1 Peter 3:1-7, "Living Right in the Home"
"The most important thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother." That is a statement I read years ago, and it is absolutely true, and it doesn't matter how old your children are.
Welcome to a sermon about the home, about the relationship between husbands and wives. Now, it may seem strange to preach about marriage to an evening service in which many of our hearers have lost their partners. For all of you in that situation, I would commend the words of Titus 2: 1 "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed "
Yours is the challenge of serving as examples in word and deed to the younger couples among us. How great is the need of sound, godly examples. In fact, when Joshua first approached us about joining our two church families, that was exactly what was expressed - these younger ones felt the need for the maturity and experience of our older congregation.
As we work our way through First Peter, we have been dealing with the important role of living as Christians in this world. We have seen the Lord's guidance for living as a citizen of the country, for living as a worker, and now this evening for living as a marriage partner. Have you noticed that in every case the emphasis is upon proper submission and the example is Jesus Christ?
It is good for us to hear a sermon on marriage because marriage plays such an important role in our lives. Marriage is at the very core of our being, as men and women. We are living in a day when marriage and the family are under probably the greatest attack that we have seen in hundreds of years. From every side the enemy of our souls is stirring., up the most virulent attack on the home and family. Our society is being pressured to accept ideas of family relationships which are contrary to everything the Word of God teaches.
Passage: 1 Peter 3: 1-7 "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves,
being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are ify ou do good and are not afraid with any
As Christians then we are as lights shining in a dark place and marriage is at the very core of our being. If our relationship with our partner is what it should be, everything else that we face is made easier; if there is not peace and harmony and mutual support in the home, then everything else that we face is made more difficult and robbed of its joy and satisfaction. But as one person said this morning, marriage is hard!
Today, we can't help but be aware of the pressures on marriage. There is scarcely a family which divorce has not touched in some of its members. Many, many couples have opted not to be married, believing that living together can protect them from the pain of potential divorce.
I am afraid that even in Christian marriages, things are often not as they seem. Christians have often become experts at wearing masks to hide the quiet desperation of a home in which there is little true communication between husband and wife.
Oh, dear ones, in the face of the sorrow and heartache which too often creeps into even the best of marriages, shall we not go back to the "owner's manual" and read again what God has told us about His design for marriage? Shall we not take seriously His guidance for husbands and wives? Or shall we do what Eve did, and allow Satan to poison our minds and convince us that God's Word is not reliable, and that God does not give us the very best?
- A Basic Underlying Truth:
There is one clause in this passage that I want to draw attention to: It is found in verse 7 and it speaks of husbands and wives "as being heirs together of the grace of life, ". Here is a reminder that Christian husbands and wives are called together into spiritual fellowship with God, a sphere in which neither is inferior nor superior, but they are joint heirs of God's grace. As the Tyndale Bible Commentary says, "Only if this delicately balanced fellowship is properly maintained, will their union reach its true Christian fulfillment." The scripture goes on to say that we must get this truth solidly established "that your prayers may not be hindered. "
Now having laid down this basic underlying truth, let us look more closely at the instructions to husbands and wives. You will notice one again that God starts with the wife, and frankly we immediately encounter what many non-Christians and even many Christians regard as problematic.
- God's Guidance to Wives:
- a repeated call to submission:
In this whole section of scripture, we have seen this over and over. Citizens are to be submissive to their governing agents; workers are to be submissive to their bosses; wives are to be submissive to their husbands, and in this case, this call to submission goes so far as to apply even to unsaved husbands.
As I indicated in earlier messages, the very idea of submission goes against our self serving age. But lest we decide to reject or ignore this teaching in 1 Peter, let me remind you of other passages of God's Word which emphasize exactly the same thing.
In Ephesians 5: 21 which speaks of "submitting to one another in the fear of God. It continues: 22 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. "
In Colossians 2: 18 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in
If God does not intend wives to hear and obey this message, He certainly went to great lengths to provide opportunity for disobedience.
It is not that God has nothing to say to husbands, but in this and in every passage, God first speaks to the partner who is to be responsive, before addressing the partner that is to be responsible.
Now I have stressed often enough by now the reality that this does not refer to an enforced servitude to a tyrant's wishes; this is not a call to be a doormat to a husband's demands; this is speaking about a heart attitude of voluntary and willing placing one's self under the authority of another.
Again, this has nothing to do with which one is smarter, or more capable, or has greater leadership skills. In many cases, husbands would acknowledge that their wives are more educated and more gifted than themselves. But someone has to lead, and the truly gifted woman will find a way to help her husband assume that role, and in doing so she will contribute to his spiritual growth. As Shirley Rice says, "Submission is an attitude before it is an act. It grows out of complete confidence that God's will is the very best thing that could happen to me." (The Marriage Affair, p. 108)
How is this to be worked out in real life?
It appears again that the setting for this statement was one in which many wives had heard the gospel and responded to it, while their husband had remained stubbornly resistant to the gospel and to the Word of God. God's answer is "that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives. " Now is this not suggestive? The wife is not to bludgeon him with the scripture, but is to so live before him that her life is a living demonstration of the Word of God.
How is she to do that?
- by God fearing Purity 2 " when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. "
We live in a day in which godly womanhood has been mocked as old fashioned, outdated and repressive. The modern woman is looking for fulfillment, including sexual fulfillment. Watch the tv. shows, read the novels, and you gain the impression that women have become the aggressors, and that a man exists solely to satisfy their needs.
Now on the other side of this matter were women who were embarrassed by their sexuality, and treated it not as a gift from God, but as something dirty to be engaged in only as a matter of "duty".
Neither are true to God's plan. God has given human sexuality as one of the wonderful gifts to both husband and wife, to be part of the foundational, and enjoyable bond between them. So this passage is not talking about being unresponsive as an indication of spirituality. just the opposite.
He is talking about a husband's deep joy in knowing that his wife is his faithful partner in every way, and that her relationship with the Lord Jesus has made her a better wife in every way.
- by spiritual beauty.
Ladies, do you really know how beautiful you are? When God brought Eve to Adam, I think that was the first time a man said, "Wow!", and men have been saying "wow!" ever since.
But, ladies, do not confuse physical attraction with your real beauty. 1 think that women are insecure about their attractiveness and that is the point of v. 3 & 4.
3 "Do not let your adornment be merely outward arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God"
You remember the days when Christian women took these verses to mean that they must not wear any makeup or outward adornment. Dr Shields of Jarvis Street Baptist Church was asked about the practice of wearing lipstick. His rather tongue in cheek reply could be taken wrongly or humourously because his answer was, "Oh, if the barn needs painting, paint it!"
There are women who downplay their femininity by wearing unattractive, completely non-sexy clothing. Is that what the passage teaches? No, that misses the point entirely.
On the other hand, if you mistakenly think that your beauty is dependent upon your outward appearance, you will continually be fussing over the wrong things. As Dale Evans Rogers says in an article, "Let's Talk about Beauty" ( The 1Marriage Affair, p. 1 1 3) "Of course I try to look my best... But the chief adornment of the Christian woman is the adornment of the Spirit of God glowing on her face and in her eyes. This is always breath-takingly beautiful to me, and you can never miss it. Whether she wears jewelry or lipstick, or not, any woman looks somehow colorless without that Spirit lighting her countenance; its what's inside that counts."
And what is inside? The Bible here says that your greatest asset, ladies, is
"the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit " Once again, does this not speak of your attitude to your husband, and if your attitude is right toward your husband, do you not think that that sanie attitude will show through your entire personality in all your relationships - in the home, at church, at work, and in the community. And not only will others find you attractive, but the scripture says that your most important observer will be pleased. "Which is very precious in the sight of God. "
This is the pattern which God has shown to us from the beginning. This is the beauty that has commended itself throughout history, and in every culture.
"For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are ?[you do good and are not afraid with any terror. "
Now if this is to be true even in the case of an unsaved husband, then does it not follow that this is the pattern for the marriage relationship of Christian partners as well. Oh, dear ones, this is what your family needs to see. Your children and grandchildren need to see godly women living joyfully in marriage relationships which reflect God's purpose and plan for mankind. And you are aware that Ephesians 5 makes it clear that a godly home is both modelled after and is a picture of the relationship of Christ and His church.
- God's Guidance to Husbands: "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. "
Hear as well, what Ephesians and Colossians says to the husband.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himselffor her, 26 that He might sanctift and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "
Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
Now, it may seem that the scripture places a disproportionate burden upon wives as compared to husbands judging from the number of verses. But such is not the case.
Do you remember that 1 spoke about those who are responsive, and those who are responsible? In every passage of scripture dealing with the home, God makes it clear that He requires the man to provide proper godly leadership in the home.
In an article dealing with "Biblical Masculinity". Pastor John Piper says " At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, to provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man's differing relationships. He then set forth 8 biblical principles for Christian husbands
Here in this passage we see 3 clear guidelines for Christian husbands.
- Considerate Understanding "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding,"
Here is a call to both respectful helpful partnership and to a growing understanding of our partners.
Things have certainly changed in our present culture. The idea of the man being the breadwinner, and the wife being the homemaker and children raiser, has given way in a positive form to a more mutual sharing in leadership in the home. Today, out of a "perceived necessity", many younger women are in the workforce. The downside of this is the need to allow other people to raise the children. Daycare is a necessary part of this life, and many day care workers are wonderful compassionate and caring people, but it still robs a mother of her opportunity to cultivate that nurturing bond with her children.
One of the upsides is the degree to which fathers and husbands take leadership roles in the home. Men cooking many of the meals, helping with the children, and sharing in other chores can be quite helpful. For all that, I still believe that one of the highest designations of a wife is "home maker".
In terms of understanding our partner, this is not easy. A woman's complex biological makeup requires a man's highest degree of love to understand her.
- Unfailing respect and honour: 'giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel,"
This is part of keeping the romance alive in your marriage. I was in the home of one of our older couples in a former church and noticed the lovely vase of cut flowers on the table. The husband simply explained that his wife really likes him to give her flowers, and I thought, "my dear man, you are still keeping your love alive, even in the later years of life." In that, let him be a model to the rest of us.
It is no secret that wives are fragile creatures, not physically, or mentally, but emotionally. Things that men might say to one another crush our wives. Things that a wife might say to her husband crush her if he returns the same statements upon herself.
Men, it is a challenge to lead without crushing our wife's spirit. But as one man wrote, "Men who are men, have no need to remind their families and themselves that they are head of the family." No man gains that honour by demanding it. He earns that right by deserving his wife's tender response to his affection and honour.
- A True Understanding of our mutually supportive Roles "and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. "
I return to where I began. Remember what God has called you to, husbands.
It is to you God gives the honour of leadership, in awareness of the absolute wonder at the grace of God in calling us unto salvation and giving us the privilege of being the leader in the most blessed and rewarding partnership in the world. Amen.