In this lesson, from Ephesians 5, you will discover what it means for the husband to set apart his wife and treat her as special and unique, just like Christ does the church.
If you want to have a marriage where God’s blessings operate you have to renew your thinking about what it means to be a husband and what a healthy marriage looks like and feels like. God’s Word says in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). For you to know what God’s will is for you as a husband you are going to have to let God transform you by changing the way you think about being a husband, about what a wife is and how to treat her and cherish her.
Part of that change of thinking is learning how to love your wife like Jesus loved the church. The more you understand how Jesus loved the church the better you will understand how you are to love your wife. Your model, pattern, and example of how you are to love your wife is how Jesus loved the church.
With that said let’s take a look at Ephesians 5:25 which states, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” (NLT). Let’s stop here for just a moment. Last week you learned that in order for you to love your wife like Jesus loved the church you had to think like a savior. Jesus “gave up his life for” the church, like a savior would. He sacrificed himself for the church, he suffered for the church, and he became our substitute. As a husband, you are to think like a savior toward your wife by sacrificing for her, suffering for her, and becoming her substitute when needed. We unpacked what all that meant last week.
Back to Ephesians 5:25, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault” (NLT). Today we are going to focus on verse 26. Some translations word verse 26 by saying, “…that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…” (NASB). Here’s the bottom line: as her husband God wants you to think like her sanctifier, someone who is going to set her apart as someone special and help her to grow spiritually. That is what Jesus did for the church and that is what God wants you to do for your wife. Last week we looked at what it means to think like a savior toward your wife, today we are looking at what it means to think like a sanctifier toward your wife.
To understand what it means to become your wife’s sanctifier let’s break down verse 26 in detail. So, how do you sanctify your wife?
You sanctify your wife by setting her apart
Number one, you sanctify your wife by setting her apart. Jesus gave up His life for the church in order “to make her holy and clean” (NLT). Some translations state the same thing, but say that Jesus gave up his life for the church so “that He might sanctify her” (NASB). Whether the Bible uses the word “holy” or “sanctify” it means the same thing. The word “holy” or “sanctify” mean to be set apart.
The idea of sanctification is not hard to grasp, because we actually sanctify all kinds of things in our lives. For example, in my house my wife has some scissors in her sewing box. If I were to take those scissors and start cutting cardboard she would immediately let me know that is an unsanctified use of those scissors. Her scissors have been set apart from the other scissors in the house for a special purpose and that purpose is to cut cloth cleanly.
Some people have special dishes on display behind a glass cabinet and they also have dishes up in the kitchen cabinet. The one’s behind the glass they only come out on special occasions because they have been set apart for something special and significant.
As a husband, you are to sanctify your wife. You are to set her apart from all other women because she is special and unique to you. You set her apart in two ways. Sanctification involves being set apart from something and set apart to something else. Let me give you two ways you are to set your wife apart.
- You set apart your wife spiritually. When Jesus saved you and set you apart, He forgave you of your sins. When you made your covenant with your wife, you were telling her that no matter what has happened in her past you forgive her and will not hold her past against her. You are setting her apart from her past. You are setting her apart spiritually.
- You set apart your wife relationally. Listen carefully to Ephesians 5:31, “As the Scripture say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one” (NLT). Relationally you leave your father and mother, this means you are not under their authority anymore and you begin your own family. But it also says you are “joined” to your wife. This means you leave all other women behind. This means no more dating around and no more flirting. You have sanctified this one woman and set her apart in your life to be the one woman in your life. As far as you are concerned there is now only one woman on the planet and you married her.
You have set her apart from her past to her future with you. You have set her apart from all other women to yourself. By doing this you have given her a “holy” position in your life. A special and unique and separate position in your life that only she has. You are sanctifying her. You are making her “holy” to you.
You sanctify your wife by helping her grow spiritually
Number two, you sanctify your wife by helping her grow spiritually. Jesus gave up His life for the church in order “to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s Word” (NLT). To sanctify your wife means to set her apart as someone special in your life, but it also means to help her become all that God intended her to be. Remember, you are to love your wife, like Christ loved the church. Jesus loves the church in such a way as to help her become clean and spiritually fit by the washing of God’s Word. Picture God’s Word like water and the church covered in dirt. God takes His Word and pours it over the church and the Word of God cleanses the church.
In the same way, you are going to help your wife grow spiritually with the washing of God’s Word. You are going to clean, wash, and help your wife grow spiritually with the Word of God allowing the Word of God to wash away some of the dirt in your wife’s life. You want to help your wife love God more, love others more, and to love herself in a healthy way.
Now listen real close, your wife was born with a sinful nature and if she is a follower of Jesus she has a new nature given to her by God. But, there are some old attitudes, old thoughts, and old beliefs that need to be washed away by God’s truth. God wants to use you in helping your wife experience the abundant life He promised her. You are a key player in her spiritual, mental, and emotional development. She needs you to be her pastor. She needs you to be her spiritual coach. Now what does that look like? Let me give you five ways to “wash” your wife with God’s Word.
- Pray God’s Word over your wife. For example, take Galatians 5:22 which list the fruit of the Spirit and use that as a guide to pray over your wife. Pray for her growth in loving others, her joy in difficult situations, her peace in stressful times, her kindness toward others, and so on. Or take Proverbs 31 where it describes a wife of noble character and use that as a guide for praying for your wife. Take God’s Word and use it as your prayer guide for your wife. Washing her with the Word of God.
- Talk to your wife about God’s Word. This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Let me explain. I’m not talking about giving her some kind of Bible lecture or using the Bible to get her to do what you want. I’m talking about lovingly talk to your wife about God’s Word. For example… You can address your wife’s questions with God’s Word. If your wife has spiritual questions about life, life after death, heaven, hell, or any other subject. You should be able to have a healthy Biblical conversation with her about the subject. Guiding her thoughts toward truth on the matter. You can address your wife’s concerns with God’s Word. She hears something on the news or at work that disturbs her and she comes home and ask, “What does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” You are able to have a real conversation about what God’s Word has to say about it. You can address situations in your marriage with God’s Word. When you set up a budget it is based on Biblical financial management principles. When you discuss how to discipline your children, it is based on Biblical principles of discipline for children.
God takes the role of the husband of being the go-to-person very seriously for the wife when it comes to God’s Word that it says something very interesting in 1 Corinthians 14. The Corinthian church was messed up. They had all kinds of problems. As a matter of fact, the book of 1 Corinthians is Paul methodically going through a list of problems they had and giving instructions on what to do about it. Some of the problems included people getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper, members of the church sleeping around, and divisions in the church to name a few. One problem that kept occurring dealt with some wives. A certain group of wives were creating problems at the church gatherings that was creating disorder. So part of the solution included Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:34, “Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings” (NLT). There is a lot going on there that I don’t have time to address, but what I want you to see is that Paul expects the husbands in the church to be able to address any questions their wives may have about what the preacher said or about what’s going in in the church. Your wife should be able to go to you and talk about spiritual things, about what God’s Word has to say about life.
Washing your wife with God’s Word includes talking to her about God’s Word by answering her questions, addressing her concerns, and making decisions by seeing what God’s Word has to say about it.
- Encourage your wife with God’s Word. Remind her who she is in Christ. In Christ she is forgiven, she is a new creation, she is the head and not the tail, and she is more than a conqueror. She is loved by God, equipped by God, guided by God, and protected by God. Her old self and the devil’s kingdom is trying to beat your wife down where she thinks she is a loser, that she is a terrible mom, and a horrible wife. You have to remind her with God’s Word of who she is in Christ, that she has a divine purpose, and that she is a masterpiece in God’s eyes. When you encourage your wife with God’s Word you are washing her with God’s Word and it begins to wash off all those bad ideas about herself. She begins to see herself through the filter of God’s Word rather than the filter of her sin and mistakes. When she begins to do that you will begin to see a wonderful transformation happen in your wife.
- Allow God’s Word time to do its work in your wife. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and convicts, challenges, encourages, and guides your wife. Sometimes it takes time for God’s Word to produce fruit and change in your wife. But you can be confident that as you wash your wife with God’s Word, it will do its work in her life. Listen carefully to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (NLT).
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (NLT). This is a mystery. God’s Word has the power and ability to penetrate to the very depths of your wife’s heart and soul and do spiritual and emotional surgery inside of her, repairing the damage that sin has done to her. It’s able to go deep into your wife’s heart, deeper than you could ever go personally. God’s Word can do what you could never do for her.
- Let your wife see God’s Word have authority over you. Ephesians 5:21 says, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This doesn’t mean I submit to you and you submit to me and you to submit to her and she submits to you. This is submission in the chain of submission. So in verse 22 the Bible says, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Then in verse 25 the Bible says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” Part of loving the church for Jesus was submitting himself to the Father’s will. In the same manner, husbands you are to submit yourself to God’s will and God’s Word is God’s will. Your wife needs to see you submitting to God’s Word about what it means to be a husband, a father, and a man. She needs to see God’s Word impacting your life when it comes to money, relationships, purity, honesty, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness.
You help sanctify your wife by washing her in the Word of God. Praying God’s Word over her. Talking to her about what God’s Word has to say about your lives. Encouraging your wife with God’s Word. Allowing God’s Word to have time to work in her life and letting your wife see God’s Word at work in your life.
So what do you do you with this? If you are a normal husband, this may sound impossible and overwhelming or threatening to you. Genesis Church is a place for new beginnings. You don’t have to know it all, you just have to start a new beginning with a new start. Let today be that day where you begin to pray for your wife on a regular basis, to learn more about what the Bible says, and to begin to apply what you have heard today.
Let me give you some practical things you can begin doing to help yourself grow and develop into a husband who can set apart his wife and help her grow at a greater level. Before you can wash your wife with God’s Word you’ve got to have God’s Word flowing into your life.
Begin growing in the knowledge of God’s Word. I’m not talking about Bible trivia. I’m talking about knowing what it says and how to apply it.
Start reading the Bible. If you need help with that. We can help you get started on a daily Bible reading plan.
Study the Bible with others through Life Groups or through opportunities with Momentum (our Men’s Ministry). Momentum is about moving men forward. Momentum will be offering opportunities in the future for you to get with other men in order to develop and grow.
Be committed to Sunday morning. When you come to church together as a couple you are able to talk about what the preacher said about the Word and discuss how it applies to your unique situations. You can grow together about the same subjects. While we are in this series on marriage, it is a wonderful time for you to lead in some discussions with your wife about your own marriage.