see, God is a Warrior King and when He made humanity after His own image, He placed His warrior’s heart into the heart of men. Throughout the Old Testament God is presented as a King who rules, protects and provides for His people.
Psalm 24:8 ESV
Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!
In the New Testament, Jesus is presented to us as the ultimate fulfillment of these Warrior King passages. In the book of Revelation, Jesus comes riding out of the clouds on a white charger, His eyes blaze with fire, His Word is so powerful it is the only sword He needs and with it He strikes down all of God’s enemies (Rev 19:11-16)!
Understanding this, the early and Medieval church combated the fallen male tendency towards sinful aggression, not by trying to take the warrior out of the heart of men, but by transforming their hearts after the image of Jesus Christ. Thus was born the idea of Christian Chivalry. For over a thousand years this idea of the noble Christian warrior has the idea young men aspired to. Admittedly, few obtained it, but the very fact that it was the idea that men aspired to moderated the sinful tendencies of the male heart.
Beginning with the Enlightenment, chivalry along with all other Christian virtues and ideas, were ridiculed and attacked by secular humanists. Now in the Twenty-first century, the bitter seeds they sowed have reached their full measure and men are facing an Identity Crisis. There is such hostility directed at men today that some are even calling for the abolishment of Father’s Day. Into this confusion as to what true masculinity is the church needs to speak with a clear voice and call men to find their identity in Christ Jesus. Our world once again needs men who are knights—Knights of the New Kingdom!
From Ephesians chapter five we learn that such men have:

Confident Authority, for the Profit of Others

There is perhaps no area under more vigorous attack than the idea of male leadership and authority.
In verses twenty-two and twenty-three, the apostle Paul teaches that in His relationship to the church, Christ is the “head of the church.” From the context this clearly means Christ has authority. Then in a surprising move, Paul says husbands are to imitate Christ. They too are “heads” of their family and they too are to lead.
This is not all that Paul teaches; Jesus is not only the Head of the church, He is also the Savior of the church! Jesus did not use His authority and position for His own profit, but for the profit of others. To the church in Corinth, Paul writes:
2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
This use of leadership for the good of others is reflected in our text when Paul writes:
Ephesians 5:25–27 ESV
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.
Authority has the potential for great evil or great good. Only those who have the mind of Christ can use it well. The reason so many men are domineering in their exercise of authority is because they are not confident they have it and they want to use their authority for their own profit rather than the profit of others. A Knight of the New Kingdom is confident God has given him his authority and he is using that authority for the good of others.
Observe how Jesus lead in both confidence and love:
John 10:17–18 ESV
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Only a man who is sure of God, can be sure of himself.
Along with Confident Authority, a Knight of the New Kingdom needs:

Courageous Strength, for the Protection of Others

One of the things that is often missed about Jesus’ death of the cross is that Christ went to the cross to do battle with His enemies. Not His human enemies, these He asked the Father to forgive, but His demonic enemies. Reflecting of the Jesus’ death on the cross, Paul writes:
Colossians 2:15 ESV
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
From a human perspective the cross looks like a defeat, but from the perspective of God it was a victory! On the cross Jesus disarmed the Devil and his fallen angles. He did this by taking away their power to accuse those who trust in Christ. The wage of sin is death, but by paying that debt, Jesus took away all grounds of accusation!
Romans 8:34–35 ESV
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
It is universally recognized that the greatest standard for love and bravery is to lay down your life for someone else. (Jn 15:13) In the movie, Captain America, Steve Rogers was found worthy, because of all the recruits, he alone was the only one who was willing to fall upon what everyone thought was a live grenade. At the cross, Jesus, our Warrior King, threw himself upon a live grenade and in so doing won the greatest victory!
Why do little boys love to play with toy guns and dress up like a super-hero, because God has given them a warrior’s heart just like Jesus’. Sin has twisted that instinct and used it for evil, but the message of the Gospel can turn it to good.
A Knight of the New Kingdom does not only lead and protect his family, he also provides for his family. A Knight of the New Kingdom must have:

Passionate Love, for the Provision of Others

This truth is found in verses twenty-eight through thirty-one.
Ephesians 5:28–31 ESV
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.”
Here men are called to love their wives as they love themselves. This is of course another way of saying the Golden Rule. (Mt 7:12)
The Golden Rule is a standard everyone, men and women are called to live by, but Paul places a unique spin on the Golden Rule as it applies to husbands, he says they are to “nourish and cherish” their wives as they do their own bodies.
We most often think of “nurturing love” as a feminine quality and it most certainly is. A women’s nurturing love is most clearly seen in the way she loves and cares for her children.
What is unique about a man’s nurturing love is that it is not direct primarily towards his children, but his wife. It is an exclusive love that burns with passionate intensity, he “cherishes” and “holds fast” to his wife, leaving all other loves in the second place, even the love of parents. This beautiful, passionate love a man has for his wife is described in the Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:9 ESV
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.
The old marriage vows called for the man to “worship” his wife. Not in an idolatrous sense, but in the sense of a passionate love that loves her the way Christ loves the church.
When the Titanic was sinking, men thought nothing of giving women and children the first opportunity to escape. That type of nobility is almost totally dead today. Some say it is too late, I say it is not. As long as the Good News of Our Warrior King Jesus is preached, men will be inspired to follow Him and become Knights of the New Kingdom!
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