LISTEN: How to Walk in the Light, Part 13 — Ephesians 5:17-21 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #24 with Daniel Whyte III)

A series of homilies on Ephesians 5 & 6

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians 5 & 6 (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.

Ephesians 5:17-21:

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.


John Bunyan said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “The Church right now has more fashion than passion, is more pathetic than prophetic, is more superficial than supernatural.”

Over the last two messages I have shown you that the person who is filled with the Holy Spirit of God will be first a joyful person and second a thankful person. Today I want to show you the third mark of a Spirit-filled person is submissiveness. Paul writes, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This simple verse describes the spirit of submissiveness that should be present in the church community. H.W. Hoehner wrote, “Spirit-controlled believers are to submit to one another, willingly serving others and being under them rather than dominating them and exalting themselves.”

There are two schools of thought regarding this very pivotal verse, verse 21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” On one side you have theologians who believe that this verse stands alone and is more connected to the previous verses than it is connected to the following verses, even though all of it is to be taken in its full context of course. This division is borne out throughout the many versions of the Bible, where half draw an invisible line between this verse and the following verses dealing with the marriage and family, and the other half connect this verse to the following verses dealing with the marriage and family. Unfortunately, many good men of God have taught that this verse includes a husband being submissive to his wife, and that is not the correct teaching here. In fact, that teaching has been tragic in the body of Christ down through the years, and is the cause of many homes being destroyed, many children being dismayed, and many churches being in disarray. As I have already mentioned, this verse, verse 21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God,” is referring to Christians being submissive one to another in the church family setting, and this includes everybody in the church, meaning that we should be so filled with the Holy Spirit of God and so humble in spirit that we are able to learn from each other in the Body of Christ. This does not mean that a wife cannot advise her husband, but she is to submit to his leadership. This does not mean that a grown child cannot advise his father or mother, but if that child is still living in their household, their role is to be submissive.

I’m reminded of a wife who saw her husband grimacing in pain and she, out of loving care and concern, went against his protests and said, “I’m calling the doctor right now.” And he submitted to her loving care for him. Once I was visiting my mother as a grown man, and I noticed that everytime she came into the house, she brought a six-pack of Diet Coke with her. I lovingly told my mother, “This is your last six-pack of Diet Coke while I’m here, because you’re drinking these things like water.” She bristled, but she submitted to my loving, concerned advice and stopped drinking them, at least while I was there. That kind of loving concern in the family is fine and expected. But the wife ruling over the husband at any point is wrong. The husband submitting to the wife in major decisions is wrong. The children ruling over the parents is wrong. This interpretation has caused and will cause all kinds of tragic results for generations to come.

With that said, there are two main ways in which submissiveness is shown by Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

First, we are to submit ourselves to instruction, teaching, and rebuke. New believers must submit to the teaching of those who are older in the faith. All believers must submit to the instruction of their pastor and other teachers who have been ordained by the church no matter how old or young. In our everyday lives, if a fellow believer comes to us, lovingly rebuking us for some sin or some un-Christlike attitude or behavior, we ought to take heed to their words. If it is not a sin they are concerned with, but a legitimate liberty that we have in Christ — such as drinking wine, going to the movies, eating meat, etc. — we ought to listen patiently to their concern and take the matter to the Lord in prayer. We ought to consider ceasing that activity if it is causing others in our local church to stumble in their walk with God or find offense with the Gospel.

The second way in which we are to be submissive is through serving. In the body of Christ, there are no “big I’s and little You’s.” No one is above a certain kind of service. The person who cleans the bathrooms in the church is just as important in God’s eyes as the person who preaches on Sunday. We must remember that Jesus did not think it above Himself to wash His disciples feet. He said, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

In every area of our lives, not just in the church, we should look for ways to serve, help, assist, and minister to others. We should engage in sacrificial service — giving up our rights in order to serve others. Just because we have a certain position or status in life, if we are truly to be followers of Christ, that does not exclude us from serving others. Jesus Christ said, “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”

Every believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit is joyful, grateful, and willing to submit to others and serve others for the glory of God.

Let’s pray.

Revive the Family Prayer List


— Adele in Detroit, Michigan
bless her with a financial miracle

— Noviana in Medan, Indonesia
help her out with problems in her family and job

— Anne in Finland
bring complete healing to a young man who has brain cancer

— Bernard in St. Catherine, Jamaica
bless him and his family with financial prosperity, health, and a profitable business

— Deb in the United Kingdom
help Sam to avoid having kidney stones
heal Brendon of sore and all pain, particularly in his liver
bless Dan, Cheri, and Sam with permanent jobs, safety, and no bullies



Statewide Leaders of the National Baptist Convention

Ronald Grant of New York
James B. Gray, Jr., of Maryland
Joe B. Hardwick of California
Michael H. Harrison Sr. of Ohio
Dwayne Hawkins of Nebraska
W. L. Hightower of Mississippi
Arthur L. Hilson of Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire
Homer Jamison of Michigan
Willie E. Jones of East Mississippi
Rosie Ann Jordan of Texas



Cedric Richmond
Chaka Fattah
Charles Boustany Jr.
Charles J. Fleischmann
Charles B. Rangel
Charles W. Dent
Chellie Pingree
Cheri Bustos
Chris Collins
Chris Gibson

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.