May 27, 1990
Living in a corrupted society matched by a confused church, followers of Christ must look to Scripture to understand God’s instruction for practical Christian living. In this sermon, Alistair Begg addresses the biblical role of the husband in the marriage relationship. Following the example of Christ, Christian husbands are called to be different from the world, loving and honoring their wives as Christ loved the church.
Sermon Transcript: Print
I invite you to take your Bibles, and we’ll turn together to 1 Peter chapter 3. First Peter chapter 3. And as we continue our studies in this most practical of letters, giving instruction for scattered believers in Peter’s day and for the generations that would follow, including our own, we’ve come to 3:7, which reads as follows:
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
That’s the focus of our study now. And before we come to it, let us bow before God and seek his help in prayer:
Our God and Father, we magnify you for the Word that you have given us. We thank you this morning for the Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation, which contain all that we need for correction and for reproof, for training in righteousness. We thank you that you are teaching us what it means, as a church family, to become a people of the Book—that we might be those who bow underneath its instruction and delight to fulfill the obligations with which it confronts us. And so we pray for your help, both to speak and to listen, that we might be different as a result of these moments spent now, gathered under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, by the Word of Christ. For it’s in the lovely name of Jesus we ask it. Amen.
Well, last Sunday morning we dealt with God’s instruction, as it comes to us by the Spirit through Peter, for being a wife as per God’s pattern. And this morning, in the seventh verse now, we come to the instruction concerning what it means to be a Christian husband. And as you’ve been reading this, as I’m sure you have, you will doubtless have been struck by the intense practicality of this, reminding us that if our Christianity doesn’t work at home, our Christianity doesn’t work at all. It’s very obvious that Peter is not providing us here with a manual on arm’s-length religion. There’s no sense in which he is simply pontificating about certain subjects, but rather, he is giving to us a very clear handbook on practical Christianity.
And as we’ve been going through these chapters, we’ve been discovering that the doctrinal indicatives that he lays down, he lays down as foundations for the moral imperatives which follow. Or, if you like, what we know has got to show. That’s what he’s saying: “If you know it, show it.” And you’ll know that you know it if you display it in your life and in your experience—and that not least of all in this whole arena of submission first to civil jurisdiction, then within the structure of our daily routine of employment, and then within the fabric of our homes, and then, as he’s going to go on to show, within the interpersonal relationships of the church family as well.
We have been realizing that we come to these verses not in a vacuum, but in an environment of corruption in our society. By that I simply mean that we live in a society that has corrupted the clear instruction of God’s Word and has turned its back on the Maker’s instructions. By and large, men and women—in our twentieth-century, Western cultures especially—have very little time for God’s instruction concerning the affairs of family life. Although they may go through the routine of marriage, although they may want very badly to be consecrated in a church, it is apparent that the vows that are taken and the words that are spoken and the Scriptures that are read are somehow a kind of anachronism which twentieth-century dwellers like to have because it makes them feel a little better about things—or perhaps deep in their hearts they long that these things might be so, and somewhere between desire and actuality there is a great chasm fixed. Consequently, having closed, as it were, God’s instructions, mankind scrambles desperately to fill the void.
It’s seventeen years ago now since Carl Rogers, writing a book entitled [Becoming Partners: Marriage and its Alternatives], describes society then. Seventeen years ago is what? Nineteen seventy-three. And he said essentially what I’m saying now: that once society had turned its back on a divine mandate for family life, it was left to go other directions. And so he describes a few of them: living together without marriage, living in communes (not so common now as it was in the ’70s), extensive childcare centers, serial monogamy (that is, one divorce after another), the woman’s liberation movement to establish the woman as a person in her own right, new divorce laws which do away with the concept of guilt—these all, says Rogers, are gropings towards some new form of man-woman relationship for the future.
So in ’73 he says, “Mankind is groping for a way to make this man-woman relationship thing work that can take us into the future of humanity.” And is it working? One might argue without difficulty that the declension is far greater in 1990 than it ever was in ’73. Who would have thought that even in ’73 we would be able to accept such abhorrent practices as homosexual liaisons being given the privilege of becoming the so-called parents of children within the structure of our society, and that anyone who suggested that that somehow was not right would be regarded as a kind of medieval freak who was not prepared to go along with the flow of a developing culture?
Well, we’re right where Paul said we would be. If you turn to 2 Timothy chapter 3, as Paul writes concerning the days that will be as it approaches the return of Jesus Christ, he says in 2 Timothy 3:1, “But [get a hold of] this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” And what will they be marked by? Well, he says, “People will be lovers of themselves,” phílautos. They will be those who are focused on who they are and what they want to be, and they’ll love themselves, and they’ll love people who help them to love themselves, and they’ll love books on self-esteem, and they’ll love all of this stuff. They’ll just be in love with loving themselves. He says, “That’ll be part of it.” They’ll love money. They’ll be “boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love.” The word there, astorgos, it means simply “without natural affection.”
And as you go on and read through that section, you realize that whatever else is true, this whole difficulty in the realm of humanity in grappling with what it means either to be a husband or a wife, a mom or a dad, a child, a brother or a sister is going to be severely interfered with. So says Paul, “And this will be a cyclic thing as the time of the approach of Jesus Christ draws nearer.” And the intense, vehement action against the truth of God’s Word, we can only assume, will in fact get greater.
Now, that would be bad enough, if we were living in a corrupted society that had turned its back on the Maker’s instructions. But we as a church—and I mean the church universal—we’re gathered together under the headship of our commanding officer, Jesus Christ, and we were saying, “Lord Jesus, we own your right to every control over us. We own your Word as an authoritative statement to guide us.” If that were the condition in the church, then we would have cause for great encouragement. But I want to suggest to you this morning that our corrupted society is more than matched by a confused church. The society’s corrupted, and the church is confused.
The root of this may be found by turning back to Genesis 3. Genesis 3, just for a moment. And here, in the event of the fall of man, you will notice that the approach of the devil to Eve is the same approach as being taken today to the church concerning the authoritative instruction of God in every area of life, and supremely, this morning, under our consideration, in the whole matter of family life.
Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” Never forget that the devil is created. He’s not eternal with God. He is a created being. And he, the devil, the serpent, “said to the woman”—now notice what he said—“‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’”
Now, hold it there for just a minute. The devil’s approach is to come to Eve in the garden and call in question whether God really said what he said. And that is exactly his approach today to the minds of men and women who are seeking to walk, as it were, in communion with God in the cool of the day. Those who are redeemed and are in the church, the devil comes to us to say, “Did God really say 1 Peter 3:1–7? Did God really say Ephesians 5:20 and following?” And he wants to get us uncertain about the authority and the authenticity of God’s proclamation to us.
And then he goes on to do just as he did in the garden of Eden: “The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say’”—we know he said it—“‘“You must not eat from fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, … you must not touch it, or you will die.”’”
Now what does he say? “You will not surely die.” That’s his second approach. “Did he say it?” “Yes, he said it.” “Then let me tell you: he didn’t mean what he said.”
And the approach of the Evil One to the church in our generation is just that. That’s why the church is confused! The Evil One comes to ask the believer, “Do you think God really said that about marriage? Do you think that with society going wholescale in this direction, that God really meant for you to be this kind of couple? Do you think that when all of humanity says this, that God really wants you to be that kind of wife? Did he really say that?” And if we’re able to say, “Yes, he said it,” then he comes a second time to say, “But that’s not what he meant.”
Now, if you doubt me, loved ones, then you just pick up Christian periodicals in our day. And from the pens of those whom we might have expected to know better, we read all this unbelievable confusion concerning man and woman, concerning husband and wife, concerning God and authority and his church. And the real issue, dear ones, is not simply about role relationships. The real, fundamental issue is about the authority of this book. This is what is being eroded. This is the devil’s strategy. If he can get the church soft in this area, then presumably he will be able to get it soft in this area. And within a generation, those who once professed to believe the Bible have become those who by gradual degrees have drifted like Pilgrim into By-Path Meadow, hoping to get back on the road at some other point. And yet, a forlorn idea it really is.
Now, if that is true—and you must examine the Scriptures yourself, as did the Bereans in Acts 17. You must examine the Scriptures every day to see if the things are true. ’Cause the real issue this morning is not “Did you hear what Alistair said?” The real issue this morning is “Did you hear what God’s Word said?” And we need to know our Bibles so we can check whether what I say is actually what this says. That’s your part. You get to do that. You’re not supposed to come here and take dollops full on a big spoon and walk out the door. You’re coming here, you say, “I’m going to get into this book myself. I’m going to read 1 Peter 3:7. I’m going to examine these things every day.”
The pronouncements that the church is making are confused, and the practice of the church is equally confused. The abandonment of family responsibilities, the abandonment of marriage vows, is at a rate not substantially different from the secular culture around us. I mean, we might assume that if we were all committed unreservedly to Jesus Christ and to obeying his Word, that there would be a huge difference in the abandonment of family responsibilities within the church and outwith the church. But is there? No! It’s minimal. Why is it minimal? It’s minimal because of the impact of a corrupted society and because of the gradual acceptance of confusion within the ranks of the church.
Now, all of that by way of introduction as we come this morning to God’s instruction for the husband.
The first thing to notice here, back in 1 Peter 3:7, is that the relationships to which Peter refers are reciprocal relationships. In other words, there is a reciprocal obligation. All the way through you find this. If slaves are to be this way towards their masters, masters have a responsibility to be a certain way towards their slaves. If children are to be this way towards their parents, parents are to make sure that they do not provoke their children to wrath. There is a reciprocal obligation.
And there is reciprocal obligation within the husband-wife relationship. And that is to what Peter is referring now. There is no suggestion of all the privileges accruing to the husband and all the obligations falling to the wife. The fact that that was the case in Roman society, as it was, made Peter’s words revolutionary in their impact. And you can travel places in the world today where it’s not unusual to see the man riding on a donkey and his wife slaving her way through the desert beside him. Like the guy who was stopped in the desert, and the chap asked him, he said, “Manuel, how come your wife is walking?” And he said, “’Cause she ain’t got no donkey.” And that whole approach to things is baptized into orthodoxy in many areas of life.
And in Western culture, there are many of us who feel very much the same way. Somehow, we have a mistaken notion that all the obligations are the wives’ and all the privileges are the husbands’. Peter explodes that mythology, and he tackles it head-on. I think that kind of approach—the sort of male chauvinist pig approach to life—has so permeated the thinking of many that it’s not unsurprising to be on the receiving end of a backlash.
As I was driving yesterday and thinking about this message, I came up behind a car, I saw a bumper sticker, and it said on the bumper sticker, “A husband is living proof that a woman can take a joke.” And I said, “There we go! That’s the backlash!” It takes us back into the realm of the wimpy husbands and the “black shoe, brown shoe” factor which we mentioned last week.
Notice verse 7: “Husbands, in the same way…” Same phrase that comes—it’s one word in Greek, homoíōs—you find in the first verse: “Wives, homoíōs, be submissive to your husbands.” And what Peter was saying to the wives was, “In the same way as Jesus Christ has set a submissive example for us, so it is the example of Jesus that wives ought to look to, to be this kind of wife.” And then he uses the exact same phrase, and he says, “Okay, husbands, in the same way, homoíōs, the same pattern is to be your pattern as you fulfill the obligations that God has given you.”
Now, what are they? Well, he says, “Be considerate as you live with your wives.” What does this mean, “Be considerate as you live with your wives”? Is he issuing a reminder to husbands simply to be courteous, to stand up when his wife enters the room, to hold the door of the chariot or whatever it was, to carry the grocery bags from the markets there? No! Such actions are vital and necessary, but it would seem a triviality if that was what Peter was referring to, having given such far-reaching instruction to the wives. Do you think he said all of these things to the wives, and then he turns to the husbands and he says, “Oh, by the way, open the car door for your wife, would you?” No! It’s got to mean something more than that.
And this is where the NIV I don’t think helps us a great deal in its translation. Because in the phrase “Be considerate with your wives,” it seeks to explain the Greek, which actually reads, literally, “Husbands, likewise, dwelling together, according to knowledge.” That’s what it says, “Husbands, likewise, dwelling together, according to knowledge.” So the NIV said, “Be considerate as you live with your wives.”
You say, “Well, how do you get to that?” Well, I can explain, but that’s a whole Sunday school class on its own. Just notice this: that consequently, the King James Version translates it “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge.” Phillips, seeking to paraphrase it, says, “Similarly, you husbands should try to understand the wives you live with.” But even there, I don’t think he’s got it.
“Well, what do you think it is?” Well, look at 1 Peter 1:14, for just a moment. First Peter 1:14. Peter has been explaining this whole wonder of salvation, and he comes to application in the thirteenth verse, and he says, “Now, therefore, in light of these doctrinal indicatives, here are some of the moral, ethical imperatives. Now you should live in a certain way.” “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Now notice verse 14: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” Okay?
So, as non-Christians, we lived in ignorance. We were not simply ignorant of the way of salvation, but we were ignorant of the purposes of God for the way that life would be lived. Now all that has changed. So the Christian husband discovers that salvation for him must impact his marital relationship with his wife. He no longer lives in ignorance. He is now to live according to knowledge—the knowledge which has become his as a result of the work of redemption within his life. Before, as a pagan, he lived in the realm of pagan lust, but now he lives in the realm of Christian love. Before, he viewed marriage from a secular perspective, but now he views marriage according to the knowledge which God has given in and through his Word and the person of his Son. Therefore, as a new believer in Christ, his relationship with his wife is to be put on a completely different plane from whatever it was before. He is to live, dwell with that lady “according to knowledge.”
Well, what kind of knowledge? Well, certainly these things: that husbands are to live with their wives in the knowledge, first of all, of the wonderful provision that God has made for us in marriage—that redeemed now, we don’t see marriage as just another piece of paper from the courthouse on the corner. We don’t buy into all of that ’60s, ’70s nonsense about “Who needs a contract, who needs this?” We understand that according to knowledge, it is God’s purpose from the beginning of creation that “it is not good for … man to [dwell] alone” and that God, in his wisdom, has created this wonderful provision. The Christian husband thinks about that.
He also comes in the knowledge of the clear parameters that God has set for marriage to be lived the way God intended it to be. So the Christian husband is different from his non-Christian golfing buddies. He doesn’t laugh at the same jokes. He doesn’t read the same literature. Why? Because he is committed to dwelling with that woman— katà gnōsin—according to the knowledge that he cannot step outwith the parameters that God has created for that marriage bond and still enjoy the privileges God intended.
Thirdly, in the knowledge of the unique purpose for which God has ordained husband and wife. Fourthly, in the knowledge of what it will mean for his wife to live out the principles of 1 Peter 3:1–6. “Dwell with your wives in light of what I’ve just said,” says Peter. “You’re living with a lady who is seeking to fulfill verses 1–6. You need to understand the implications of that.” And fifthly, in the knowledge of what his wife is by nature and what she is by grace. That comes in the phrase “by nature she is the weaker partner, by grace she is a joint heir.” And to that we’ll come in a moment.
But notice the next phrase with me, will you? “Husbands, in the same way dwell with your wives according to knowledge”—notice this—“and treat them with respect.” Again, I think the Authorized Version is better here in that it uses the word “honour.” The word honor has more majesty to it, is a richer word. For example, we may respect the thirty-five-mile-an-hour signs along the road, but we don’t get down and plant flowers around them or salute every time we pass. We may respect the decision of the referee on the basketball court, but we don’t bow down and worship him at the end of the game. So there is a distinction in some measure, even in our English usage, between respect and honor.
And in actual fact, the word which is used here is the same word that is translated in 2:7 by the word “precious”: “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.” Okay? So the literal translation back here in 1 Peter 3:7 is this: “Husbands, treat your wives with preciousness. Let your wives know how precious they are to you.” Precious things are afforded a special place and are treated with particular care and courtesy.
Well, let’s just pause for a minute and take a discursus in the real, intense practicality of this, gentleman. Question: Have our wives lately been made unmistakably aware of the fact that apart from Christ, they are to us the most precious relationship that we enjoy in the whole world? Have we been about the business, husbands, of making sure that the preciousness of our wives is manifested and is exalted and is experienced and is enjoyed by them? Have we realized lately what it means for our wives to endeavor to live out the first six verses of 1 Peter 3? Have we realized what it is for them to walk into an environment which is totally alien to these things as they have sought to invest themselves in motherhood, as they have endeavored to work out the implications of submission? And as they’ve done so, they’re bombarded by their peers, who are saying to them, “You’re a freak! Do you realize that? There aren’t many ladies like you left. Why don’t you get out of that narrow, strange, Judaistic route and get in here in the mainstream? Get with us! We’re the women of tomorrow.” And our wives have been saying no!
Do you realize what it takes for them to say no? Do you realize how much they are in need of affirmation, approval, affection, action, support, encouragement, preciousness? Where else will it come from? Why is it that between the ages of thirty-seven and forty-two, there is the greatest declension amongst women in the marriage bond? I’ll tell you why it is, guys: because we’re not doing the job! Oh, we’re doing a job, hours and hours a week. But we’re not doing the job.
Here comes Mr. X. He walks in, opens the back door from the garage. He’s late, he’s tired, and he’s inconsiderate. He’s talked out. He turns to the usual spot where the mail is, where he likes it, and discovers it isn’t there. And so, without having said anything else, he says, “Where’s the mail?” Nice greeting to begin with. So his wife scurries off to find it—unless, of course, she has decided not to go with the 1 Peter 3:1–6 route, in which case she answers, “Find it yourself!” (which is, of course, a possibility, but not in this illustration). As he waits for his meal to be served—which he will eat alone, because he has now not come home for the seventeenth time in a row to eat with his family—he grabs the remote control for his television and flops down, half reading the Plain Dealer and half watching sixteen channels on the television. His wife watches him eat, and up he scrambles, off to his racquetball appointment, which he can never miss. He returns sweaty and with just enough energy to turn on the stereo and listen to his favorite song, which goes like this, and which he always sings along on the chorus. Shel Silverstein:
Put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans
And go out to the car and change the tyre.
[And] wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.
Come on, baby, you can fill my pipe,
And then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire, baby
And come and tell me why you’re leaving me.
Now don’t I let you wash the car on Sunday?
Don’t I warn you when you’re getting fat?
Ain’t I gonna take you fishing someday?
Well, a man can’t love a woman more than that.
Ain’t I always nice to your kid sister?
Don’t I take her driving every night?
So, sit here at my feet, ’cause I like it when you’re sweet,
And you know that it ain’t feminine to fight.
Put another log on the fire, baby.
Come on, baby.
Interesting thing is that when you turn to the pages of Scripture and you ask the question “What are husbands told to do to their wives and for their wives?”—none of the verbs that we’ve bought into. Nowhere are husbands told to rule their wives. Nowhere are they told to command their wives. Nowhere are they told to subject their wives. Nowhere are they told to order their wives. What are they told to do to their wives? Love their wives! Love ’em! Let them know how precious they really are.
But guys, in too many cases, there’s been an abdication—wholesale, big-style abdication. No meaningful communication. No tenderness. No understanding. No sweetness. On the wife’s part, no response. No wonder! And this crazy, sweaty, racquetball hulk who now arrives back home thinks that despite the fact that he hasn’t had a meaningful conversation with his wife in the last twenty-six days, that somehow, ex nihilo, in a vacuum, she is going to be supremely interested in displaying all of her affection for him. And she isn’t! And it’s hardly surprising.
The honor that we bestow upon our wives is to be bestowed in light of who she is naturally and spiritually. Now, let’s deal with these two phrases, and we’re through for this morning with our study, and then we can praise God together in worship.
Notice: display honor, the preciousness of your wife, first of all, because she is “the weaker partner.” Now, what are the two most important letters in the phrase “the weaker partner”? If you were going to go through that and circle two letters that are absolutely crucial to understanding that phrase, what are they? I’ll tell you what they are. They are the e-r on the end of the word weak. Weaker. It doesn’t say, “As the weak partner.” And yet, so often it is read as “the weak partner.” “I am the strong guy. She is the weak partner.” That’s not what it says.
Peter has already said in 1:24—if your Bible’s open, you’ll see it there—that we’re all weak, that we are all, in humanity, weak. “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the [flower falls].” It’s the same picture that you have in Jeremiah 18 and Romans 9 concerning the potter and the clay. The Bible says that as humanity, we are weak. Therefore, we share that weakness. But in some dimension, the wife is “the weaker partner.”
Notice that the word “partner” is there as well. Don’t let’s miss that. And the recognition of the wife’s greater weakness is not derogatory, and it is not in any way implying inferiority. And when you meet all those ladies out there that are telling you that 1 Peter 3:7 and its counterparts is suggesting that the woman is a doormat, the woman is this, the woman is that, you’ve got to know your Bibles, guys. You’ve got to be able to say, “No, no. You don’t… Let me explain to you something. That’s not the truth.” Because an alien environment is setting up straw men and women so that they may power-hose them down. Make no mistake that this is an arena of spiritual warfare. The roots of the ERA lie in lesbianism. If you don’t know that, just research the originators of it. The whole propaganda to destroy marriage has its roots in hell.
So we need to understand where people are coming from. First, there is no God; we’ve dispensed with him. There is no Creator. Therefore, there is no creation. Therefore, there is no unique man and no unique woman. Therefore, there is no role which is uniquely male or masculine, no role which is uniquely feminine. Therefore, there is no right, and there is no wrong. Therefore, all we have are sexual preferences. So what do you prefer? And who ever has the right to interfere with someone’s preferences?
Loved ones, the Bible, it’s like a huge siren out into the darkness and futility of that thinking. It’s sounding like a big claxon, as if somebody’s car had been broken into and it’s making a dickens of a noise in the parking lot.
Now, while the physical factor in this phrase “the weaker partner” has been the traditional explanation, I wonder if there isn’t another possibility in explaining this. Because the fact of the matter is that wives are not weaker in so many ways. They’re certainly not mentally weaker than us. They’re certainly not morally weaker than us. So in what way would they be weaker than us? “Well, they can’t carry as many bricks up a ladder.” All right. Well, is that it? Is that all we can find? Yes, and maybe that’s all it is. Maybe it’s simply an acknowledgement of the physical constitution of a woman.
But what about this possibility? Search your Bibles and see if there’s any validity to it. What about the notion that what Peter is referring to here is the unique position taken by the 1 Peter 3:1–6 wife—i.e., the wife, in assuming her God-given role, has accepted a position of submission, and therefore a position of vulnerability, and therefore a position of potential weakness. And so Peter writes to the man, and he says, “Your wife, because she wants to be a wife God’s way, has put herself in a position of vulnerability in her role as a woman. Therefore, make sure that you do not exploit her. Make sure that you do not take advantage of her. Make sure that you value her as precious. Don’t make her do everything to the degree that she is overwhelmed with life and goes under. Don’t prevent her from the opportunities that are uniquely hers; otherwise, you make her feel useless or in control of nothing at all. Recognize that delegation within the marriage bond is not top-down; it’s lateral.”
If we’re going to live with our wives according to knowledge, then we need to recognize who they are naturally—and, finally, spiritually. They are “heirs with [us] of the gracious gift of life.” “Joint-heirs,” the King James Version puts it. In other words, our wives believe in the same Savior, our wives are redeemed by the same ransom, our wives live by the same grace, and they look forward to the same destiny.
And you will notice that the final phrase reminds us of the transcendent dimension of all of this. Why is all of this important, ultimately? Notice, he does not say, “So that you will all be a happy family.” Isn’t that interesting? There is an approach to family life which is nothing more than idolatry: “Oh, I can’t worship. I can’t come to this. I can’t go to that.” “Why?” “I am worshipping at the shrine of family.” Now, are we to pay attention to family? Of course we are. But is that to become a god before the only God who exists in the whole world? No!
Notice what he says: “The reason you’re to fulfill these role relationships as per God’s instruction is so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” In other words, he says, “Your domestic relationships have a profound impact upon your spiritual fellowship. If your relationship with your wife is wrong, the windows of heaven will be closed to you. Our relationship with God will never be right as long as our relationship with others is wrong.
When’s the last time we led our wives in prayer? I often ask couples when they come to talk with me concerning their marriage—perhaps they’ve got an area of peculiar concern, perhaps they’re burdened with some particular sphere, and they’ve read this and they’ve read that, and many things helpful are coalescing for them as they seek their way forward—I ask them this question: “Husband, when is the last time you took your wife by the hand and knelt down at the side of your bed and led her before the throne of grace in prayer? When’s the last time?” And almost without exception, one makes the discovery that husbands and wives have been going everywhere and to everyone and yet have neglected to go the one place that God says, “Come”: to his throne, where we find grace to be that kind of husband, to be that kind of wife, and where we find mercy, forgiveness for being the wrong kind of husband, forgiveness for being the wrong kind of wife.
Peter is not calling us to an action that is new; he is calling us to continue. What he is saying is, “I want you to get better at fulfilling the roles uniquely given you by God, even if society laughs, even if society sneers, even if it stretches you to the limit. Resolve today: God said it, that settles it.” Never mind the “I believe it.” That comes next. Remember, the old pastor from the inner city sorted us out on that. Remember that? I was with him, and he said, “My congregation says, ‘God says it, I believe it, that settles it.’” He says, “I told them,
‘God said it, that settles it, I don’t care whether you believe it or not.’” So, here we go: “God said it, that settles it.” Now here we go: “I believe it. Now I’m going to live it.”
I ask you this morning: What will become of another generation? If this is what the baby boomers are doing to America, what do you think the daycare dodos are going to do when they hit the streets? What do you think will happen to this nation when a generation of children growing up in a corrupted society and in a confused church, with a dad who doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do and a mom who hasn’t got a clue, finally hit the streets to make their way in life? Loved ones, this is so crucial! Husbands, let your wives know how precious they really are.
Father, we want your Word to take root in our lives today. We confess to you the gaps that we find as we turn to the mirror that’s before us here. And we thank you that with you there is forgiveness and plenteous mercy, that we can come this morning and say, “Well, that was yesterday, but this is a new day. And by your grace, I want to be the man of your appointing.” Help us, Lord, we pray. How else will we live as lights in the darkness? What will it mean in our society? Surely this, at least in part: that as we go into restaurants, as we involve ourselves in recreation, as we take our wives to office functions, as we drive in the car and as we walk the streets, there would be some dimension that the world would look at and wonder, so that we might be able to magnify the God of all creation and his Son, Jesus Christ.
We want to offer you our lives today. We want to bring to you that which you’ve entrusted to us. And so we pray that you will come and stir up our spirits within us, that we might love you and serve you and follow you, and even as we bring our offerings to you, that we might do so generously and gladly. Hear our prayer, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
 See 2 Timothy 3:15.
 See 2 Timothy 3:16.
 See Carl Rogers, Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives (New York: Delta, 1972).
 2 Timothy 3:2 (NIV 1984).
 See 2 Timothy 3:2.
 2 Timothy 3:2–3 (NIV 1984).
 Genesis 3:2–3 (NIV 1984).
 Genesis 3:4 (NIV 1984).
 See Acts 17:11.
 See Ephesians 6:5–9; Colossians 3:22.
 See Ephesians 6:4.
 1 Peter 3:7 (KJV).
 1 Peter 3:7 (Phillips).
 Genesis 2:18 (NIV 1984).
 1 Peter 3:7 (paraphrased).
 Shel Silverstein, “Put Another Log on the Fire” (1976). Lyrics Lightly Altered.
 See Jeremiah 18:5–6; Romans 9:20–21.
 Romans 8:17 (KJV).
 See Ephesians 5:8.
Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.