Being a Wife God’s Way
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Being a Wife God’s Way

1 Peter 3:1–6  (ID: 1476)

What does it mean to be a woman and a wife according to the Bible? Surrounded by pagan ideals of womanhood, Peter wrote that Christian women living as aliens in this world are called to a higher standard. Alistair Begg teaches us the biblical perspective on marriage, in which equality does not negate the place of submission. Without any loss of dignity, wives are called to submit to their husbands, following the example set by Christ.

Series Containing This Sermon

We Two Are One

A Study on God’s Plan for Marriage Selected Scriptures Series ID: 21401

Encore 2017

Selected Scriptures Series ID: 25908

A Study in 1 Peter, Volume 2

Submission in a Secular Culture 1 Peter 2:11–3:12 Series ID: 16002

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to take your Bibles, and we’ll turn together to 1 Peter; 1 Peter chapter 3. And our focus this morning is on the first six verses, which I’d like to read in your hearing.

First Peter 3:1:

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without [talk] by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

Father, I pray that as we turn our hearts to these verses of Scripture, that the Holy Spirit might be our teacher, that you will give to us alert minds, the ability to think clearly, the willingness to submit openly to exactly what your Word may teach. And to this we give ourselves now, seeking your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

As we come to 3:1, we are at the midpoint of a section on submission, which has begun for us at 2:13 and which arguably continues until 3:12. And having established the necessity of submission in relation to civil government and then in the realm of everyday employment, and having provided the foundational basis for all of this in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ—and he did that in verses 21 and following, to the end of chapter 2—Peter now turns to the family unit and says if the family unit is to work in the way that God intended, then this same principle and pattern of submission needs to be operative.

And he begins by addressing it in the whole area of the privileges and responsibilities of being a wife. And that’s why we’ve entitled our study this morning “Being a Wife God’s Way.” “Being a Wife God’s Way.” Does God have a particular way for a wife to be? The answer which Scripture gives is unreservedly yes. Well then, do I want to be that kind of wife? And do I want to lead my family in such a way as to make it possible, as a husband, for my wife to become all that God intends for her to be? These are the areas that we now find ourselves addressing. And, of course, we don’t come to husbands until the seventh verse, which will probably be the next Lord’s Day. But in the meantime, we’re going to deal with this whole question of wives.

Any lingering doubts regarding the fitting description of those who are in Christ as being “aliens and strangers in the world”—which, you will remember, we picked up in 2:11—may be dispelled by considering the radical and revolutionary impact of what Peter is saying here. If you don’t think that you are an alien or a stranger, or if you find yourself completely absorbed by the culture—if I do also—if we’re tempted to believe that “alien and stranger” is some kind of anachronistic phrase, then that will be gone once and for all for the individual, for the wife especially, who is prepared to believe and to behave in light of the first six verses of 1 Peter chapter 3.

The wife who lives this out, who seeks to do so, will be confronted by the unfavorable reaction of her peers—peers who regard themselves as incredibly enlightened, tremendously progressive, very twentieth-century ladies (actually, twenty-first-century ladies). And the challenge is on a lady who would be prepared to bow beneath the instruction of this word. Frankly, she would cause less fuss by dressing up as a Viking and going grocery shopping than the fuss that she will cause by bearing testimony to this principle at a neighborhood gathering of women. I put it to you ladies: try the test. You’re invited for coffee, and you’re going to the grocery store. Dress up as in the most bizarre clothes you can find and go to the grocery store. Then go to the Bible study or to the meeting, and suggest that you are committed to being submissive to your husband. And then assess which got the greatest reaction. And I want to put it to you that the odd Viking in the grocery store is as nothing compared to the impact of a wife who apparently has taken leave of her senses, is paying attention to an ancient book, to words written by a Galilean fisherman, that seemingly are locked in history past.

Now, if that doesn’t set this up in about as dynamic a way, in terms of the impact of these verses, as it can, then I can’t do any further.

Verse 1 of chapter 3 is linked to the preceding teaching on submission. How do we know that? Because Peter employs the phrase “in the same way”: “Wives, in the same way…” In the same way as what? In the same way as all that has gone before. In the same way as Christ has displayed a submissive spirit. In the same way as slaves, within the everyday routine of life, have committed themselves to upholding the principles and priorities of the framework. In the same way as we, in relationship to civil government, are responsible to bowing beneath this truth. In the same way, wives within the home are to display this submissive spirit.

Now, when you come to something like this and you’re reading through the Bible… Perhaps you’re not reading elsewhere. Perhaps you’ve come as a visitor this morning, and here we are at this, and you’re saying, “Well, I wonder why he’s addressing this.” First of all, if you are a visitor, you should know that we’re just working systematically through 1 Peter. We don’t have some crusade about submissive wives on the go. This is just in the course of affairs. But you may find yourself saying, “Well, isn’t this perhaps just one word in the midst of the Bible? Is this in accord with what the rest of Scripture teaches?” And the answer is yes. And it is in accord with what we find throughout the rest of Scripture.

For example, in Ephesians 5, in oft-quoted verses from the wedding ceremony, in Ephesians 5:22, Paul has said, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ”—which it must do to be all that Christ intends for it to be—“so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything,” in order that they might be all that God intends for them as wives to be.

The mutuality which exists between a husband and wife and the inevitable responsibilities which fall to each are not, in the purposes of God, enemies but rather friends.

Now, if the Scriptures are so clear concerning this, why is it that there exists such uncertainty in the minds of men and women in the twentieth-century church, irrespective of the twentieth-century society surrounding the church? I want to suggest that it is on account of two things. The reason that we have difficulty in declaring and in displaying this principle of submission is first of all because of the conviction which marks the pagan perspective. Now, some people might not like the use of the word pagan. I’m sorry, but I chose it guardedly and guidedly. The world outside of the Christian church is pagan in its perspective. That’s what the Bible says. And yet it remains very, very clear concerning its agenda.

Let me give to you just one quote, of which there could be many. This is from a lady called Felice Schwartz, the president of Catalyst, writing in Working Woman’s magazine:

By the year 2000, when the children of today’s generation of career women are themselves emerging from their teens, the polarization of … sexes that put women in the home, at the nurturing end of the spectrum, and men in the office, at the work end of the spectrum, will have disappeared. And with it the stereotypes of supportive women and aggressive men.

And what we must say in response to that is, “She seems to be absolutely correct.” And we are right on schedule for it. Sometime around the year 2000, as these teenage girls emerge from this subculture, they will emerge in exactly as she says.

But to the church, which is resident and alien in society, is given another agenda altogether. And yet such uncertainty, promoted by the conviction of a society around us and by the confusion of the church in which we find ourselves. This is seen by the amount of articles which are presently being written which attempt to make mutual submission and the authority of a husband or the responsibility of submission actually enemies to one another on the battlefield of life. And in point of fact, what the Bible says is that the mutuality which exists between a husband and wife and the inevitable responsibilities which fall to each are not, in the purposes of God, enemies but rather friends.

Now, we need to think carefully about this. And let me try and guide us through. Turn with me for a moment, again, to Ephesians 5, if you let go of that passage. Ephesians chapter 5, and prior to the verse which I read, which was the twenty-second verse, you’ll find the twenty-first verse—which, of course, you would expect. And in the twenty-first verse it says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” There is, says Paul, to be a mutual dimension of submission which exists in the relationships of God’s people to one another, and not least of all which exists within the family unit and the relationship between a mom and a dad, between a husband and a wife.

That mutuality of response is not something which is earthed simply here in Ephesians 5, but it comes out clearly in other places. And one of the most graphic expressions of this mutuality is in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, where Paul is pointing out that husbands and wives, in terms of their responsibilities to one another within the marriage bond, as it relates to the physical dimension of their expressions of love for one another, are called to mutuality. They are called to mutually submit. First Corinthians 7:3: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone.”

Now, that’s like a red rag to a bull in our present feminist culture. “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone,” but to whom? “But also to her husband.” We can’t allow ladies to walk the streets of America saying, “My body belongs to me.” We cannot allow statutes to be written into our governmental laws which say that a husband has no responsibility, no control, no say in what happens to the child that a woman carries in her womb. And why not? Because her body does not belong to her alone, but it also belongs to her husband. “Tremendous!” say the husbands. Wait a minute! We’re not finished. “In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.”[1] “Therefore,” says Paul, “do not deprive one another of the physical relationships within marriage. Mutually submit to one another.”[2]

Now, I’m going to leave that aside now, because that takes us into a whole ’nother area of teaching. And we’ll come to that another day. But what it’s saying is this: that there is a mutuality about the relationship in the marriage bond. And we need to understand that clearly. But that mutuality does not negate the place of submission, which is to be taken by a husband to Christ as he submits to the task of leadership, and which is to be taken by a wife to her husband as she submits to God’s design for her, uniquely created, with wonderful potential for good, as she lives it out for God.

Consider Galatians chapter 3 in this regard. And we will return to 1 Peter in a moment or two. But let your fingers do the walking. Galatians 3:28. This is a verse which is often used to teach the exact opposite of what I’m about to teach you: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” “So,” says somebody, “because of Galatians 3:28, there is now no place for the other biblical teaching concerning the responsibilities of headship and authority and submission within the home.”

But what is Galatians 3:28 saying? It’s saying this: before God, there is only oneness. A woman is not inferior to a man in terms of spiritual citizenship. A lady has direct access to God the Father through Jesus Christ—the same as does her husband. She is uniquely involved in that relationship. However, what the verse is not teaching is that it overturns, for example, 1 Peter 3:1 and is suggesting that since we are all one in Christ Jesus and since our maleness and our femaleness does not come into play in the spiritual realm, so, some argue, the notions of gender and the notions of the polarity of the sexes is also completely obliterated. But if you think about that, that is so silly: that God went to such lengths to make man qua man and to make women as women, and then, in the great economy of his purposes from eternity, he decided that at some midpoint he would obliterate all the distinctions of gender, etc.

You see, loved ones, we need to learn to study our Bibles in such a way that we allow the Bible to say what it says. And the context here in Galatians 3 is that Paul is proclaiming our oneness in Jesus Christ: “We are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ,”[3] sons and daughters of God. He uses the word “sons” generically, as does the rest of Scripture. And then he goes on to explain the implications of this.

So, if I labor it a little, let me try and come back to what I’m endeavoring to get across: mutuality within marriage, says the Bible, does not negate the place of submission.

Now, let me illustrate that for you in one final reference. First Corinthians 11:3. First Corinthians 11:3, concerning Jesus: “Now I want you to realize,” says Paul, “that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Now, does anything strike you about that for a moment? The last phrase: “The head of Christ is God.” What do we know, those of us who know our Bibles, about the Trinity? What do we know about God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit? We know that they are coeternal and that they are coequal—that they are equal in power and in eternity and in every other way. There is no distinction between the members of the Trinity. So therefore, there is an all-consuming mutuality within the Trinity, between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Mutuality within marriage does not negate the place of submission.

But, says Paul, the head of Christ is God. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”[4] Jesus said, “[He] who has seen me has seen the Father.”[5] Absolute mutuality! So how could it possibly be that God is the head of Christ? The answer is, it cannot be in essence or in nature. Therefore, it must be in function. In function. So therefore, Christ, who is coequal with the Father in all respects, submits from all of eternity to do the Father’s will, not because he is inferior to the Father but because it is vital and necessary, for the purposes of God to be worked out from all of eternity into time, that Jesus delight to do the Father’s will. His mutuality is without question, and his submission to the Father is absolutely plain.

Now, the point of all of that is simply this: that that is the exact picture, that is the same kind of structure, which is written into the fabric of marriage. Now, you getting this? Some of you are already long gone, I can tell. The glaze is already over your eyes. Let me try and say it again. I keep saying it until I see the bell ring somewhere. The husband and the wife’s spiritual natures are the same. The husband and wife are equal before God—now hold on—but in order for the family to function in harmony, the woman, with no loss of dignity, takes the place of submission to the headship of her husband, in the same way as Christ, with no loss of dignity, took the place of submission to the headship of his heavenly Father.

Now, when we understand that, we can stop all the silly stuff and all the straw men and women that are created as people tell us what we are saying is this and that and the next thing. First of all, we need to understand what the Bible is saying, and then we need carefully to say what the Bible says. God’s purpose is, God’s perfect design for a family is such that he has made it that the woman’s tenderness and her gentleness are to dovetail with the husband’s strength in leadership.

Now, that is another message to which we’re going to come. Because what about the wimpy husband factor? What about the husbands who’ve never led from day one? What about the abnegation of leadership within the homes on the parts of men? What about these crazy characters who don’t know whether to put brown shoes on or black shoes on and walk around with one brown and one black, if that was necessary? Useless individuals! Useless to their children, useless to their wives. Useless characters! And how does a wife, then, make sense of the first six verses of 1 Peter 3 if she happens to be living in a home with a husband who has never submitted himself to his responsibility under God in leadership? But ladies, we’ve got to go six verses for you, and then one for the men. And that was what Peter did. I don’t think that we ought to read a great deal into that except what is there. All right?

Now, the principle in 1a, submission to the husband, is then followed by the possibility in 1b and in verse 2: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without [talk] by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” The scenario would seem to be very clear: that here’s a pagan family, and as a result of the ministry of the gospel, the wife has come to faith in Jesus. So the wife now is living within the family unit, with a husband who actually, apart from simply being indifferent to the truth of the gospel, may be aggressively in opposition to it. Indeed, the phraseology in the original seems to suggest that. Now, given that the wife was ordinarily supposed to take on the religion of her husband, she immediately had a problem. What is to be done? It is this practical question which Peter addresses. This is right where his readers live their lives. What is to be done?

Well, Barclay entitles these two verses “The Silent Preaching of a Lovely Life.”[6] “The Silent Preaching of a Lovely Life.” What is a wife to do? The missionary impact of the Christian wife on a non-Christian husband is not going to come, says Peter, through the ears—note this—but through the eyes. Not through the ears primarily but through the eyes. The wife must resist the temptation to be constantly about the business of conveying her newfound belief to her husband through ear gate. The wife’s responsibility is not to ensure that her husband hears what she believes, but it is to make sure that her husband sees how she behaves.

Now, it’s relatively easy for us to let people hear what we believe, and it’s difficult for them to see how we behave. How is she to behave? She’s to be marked by two things: one, by purity in character and in conduct, and by reverence. Go back through the first two chapters; you’ll find reverence for God mentioned in 1:17, 2:17. The reverence for God is going to display itself in her submission within the home.

Now, notice: he says this won’t take place in a vacuum. And the progression of his thinking seems to me, at least, that when he says, “The behavior of the wife will be marked in purity and in reverence,” what does that mean, Peter? I mean, how is this going to display itself? Then he immediately goes on to speak about a lady’s beauty as well as a lady’s behavior. Before she was converted, the wife had the normal preoccupations of the pagan world. But now, because of a transformation which has taken within, she has a whole new approach to life. And the husband sees an outward change in his wife as a result of an inward transformation which he cannot see. And in verses 3–4, the contrasts are very clear between the outward and the inward, between beauty which is stuck on from the outside and which is produced from the inside, between a loud person and a quiet person, between changing styles of fashion and unfading gems of beauty.

Now what does he say? He says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment.” Such as what? “Such as braiding your hair, wearing gold jewelry, and fine clothes.” Well, what is this? A legalistic ban on a certain style of hair? So all you ladies sitting out there this morning that had braided your hair before you left, you’re immediately clutching up for the back of your head, wondering just where it fits in relation to this? People are slowly slipping bracelets off their wrists, taking them off, slipping them in their purses, hoping they can get out unseen? Any dress that cost over $7.53 you’re beginning to feel embarrassed about? No, it’s not that! If the literal force of Peter’s words here are pressed out of context and you take them literally from the Greek, you can actually make Peter to say that the wearing of clothing itself is prohibited as outward adornment. And that would give a whole new dimension to the idea of a plain Jane, right? That is not what Peter is saying.

If you press… And incidentally, this is as an aside. This helps us to understand how we understand and interpret the Bible. If we interpret these verses in a wooden way (wooden, w-o-o-d-e-n, wuden, wooden, okay?)—in a wooden way—then we will say that a lady who shaved her head completely bald apart from one long straight piece which she died emerald green and left hanging down her back, who wore the most enormous silver earrings that swung around her head and kept her kind of in motion, and who wore the most bizarre inexpensive clothes ever seen, such a lady would be faithfully obeying 1 Peter 3:3.

Now, that ridiculous illustration points up what I’m saying. What is Peter doing here? He is establishing a principle, and he is using an illustration. The principle is timeless; the illustration is transient. The principle is: a woman’s beauty should not be the result of external ostentation. A woman’s submission should be displayed in a quiet and gentle way. But so many people down through the ages of the church have built doctrine out of 1 Peter 3:3. And so they go round with their hair all done a certain way, they never wear gold, and they buy their clothes from the Salvation Army, and they think that that is something that is commendable in terms of Scripture. It may be commendable, but it’s not as a result of a safe exegesis of 1 Peter 3:3.

What is Peter saying, or what is Peter not saying? He is not saying that there is no place for outward beauty. What he is saying is that outward beauty and such adornment must always and finally be subservient to the focus of internal beauty. That’s all.

Turn with me to John 6, please. John 6:27. Here is the same use of language. John 6:27: Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.” Okay? Now, what is the literal interpretation of that? What is the right explanation of that? Is Jesus there saying, “Do not work for food”? In other words, “Do not work to get food so you can eat and sustain your life. And setting that aside, work for another kind of food.” No! What is he saying? He’s saying, “Do not allow your preoccupation with working for the food that sustains your physical existence take priority over working for the food that sustains that which leads to eternity.” And that is exactly what Peter is doing here. He’s saying, “Ladies, don’t stick it on from the outside; produce it from the inside. Don’t allow that to be the driving force for you.”

Now, it seems to me that women are especially bombarded by the mentality of the mall. And I don’t mean that to be a kind of male chauvinist statement, because men are too. But it seems that a lady is susceptible in some way to that just because there is such a gush of it. Women’s magazines are more than men, and they have the design of what is the right thing to wear, what is the right way to do your hair, what is the right kind of woman, whether it’s in the business world or in family life or what you do and where you go. And television commercials have created Identi-Kit women. And men, then, are tempted to gauge their wives against these ladies on TV. Young guys are tempted only to choose ladies who look like the ladies on TV.

Outward beauty and adornment must always and finally be subservient to the focus of internal beauty.

What are we to do about this, fathers and husbands? One of the things that we need to do is that those of us who’ve been given daughters need to praise our daughters for inner loveliness. For inner loveliness. Tell them the times that their inner beauty shines. Commend them for the lovely things that come from within, that put a smile on their face and grace and bless others. Not that we turn them into funny little creatures, but that we put the predominant emphasis where Peter puts it here. And we ought to be doing the same with our wives.

We’re asking the question, as we look at these verses, “Can true beauty still be blooming along with wrinkles?” So much of a husband’s ego, it seems to me, is wrapped up in the things that he’s able to give to his wife so that she can walk around and be the Identi-Kit picture of what the beautiful wife is. And if he cannot provide financially to the degree where she can look like that on the outside, he may be tempted to consider himself a failure. Peter says, “No, no!” He says if husbands, verse 7, are going to be considerate as they live with their wives, that part of the husband’s consideration must be to exalt and to commend and to bless his wife by encouraging her in relation to who she is and what she is, not in terms of what she has and what she sticks on.

That’s why the book of Proverbs, Solomon has so much to say to a young man. He says, “I want you to delight yourself in the wife of your youth.[7] May her breasts always satisfy you.”[8] “You mean after four children have had their own attack at those breasts that once were marked in a certain way by all the joy of virginity and purity in the early years of life?” Yes! “You mean even though it may not be the way it is over here and all of this?” Yes! And when husbands begin to get to grips with the radical implications of that, then they will be able to set their wives free from much of the tyranny which comes to them from the outside, leading them to be suckered into the possibility of believing that Peter’s wrong and world is right.

“Let your beauty,” he says, “be that of your inner self, the unfading [jewelry] of a gentle and a quiet spirit.” Well, what does this mean? Marry somebody who’s quiet? Is this simply—the imperishable jewel of “a gentle and [a] quiet spirit”—is this just uneasy reserve? Or is this affected piety? No! It’s a superficial quality. It’s displayed in all kinds of personalities. Some ladies are really funny; they crack you up all the time. And I’m not talking about their clothes now. I mean, they’re just funny people. They’re outgoing people. They’re very demonstrative and everything else. And they might be tempted to believe that they can’t have the imperishable jewel “of a gentle and [a] quiet spirit.” Not so! It’s not being born naturally shy. It’s being so filled with the Spirit of God that irrespective of who you are as a woman, the way God has made you, when you get right to the essence of it, God is producing in your life qualities that you never had before.

You see, paganism despised the individual that didn’t take charge. Paganism despised the individual who didn’t assert their will. And such is true today. Pagan husbands would probably want their wives to dress up at the office parties in such a way as to make themselves attractive to their pagan business buddies: “Hey, dress like this.” What’s the wife to say? “No, I’ve got to dress in such a way that displays the imperishable jewel of a gentle and a quiet spirit.”

You see, there’s all the difference in the world, as John Stott says, between making yourself deliberately attractive and making yourself deliberately seductive. And John Stott says, “You [women] know the difference,” and “so do we men.”[9] And what this says is there is no place for anything other than the straightforward approach of the Word to these truths.

“Well,” says somebody, “do we have any examples?” Yeah, we do. We got a cover girl in verse 5, a model in verse 6. Do you want to be the daughter of Sarah? What do you do? Two things, he says: do what is right, and don’t be afraid. People say, “Be like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master, called him lord?” You look up Genesis 18:12, you’ll find the reference. It’s not that Sarah is walking around going, “O lord, shall I give you orange juice this morning, master? Hello, master.” No, no. It’s not that at all! Genesis 18:12, she uses the word under her breath. She uses the word under her breath! She refers to her husband, under her breath, as her lord. It’s interesting, because what we say under our breath is often a lot closer to the truth than what we say out loud. So in the quietness of her own heart, she had such a regard for Abraham, she said, “He’s my main man!” That’s what it is! “I love Abraham. He’s my guy. He’s my master. He’s my protector. He’s my provider.”

So you want to be a cover girl in God’s sight? You want to be a part of a model agency? Here it is: the Daughters of Sarah. New modeling agency just found in the Cleveland area. Invite all ladies who are prepared unreservedly to attempt to obey 1 Peter 3:1–6.

Why does he say, “Do not give way to fear”? “You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” I think, quite simply, because if you try and do what is right, all hell will be unleashed against you. You try and say this tomorrow and in the various routines of life amongst other women in the late part of the twentieth century, and I think it’s pretty fearful to say. So he says, “You want to be one of these daughters? Do what’s right. Obey the Scriptures. It’ll make you an alien and a stranger. You’ll look like you have big things growing out of your head. And hey, don’t be afraid. Just don’t be afraid. Because God looks after his own.”

Let me summarize it—and I’ll read my notes so that I don’t expand on them at all. This is what I wrote down: Peter is not implying the sexual inferiority of women. The submission which he calls for does not negate the spiritual equality of husband and wife, but rather, it is one of function. Every team must have a captain, every home a head. And God said that responsibility falls to the man. The characteristic, therefore, most desirable in a good wife is that gentle and quiet spirit which responds with grace to the responsible decisions of her husband. Instead of being tyrannized by the evidences of the aging process and captivated by the changing fashions of the day, she is to focus on that which God prizes most and which he produces to the praise of his glory. These verses are dynamic, and we must help our wives and daughters to discover the joy of bowing beneath their direction and displaying the radical implications of them in a society that is scrambling to find the identity of a real woman and a true wife.

Wives and husbands, have a pleasant Sunday afternoon as you wrestle with the implications of these truths.

Let’s pause for a moment. I’m going to ask the men to come forward and prepare to receive our offering as I bow in prayer:

Father God, these verses are actually where we live our lives, all of us. And we need so much your help to discern your truth and to obey your instruction. I pray, with thanksgiving, for the wives that are part of our congregation here. And I pray, Lord, that you will enable them to do what is right and not to be afraid. I ask that this week you will give them opportunities to display something of the revolutionary truth and impact of this Word. For if it’s your Word and you made us, then it’s got to be right. And even those who march to another drumbeat need to hear this instruction. May we turn our eyes on Jesus. May we give gladly and generously in these moments. May your Word take root in our lives, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NIV 1984).

[2] 1 Corinthians 7:5 (paraphrased).

[3] Galatians 3:26 (paraphrased).

[4] John 10:30 (NIV 1984).

[5] John 14:9 (NIV 1984).

[6] William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003), 251.

[7] Proverbs 5:18 (paraphrased).

[8] Proverbs 5:19 (paraphrased).

[9] John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount: Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1978), 88.

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.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.