Enemies of the Family: Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Text: Ephesians 5:1-6:4
How do Christians walk? We walk in love, as Christ taught us to walk. Paul wrote this to the Ephesian church--“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2). This is a high calling, but it is nevertheless what God expects of His people. We are to be imitators of God, especially in the matter of forgiveness, and in all aspects of our Christian walk. We are the Church which will be presented to Christ without spot or blemish.
We have learned that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, but when we fail in our Christian walk we can grieve the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean that we are no longer children of God, but it does mean that the unsaved world will not see us as children of God. Always remember, when we fail, He is willing to work with us; He knows how to forgive. But make no mistake about it—God wants us to continually grow in the fullness of life in Jesus Christ.
This scripture may sound like an appeal for personal Christian living alone, but it also precedes a lengthy passage on family relationships. Therefore we should apply these truths to the family as well as to our personal lives. There are things around that can be identified as friends of the family, but we should be aware of the enemies of the family as well.
While it is true that certain television shows and movies and the influence of non-Christian minds can be detrimental to the health of the family, these are not our primary enemies. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world if we are to have any impact on it. The real enemies of the family are those that arise out of our own disobedience to the Word of God. We can name these enemies by looking carefully at our scripture passage.
ENEMY #1 IS PERMISSIVENESS.
The first enemy is described in Ephesians 5:3-12—
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any 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 once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
The first enemy that will destroy the family is a permissive attitude that is popularly expressed as “anything goes.” Sexual immorality, perversity, and coarse talk ought to be foreign to the people of God. When respect for the sexuality of the family is lost and no one sets standards for family attitudes toward sex the bond of trust that must hold families together becomes frayed and soon breaks. Children need to be taught the discipline that comes from obedience to God. We don’t have to do all the things we want to do. We can say no so that in the right time and in the right way we can say yes.
Young people should remember that the decisions they make now in their dating relationships will determine to a degree the authority they will have as a parent to counsel their own children as to how they are to treat their own sexuality.
Parent immorality always undermines parental authority. The sins described in this passage are common sins in the world today. If you can get involved in these sins and not be bothered by them, you are not a child of God. But if you are bothered by sin, you can rise and go to your Father as the prodigal did.
When you as a believer go to God to confess your sins, don’t just bundle them up and hand the bundle to God. It is not a wholesale affair. Rather, spell out each sin to God. For example, if you have a biting tongue and are a gossip who hurts people, tell Him that is your sin. When you go to God in confession and name the specific sin, it restores fellowship with Him.
Remember, If you’re a child of God and do these things, God will chasten you—He will take you to the woodshed right here and now. If God doesn’t chasten you, you are in a frightful condition. It means you are not His child, because God does not spank the devil’s children.
ENEMY #2 IS DRUNKENNESS.
It says in Ephesians 5:18—“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” This warning includes not only wine, but all liquors and drugs that alter the mental and emotional state and make us vulnerable to temptation and evil.
A family is severely frustrated when one of its members becomes a different person in the aftermath of drug abuse. Alcoholism is the worse drug problem in the world. However, adults prefer to talk about the drug problems of the young because they don’t want to deal with the drug problem they have installed in their own home bars. Pastors tend to be more vocal in their opposition to alcohol than most professionals because they so often counsel families that have been destroyed by the effects of alcohol. As strong as peer pressure may be in the lives of young people, parents can demonstrate a consistent Christian lifestyle along with fair and loving discipline to help protect their family from this enemy.
There is a comparison that can be made between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit. I have noticed that hotels and motels have what they call the “happy hour” or the “attitude adjustment hour.” Around 5:00 people go in, sit on a bar stool and drink so they will be sociable by six or seven and fit to live with for awhile. I have seen people go into those places, and they don’t look happy when they went in, but neither did they look happy when they came out. Now believers also need an attitude adjustment, but they don’t need the spirits that come from a bottle; they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they might radiate the joy of the Lord.
ENEMY #3 IS SELFISHNESS.
The portion of our text that concerns selfishness is Ephesians 5:21-22, 25, and 28-29. There Paul wrote—
Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
Sermons on this text meet with one great difficulty. The men hear the part about how the wife should respect them and follow their leadership. The women hear the part about how their husbands should love them as Christ loved the Church. The reason we hear the message in this way is selfishness. We first think of ourselves and later think of our spouse. We must hear both of Paul’s admonitions at the same time, because submission in a marriage should be mutual.
1 Corinthians 7:4 is a commentary on this very point—The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
The only motive for marriage is love—not sex—but love. In a Christian home, the wife and Children should be willing to allow the husband and father to provide leadership. He needs the respect of his family, not ridicule, if he is to be a successful leader of his family.
Good leaders are good listeners. They are not tyrannical. They delegate authority and respect the decisions that others make. They are willing to provide leadership and accept the responsibility of expressing the vision of the family. Christian husbands are willing to let God make them into good leaders. Christian wives rejoice in helping God develop leadership in their husbands.
In a Christian home, the husband should love his wife by showing her thoughtful attention. He should love his wife with the kind of devotion and courage that marked Jesus’ love for His Church. Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself up for her on the cross. No husband has begun to love his wife as God has called him to do, if he is more concerned about his own welfare, self-esteem, and future than he is about his wife’s welfare, self-esteem, and future. Jesus died to save His Church. A husband must be willing to die for his wife—to give himself away for her well-being and spiritual growth.
A wife has a right to be loved by her husband nobly, faithfully and always. A daily prayer of gratitude to God for the wife that he has given you will strengthen a man’s love for his wife. Paul’s admonition does not preserve respect for the husband nor love for the wife. Marriage is a blending of two lives, and both husbands and wives are to be both respected and loved. Selfishness is the enemy. Thinking of one another and doing loving things for one another are ways to overcome this enemy.