A word of caution. When it comes to many issues… when it comes to marriage, gender, sexuality God’s word isn’t GRAY. But people are increasingly turning away from God’s Word, or even twisting God’s Word, because their desires are evil. If you choose to follow God’s Word, God’s Word “divides.”
First, God’s Word Divides You and Me.
Hebrews 4:12 (CSB) says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” We might be able to fool ourselves, or our friends, or counselors into a particular way of thinking or feeling. But the Spirit-inspired Word of God has a way of slicing through all our baloney and self-deceit to bring us to repentance!
In 1 Peter, the Word of God is like a seed, when planted, gives us new birth (1:23), that purifies us (1:22), that causes us to grow up in our salvation (2:2). If ever you feel “stuck” spiritually, the Word will help you get unstuck.
Second, God’s Word Divides Relationships.
As we obey the truth, people we love dearly, that we greatly respect and care about, that we’ve served God with… people in our own families, friends, sons and daughters, parents… will reject God’s Word out of hand.
Consider issues of marriage, gender, sexuality. People you love and care deeply about will say to you, “What’s the harm of homosexuality, transgenderism, gay marriage, pornography, cohabitation, adultery, infidelity…” They will surround themselves with teachers (with activists) who will say, write, or blog what their itching ears want to hear. They will teach and groom others to think the same as they. They will be deceived by, and deceive others, with doctrines taught by demons.
And beware, if you hold to the truth, they will slander you as an evildoer for not agreeing. They will impugn malign your character. They will call you a Pharisee, a bigot. They will accuse you of being mean-spirited. They will intimidate, threaten, and try to cancel you. They will draw a line of loyalty—follow the Word, or follow me.
We must always submit to God’s Word no matter cost.
Francis Schaeffer uses the analogy of a “great watershed.” Imagine you are standing atop the snow-covered ridge of the Rocky Mountains. At first, all the snow is gathered together atop a single mountain. Over time, the mountain juts through, breaking through the drifts. As the sun shines, and snow melts, a watershed is created. In time, two droplets that fell together will separate. One will descend clear over into the Pacific, and the other the Great Atlantic—thousands of miles apart!
The Word of God isn’t “only” separating people in matters of marriage, gender, sexuality—but it is “especially” separating people in these matters. Be on guard. The closest of friends, of family members, or church fellowships … as the Word of God sifts and sorts … we may find ourselves a million miles removed from culture.
Word-Centered Marriages of Submission
This morning we come to 1 Peter 3:1-7—which concerns marital and family matters. One of our greatest struggles is that we can no more change others than we can change ourselves. In a marriage, the wife wants to change the husband; the husband wants to change the wife. We can no more “directly” change others than directly change ourselves. Or a parent a child; or a child a parent.
In 1 Peter 3:1 (CSB), wives were frustrated because “some” of their husbands disobeyed the word. In 1 Peter 3:7 (CSB), husbands were becoming resentful and ungracious with their wives, because they didn’t measure up to their expectations!
Peter talks about: being sober-minded, being holy in all your conduct, having your character refined, showing sincere love with a pure heart. . . ridding yourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. . . abstaining from sinful desires that wage war against your soul. . .
DON’T YOU AGREE? The most extraordinarily difficult people with whom to put this into practice are those closest to you? Your Husband. Your Wife. Your Family. When it comes to the most intimate relationships we’ve seem to have lost an ability to endure grief, to continue doing for doing what is good even though we may suffer for it, to show submission when needed, to live reverent lives.
Cross-Centered Marriages of Submission
Three of the most significant words in both 1 Peter 3:1 and a Peter 3:7, which are spoken to both the wife and husband, are “in the same way.” We’re to live, and conduct ourselves toward one another, in the same “way” In what way? Well, in the same way of 1 Peter 2:20-25 (CSB).
“But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. 21 For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; 23 when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
The way of Christ, the way of the Cross, is that we keep doing good (and even suffering for doing good)… we keep following Christ’s example… we keep walking in his steps. No matter what, we live with a clear conscience before God. Committing no sin. Speaking no deceit. Not returning insult nor evil nor threats. Entrusting ourselves to God. We keep on living for righteousness. We keep inviting God’s healing in our lives and relationships. We keep returning—repenting—coming back to Jesus to shepherd and oversee our souls. Over and over.
The Cross is our pattern for relating to culture, government (Nero), slave-masters, our spouses… all people. Submission to Christ is the most direct--indirect way to change ourselves and others.
Lets look at text. 1 Peter 3:1-6 (CSB), “(In the same way), wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live 2 when they observe your pure, reverent lives. 3 Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes, 4 but rather what is inside the heart—the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also adorned themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and do not fear any intimidation.”
1 Peter 3:7 (CSB), “7 Husbands, (in the same way), live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
There is one guiding principle in these verses. Its submission.
At first glance, in 1 Peter 3:1, it appears that Peter is telling wives to “submit” to the whims of disobedient and ungodly husbands. This impression is further exacerbated by 1 Peter 3:6 where Peter mentions Sarah “obeying” her husband Abraham and calling him “lord.”
Peter is NOT teaching women to submit to the whims of ungodly husband! He’s advising women not to aggravate their ungodly spouses by berating, nagging, scolding, shaming, being unnecessarily contentious or impatient. He’s advising women not to play the game manipulating your husband with sensuality. Instead, win over their cooperation without words, with a pure and reverent life, with gentleness, and a quiet spirit.
Granted, you cannot submit to sin. Still God created husband and wife to share work. In Genesis, God created Eve to thrive as “helper.” It’s amazing how submission (in the more general sense of cooperation) can go a long way to engendering good (and transforming) a marriage.
Then of course there is the matter of 1 Peter 3:6. We have Sarah “obeying” her Abraham, calling him “lord.” We must consider that in Genesis God spoke (commanded, gave his Word, made explicit promises) to Abraham. Sarah had an obligation to obey God, to obey God’s word, and thereby extension, her husband Abraham to whom God gave these things. The obedience Peter has in mind here, isn’t so much obedience to Abraham or man, as to the WORD given to Abraham.
At times Sarah scoffed and laughed at God’s word. At times, both Abraham and Sarah (out of fear/intimidation) disobeyed God, even in egregious ways. 1 Peter 3:7. Abraham had to learn to live with Sarah in a gracious, and understanding way, despite whatever weaknesses she had. He had to honor her as a co-heir of the grace of life, and learn to seek God together. 1 Peter 3:6 Sarah had to learn to submit and cooperate with what was given her husband.
Both had to learn to submit “in the same way” as Jesus, entrusting themselves to God.
*So there is a general sense in which people can submit to each other (even to Nero). But there is a specific and particular sense in which we must absolutely submit to God’s Word. This is consistent with Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5. Husbands and wives are to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. That is the guiding principle from which flows further types of submission.
I asked Lara this week, if she could think of any time where I (non-jokingly) asked her to “obey” or “submit” or call me “master”! I have with our pups—but they just stare at me. What “HAS” happened, is Lara and I have called one another into deeper submission (obedience) to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I met Lara, I only entertained meeting a God-fearing woman. I sought someone already committed to the principles of submission to Word. In fact, I sought someone who could lead me more deeply into following Christ. Do you see the wisdom? If you don’t want to spend your life arguing about obeying the Word, marry a Word-loving woman in the beginning!
Honestly, in the beginning, Lara led us most. But as we’ve grown in Christ through the years, I’d say we’ve mostly become of one mind. Neither she nor I really see ourselves leading each other… We’re just guided by the mind of Christ. We never appeal to one another out of fear or intimidation, or gender, or power and control… but just simply appeal to one another to live for Christ. Peter’s point is that if another disobeys the Word… better that at least one endure! In time, the other may be won over. But even if not, Jesus submitted to God to the extent of even the cross!