In Ephesians 5:22-6:9, the Lord outlines essential roles we are to fulfill in various relationships in our lives:
- A wife submits (5:22)
- A husband loves (5:25)
- A child obeys (6:1)
- A father exercises patience (6:4)
- An employee obeys (6:5)
- An employer shows kindness (6:9)
How are we to fulfill these roles? We find the answer to the source of the power to fulfill these roles in Ephesians 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit.” The only way we can fulfill our roles is by being continually filled with the Spirit. After all, if we are filled with the Spirit, we will “be subject to one another” (Ephesians 5:22).
Yet, it never occurred to me until recently, the very next topic Paul writes about immediately after relationships is spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-20). Why does he do this? Because spiritual warfare occurs in our relationships! Satan is constantly “scheming” against us, so that we fail to fulfill our relationships roles (Ephesians 6:11). Our struggle in our relationships is not merely “against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). We must, therefore, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
I am suggesting that the frustration, conflict, and anger you feel toward someone is an indication of spiritual warfare. A harsh tone, a raised voice, a false accusation, a sinister plot, a disobedient child, a careless employee, a brooding boss—all the sins and struggles of life in relationships, is the stuff of spiritual warfare. There is more going on in your home, church, and workplace than meets the eye: spiritual warfare is raging. No, this does not mean your spouse, child, or boss is demon possessed! It simply means that spiritual warfare rages in your relationships.
Therefore, in your relationships, do not only look at the surface level. Go deeper. See your relationship struggles and conflicts as a place of spiritual warfare.
And, most importantly, “take up the full armor” that God has graciously provided (Ephesians 6:13). You and I need this armor to fulfill our essential relationship roles.
For more on our essential relationship roles, see the sermon here.