A unified church is a thing of beauty. When the members of the church are surrendered to Christ, treating one another with gospel-grace, led by loving leaders, and filled with the Spirit, the unity that results is captivatingly beautiful — like a bride on her wedding day (see 5:25-27). Conversely, nothing is uglier than a church that is fractured by sin and selfishness. Division dishonors the Head of the church, distorts the message of the church, and paralyzes the mission of the church.
Paul taught that unity in the church is supported by unity in the home, beginning with Christ-honoring marriages. The relationship between children and their parents is important, too (v.1-4): when children honor their parents they honor the Lord; when parents are godly and loving they provide an atmosphere of relational health and spiritual growth. (Note: verse 4 says, “bring them up with discipline”; discipline brings children up, but domineering pushes them down.) The homes in Ephesus also included slaves, and while Paul did not endorse slavery he applied the rule of unity to the master-slave relationship as well. He encouraged slaves to look beyond the authority of their earthly masters to the supreme authority of Christ, and he ordered earthly masters to imitate the kindness of their heavenly Master (v.5-9).
The rest of this chapter is a reality check for the church. Unity is essential in our spiritual warfare: if we are fighting against our brothers and sisters inside the church, we can’t fight together when we are attacked from outside the church. These attacks are inevitable and our enemy, Satan, is relentless. We must “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (v.10).
In Christ we have everything we need to defend the church against Satan and to advance our gospel mission (v.11, 19). You must use every piece of God’s armor (v.14-17): truth to defend against Satan’s deception; the righteousness of Christ to protect your heart; the power of the gospel to make you sure-footed in the battle; faith to block Satanic accusation; assurance of salvation to protect you from doubting God; and “the sword of the Spirit” (Scripture), the same weapon Jesus used to slice through Satan’s temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11).
Before today is over you will probably encounter “the schemes of the devil” (v.11) — so arm yourself, stand strong, and trust Jesus. Fight to maintain your personal integrity as a Christian. Fight to defend your spouse and your children. And join your church family in protecting the unity that is essential to our success. Now, on to victory!