Ephesians is considered the cornerstone scripture for marriage. Ephesians 5:22 starts the instructions concerning wives and husbands specifically. In this passage we hear the often quoted “love your wife as Christ loved the church” and the controversial quote of “wives submit to your husband in all thing.” I have heard these scriptures often throughout my marriage but it was literally decades before I started looking not only how I should be loving, but instead, where I would get the ability to love that sacrificially. If love and submission are the light that comes from the flashlight of marriage, what are batteries?
The answer is found a few scriptures back, in Ephesians 5:18 where we are instructed to be “filled with the spirit.” The subsequent scriptures provide guidance concerning how you will act towards your spouse, children, servants and masters but it is being “filled with the spirit” that provides the resources you need for these relationships. The spirit is the source of power for a Christian marriage. So, what does it mean to be filled with the spirit?
John McArthur in his commentary on Ephesians says this: “To be filled with the Spirit is to live in the consciousness of the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, as if we were standing next to Him, and to let His mind dominate our life. It is to fill ourselves with God’s Word, so that His thoughts will be our thoughts, His standards our standards, His work our work, and His will our will. As we yield to the truth of Christ, the Holy Spirit will lead us to say, do, and be what God wants us to say, do, and be. “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Christ consciousness leads to Christ likeness.” 1
It is when we think with the mind of Christ and submit to the will of Christ that we can express the life of Christ to our spouse. Our thinking influences our emotions, our emotions influence our actions. Marital problems give us the opportunity to explore the source we are living from like no other relationship. When Patty and I are arguing I have the opportunity to ask myself “am I expressing the desires of the Spirit, or am I expressing the desires of the flesh (what I want)?” Some times I am living from the Spirit and what I am advocating is needed. More often I am living from the flesh and what I am advocating is what I want or feel I need. The good news is, now that I know I need to check the battery, I can redirect my thinking to where God is calling me faster than I used to. During all of the trials we face in life, especially the trials we face in marriage, we need to be checking the source of our thinking and actions.
1 MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Set of 30 volumes (Macarthur New Testament Commentary Serie) (Kindle Locations 170024-170029). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.