Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
Since this is Father’s Day I believe God would have me depart from our study of the Acts of the Apostles and this morning I would encourage you to take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter five. I have entitled my discourse to you “Virtues of a Godly Man.”
Today we given honor to fathers, and we should indeed give honor to whom honor is due. Recently at Mother’s Day I spoke on virtues of a godly woman and today virtues of a godly man.
God has given us much instruction about what it means to be a godly man, what it means to be a godly woman, and it is interesting that as you look at the Word of God you quickly discover that he has given far more to husbands and fathers than he has to wives and even children. Consequently, since there is so much more given to we as men, I quickly realize that it is going to take me more than one Sunday to accomplish what I believe God would have me accomplish in speaking to you men, you fathers.
You might ask the question: I wonder why? Why so much more instruction? Well, I believe the answer at least in part and certainly primarily is because the husband’s love for his wife is supposed to illustrate Christ’s love for the Church. That is a tall order. In fact, marriage, as we look at it biblically, is to be a picture, an object lesson of Christ and the Church. And, men, I would ask you this morning: Is this what your children and your friends see in your marriage? If they were to evaluate your marriage, could they look at your marriage and say, “You know, I can really see in that relationship a picture of Christ and the Church”?
Dear brothers in Christ, how you treat your wife, frankly, reveals how you treat Christ. How you father your children also really betrays your devotion to Christ and his Church. And, thankfully, God has not left us in the dark about these issues. But, men, we must listen very carefully to what the Word of God has to say because please hear this: One day we will be held accountable for the way we treated our wives, the way we raised our children.
This subject is also of immense importance because over the years it has become exceedingly and painfully obvious to me that most Christians do not understand God’s design for the family, and some that do understand it outright lead rebel against it. They defy it. And as a result marriages suffer, families are in turmoil, Christ is dishonored and in many cases entire families live under a cloud of divine chastening and forfeit blessings.
You know, routinely I hear husbands and wives and children lament over family problems. There is never, never a week that goes by that I do not hear something about that, either in this church or from this church or from people around the world that are a part of our church via the internet and so forth. I hear husbands being described as petty tyrants, treating their wives like slaves, men that are clueless about what it means to love and lead their wives, men that are addicted to work and hobbies and recreation and entertainment and even pornography. And, as a result, wives feeling emotionally and spiritually abandoned. In many cases wives being treated, frankly, like slaves and, as a result, they are lonely. They are disillusioned. They are sexually unresponsive having lived for years with an uncaring, unattentive, ungodly husband.
And I hear about wives who are often unsubmissive, contentious, controlling, independent, emasculating, demanding their own way. Many are angry and sour and sullen and depressed. Others are lazy, undisciplined, immodest. They are gossips, busy bodies, addicted to food, soap operas, romance novels, Oprah, and shopping, and on and on it goes.
Then I constantly witness child centered homes where children set the agenda in the home and everything orbits around them, children that are defiant, children that are allowed to resent authority and reject it completely, children that will not mind the first time when they are asked and they whine and pout and throw tantrums and the parents seem utterly clueless. This is an increasing problem in our society and even here, unfortunately at Calvary Bible Church. It is very alarming to those of us in leadership.
Of course, the social engineers of our culture have all of the answers and basically what they say is that we need to abolish the oppressive biblical roles of male headship and female submission in marriage. In fact, we even need to legalize same sex marriage, which is an abomination to the Lord that has historically signaled the final phase of a civilization’s existence before it implodes under the wrath of divine abandonment. They would tell us that we need to end the institution of marriage completely because all it is, is, quote, “Legalized servitude.” They would have us believe that women need to be liberated. They need to be relieved from the slavery of being keepers at home. They need to have careers and we need to let day cares and public schools and other government sponsored programs raise our children because, after all, it takes a village to raise a child.
They would have us believe that television needs to be the dominant influence in our children’s lives. And they would also tell us that children are basically, inherently good and if you just provide for them the right kind of environment, their true natures will blossom. And, indeed, that is true (said sarcastically). Of course, we should never use any form of physical punishment because we all know that that makes children violent and if children are unruly we need to give them some kind of a diagnosis that tends to blame it all on some physical problem and then medicate them. As a result of these social engineers and their so called “wisdom,” we see the total collapse of the moral fiber of our society which will ultimately destroy our nation.
Today we witness a rise in domestic violence, child abuse, pedophilia even sexual abuse by teachers. We watch what is going on in our junior highs and high schools in terms of the immorality and it is absolutely beyond description. We see the erosion of parental rights in our society, an increase in unwed mothers, fatherless homes, divorce, militant homosexuality and we see feminism corrupting our society like an untreatable virus.
As a result we see our young men being emasculated and feminized and young women obsessed with physical appearance, dressing and acting like trollops.
I did some research this last week and compiled a variety of statistics from various sources. According to the studies that I read from 1970 to 1992 the divorce rate increased 279 percent. The number of children with a divorced parent increased 352 percent. The co habitation population increased 533 percent which means 2.7 million unmarried households now exist and 40 percent of them contain children.
Another study says that within six months of their marriage 50 percent of newlyweds begin to doubt their marriage will last, 39 percent report, quote, “big fights,” at least once a week and four percent had already separated for at least one night. Another study indicated that between 1970 and 1995 the percentage of married couples with children dropped by a third, but single parent families nearly doubled. And in 1960 there were 243,000 children living with a single parent who had never married, but by 1993 it went from 243,000 to 6.3 million.
Today there are 1.2 million children per year that are born into fatherless homes in America, and they estimate that right now we have 1.8 million so called latch key kids. So this study indicated that 20 years ago 17 percent of American children grew up without a father. Today it is 36 percent. In 1960 there were eight million children living only with their mother. By 1995 it was 23 million.
A study indicated that three of the fastest growing forms of the family in the United States between 1980 and 1995 was, number one, single mother families, number two, blended families with stepparents, and number three divorced families. In other words, the family left over after a divorce. And now we see the relationship between the breakdown of the family and problems in society. In fact, research has now established a clear link between the two.
According to the national institute of child health and human development, divorce is the leading cause of childhood depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control 75 percent of adolescent patients at chemical abuse centers are from single parent families, and also 63 percent of youth suicides are single parent children.
Another study indicated that 70 percent of teenage pregnancies are single parent children and 75 percent of juveniles in youth correction facilities are from single parent families. Another study indicated that children of divorce are five times more likely to be suspended from school, three times as likely to need psychological counseling, two times as likely to repeat a grade and are absent from school more, late to school more often and show more health problems.
Beloved, we are experiencing the wrath of divine abandonment in our country, according to Romans one. And I would submit to you as a minister of the gospel that once upon a time God brought about the flood waters to judge the wicked upon the earth, and after that he rained fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah and he sent the plagues upon Egypt. He sent the fiery serpents upon Israel in the wilderness and he later allowed the Assyrians to come and take them over, then the Babylonians. We can look through the Bible and we can see, for example, that he utterly destroyed the Amalekites, very man, woman, child and the Bible says even the nursing child, the camel, the donkey and the sheep because of their wickedness. We look down through redemptive history and we see repeatedly, time and time again that civilizations that mocked the living God dried up and withered away under divine judgment. Will he not judge the most powerful nation in the history of the world that was once founded upon many biblical truths, but has now done everything in its power to eviscerate the very knowledge and glory of God from the culture?
Indeed he will even as he has promised to all of the nations who mock him and scoff at his Word. We read in Revelation 19:15 that when he returns, “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”1
Now, dear friends, I give that to you in order to frame what I want to share with you that is so important over the next few weeks. Because one of the threads of commonality with all of the problems that we see in our culture that ultimately stem from our families and from our churches is a breakdown in an understanding of what men need to know with respect to being a man of God and a father.
You must understand that God himself established two institutions; number one, the glorious organism, the body of Christ, the Church; and, number two, the covenant of marriage which is designed to picture the Church. And when either of these go astray from their divinely ordained roles you see a break down in society. If the Church fails to preach the truth and hold Christians accountable do you know what will happen? Marriages will suffer. And likewise, if husbands and wives and fathers and mothers disobey God’s instructions to them for their marriage and their family, eventually their churches will wither away in apostasy. And before our very eyes we are seeing both things occur in our culture.
As the church goes, so goes the culture. And sadly we are now witnessing all of this. Yet isn’t it amazing how people complain about gas prices and complain about the economy and the rising cost of health care and the war in Iraq. And, indeed, those are bad things, but, folks, that is like complaining about your cable bill while your house is being swept away with the flood. People have no discernment today because they reject the spiritual authority of the Word of God.
So I call you this morning, each of you, but especially you men, to humble yourselves before the teaching of the Word. Now I warn you. Over the next few weeks you will not like what you hear. And some of you will say, “Well, what else is new?”
But we know that our flesh never favorably responds to the things of God. In fact, in Galatians 5:17 we read that “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.”2 Now, to be sure, the sting of the lash will be felt on all of our backs because in some way we are all guilty, as you will discover, but the Word of God, we know, “is profitable for teaching and reproof and correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be equipped and adequate for every good work.”
Now I have chosen a text this morning in Ephesians chapter five, and there is also a parallel passage in Colossians three. And here I am going to focus primarily on the virtues of a godly man, a godly father, even though it has much to say about the wives as well. But in both Ephesians and Colossians I want you to understand that God speaks through his inspired apostle and there he delineates with utmost clarity a sequence of commands that outline his design and his order for a family. The sequence of commands basically goes like this.
Wives, you are to submit to your husbands, Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22-24.
Husbands, you are to live your wives, Colossians 3:19 and Ephesians 5:25-33.
Children are to obey their parents, Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 6:1-3.
And, parents, do not provoke your children to anger, Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4; and in Ephesians 6:4 Paul also says that we are to “bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.”
Now, beloved, these are the priorities that we must understand. And in order to fully grasp what God has to say here we need to summarize the admonitions that he gives first of all in the first few verses here in Ephesians five, and we want to begin there in verse one. I just want to read them to you with very little comment, the first 17 verses.
And, men, I want you to hear me now. Any man that wants to climb a mountain had better be equipped. He had better be in good shape. He had better have all that he needs to do that. And I assure you that if you seek to climb the Everest of marriage or the Kilimanjaro of raising your children, you better listen to what God has to say or you will never reach the summit because these are spiritual matters of utmost importance.
Now, let me give you an example here of what the apostle is saying to teach of us, but men in particular. Here is where he begins, Ephesians five verse one.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children”3 There is your first command. Be an imitator of God. “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.
But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”4
Now, men, let’s face it. There is no way that any of us can live up to these exhortations. Countless wives would give anything to have husbands who could consistently be imitators of God, walk in sacrificial love, be separated from immorality and greed, not have any filthy or silly talk, are always thankful. Men who don’t lie, who are discerning, who walk in the light and constantly are learning what is pleasing to the Lord.
That is every woman’s dream, every Christian woman’s dream. Many of us as men long to be that way, and yet we know how often we fail.
So the question is: Is there any hope? And the answer is: Absolutely, but not in our own power, not in the power of the flesh. We cannot do this on our own, men. We need divine enablement. We need supernatural help. We need the power of the indwelling Spirit released in such a way that we can obey these commands and that is what he refers to in the very next verse which is the very heart of Paul’s message here in Ephesians five.
Verse 18 he says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”5 Please understand. We cannot do any of God’s will apart from his Spirit. Sanctification is all of his grace. But I want to go ahead, we are going to come back to this in a moment, but I want you to notice what happens when we are filled with the Spirit.
Notice the results beginning at verse 19.
Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
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, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also 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, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.6
Now, friends, I want you to notice a dominant theme here and it can be summarized in one word, submission. There is to be mutual submission one to another. The family is to submit to the father. The husband is to submit to the needs of his wife. The father is to submit to the needs of his children. The children are to submit to the authority of their parents, and parents are to submit to their children’s needs to be nurtured and instructed in the Lord.
My, what a tall order. But this is God’s design for the family.
Thankfully we are not left without resource and we have it here beginning in verse 18. And, men, I wish to focus on four commands that translate into four categories of virtue, and this morning we are just going to cover one of them, and in the weeks to come we will cover the rest.
You will soon find that they will be easy to remember yet impossible to live unless—now catch this—unless you obey the sequence, unless you obey them in order, because they all build upon the other. Each one is the consequence of the previous command.
Number one, you have got to be filled with the Spirit. That is where you begin. Number two, we are commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the Church. Number three, do not provoke your children to anger. And, number four, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Said differently, if you are not filled with the Spirit you will never be able to love your wife as Christ loved the Church; and if you are not loving your wife as Christ loved the Church you will provoke your children to anger and you will not be able to bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.
Now, ladies, you are invited to eavesdrop on this most solemn conversation. You will learn much about your husbands. You will learn much about fatherhood. You will also learn much about yourself and your role and your relationship with your husband and father. You will learn much about how to pray. But, men, this is the very heart of what it means to be a man of God.
Number one, be filled with the Spirit, verse 18. Notice he says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”7 Now here the Spirit of God, through his inspired apostle, uses a familiar illustration to contrast the way of the flesh with the way of the spirit. Let me give you a historical context here briefly.
In that day in Ephesus and the region surrounding that area the pagans worshipped idols and they often did so with a frenzied emotionalism that also ultimately ended in sexual drunken orgies. You see, they believed that wine would somehow free a person from the material world and elevate them into a spiritual world, and wine would, therefore, induce some kind of a communion with the gods whereby they would receive special revelation, special wisdom from God that would be otherwise unattainable and, no doubt, demons were there to oblige them.
So what Paul is simply saying here is don’t allow wine to influence your thinking, to control your behavior, because the result of that, he says, is dissipation, a term that means foolish overindulgence, the squandering of resources, a term that describes a person that is depraved and debauched and immoral. And, of course, all of this is the inevitable result of drunkenness and intoxicating beverages as we see in our culture. And instead he says I want you to be filled with the Sprit. Let him influence your thinking and control your behavior.
Now the Greek verb “be filled” from a word pleroo (play-ro’-o) in the original language has really three connotations that we see in the Word of God. Sometimes it denotes the idea of permeation. It is used, for example, of salt that would permeate meat and give it flavor as well as preserve it. So he is saying at some level when we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are to be permeated with him. We will have a certain flavor of him. We will be such an influence in our corrupt society as to prevent decay.
It was also used, this particular term, to denote wind filling a sail of a ship and therefore carrying that ship over the waters of a sea. In fact, Peter used this in 2 Peter 1:21 when he described the inspired writers of Scripture who were moved by the Holy Spirit, the idea of something that is invisible providing energy and a force that moves. And so, when we are filled with the Spirit, we are not only to be permeated with him, but we will be moved by him in an invisible and powerful way.
And, thirdly, it was also used to describe domination or control. For example, we see it used in various passages and ways like someone is filled with anger or someone is filled with fear or filled with sorrow. And it is interesting that grammatically it is in the present passive imperative. Now hang on here. This isn’t really that complicated. The fact that it is in the present tense means that this filling calls for an habitual and continuous action. It is not a one time event never to be repeated. I could literally be translated, “Be... being kept filled.” So, real practically speaking, guys, it is not to say that we can kind of say to ourselves, “Well, you know what? I have racked up a lot of good boy points here lately so I think I can kind of indulge the flesh a little bit here and God will understand.”
No. We need to “be being kept filled.” It requires a constant, habitual surrender to the will of God. That is what it means by the present tense. But it is also in the passive voice, which means that something other than ourselves is doing the filling. We can’t fill ourselves up. It is the Spirit that does that. It could literally be translated, “Allow yourselves to be filled.”
I was reading one commentator and he used the illustration of a glove. A glove by itself is powerless. It is utterly useless unless it is filled by a hand. That glove cannot act independently from the power that is within it in the hand. And, likewise, it has no reason to brag about any of its accomplishments because it was not the glove that accomplished what it did. It was the power inside, namely the hand. This is what we see when somebody is filled with the Spirit.
So it is a present passive and an imperative. Imperative simply means it is a command. It is not a suggestion. Men, let me put it to you this way. The God of the universe is telling you: “Here is what I expect you to do. Not think about it or why don’t you try this on for size.”
Now, this requires literally... in order to be filled by the Spirit, it requires a dying to self. It requires a surrender to the will of God. And by habitually choosing to walk in the paths of righteousness and godliness what happens is the Holy Spirit begins to fill us up with his glorious graces. He permeates us. He causes us to bear the fruits of righteousness and reap wonderful harvests of blessing.
Being filled with the Spirit could be defined this way. You have got to be committed to a moment by moment surrender to the will of God as it is revealed in Scripture. Men, you have to develop such a passion for God that it becomes your deepest desire to be permeated with the Spirit of God, that your deepest desire and longing is for him to be the power that moves you along in your life. Your deepest desire that he controls your thoughts and your actions. And then when we do he fills our soul with power and wisdom and courage and contentment and on and on it goes.
In fact, in Galatians 5:16 it is described a little bit differently. There we are commanded to walk by the Spirit and as a result it says, “you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”8 So when we volitionally do our part we see later on in verse 22 the Spirit of God doing his. In verse 22 it says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”9 Beloved, this is God’s passionate desire for all of us.
Now, men, life is all about choices. It is all about choices. You want to ask yourself right now. What permeates me? What moves me? What controls me? If you don’t know, I am sure your wife does and your children will. The Word of God says that we reap what we sow, Galatians 6:7. This is a moral law not to be trifled with. For example, in Galatians 6:7 we read:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. 10
You are going to reap eternal life. That is not referring just to heaven, but also the highest quality of life this side of it.
Charles Spurgeon said, and I quote, “When a man sows to the flesh he deceives himself for the flesh is his old fallen nature. As such sowing is nothing but evil. But to sow well is to sow under the influence of another, power, to sow in another manner. In fact it is, as the apostle says, to sow to the Spirit.”
Years of counseling have revealed to me that most men tend to sow the wrong seeds in their marriages and in their families. Men, for example, if you sow indifference about your wife’s spiritual growth and you refuse to step up to the plate and lead her and teach her and train her and pray with her, and instead you treat her like some servant rather than a fellow heir of the grace of life as Peter said in 1 Peter 3:7, if you refuse to treat her as a spiritual equal, if you sow anger and condescending control, if you make all of the decisions and it is ok for you to get mad, but never for her and on and on and on, do you know what you are going to reap? You are going to reap a wife who is filled with fear and resentment, who feels oppressed, who is discouraged, who is emotionally and physically non responsive and children who live in fear, children who have no idea how to resolve conflict. The best they know is “he who yells the loudest wins” or “when there is conflict let’s just shy away and pretend like it is not there.”
If, men, you sow a lack of any involvement, no real love, no leadership, if you are emotionally unavailable, if you live in some parallel universe, and even when you are in the home you are not there, do you know what you are going to reap? You are going to reap a wife who is lonely and depressed and hopeless looking for something to fill the void. And many times what they turn to are their children, and they develop a parasitic, controlling involvement with their children and if they don’t find some relief there, many times they run into the arms of another. With no godly oversight, men, your children will end up living in a fantasy world of television and video games, cell phones, all this text messaging with their friends and their pet lovers wasting their lives with mindless carnal chit chat that will inevitably bring them to ruin.
I am often stunned when I observe may Christian marriages, especially the men, and watch what they are sowing in their wives and in their family. And you see the result of it and you ask, “Well, where was Dad in all of this?” “Oh, well, he was busy at work.”
Or, “you know, he has gone fishing or he is playing golf or he... you know, he is watching a ball game or he is just plain undiscerning,” and variations of these kinds of things could go on and on and on.
Now, men, imagine the difference. Imagine a home where the husband is filled with the Spirit, a husband who has died to self, who has surrendered his will to the Spirit of God as it is revealed in the Word of God, a husband who is passionate about developing a secret devotion to God, a husband who is concerned about his own besetting sins, a man who is discerning about the distractions of the world that rob him of blessing, a man who mediates on the Word and hides it in his heart, a man who faithfully and consistently cries out to God and says, “Oh, God, help me to know what it means to love my wife as Christ loved the Church. God, help me to understand how to honor her and cherish her and protect her and serve her and lead her and raise my children in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord. God, help me to understand what it means when you say, ‘Do not provoke your children to anger,’ because, God, I am confident that I do that.”
Imagine that kind of home! Imagine a man that habitually prays with his wife and prays with his children, a man who habitually reads the Word together with them and is committed to teaching them, a man that is faithful in family and corporate worship, a man whose passion is for his marriage to picture the Lord Jesus Christ and his Church and for his children to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Nothing else in life even comes close to these kinds of priorities for a man who is filled with the Spirit.
Men, in order for the indwelling Spirit of God to permeate you and to move you, to control you, in order for him to unleash the power that is within you because after all the Spirit of God is already in you if you are truly a believer, in order for this to happen, in order for you to experience the full measure of his power, you have got to choose to obey him. And biblically I went through just a few things. This requires a continual submission to the instructions of Scripture.
It requires a continual consciousness of the Spirit’s presence within, a continual walking in intimate fellowship with Christ, a continual dying and denying of self and sacrificial love for others, a continual crucifying of the flesh with its passions and desires, continual confession of sin and turning from it, continual longing to display the glory of God in your life, a continual appetite for and meditation on the Word of God, a continual vigilance to avoid temptation and the clever schemes of Satan and continual prayer seeking to be delivered from temptation.
That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And I ask you to examine your hearts this morning, men, to search your heart. Always be suspect of your spirituality. Assume there are significant areas in your life that are displeasing to him. Assume that there are the wrong things that permeate you like anger. Assume there are the wrong things that move you like your lusts or materialism or entertainment. Assume that there are the wrong things that control you like your own commitment to self. And then prayerfully open up the Word of God and ask the Spirit of God to teach you, to show you, to instruct you, to convict you, to comfort you, to correct you, to train you in righteousness, and he will. He will expose your selfishness, your pride, your lusts, your pathetic excuses and justifications and rationalizations. Men, each one of you know what I am talking about. And then get serious about your own personal pursuit of holiness.
The apostle Paul told young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, he said, “Discipline yourself for the sake of godliness.” Discipline is an interesting word in the original language. It is a term gumnazo (goom-nad’-zo). We get our word gymnastics from it, and it literally means to exercise or to train in a rigorous manner. And here it is just specifically speaking of rigorous training in spiritual self discipline. Men, what I am saying to you is, you have got to start training like your life depends upon it because quite frankly your marriage and your family does. It depends upon your discipline.
Let me give you some practical things. I want you men to consider restructuring your schedule with some non negotiable priorities. Let me give them to you. Your number one priority... again, you need to put this in your schedule, and you know how it works: if it is not on your schedule, it is probably not going to happen.
Number one, schedule private personal devotions. Men, learn to get alone with God. Learn to cultivate a secret devotion. This is where spiritual filling begins. Choose a quality devotional guide or find some relevant book to something you are dealing with in your life. Get a Bible study guide. Get disciplined about your Bible study. Guys, get disciplined about reading. Think of all the thousands of hours we waste watching television.
And I am not saying you get rid of your television. Maybe you need to do that. Maybe that is an idol. But what I am saying is get serious about reading because the Spirit of God uses great minds of people to communicate his truth. Become men of the Word.
I am fascinated whenever I think in 2 Timothy four. Remember Paul is dying in a Roman prison and he asks Timothy to bring him the cloak I left at Troas with Carpus, obviously because he was cold in that rotting dungeon. And then he says, “And bring me the books, especially the parchments,” which is a reference to the Old Testament. I mean this is the apostle Paul. He is dying and what does he want? Something to keep him warm, and he wants the Word.
And, men, learn to pray in that private time of devotion. You know, repeatedly in the gospels we read that the Lord Jesus went up into a mountain to pray. Guys, do you know what it is like to really get alone with God on a consistent basis and to enjoy that sweet communion? And I would encourage you, when you do so, do so with your Bible open reading the Word, allowing the Word to speak to you, a way of interacting with the Lord.
I literally encourage you to pray the Bible, let the Word of God ignite your praise and exhort your heart and comfort your Spirit. That is the first restructuring of a non negotiable priority.
The second one is schedule private worship with your wife. 1 Peter 3:7 Peter says, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way.”11 The idea of you need to study her. He went on to say, “as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your...”12 catch this, guys, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.”13
What a sobering threat? I mean, he is literally saying that if you don’t live with your wife in an understanding way and if you don’t treat her in a submissive, loving, considerate way, chivalrous way, I am not going to answer your prayers with respect to certain things. And he doesn’t even go on to define that. Men, think of the cost here. Are you willing to cut off divine blessing in your life? I think of so many men that waste their prayers because they are not loving their wives as God would have them to, forfeiting God’s special resources.
Here in 1 Peter 3:7, men, we are called to submit to our wives not as a leader, but humbly tending to her needs as a weaker vessel. And you need to understand, spiritually she is our equal, but not physically. Fiber for fiber men’s muscles are 50 percent stronger than a woman to begin with. She is physically weaker, and that poses a whole unique set of needs, men, that many times are hard for us to understand.
We are literally to subordinate our needs to hers. That is what it means when he says, “Live with your wives in an understanding way.”14 Guys, this means we are to be sensitive to her fears. We are to be considerate about her concerns. We are to care about her dreams and her passions. We have got to learn how to tenderly move into her heart and sacrificially love her. And this can’t be done during TV commercials, men. You have to schedule it. It requires an atmosphere of uninterruption. I like to call it “porch swing worship.” That is where Nancy and I get alone quite often. If it is not a porch swing, you will have a place, and you need to schedule it. This is a sacred investment.
Men, you sow this kind of love and you will reap an unimaginable harvest of marital bliss because God will answer your prayers. The prayers of a righteous man availeth much.
The third thing you need to schedule is family worship. You need to teach your kids that worship is something that happens not just at church, but it happens as a lifestyle. Be creative. Be age specific. This is more than just praying before meals, men. Stand up. Be the priest of your home. Lead your family. Show them the sacredness of the Word of God. Read it. Discuss it. Memorize it. Apply it. Later on we are going to get to this. That is what it is referring to, to “bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” Sing songs together. Pray together. Do projects together. Go and serve the shut ins together. Model Christian service with them.
And then, fourthly, you need to schedule corporate worship. Fathers, you have got to set the example here. If it is not a priority for you it is not going to be a priority for your children. We are commanded in Hebrews 10:24 to, “Stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”15 Men, this is the stuff of Spirit filling, the most foundational virtue of a godly man and a godly father, to be filled with the Spirit.
Now I want you to notice the amazing consequence in verses 19 through 21. It says “Speaking,” which literally means “to make a sound,” “Speaking to one another in psalms.”16 This is referring to Old Testament psalms put to music; “and hymns,” these are songs of praise that exalt God; “and spiritual songs,” these would refer to songs of testimony that encompass a broad spectrum of spiritual truth. This will be the result of spiritual filling. You are going to “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and it says, “singing and making melody.”17 I love making melody. It literally means in the original language to pluck a stringed instrument with the fingers.
“Singing and making melody with your heart.”18 And notice the object of our praise. It is to the Lord.
Isn’t it interesting, a spirit filled person is always going to have a song in their heart? Recently we have been studying Paul and Silas. They were being tortured in a prison in the stocks in the rack there. And what were they doing? They were singing. How on earth could anybody sing in a time like that? The answer is simple. They were filled with the Spirit of God.
By the way, it is interesting how different the music of the Christian is from the music of the world. The reason is because we worship a different God. That is why our music sounds different. Our music is God’s music, the music of heaven. And it is so tragic... what a tragic mistake to somehow make God’s music be so similar to the music of the world that you can’t tell it apart, and then to say that somehow we are going to use this kind of music that sounds just like the world to evangelize the lost.
I mean, folks, that sends the wrong message, doesn’t it? What that tells them is, “Hey, you know what? Since your music sounds just like the music that I like, I guess there is really no difference between the Christian life and my life.” You see how that works? You have got to be so careful with that. We know that some day God will silence the world’s music. Revelation 18:22, It “will not be heard any longer.”19
But this is the result of being Spirit filled. He goes on to say they are “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”20 You see, Spirit filled Christians are always praising the Lord. They are filled with joy. They are filled with contentment and peace and a passion to serve.
Ladies, I ask you. Would you not love to be married to this kind of man? I hope you are.
And, men, wouldn’t you love to be like this? I hope you agree that you would; to be a man whose heart is overflowing with songs and praise and spiritual truth that is giving thanks in all things in the name of Christ; even, ladies, when you back into his truck! Wouldn’t you love to have that kind of a man? A man that is submissive to your needs, that is submissive to the special needs of your children, a man who is so selfless that he is subject to you in the fear of Christ, that he seeks your highest good over his own? That is a Spirit filled man.
But men we could never do this apart from the Spirit of God, apart from divine enablement. And without this we could never obey the next command and that is “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”21 We will examine that next week.
Oh, dear brothers in Christ, I plead with you to concur with the same convictions that I have about myself in my heart, to get serious about being filled with the Spirit. For the sake of your wives, for the sake of your children, and for the sake of the One who has saved you by his grace.
Let’s pray together.
Father, we rejoice in the clarity of your Word. But, Lord, we confess that what you have called us to is exceedingly far beyond our abilities in the flesh, and yet we rejoice that you have given us your indwelling Spirit to enable us to do that which you commanded. Lord, we praise you for that and we beg you to help us to live consistently with these great truths. I pray for every man that is here to get serious about being filled with the Spirit. And, Lord, I lift up those who know nothing of what we speak about this morning, who know nothing of the Savior. I pray that you would bring great, profound conviction to their heart and cause them to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is in his name that I pray. Amen.
Transcript Explanation: Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. David Harrell. © Olive Tree Resources. Website: olivetreeresources.org
1 Revelation 19:15.
2 Galatians 5:17.
3 Ephesians 5:1.
4 Ephesians 5:2-17.
5 Galatians 5:18.
6 Ephesians 5:19—6:4.
7 Galatians 5:18.
8 Galatians 5:16.
9 Galatians 5:22-23.
10 Galatians 6:7-8.
11 1 Peter 3:7.
15 Hebrews 10:24-25.
16 Ephesians 5:19.
19 Revelation 18:22.
20 Ephesians 5:20-21.
21 Ephesians 5:25.