The true path to blessing in any walk of life is to be in submission to God and His Word. To walk in obedience to God’s Word is to bring blessing, growth, and success. To ignore, disobey, or think that you have come up with a better plan or way is to bring decline, an absence of blessing, and destruction.
According to an article by Alex Strauch on Bible.org, "Hurricane Andrew was one of the worse hurricanes to hit the Caribbean Islands and Florida. After the hurricane, news reports witnessed tens of thousands of homes flattened to the ground. As they were filming, they saw one house standing. They went to that house and the owner was cleaning up the front yard. They asked, how is it that your house is standing? He said, I built this house and I followed the Florida state code for hurricanes. If the code called for 12-inch beams, I put 12-inch beams; if it called for a metal brace to the beams, I put a metal brace. I built the house according to the code and the house withstood the hurricane."
The true path to blessing in any walk of life is to be in submission to God and His Word. To walk in obedience to God’s Word is to bring blessing, growth, and success. To ignore, disobey, or think that you have come up with a better plan or way is to bring decline, an absence of blessing, and destruction. God’s Word is our prescription for life, for marriage, for the church, for the family, for everything. God has His blueprint and we would be wise to be in submission to it.
With the intrusion of secular humanistic thought and a satanic rebellion against God’s ordained authority, God’s standards and God’s blueprint for marriage and even the church is seen as outdated, offensive, “won't’ work,” and just one’s interpretation in many cases. The lack of knowledge and submission to God’s blueprint for specific areas of life has caused great sorrow, decline, and destruction for sure.
The divorce rate among Christians is certainly a result of a lack of submission to God’s ordained blueprint for marriage that we find in His word. There is a path to blessing and there is a path to success in marriage and we would be wise to heed the call of inspired Scripture on the matter.
So many assume that because they stand firm in the political arena on God’s marriage being between one man and one woman, which it is, they assume that they have completed their work and can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. However, that is not all God has said about marriage.
So, what is God’s blueprint? What has God commanded?
1. The Correct Foundation
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27 NASB)
Notice in v.24 that it says that one must act on the words that they hear. It is not enough to know what to do but one must do it. The foundation for and the true path to blessing in a Christian marriage begins and ends with obedience to God and His Word. Just like it does in all areas of Christian life. If one does not act on and obey God's Word especially in the area of marriage and has Jesus Christ and God's Word as its foundation, then they will surely be like the man who built his house on the sand and great will be the fall of that marriage.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18 NASB)
Notice in the underlined portions of the verses above that the willing submission to the leadership of the husband on the part of the wife is to be viewed as ultimately obedience to God. It is "as to the Lord." To be subject to the leadership of the husband is to be in obedience to the Lord and to not be subject to the husband's leadership is to be in defiance 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. (Ephesians 5:23-24 NASB)
Christ is the head of the church. The church is under His supreme authority and only His authority because Christ is the One who died for the church to purchase the eternal redemption of His elect people. He is the only Savior of the body, He is the only One who is supreme in authority. In like manner, Ephesians tells us that the wife is to be in subjection to the headship and the authority of the husband.
The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24 NASB)
One of the ultimate aspects of God's marriage is that it is between only 1 man and 1 woman. There is no other combination of people that can be said to be a God-approved marriage. God created marriage, God designed marriage, and therefore, it is God alone who has authority over and can decide what marriage is and what it should look like. The foundation for marriage begins and ends with God Almighty. The wife is to be joined to her husband and the husband joined to his wife at the command of God.
2. The Correct Roles
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 NASB)
Spiritually there are no distinctions. Every Christian is an equal among equals spiritually speaking. As Christians, we have the same Savior (Eph. 5:23), we all have the same access to the Savior, we all have the same justification, the same righteousness of Christ, the same adoption into God’s family, and the same future promises of our inheritance.
However, in certain situations and in certain relationships God has prescribed certain roles and certain functions that are to be performed, and in some cases, submitted to. These distinctions in roles and function and authority do not negate our equal standing before God as His children and His elect but do show that God has a plan, He has a structure, He has a blueprint for how certain things are supposed to operate and God expects His people to operate and obey His instruction.
To obey God in these areas brings great blessing. To not obey will not bring blessing for God always blesses obedience to His Word and does not bless disobedience.
Some examples of God’s ordained structure are how He has given governmental authority to world rulers over the people they rule. We are commanded to obey and submit to those who have the rule over us in those roles according to Romans 13:1-3. The only times in which anyone can disobey anyone in a place of authority is if they command something contrary to God’s Word.
God has also given and delegated authority and oversight over His congregations through eldership and pastoral leadership according to 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-5, several places in Acts and other epistles, etc. God has not prescribed a congregational rule or any democratic process in His Word. He has prescribed shared leadership among biblically qualified elders.
One of the biggest mistakes that churches make today is thinking that the church is of the people, by the people, and for the people; when it is actually of God, by God, and for God.
Churches that are in submission to the Word of God in this area have a solid biblical foundation and will see growth, blessing, success, and will stand firm when hard times come whereas a church that disobeys God’s Word will only see a decline, an absence of blessing and eventual death.
God also has plans and roles for employees and employers to play which we will look at later in Colossians chapter 3. And then finally, He has roles for people to play in marriage and in the home. God has given authority and leadership to the husband over the wife and to parents over the children. The model and blueprint that God uses in the home mirrors the blueprint He uses in the church to a degree and we can learn a lot about the home by studying the church and vice versa.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as if fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. (Colossians 3:18-19 NASB)
We see that the roles in marriage are that the husband is to be the leader and have the authority and oversight over the wife, and the wife is to be subjection to the husband’s leadership.
3. The Correct Execution
The correct execution of God’s blueprint for marriage involves mutual submission on the part of the husband and the wife.
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:24 NASB)
"Be subject" - meaning to place or rank under; relinquish one’s rights – willing submission of one’s self. The wife is not commanded to obey the husband in the same way children are instructed to obey their parents. Because the husband and the wife are spiritually equal, the husband is not to treat his wife as a servant or someone to obey his every command but as someone who deserves his love, care, respect, provision, and protection (MacArthur, p.281). The Bible tells the wife to be subject to the husband’s leadership and then the Bible explains what that leadership looks like.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also love the church and gave Himself up for her, so 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 would 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. (Ephesians 5:25-30 NASB)
The husband’s primary submission to his wife is through his love for her as his wife. Jesus Christ is the ultimate and divine role model for how a husband is to love his wife. Christ gave Himself for the church and husbands should be willing to give themselves for their wife.
Love is action. Whatever is needed a husband will do. He will engage in self-sacrifice, he will protect from sin and harmful behavior. Sometimes doing what is best rather than what is wanted will be needful under the husband’s leadership but the key to the mutual submission is this:
A husband that is correctly loving His wife as Christ loved the church will create a marriage environment where the wife will gladly and willingly submit to the husband’s leadership because, in that leadership, she will find someone that truly is looking out for her needs and nourishing and cherishing her in a biblical way. Any husband that is loving his wife as if it were his own body, there is no woman that would not want to be subject to that kind of leadership and authority.
This means no excuses men! We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and as we would love our own bodies. God gives us the authority and the leadership that He does because He expects us to love our wives the way He commands us to.
Are there any areas in your marriage that need to be conformed to God’s blueprint?
Are there any areas where you need repentance for not obeying God’s Word in your marriage?
Husbands, we need to love our wives.
Wives, you need to be in subjection to and lovingly following your husband’s leadership.
Because it is in being obedient to God’s Word that we find the true path to blessing in Christian marriage.
MacArthur, John F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians. Chicago, Illinois. Moody Publishers. 1986.