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07122020 - Rule of Engagement Ephesians 5.19-6.9

Ephesians - Practical Christian Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:06
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Rules of Engagement

For the past few weeks our grandchildren from Colorado have been here. One evening Deuce, who is 13, and I sat down to play our first game of chess together. He had been playing all week with Dawn, but this was our first match-up.
During the week I had been watching and listening to the two of them play. I was a new opponent for him and I don’t think he really knew what to expect. I have to admit I played a little aggressively within the boundary of the rules of chess, but we played respecting those rules of engagement
Each of the chess pieces is restricted to certain moves on the board. There is a hierarchy of position for each chess piece on the playing field. The King has his role. The queen hers, the bishops, the knights, and the rooks and the pawns all have their roles and boundaries.
The object is to protect the king. At one point he saw that I could put his king in check-mate and he respectfully laid his King down - and I encouraged him to keep on to the end - to fight the good fight - because although he thought he knew what I was going to do - I really had no clue.
As in chess there are (ROE’s) rules of engagement, so in the world. Those rules define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which the use of force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied. Those rules, whether in world politics, government, churches or families, provide authorization for and/or limits on, among other things, the the way things are managed and the employment of certain specific capabilities.
Unfortunately in the world these ROE’s seem to change depending on the circumstances, but in chess and the world of God’s word, those rules never change.
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ONE Rule of Engagement

ONE Rule of Engagement
I stand here before you today preaching the Word of God. It is the most exciting vocation I can think of - at the same time rewarding and demanding.
I cannot imagine doing anything else. I would also submit to you that preaching the Word of God is one of the most frightening things a person can do because the one preaching is engaged in, by God's grace, rightly handling the Word of God and striving to properly interpret that word as it is applied to our practical Christian living.
It was said of Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, that he could face his enemies, but he could not ascend the pulpit stairs without his knees knocking.
The dread a preacher feels usually comes from being aware of the magnitude of the task he has been given.
It is a humbling and an awe-inspiring thing to remember that the Lord has designed the preaching of the Word spoken from the pulpit to bring about change in the lives of His people by His grace and work of the Holy Spirit.
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Primary Means of Grace

We understand that the word preached is the primary means of grace. That Word is one of comfort, but is also confronting.
It is where we find our peace and at the same time our purpose.
The dread a preacher feels partly comes from thinking about the offense that our work, our preaching, might potentially cause.
Contrary to popular opinion, I do not like to bother and offend people. And because this text has a history of being misinterpreted and misapplied, I have to be particularly careful because it deals with what we might call
The Rule of Engagement” - how we relate to one another within our families, our work relationships and to those in the world.
In my attempt to bring you a balanced interpretation of this text, I do not want to water down the importance of the exhortations found here or even be accused of circumnavigating around them.
In the world there are RULES of ENGAGEMENT, but here there is ONE RULE...The Apostle Paul directs our attention here to that rule within our relationships as he speaks of...
wives > husband
husband > wives
children > parents
slaves > masters
masters > slaves.
We could spend the next several weeks or even hours on the specifics of all these relationships, but for now let’s just cut to the chase and consider what is at the heart of all these relationships and our dealings with one another.
It is this....
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Be Imitators of God

Paul begins this passage by telling us to Be Imitators of God
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Ephesians 5:1–2 NASB95PARA1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1–2 NASB95PARA
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
First, and foremost, the call upon our lives is to be imitators of God in Christ.
Everything that follows relates to that call.
Consider each one of the relationships Paul speaks of here . . . wives (be subject) to your own husbands as unto the lord as the church is subject to Christ (vv 22-24) . . . husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (vv 25) . . . children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right (6:1). . . Fathers don’t provoke, but instruct and discipline in the Lord (v. 4) . . . slaves be obedient... as to Christ as slaves of Christ (v6)…giving your service as to the Lord, masters do the same (v. 9).
All this is impossible for us to do in our flesh. We need help to love as Christ loves and so, along with the provision of the Holy Spirit, Paul reminds us of our need to "be filled with the Spirit” (5:18).
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Evidence of the Spirit’s Control

He then goes on to detail some of the behavior that is evidence of being controlled by the Spirit of Christ.
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Ephesians 5:19–21 NASB95PARA
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
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Paul says that we should speak to one another in a way that builds up rather than tears down, we should “always be giving thanks (to God) for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and thirdly, we should “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ - out of reverence (respect) for Christ” (5:19-21).
In other words, there is a level of subjection that every Christian must yield to regardless of gender and social status - regardless of where God has placed us in the body or what role each of us has been assigned. We are ALL called to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. And this subjection is something we learn as we seek to imitate Christ....
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Philippians 2:6–8 NASB95PARA
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The more we are able to comprehend what Christ submitted Himself to, the more we will be better equipped to understand Paul’s instruction in this passage as Paul writes,
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Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church (5:22, 23). Likewise, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her(5:25).
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“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (6:1)“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,..” (6:5)
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“Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” (6:9)
What are we supposed to do with all these very specific instructions?
Some would have us skip over this text or even deny the relevance of this text to the world we live in today. Some would write it off as offensive and politically incorrect and socially unacceptable. Some would say these words are chauvinistic and selfishly domineering.
As we are engaged with the World, We are called to be COUNTERCULTURE CHRISTIANS...
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Counterculture Christians

Counterculture Christians, but the world wants us to be politically correct...
Political correctness - certain topics - expression are off-limits:
Since the late 1980s, the term has been used to describe a preference for inclusive language and avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race.
Hillbillies = Appalachian American
Certain people don't nag, they are just verbally repetitive
Men are not balding they are follicly regressive
Someone is not short - they are just anatomically compact
Kids don’t get grounded anymore - they just hit social speed bumps
People who are homeless are now outdoor urban dwellers
We’ve become so afraid of using the wrong word in the wrong place in front of the wrong people for fear of being considered offensive, insensitive, racist or sexist that we’ve forgotten that perfect love castes out all fear (1 John 4:18)
So, maybe we should simply discount this text as the ramblings of a chauvinistic apostle who is just another man?
Do we skip over it and say - I’ve heard it all before, let’s just move on. In a world of political correctness, if we are going to be faithful to the word we must abide by the Rule of Engagement.
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We must not discount our only rule for faith and practice because at the heart of all these relationships is that ONE RULE of ENGAGEMENT for all of our relationships -
Ephesians 5:1–2 NASB95PARA1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1–2 NASB95PARA
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
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Romans 5:8 NASB95PARA8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NASB95PARA
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
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1 John 4:11 NASB95PARA11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11 NASB95PARA
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
It is always a dangerous practice to accept some biblical teachings while rejecting others that we find to be less palatable and maybe even sometimes distasteful and uncomfortable.
When I was ordained in Grace Presbytery January 24, 1993 I was asked this Question for ordination:
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Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account? (Ordination Question #6, BCO Ch. 21-5)
Our one and only Rule of Engagement in all of our relationships is to strive to maintain the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the church, not based on our own personal preferences, but drawn from the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as our only rule for faith and practice.
What Paul is teaching in Ephesians 5 and the beginning of Chapter 6 must be understood in light of his other teaching about all of our relationships within the body of Christ - our families and the world we live in.
Elsewhere Paul teaches about the equality of people before God, and here, within that equality, Paul exhorts us to pay attention to some of the role distinctions that exist between a husband and a wife - parents and children - those in authority over us and those who submit to that authority.
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Galatians 3:28 NASB95PARA28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 NASB95PARA
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB95PARA13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
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1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB95PARA
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
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Colossians 3:10–13 NASB95PARA10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
Colossians 3:10–13 NASB95PARA
10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
It is true we are all through faith in Jesus Christ on level ground before him, but there are still distinctions in God given roles when he states “the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (5:23) - children obey - slaves be obedient to those place over you, masters treat those who work for you and your Master who is in heaven with treat you.
If there is anyone present who is squirming under these statements, I beg you to hear again the thread that runs through all these commands. Follow this rule out of reverence for Christ - he is the head of the church, his body...
as Christ is the head of the church”
Paul says this of the relationship between the husband and the wife, but I believe it holds true for all of our relationship...
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Ephesians 5:32 NASB95PARA32
Ephesians 5:32 NASB95PARA
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
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What does this mean? Christ is the Head of the Church

‘What does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church?’
Christ explains this in Mark 10:45 when He says,
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Mark 10:45 NASB95PARA45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 NASB95PARA
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
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Hebrews 5:8 NASB95PARA8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8 NASB95PARA
8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Let’s look also at John 13:3-5 - on the night of the last supper before Jesus was betrayed they all met in the upper room. It was customary for the one who had prepared that room for the guest and the meal to get up from the table and wait on all the guest, but...
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John 13:3–5 NASB95PARA
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given Him all things . . . rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” (John 13L3-5)
Whether we are husbands or wives, widows or widowers, children or employees, single or engaged, we are called to ...Humble Service to One Another
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Humble Service to One Another

Submitting, serving another person has always been considered a sign of weakness.
It was true of Paul’s day—if you served another person you diminished your standing before that person. And the temptation for those on the receiving end of service is to exploit the work of the servant and to treat them with a diminished sense of importance as a person.
Christ lived and died for the spiritual well being of His Church, His body. This instruction lies at the heart of Paul’s teaching about the Church’s role within the grand, cosmic, eternal plan of God.
We have said, over and over again, that this world of ours is a mess, but God has a plan and an eternal purpose for all things that he alone might be Glorified.
The Christian Church, the body of Christ, is very much a part of God’s plan to meaningfully impact this world and at the heart of that plan is the family...
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Our Role in the World

So why all the fuss about the family and relationships? Why the instruction to husbands and wives? Why the instruction to parents and children? to masters and slaves?
Could it be that our ability to be faithful Christians is shaped in largely by what happens in the home? Could it be that the effectiveness of our witness to the world is closely connected to how we represent Christ within our own households?
I’m not sure that present day Christianity has done well with this. It is difficult to tell whether the average Christian household behaves any differently than the average non-Christian household.
Statistics seem to indicate that we live very much the same way.
We watch the same television programs, we spend our money on similar things, our children are no less likely to get into trouble, and our marriages are no less likely to become dysfunctional or to altogether dissolve.
By all accounts, the Christian home has shown itself in this century to not be very different from any other home. So, we shouldn't be surprised to find that our impact upon this world has been minimal and ineffective
In a world of political correctness we are called to be politically incorrect - to live counter to the culture where our only RULE OF ENGAGEMENT is to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Our witness for Jesus Christ must not only shine from this congregation, but our witness for Christ must also shine brightly from within our own homes and our families as we engage the world by God's grace as imitators of God in Christ.
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