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Summary: Apostle Paul teaches us a principle that should undergird all of our relationships.

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Introduction:

Couple of important points from last week: First, there are no married people issues; only single people issues that get worse in marriage. Marriage doesn’t create problems; it merely exposes them.

Let me apologize in advance for this illustration, but how many of you saw the Louisville/Duke game a couple of weeks ago where the Louisville player broke his leg? It might be the nastiest sports injury I’ve ever seen. When you watch the replay, it didn’t really look that bad; it looked like just a normal jump and landing, but it snapped his shinbone in half and tore through the skin... They say something was already wrong with bone (disease, a hairline fracture), because that kind of pressure should not have broken the bone unless there was already something wrong with it.

o The jump and landing didn’t create the problem; it just revealed it.

In the same way, the pressures of marriage don’t create problems in our hearts; it just reveals them.

o And some of you don’t want to admit that, because you want to blame your spouse, or your marriage, for all your problems, but, if you were honest with yourself, you’d probably admit that your marriage is just unearthing the existing problems in your heart— selfishness; control impatience; anger.

(1 “Mysterion” in Greek means a wondrous, unlooked--‐for truth that God is revealing now through his Spirit. Tim Keller, Meaning of Marriage, 45.)

Second, we saw last week that marriage and singleness are, according to Paul, one of the things God uses most to teach us about our relationship to him.

Paul calls this the divine mystery of marriage,1 and when you unlock this mystery, it will yield so much understanding about what God is doing in your marriage, and why it is the way it is—and even what he’s doing in those seasons in your life when you are not married.

Both of those points are going to be really important today, because the Apostle Paul is going to teach us a principle that should undergird all of our relationships.

People say: why are you doing a series related to marriage when you have so many single people at your church? 1. Our focus is on the human heart, and what is revealed about it in marriage; 2. I want some of you who are single to know what you are getting into when you get married.

I’m going to try to summarize this principle Paul’s going to teach us about relationships today in one question—one question that if you would ask this question in your relationships, it would transform all of them. It’s one of the secrets to happiness, and probably do more to replace strife with peace than anything else you could do. And not just in marriage, in ALL of your relationships.

(I’m not going to give you that question until about halfway through the message, because I want to let the Apostle Paul build for you the reasoning behind the question—because, I’m warning you, it is VERY counter--‐intuitive.)

Ephesians 5:21–25

OK, here we go. We’ll pick up in vs. 21, where Paul is literally mid--‐ sentence: …21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

OK—this is probably the most unpopular verse in the NT. When you see someone on TV that wants to dis the Bible, this is one of the verses they always throw out. “Oh, you can’t possibly believe the Bible, it’s so backwards, it actually says…”

And sadly, this verse has sometimes been used as a justification for the subjugation of women.

But that’s because it has been misunderstood and lifted out of its context.

Two quick observations here:

First of all, what is the first word in verse 22? “Wives.” Who is he talking to in this verse? Not “husbands.” Wives.

o You husbands will get your own verse in a minute—this verse was not written for you to give you a tool to wield on your wife. If God intended for you to use it that way, he would have addressed the verse to you.

o So you stay out of your wife’s verse. You don’t like her messing with your stuff; don’t mess with her verse.

Second, don’t forget the verse right before vs. 22: 21…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Now, that’s written to every follower of Jesus. We are all to be submitting ourselves to each other; wives to husbands; husbands to wives.

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