Trusting God in Marriage: 1 Peter 3:1-7 (Sermon)
Hi, I am pastor Rob. Do you know what this is? It is a ten-foot pole. Have you heard the saying, “I am not going to touch it with a ten-foot pole? Well, today I am. I am a bit scared. What comforts me is that I am going to try to let God’s Word speak for itself. So what is my subject?
- Well, it is 1 Peter. That doesn’t sound so bad.
- But it is about marriage. That is good.
- However, it’s about trusting God in marriage. Still, that doesn’t sound horrible.
Okay, if you missed Pastor Mike’s Sunday school class, let’s dive in and read the passage. Likely you will understand my reluctance.
We will be reading from 1 Peter 3:1–7. I have asked J. and J. B. to read for us this morning. Please follow along as we go.
3 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Thanks for reading. I will pray now; however, let me encourage you to pray for me as I speak. This is not easy. I need, we need, God's help. Let’s pray. God, I need you. I realize that some here listening are mad at this Scripture. Others won’t agree with my interpretation. I pray for discernment on my part as well as those listening. Help me get to the heart of the text. If there are any who would abuse your word to take advantage of others, may they repent, and believe. Don’t let this text be misused. If there are women who need to confront their spouse or get out of an abusive circumstance, give them the courage to speak up. Help us trust in you in the less than ideal situations, in the good times, as well as the bad. Help us endure. Give us patience, unity, faith, and love. Fuel our worship and evangelism as we look at marriage for your glory and our everlasting joy. AMEN.
You heard the text. What does it mean? Remember the big idea: “Our sure hope in Christ enables us to live in a way that displays God’s glory in all circumstances.” Again, let me say, “Our sure hope in Christ enables us to live in a way that displays God’s glory in all circumstances.”
So what is the context? Chapter 2 moves us from our identity in Christ to our activity in Christ. Verses 11 and 12 are a pivot point. Let's just look at verse 12. What does it say?
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Peter uses verses 11 and 12 to hang four commands. The believer may find themselves struggling to do good for Christ’s honor with the potential of salvation to the Gentile.
- 2:11–12 COMMANDS US TO LIVE AVOIDING EVIL LIVING HONORABLY
- 2:13–17 LIVING FOR GOD’S HONOR UNDER THE GOVERNMENT’S AUTHORITY
- 2:18–25 LIVING FOR GOD’S HONOR UNDER A MASTER’S AUTHORITY
- 3:1–7 LIVING FOR GOD’S HONOR UNDER A HUSBAND’S AUTHORITY
- 3:8–4:19 EVERYONE LIVING FOR GOD’S HONOR AT ALL TIMES
In verses 13 through 17, Peter applies the pivot point to speak to those under government authority. In verses 18 to the end of the chapter, he uses it to those servants under masters. Jeff talked about that last week, communicating how we all are to entrust ourselves to the living God in all circumstances. In chapter three, Peter applies verses 11 and 12 to trusting God in our marriages; he mainly addresses wives under the husband’s authority. Peter takes the concept of entrusting ourselves to God to chapter 4, verse 19, instructing everyone,
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19)
All of us need to entrust ourselves to God in good times and bad.
This message is for couples. However, if you are not married, don’t tune out. Listen up. One day, you may be. In any case, God wants us all to trust in him. He paved the way for us to follow in his steps, enduring suffering on our behalf.
This morning, I have two points if you are taking notes:
- The Call of Wives to Trust God in Marriage (vs. 1-6)
- The Call of Husbands to Trust God in Marriage (vs. 7)
Now, let’s get back to the Word. Look at chapter 3, verse 1. “Likewise, wives.” Stop there. Let me highlight several things. First, Peter addresses wives. He didn’t tell husbands or church leaders to address wives. Peter spoke directly to wives. He honored them by talking to them directly. He didn’t have to, but he did.
OWN RELIGIOUS VIEWS
Secondly, if we keep reading verse 1, we see that some of these wives’ husbands “don’t obey the word.” What that “word” means is “the good news that was preached to” them (2:25). What did they hear preached: the gospel. What was the gospel? Jesus Christ came into the world, lived a perfect life, and suffered unjustly. People rejected him, reviled him, and killed him with the sanction of the government. He was buried, rose, and ascended into heaven. There he sits at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead. The only hope we have in facing judgment is the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. God forgives all our sins because Jesus paid for it with his blood. He did this leaving us an example that we might follow in his steps as we come out of darkness into his marvelous light.
BREAK FROM THE HUSBAND
Some of these husbands don’t get it, obey it, or believe it. What is remarkable about these first verses in chapter 3 is that Peter has no qualms about wives breaking from their husband’s morality or spirituality. That is not the norm for society, in general. Ancient testimony states that wives should follow their husband’s religion (Plutarch). Peter broke from that sentiment in his letter. He assumed women could think for themselves and have a different faith. So we see two value-laden realities, Peter speaks to women directly and gives them the dignity of having their own perspective on the most fundamental things, God and ethics.
Thirdly, Peter encourages wives to influence their husbands. He says they can do that through their actions.
For all those reasons and more, the Bible is pro-woman as well as pro-man. Too often, the Bible has been used to suppress and oppress the minority. That was never God’s intention. Many Christians have been clarion voices of reason and compassion speaking out against such. Contrary to societies' fluid virtues, biological gender is good by nature. God began the world, creating women and men in his image (Genesis 1:26–27). Humanity is the culmination of his creativity, with delegated authority to rule Earth. Consequently, men are not better than women, nor are women better than men. Both are unique and equal in value before God. Paul put it this way,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
The Bible teaches that God has unified us in Christ. He is our primary identifier. Together we have an inheritance through his grace. Skin color, gender, occupation, class, and everything else pales compared to our identity in Christ.
What Peter said next, however, is where people get tripped up. Keep reading.
3 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands,
Let me unpack that.
What does the verb "subject" mean? The NIV translates it as “submit.” That means wives are to submit to their husbands. Submission is not in vogue. Instead, our country is built on liberty. We have a statue celebrating it. It is trendy to be yourself and an individual. What does the Bible mean? Well, we know it doesn’t mean to submit in every way. As I said earlier, some wives had a different religion or morals, and Peter is okay with that.
NOT ALL MEN
Note: Peter is not saying all women be subject to all men. Nor is he saying, a wife be subject to all husbands. The Bible is saying about the wife, in her marriage, be subject to her husband.
What does the Bible mean? Let’s keep reading to find some clarity.
3 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Being "subject" means a wife should act in ways that are respectful and pure.
ARE WE ALL
That raises another question, "Aren’t we all to be respectful and pure?" Yes. How is this any different from any other relationship? Verses 4 and 5 offer more insight. A wife is to have
4...a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham.
Subjection is a gentle, pure, respectful, and holy submission in God's sight to a husband’s leadership. This stance is comfortable when the husband and wife agree, or generally when the husband is godly. However, what about when he doesn’t follow God’s Word? That is what Peter is getting connecting Christ who suffered unjustly, the other relationships he calls us to submit to. Sisters, God is ultimately our king, master, and husband. We are to seek to act in such a way that honors him, even at a high cost.
NOT DIVISION OF LABOR
Subjection is not one that defines a division of labor based on what is masculine or feminine. The Bible is not saying men should mow the lawn, and women do the laundry. The Bible calls wives to respond in a specific way that entrusts herself to God under her husband’s leadership, even if he is an unbeliever or acting like it.
“What if he is mean? What if he is rude? What if he is foolish.” Peter doesn't go into a topical discussion on what the Bible says about conflict or submission. The Bible is not saying she is powerless or can’t stand up for herself. The Bible gives believers recourse. If the husband is a believer, like any brother or sister in the Lord, it is good and right to confront sin. In a confrontation, first, consider what would glorify God. What log is in one’s eye, and the one confronts as God leads. If he or she doesn’t see his or her sin, and you can’t overlook it, bring another person to help deal with it. If it is at a level where things need to change still, bring the conflict to the elders, and they can bring it to members of the church if need be. To not ever confront is not respecting a husband or God’s call to trust him. Matthew 18, Galatians 6, and books like The Peace Maker are excellent resources for dealing with conflict.
What if it is worse than that? He is abusive. Get the authorities involved. You need to help him with tough love. Remember, chapter 2, and how God appoints the government for justice. They are there to help. If you need the courage to stand up for yourself, reach out to spiritual men or women who can help. This assertiveness fits with Peter’s call to win a husband over even though his focus here is on entrusting God.
More frequently, wives, you have a platform of influence through action rather than words.
...so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Your actions can speak louder and better than words. How? He may see your good deeds and repent. Maybe through your obedience, your husband truly comes to faith this week. That would be far better than burning in hell for eternity. Your actions can point to the Savior, who died to forgive! I know men who have repented of their sin because of their wife's faith in this church not by their debating but by their quiet, respectful, pure, and holy actions. I can name names.
Peter goes on. Look at verse 3.
3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
What does that mean? Is it a sin to braid hair or wear gold? Peter is not saying that. Don't go down that rabbit hole. The Bible’s focus is on the verb “adorning.” What are you adorning? Is your focus more on what you look like or what you are like? This teaching is instructive for us all. Where are you putting your energy, folks? All of our bodies are going to rot. You will get wrinkles, varicose veins, sun spots, lose your hair where you don't want to, and gain it where you don't want it, get fatter, or skinnier. Paul calls our bodies a tent. It is going to wear out. Don’t put all your time and energy into the physical. Where are you putting your time and energy? Peter calls wives to trust God in their marriage. He calls them to invest in godliness and holiness, and act in ways God views as precious just as Christ did in his submission (See 1 Corinthians 15:27-28).
JESUS SUBJECTED HIMSELF
The Bible teaches that the Son is subject to the Father. It is never reversed. They are equal in value, yet they have different roles. That is like the picture of marriage before us today. The wife is ultimately following in Jesus’s steps, even if her husband is not. I could say more, and if you would like to dialogue further about this, feel free to email.
CALLING HIM LORD?
Let’s move on and deal with three tricky thoughts. First, what was Peter saying about Sarah calling Abraham lord? “Lord” was a term of respect. She was not calling him God. You can read the quote in Genesis 18:12. Interestingly, she also called him “old.” I think the point is if you want to be like older godly women, imitate them. Join them. If you don’t follow them, don’t expect to be like them.
Here a second question that came to mind, “What does Peter mean, “And you are her children if you do good?
I think a child of Sarah is like a child of Abraham. A child of Abraham is a child of God. We act out of who we are. If we are his children, he will bring good out of even the bad choices we have made, and others have made. He will help us follow him. The poof of our relationship with God is in our obedience to God. How you respond in trying times demonstrates your heart. If we are children of God, we will act like it, not always. We are not perfect. But we will strive to be like Christ because he died for us.
Finally, what does Peter mean, “And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” Some of the wives Peter writes to don’t have a night in shining armor for a husband but a nightmare. Any resolution or solution to her troubled marriage can’t take away the fear of the unknown. Imagine her running away; fears can creep in the darkest night and lightest day. In one sense, Peter reminds her of her hope and identity in Christ. God loves her. She has an inheritance that is imperishable, unfading, and kept in heaven, with her name on it. It far exceeds what any beneficiary right or alimony. God has her, and she is God’s. No husband can take him from her. He can try, but it won't work. The bottom line is that she is precious to God. He values her better than any other. Some of you women know this all too well.
HERE FOR YOU
We, as a church, are here for you. Feel free to talk to women’s ministry or elders, to process through your trials. If you are in an unsafe environment, let’s deal with it today. My encouragement is not a contradiction to Peter; instead, it is a clarification. Peter's focus is on calling wives to trust in God in marriage through submission. Next, he turns to the husband to address his call to trust God in marriage. This call is my second point in the message. I will be quick but hard on us guys.
Now, husbands remember the calling for you is to trust God too in your marriage. You may have a hard row to hoe just as your wife may have a hard time in marriage.
- The Call of Wives to Trust God in Marriage (vs. 1-6)
- The Call of Husbands to Trust God in Marriage (vs. 7)
Don’t think one verse is going to get you off the hook. Read it with me,
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way,
Unlike a business or parental relationship, husbands should live with their wives in an “understanding way.” How do you do that? Picture what it is like to be married to you. Would you want that? Maybe you are like, “That would be nice, for once” Really? Don’t be so narcissistic or vain. Remember, she completes you. Her strengths offset your weaknesses. And her weaknesses help you see where you can grow too. Be honest with yourself. She is your greatest gift next to salvation.
QUICK TO LISTEN AND SLOW TO SPEAK
The Bible tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Are you?
- Do you listen to her?
- Would your wife say you know her well?
- What does she care about?
- What is she reading these days?
- How is she feeling?
- Who are her closest companions?
- What are her fears?
- What are her dreams?
Could you win the newlywed show? How well do you know your wife? Too often, we chase our brides like gold, and then we move on a week after we are married. Don’t do that. Get to know your wife for life.
If you are using the Bible to manipulate your wife, you are in the wrong. Don’t throw these verses in her face. Don’t fake Christianity in public, and live like a devil in private. Such behavior is reprehensible and deadly. Repent. Don’t let the wrath of God fall on you, cling to Jesus. Follow him today. Join me, men, and follow Jesus. Seek to understand your wife.
Peter says you can understand your wife by showing her honor. Read on,
showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,
How are you honoring your wife, brother? Do you talk well about her in front of others? Or do you make fun of her? How would you characterize how you think and speak of her? Join me and honor your wives, husbands.
Peter says the reason you honor her is that she is “weaker.” This is not a slam. It doesn’t mean she is spiritually weaker. Peter says she is a co-heir of the grace of life. "Weaker" also does not mean she is not as smart. Peter already acknowledged that some of these women were Christians and acted like Christians better than their husbands. They are more intelligent in that way. The reality is that some of the women at this church are more spiritual than men. They pray better and know their Bibles better. We have doctors, writers, mathematicians, and accountants here at the church. I think the “weakness” is getting at the physical reality of biological differences. She brings other things to the table that we need men. We need her gifts and talents and skills and knowledge in our families and churches. We need both men and women. Church, let’s create a culture of grace, respect, and kindness for our differences.
Perhaps you think you will honor her when she deserves it. That is not the point. You must honor her in er weakness regardless. See her as God sees her. She bears God's image just as you and she will have the same inheritance as you. If you don’t, there are consequences. Keep reading,
...showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The consequence of shrugging off this command is sobering. Your relationship with God will suffer much. God doesn’t owe you anything. He is not your lackey. If you are inconsiderate, unkind, rude, arrogant, demanding, unavailable, mean, selfish, or downright hard to live with, your prayers will suffer. Don’t let that happen to you. This isn't a joke. Understand and honor her. Join me.
APPLICATION - WIVES
So here is the application: Wives, how are you fulfilling God’s call to walk like Christ in your marriage? How is your trust in God going? How can you follow Peter’s commands entrusting yourself to God who loves you, has saved you, and promises you heaven? Are you gentle, respectful, quiet, and pure?
APPLICATION - HUSBANDS
Husbands, how are you fulfilling God’s call to walk like Christ in your marriage? How is your trust in God going? How can you understand your wife better this week? How can you honor her today?
In reflecting on these commands, I am tempted not to obey this call. Often I want to control, manufacture, manipulate, argue, and posture to get my desired outcome. Then, I get anxious, upset, or glum because it doesn't work. Marriage is not about my prerogative. It is not about me getting my needs met. It is about trusting and honoring the Lord and following in his steps. How about you? How are you doing following God's call?
Perhaps you have messed it all up. You are the proverbial nagging wife or inconsiderate husband. You care more about your skin than your sin. You honor yourself more than your bride. If you feel guilt, that likely is the Spirit of God convicting you and asking you to change. Turn to him today.
- Tell him you are sorry without qualification for your sins.
- Tell him you want to change for the better.
- Ask him for help.
- Go to Scripture and spiritual friendships for assistance.
- Then repeat steps 1-3 with the person you have wronged.
- Finally, come back next week to hear how Peter addresses every one of us for God’s glory.
The good news is that Jesus went before us. He submitted himself to his Father’s will to the point of death, even death on the cross. His death offers us forgiveness, grace, love, and a chance to follow in his steps today and for eternity.
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