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1 Peter 3:1-7: Living to Honor God at Home Print E-mail
1 Peter
Sunday, 15 April 2007

If you have been waiting for my sermon on how to have a good marriage, then rest assured, the long wait is over.  Of course, many of you may be thinking to yourself, ĎWilliam has not even been married 4 years yet, so what advice can he offer?í  If I am honest, I tend to agree with that thought.  I am not necessarily one to be giving advice on marriage.  In fact, we probably all feel this way to some degree.  Experience can be a good teacher, but we are still stubborn students.  So, at the end of the day, what can I really say about having a good marriage?

Well, the advice I give (which I cannot call my own) is simple: obey the Bible.  If you want to be a godly husband, then obey the text.  If you want to be a godly wife, then do the same.  No need to be flashy or overly innovative, just do what the Bible says to do.  This advice may never result in me publishing a best-seller on marriage, but I am convinced it is what we need to hear.  Healthy marriages are biblical marriages.  I know it may be an oversimplification of the issue and I know there are many things to consider that are not explicitly mentioned in the text, but I still believe that if we could simply labor to obey the text in our marriages, then we could go a long way towards having good ones.  It goes back to the conviction that the people of God need the Word of God.  This is true in our Churches, our places of work, and our homes as well. 

Yet, what exactly does the Bible say about marriage?  Good question.  I think of texts like Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Corinthians 7, and our text this morning.  As Paul does in other passages, Peter speaks to wives and husbands in 3:1-7.  Thus our goal this morning is simple: we want to identify what Peter says about having healthy marriages.  Yet, before we jump in, let me say one more thing about the biblical instructions for good marriages.  Although the instructions are somewhat simple and straightforward, they are not necessarily easy to follow.  The roles that husbands and wives are given to play are difficult.  As with all the commands of Scripture, we are desperate for Godís grace and strength, given to us through faith in Christ, to be obedient to these commands.  If you are not a believer, then your first step for having a good marriage is to trust in Christ.  Only through faith in His finished work at the cross can we have any hope of keeping these commands.  Likewise, we must show each other much grace in our marriages.  Even though the husband only gets one verse, his instructions are as difficult as the wifeís.  Both parties need much grace and we must begin there in order to have healthy marriages.  We will now consider Peterís instructions to wives and husbands.

Instructions for wives (v. 1-6).

Peter basically gives both the wives and the husbands one command a piece.  Yet, following the general command he gives more particular instruction as to how to keep the command.  Thus, I want to divide the commands into the general and the particular for clarification.

Generally, wives are to submit to their husbands.  Look at verses 1 and 2.  The general instruction for wives in the New Testament is to submit to their husbands.  Paul says much the same thing in Ephesians 5.  It should be noted that this command is not a value statement.  In other words, women and men are equal in Godís eyes, while their roles in marriage differ.  In context, Peter has been talking about submission in the last few sections of his letter (see 2:13 and 18).  Likewise, he has been talking about how believers are to relate to nonbelievers.  Although it is not the norm (even ifÖ), Peter recognizes that Christian women can have unbelieving husbands.  So, what is a Christian woman to do in such a situation?  Like all Christian wives, she is to submit to her husband.  Yet, in this situation, her submission will serve the purpose of winning her unbelieving husband. 

The Christian woman is not to badger or nag her husband about the faith.  Rather, they are to submit to him so that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.  In verse 2, Peter describes this conduct as respectful and pure.  The word used here is actually Ďfear.í  As we have seen in other passages (see 1:17, 2:17), we are to fear the Lord and He is the basis of our purity (see 1:15).  Thus, the conduct that Peter is instructing wives to have involves the fear of the Lord and purity as defined by Him.  Wives are not to obey their husbands when they tell them to sin.  Yes, they are to submit, but in ways that honor God and obey Him.  Such conduct will please the Lord and serve to win the lost husband.

Particularly, wives are to adorn themselves with a gentle and quiet spirit.  Look at verses 3-6.  In verses 3 and 4, Peter contrasts a gentle and quiet spirit with external adornments.  Although he is not necessarily condemning braided hair or jewelry or clothing (obviously), he is calling for women to consider where their beauty lies.  Are you as a woman more concerned with external or internal beauty?  Let me ask it this way: how much time and attention do you give to external beauty (makeup, clothing, hair, etc.)?  Now, how much time and attention do you give to developing a gentle and quiet spirit?  What do you see as more beautiful? 

Peter calls you to consider the matriarchs, specifically Sarah, and their willingness to submit.  They were not perfect, but they serve as good examples to those women who long to be godly today.  And let me be frank, they did not necessarily submit simply because their husbands were great leaders.  I mean just read the account of Abraham and all the mistakes he made.  No, they were willing to submit simply because it was Godís command.  Thus, wives, you too are called to submit whether your husbands are great leaders or not.  You cannot fear and think, ĎBut what if he makes a mistake?í  Let me go ahead and tell you that he will make mistakes.  Yet, your call is to live within those mistakes and to help him and show him grace.  Again, not because he is so great, but because God is.  You must trust the Lord in this difficult command.

Why should you be faithful to this command?  As we have already noted, for those of you who have lost husbands, your conduct will serve as a means to validate the gospel before his eyes every day.  Why else?  Wives you should submit to your husbands because it is very precious in Godís sight (see verse 4).  God is greatly honored by a wife who joyfully submits to her husband.  Let the world be obsessed with externals.  May you labor to be beautiful in Godís eyes.

Instructions for husbands (v. 7).

Seems like we get off easy, right men, only one verse?  Wrong.  Look at verse 7 with me.  So, what are Peterís instructions for men?

Generally, husbands are to live with understanding toward their wives (see 7a).  Brothers, Peter is telling us to know are wives.  We need to know what the Word says about them in general and we need to know them in particular.  This does not mean that we need to just stay out of their way and let them do their thing.  No, we need to intentionally take the time to know them.  If the Word says that they need love and leadership (see Ephesians 5:25-33), then we need to love and lead them.  Brothers, this will not just happen.  If I have learned anything in my marriage, I have learned that I am not by nature a good, understanding husband.  No, I am selfish and lazy, neither of which are excuses for my disobedience of this text.  Brothers, we must know our wives and live with them in an understanding way.

Particularly, husbands are to honor their wives (see 7b).  We are to treat our wives as the gracious gift that they are.  Letís be honest, there is not a man in this room who deserves a wife at all, much less the one he has been given.  Brother, treat her like the gift that she is.  Find ways to honor her.  And as we said to the women, this command is applicable whether your wife submits or not.  You might respond, not out loud of course, ĎI will honor her when she acts honorably and submits.  Brother, you are commanded to honor her regardless.  There is no excuse for our abnegation of this responsibility.  Sadly, we have tried them all.  Brothers, even when you are tired, honor them.  Even when they fail to submit, honor them.  Even when it will cost you greatly (or maybe especially when it will cost you greatly), honor them.  Remember your standard is Christ (see Ephesians 5:25-30), whose work at the cross not only humbles us, but empowers us to love as He has loved.

Why should keep this command?  First, we should know and honor our wives since they are the weaker vessel.  Peter is probably referring to the physical strength of our wives, which is weaker than our own.  Our strength will honor them.  Second, we should obey this command because our wives share our inheritance.  They too are a part of Godís people and we should honor them as such.  Third, we should obey so that our prayers may not be hindered.  Do not miss the weight of this.  Your relationship with God is impacted by your relationship with your wife (a strong warning to those who put ministry above their wives).  Therefore, make sure that you are being faithful to Peterís instructions for husbands.

Let me close this morning by addressing the different groups gathered here.  First, if you are single, do not conclude that this passage does not apply to you.  Single girls, are you trying to attract men with your external or internal beauty?  Begin even now cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit.  Single guys, are you attracted by external or internal beauty more?  Learn to see beauty as God sees it.  Watch how older men that you respect honor their wives. 

Second, you may be a widow thinking that this text does not apply to you.  I encourage you to fight for the current and future families in this Church.  Invest in others as they invest in you. 

Third, wives, I encourage you to examine your own actions and attitude.  Do you submit to your husband?  Do you adorn yourself with a gentle and quiet spirit?  Then, after you have wrestled with these questions alone, consider asking your husband to answer them.  If he is a believer, ask him how you can improve in this.  Develop a plan and find another woman to hold you accountable.  Fourth, husbands, we must do the work of examining ourselves as well.  Do you live with your wife in an understanding way, laboring to know her according to the Word?  Do you intentionally honor your wife?  Be willing to discuss these questions with your wife and find accountability as well.  To all of us, we cannot afford to ignore the text this morning, our marriages and homes depend on it.  Healthy marriages obey the text.  May we be a people who have such marriages that honor God by modeling the gospel of Christ.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 April 2007 )

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