Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.
Why don't we pray together? Father, we just want to come before you and humbly ask that your Holy Spirit, whom we believe to be the real teacher here, would take the truths of your Word that we believe to be inspired by God. And, Father, those truths, that you would apply them to our situation. Lord, I understand that in this group none of us is experiencing exactly the same thing, but your Word is true nonetheless, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And we all need to hear the same truths spoken into our hearts and applied. Help us, Lord, and bless your people, in Jesus' name, amen.
It is my belief that marriage will simply magnify the personality you already have; whether your personality---whether you're kind or unkind; whether you're a leader or you're passive; whether you are submissive or defiant; that marriage will take the personality you have and magnify it. It's the testing ground. In a New Jersey newspaper there was a little ad in the want-ad section that read thus: "Honey, please come home. The children miss you, the lawn hasn't been mowed in three weeks, and the garden needs a worm like you." [Laughter] And it was signed, "Your loving wife, Gretchen."
Well, I have a hunch that there were already some issues way before that ad came out. I have a hunch that he was already a passive husband, and she was already a pistol long before that little blowup happened. There were three guys that were talking together. They were in a pub and they were discussing marriage and the kind of control that a husband has in his marriage and over his wife. And they were kind of boasting about how they have control over their wives. Actually, two were doing all the talking; one was just kind of watching and listening, quiet.
And so they finally turned to them and they said, "So, what's up with you? Do you control your marriage? Do you have control over your wife?" And he said to them, "Well, you know, just the other night she came crawling to me on her hands and knees." And they turned to him with wide-eyed wonder and said, "Then what happened?" To which he replied, "Then she said, 'Get out from under the bed and fight like a man.' " [laughter] Okay, so whenever you talk about submission, it's not an easy thing to talk about. Them's fighting words in some circles.
Submission---the response I have found is all the way from a nervous laughter at best, to out-and-out scorn at worst. You may have seen the article in the Washington Post this last week that spoke about the controversy that one of our own New Mexico state congressmen has stirred up over a book that he has written. He's a Christian. He cites the Bible. And in citing the Bible he simply wrote that in a marriage a wife should voluntarily submit to her husband, though not inferior to her husband. She should voluntarily submit to her husband, while her husband should loving lead and sacrifice for his wife.
That's almost verbatim. Just saying that has stirred up so much controversy. How dare anyone use the 'S' word, submit. Well, Peter has a few things to say about that in First Peter, chapter 3. That's where we find ourselves today. Let me bring you up to speed that Peter is dealing with four major areas of social interaction, four areas of social interaction: the society; the workplace; the home, family; and, finally, the church. And in chapter 3 he moves and focuses in on the smallest possible unit in society; and that is, the home, the family.
Verses 1 through 6, he addresses wives. In verse 7 he addresses the husband. But this isn't really a treatise about marriage as much as it's focusing on a particular kind of relationship. It's a marriage of an unequal yoke, or an unequally yoked marriage. Now, if you're not familiar with that term that just sounded really weird to you. "Unequally yoked marriage? What is that? Like, you don't cook your eggs evenly, or what is that?" An unequally yoked marriage is a term that is used by Paul the apostle when a believer is married to an unbeliever.
They are married legally, they are married legitimately, but the believer is single spiritually. The yoke, the bond, the spiritual bond isn't together, so the yoke is an unequal yoke. Now, two thousand years ago this is how it would work. In ancient times the wife was just---it was assumed that she would follow whatever religious inclinations her husband had. Whatever religion he followed, that's what she would do. She would never individuate. She would never, like, choose a different religion.
And so for there to be a relationship where you have a husband who is either worshiping another God, like a Roman God or a different system, and a wife who has become a Christian in a society where Christianity was already labeled as subversive, and possibly upsetting to the culture, big issues existed. So what is the Christian wife to do? She's in that relationship. It's volatile. Her husband is not a believer; she is. There's pressure from the state, from the community, and from her husband. What should she do? Should she just dump her unbelieving husband and go find the man of her dreams who's a Christian?
There's some who would say that's what you do. And now she can go, "Free at last! Free at last! God Almighty, I'm free at last!" [Laughter] No. Peter would say no, and Paul would say no. As hard as it is to hear, there's something else to be done. Before we jump into the text I want to read something to you, quote something to you by Zig Ziglar who wrote this: "I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person. I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful."
"I'll be the first to admit that it is possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all." With that in mind we're going to jump into our text. I'm going to give you three marks, three marks of a tenderhearted woman. Don't worry, women, we're going to get to men, equal time next week. This is three marks of a tenderhearted woman, and the name of this message is "The Irresistible Beauty of a Tender Heart."
Three marks: her actions, her attitude, her admiration. Her actions speak louder than her words. Her attitude is her prettiest feature. And her admiration is more biblical than conventional. We begin in verse 1 of chapter 3 where we ought to begin: Her actions speak louder than her words. Look what Peter writes: "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe," or watch, or carefully scrutinize, it could be translated, "your chaste conduct accompanied by fear."
See, this is a case of treating the wrong person like the right person, and discovering you may have married the right person after all as the Lord uses that relationship to win the unbelieving spouse. Now, again, let me take you back to the first century when this was written. The Greco-Roman culture gave women virtually no rights at all, very, very different from today's world. An unmarried woman living at home lived under a Roman law known as patria potestas, the absolute authority of the Roman father over the child.
In fact, when I say "absolute," I mean that Roman law gave the father the right, if he chose, to even execute his children without any legal repercussions whatsoever. He owned those children. He has absolute right and authority over those children. So the daughter under that kind of a world was under total control and domination by her dad. Then came the day for her marriage when the dad entrusted that daughter into the hands of another man, a husband. At that point the husband was the owner of the wife. Like he owned many things, he now owned the wife.
Now, I'm telling you all this because some of you may have read ahead, and you're wondering by now, "So, how come Peter's words are like six times longer for the women than they are for the dude? It's six verses to the chick, one verse to the husband. What's up with that?" Well, now you know, because the position of being a wife in those days was much more complicated and much more difficult. And, so, if the husband converts to Christianity, the wife is going to follow to some degree. But if the wife decides she's going to follow Jesus, there is going to be trouble, so six verses are devoted.
There's a couple of basic ground rules. Both are seen here. Both are fleshed out in other parts of the New Testament. Two basic things that Paul and Peter here would say to a believing wife married to an unbelieving husband. Number one, continuation. Stick with it. Don't leave him. Don't say, "Because now he's an unbeliever and now I'm a believer; I've converted, he hasn't; now I'm in an unequal yoke. I need to dump that guy and go find somebody else." No. What Paul says in First Corinthians 7 is that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified.
Remember that text? Sanctified by the believer; that is, placed in a special, set-apart position for accessibility by God's Holy Spirit into the life of that person, because of the influence of that believer, God has a unique access to reach and save a person. They're sanctified by the believer. Second, submission. Continuation, and then; second, submission. And that's his idea here. "Wives, likewise," meaning just like all of the other incidences of submission I've already written to you about; whether government, or workplace, or Jesus Christ to the Father's will; "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husband."
Now, please, do not hear that word wrong. Submission does not infer some kind of moral inferiority or intellectual inferiority or spiritual inferiority. Just like the previous examples, if you have a government leader and you have a citizen, and the citizen submits to the government leader, doesn't make the government leader superior or a better person than the citizen. In fact, in many cases the citizen is far superior to the government leader. But you need to submit to keep order in that society or in the workplace.
A master over a servant doesn't mean the master is any more intellectually better or superior or any other means, loftier, but there needs to be order---so submission. A Christian woman and a Christian man are equal. Galatians, chapter 3, "There is neither male nor female; we are all one in Christ." So mark that, please, especially you men who love the text---every time there's a Bible text that says, "Wives, submit," you've got it underlined, highlighted in yellow, memorized in every verse. You know it in the Greek. "Submission! I love that Bible text."
It doesn't mean you've joined the military now and you can make---"You've mouthed off, twenty push-ups right now!" That's not the idea of submission. It did not imply superiority of a male or inferiority of a female, but rather it's for functionality of the relationship. But we have a problem. The problem is Peter is speaking to believers telling them to submit to an unbeliever. "Now wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Unbeliever? You want me to submit to the unbeliever? How can I submit my life to somebody who isn't submitted to Christ?"
Well, first of all, you know, you know this, that it doesn't mean that you can submit to him when he tells you to do something sinful and against God's will. We've already covered that. You know that. So if your husband says, "Honey, let's get drunk and knock off that bank on the corner." "Okay, honey. I'm going to submit." You don't do that because it would be unsubmissive to the Lord's will. So the idea of submit to a husband is to respond to him, to relinquish your rights that you might serve his needs.
John Piper offers this: "The husband does not replace Christ as the woman's supreme authority. She must never follow her husband's leadership into sin. But even where a Christian wife may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband, she can still have a spirit of submission. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake his sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony." Well said.
Now look at verse 1 again. "Be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word"---stop right there. What word? What word is he talking about? Some do not obey this Word, God's Word. In other words, if that guy is an unbeliever, he doesn't believe in Scripture, he doesn't rest under God's authority, he does not obey the Word. He's an unbeliever. It continues to say, "If some do not obey the word, they, without a word"---stop right there. What word is that talking about? Her word, not the Bible's word.
They don't obey the Word, so they can "without a word," he says, "may be won by the conduct of their wives." Okay, this does not mean that a wife never has to say anything in terms of her testimony or the gospel. I used to hear this crazy saying years ago: "Preach the gospel. By all means preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words." Uh, okay, it's always necessary to use words. And Peter isn't saying, "Don't speak. Don't use your words." He already said in chapter in 1, verse 23, that we are "born again, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible seed, which is the word of God."
So when he writes this to believing wives yoked to unbelieving husbands, he had in mind a wife who has already repeatedly shared the gospel with her husband. But the time comes when he has heard it all, and he needs something stronger than just words; and that is, a life that he can see. You know what it's like. It's human nature. When you hear the same message repeated over and over again, after a while you turn off to it; whether it's the Christmas story, or the Easter story, or Jesus died on a cross. We've heard it so many times it just doesn't impact us the same.
Now, when you're young, when you're a kid and your parents tell you the same speech over and over again; do you remember what your reaction was? It was something like this. That was my reaction. My dad had like five or six of these little speeches he would pull out. I could always finish them for him. I knew what he was going to say. And he'd put it out and he'd say these: "A job worth doing is worth doing well." "Now, when I was a kid . . ." And I'm listening to this and I am so not interested in this. Although, everything I remember looking back that he said was so right and so good and so helpful.
But I had just heard it enough that I'm turning off to it. So that's the idea. She has shared the Word with him. The time has come where he needs more than just her words. I guess you could say nagging your husband will not convert him. Badgering your husband into the kingdom of God, arguing with him, will not be helpful. Any atmosphere of high-pressure Christianity is always not effective, and especially in the home. Have you ever tried to think of it from the vantage point of an unbelieving husband? Let me help you.
An unbelieving husband married to a Christian wife already feels threatened, already feels threatened. Here's why: "My wife is in love with somebody else that I can't see. When we got married we swore that nothing would come between us. Now something has come between us. She's in love with somebody I don't even see. Now suddenly I am demoted to number two. I'm not number one anymore, Jesus is number one." It's very offsetting. So the precarious balancing act of a wife trying to influence her husband without alienating her husband to keep the equilibrium in the relationship goes on.
And he's thinking, "She's always gone on Sundays. She's got those weird Christian friends. She sings these songs I've never heard of before." Now let's make matters a little worse. Maybe he's married to the kind of Christian wife who's very, very zealous and creative in her evangelism. So when he comes home at night she's got the television evangelist cranked up to ten. It just, like, infuriates him. "But he needs to hear the truth." Or she decides to go into the garage at night and turn his car audio system to Christian radio with superglue. [Laughter]
Or stuff tracts under his pillow or in his lunchbox. Or set his mobile device phone to John 3:16. Or, perhaps, when they have family meals she wants to say, "I'll pray. Let's bow our heads. And I wonder how many here would say yes to Jesus and raise their . . ." and, like, turns it into an evangelistic event. [Laughter] And he's thinking, "I-I-I don't even know this woman. She's, like, a freak." Peter's counsel: be a good wife, be a good wife; what William Barclay called, "The silent preaching of a lovely life." Isn't that a great description? "The silent preaching of a lovely life."
If you know church history at all, you've heard of Augústine or Augustine, however you would like to pronounce it, same dude, a third-century bishop in Northern Africa. His mother, Monica, was a believer in Jesus. His father, Patricius, was an unbeliever. Augustine writes of the tension in the home. And in one of his writings, as if it's a prayer to God, he writes what happened: "She served her husband as her master, and did all she could to win him for You, speaking to him of You by her conduct, by which You made her so beautiful. Finally, when her husband was at the end of his earthly span, she gained him for You."
You get the drift? He was converted by her lifestyle that he observed over a course of time---the silent preaching of a lovely life. So, her actions speak louder than her words. Number two: Her attitude is her prettiest feature. Verse 3, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward---arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel---rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and a quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." Now this is not a legalistic ban on fashion or style.
Listen, everybody appreciates beauty, okay? And you're not going to get away from it. It's a seventeen-billion-dollar-per-year industry. We all like beauty. God created beauty. We admire beauty. Now, when a person makes themselves look better, there's not a problem with that. And do you know it's not just a modern concept, it goes all the way back into antiquity. They've done archaeological digs in Rome and they found that two thousand years ago when this was written women dyed their hair, sometimes weird, bold colors.
They also wore wigs. And you know what the most popular color of a wig was two thousand years ago? Guess. A blonde wig. Can you imagine that? In the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, blondes had more fun. [Laughter] Yeah, I know, you're thinking, "Well, those are just worldly Romans." No. They found these wigs in Christian catacombs. So beauty and fashion was always a part of every culture. And even in the Bible, the bride in the Song of Solomon is complimented for the ornaments on her cheeks and the chains of gold around her neck and the beautiful sandals that she wore.
Or in the New Testament Jesus gave a parable about the Prodigal Son and when the prodigal son returns the father put a beautiful---his best robe on his son and a ring on his finger. So fashion is important, and I'm saying that because I think it's possible for an unkempt wife to actually discourage her husband. But I have seen and heard preachers go crazy with this verse. "Makeup is of the devil!" Well, really? I've heard of a Southern saying, I don't know where I heard it from: "If the barn needs painting, paint it." [Laughter]
I like that one. Listen, I've looked in the mirror lately, no paint's gonna help. [Laughter] I am kind of beyond the painting stage. But here's the deal: paint the house. Okay, if the barn needs painting, paint it. Paint the house, but then go inside the house and furnish it with holiness, deck it out with character. That's the point that Peter is making. Proverbs 31 says, "Charm is deceitful, beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised." And you've discovered, right? That beauty and charm are deceitful.
I mean, you go into a store and you see those magazines up by the counter: "Lose thirty pounds by Valentine's Day." "Have younger looking skin in fourteen days." There's always that promise, that allure of beauty and betterness and miracles. And Peter is saying, "Hey, it's fine to look good, but get a spiritual makeover," or in his words, "incorruptible beauty." Notice what it says: "incorruptible beauty." Think about incorruptible, because beauty is corruptible; am I right? The fashion industry, the beauty industry depends on one thing---ready?---youth, youth.
So that last year's models are today's unemployed. That's why they have to keep reaching younger every single year. Incorruptible beauty is different. Incorruptible beauty doesn't rely on mascara or lip gloss or skinny jeans. Incorruptible beauty makes a woman look and be more beautiful as the years go on. See, you can be stunning on the outside, and ugly on the inside. This is an incorruptible beauty. I want you to notice a phrase. Did you pick it up in verse 4? "Hidden person of the heart," look at that. "Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart."
Do you know that you have one of those? You have a hidden person of the heart. The hidden person of the heart is the real you. You see, your reputation is what people perceive you to be. Your character, the real you, the hidden person of the heart, that's who you are what nobody's looking. We all got one, "the hidden person of the heart." What Peter is suggesting, what the Bible is mandating is that we as Christian believers, male or female, get really concerned about the hidden person of the heart.
What if we spent as much time on the hidden person of the heart as the outward person in the mirror? So this is how it works. You did this today, so did I. You get up in the morning, you shower, you shave; at least I did. You try on clothes. You do your hair. You put on an outfit. Maybe if you have a little more---you're a little picky, you might try two or three outfits on till, "That one works." "Do you like that color?" "Okay, I like that." And you check yourself out. And you go, "Okay, I look good." And then you're getting ready to leave and you have one last look.
You know, you go sideways [laughter], middle of the mirror, back, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." One final look, okay, I'm out the door. Okay now tally up all that time in showering and shaving and dressing. Do you spend that much time and energy on the hidden person of the heart? Okay, paint the house, but furnish it with character---the hidden person of the heart. What would those furnishings look like? Well, there's two of them that are mentioned in the verse. Notice the first word: "gentle." "The incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
The word "gentle" is meek. You know what meek means? It doesn't mean cowering. It doesn't mean, "Hi, I'm meek." [Laughter] Well, you might just be weird. [Laughter] The word "meek" means power under control, power under control. A horse that was bridled was called meek. He's got power, but it's under control. A gentle spirit is somebody whose spirit is under God's control. It's a wife who's under God's control: your mouth under God's control, your responses under God's control, your emotions under God's control. That's gentle.
Next word is "quiet," simply means tranquil or undisturbed. Picture a glassy lake, the surface of a glassy lake early in the morning. The wife can set the tone inside the house for the whole family just by that undisturbed, tranquil trust in God. Oh, there's bad stuff going on in the outside world, and there's maybe even problems in the home, but there's a tranquility of heart. Her life is furnished with that---incorruptible beauty. Her actions speak louder than her words. Her attitude is her prettiest feature. Here's the third, and we close: Her admiration is more biblical than conventional.
What I mean by that is that when she looks for role models and examples, she'll look in the Bible, not in People magazine. Look at verse 5, "For in this manner, in former times [reaching backwards], the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror." What Peter does is point back to, it says, "former times," biblical women as examples.
And by the way, all Jewish women would always look back to the heroines of their faith, like Ruth of whom Boaz said, "My whole town, the whole village knows that you are a virtuous woman"; or Proverbs 31, "Who can find a noble woman, or a woman of noble character, a virtuous wife?" And twenty-two verses describe her. And so we too, the audience that Peter writes to, should look back and their admiration of women should be more biblical than even contemporary. What Peter is saying is, "Look, look to gals like Sarah, not Cleopatra; not the Etruscan women that everyone looked and modeled their life after because they were just so magnificent, but a biblical role model."
That's true for all of us, by the way. For all of us, for all of life, we look to the Scriptures for all our cues, right? That's what makes us Christians. We're Biblicists, we look at what the Bible says. Second Timothy, chapter 3, "[The Bible] the Scripture is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right." The reason we have one of these and carry it and read it and refer to it and study it line upon line is because other books will give you information, other books may even give you inspiration, but this book will provide transformation.
It'll change the way you think and the way we live. And so it is in this relationship, Peter would say to these women. Now, I just gotta make a comment about what Sarah called her husband, because this sort of, well, it confuses some women. It says, "Sarah called her husband"---what?---"lord." So you have to go home and when your husband comes home every day, "Hi lord, [laughter] welcome home to your kingdom." [Laughter] Or if he says, "Honey, let's go." "Yes, lord." [Laughter] I don't think so. That would be kind of goofy.
"Lord" is a term of respect, as well as deity. It's not capital 'L', it's small 'l'. It's like "sir." "I respect you, I honor you, I submit to you. In this earthly relationship I may not agree with you, but I respond to you." I think it's fascinating that Peter of all the examples he could have chosen---Sarah and Abraham. Was their marriage perfect? Uh, no. He made some pretty stupid, boneheaded decisions and she had to go along with it. Like, "Honey, there's a famine in the land. God isn't taking care of us. Let's go down to Egypt." "Okay, lord."
Or while they're in Egypt, "Honey, you're so beautiful, I don't want them to kill me, so let's say that you're my sister and not my wife, because then they'll take you in the harem, but they won't kill me." What kind of a husband is that? [Laughter] It was a husband that God gave to Sarah, and Sarah responded to that as much as she could. Here's the bottom line, and we close: this is a call today to get a spiritual makeover. This is a call to focus on the hidden person of the heart. Can I just say from looking at you right here from this vantage point, you've done a great job.
You look marvelous. But I don't know what you're like on the inside in the hidden person of the heart. So, choose good character, not just good cosmetics. Adorn yourself with gentleness, not just jewelry. Let your bling be goodness, not gold. You want to know why? Because somebody else is watching you, and it's not just your husband, it's not just your coworkers, it's not just neighborhood or Bible study gals. Somebody else mentioned in verse 4, "Which is very precious in the"---what does it say?---"sight of God." God's checking you out.
"Well, how do I look, God?" "Outwardly, okay; inwardly, eh." Spiritual makeover, irresistible beauty, under the control, dominated by God, to be a witness to the unbelieving world---it's a lot of pressure, isn't it? In this whole section Peter's been saying, "The world is watching you in society; the world is watching you in the workplace; you're husband in the world who's not a believer is watching you; but what you need to know is God is watching you." I believe if you and I live under that awareness, that God is always watching us, most all our problems will go away.
If we are just always cognizant that God is checking me out, and the microphone is always on, he always hears, he always sees, then them looking at me, not an issue, because I'm living with integrity before him. Let's pray for that. Lord, it's that hidden person of the heart that Peter is touching on, focusing on, pinpointing. Lord, we all---we all know what it's like to adjust the way we look or appear to people. And we also know that there's a whole, sometimes, other person lurking underneath the surface that nobody sees, because it's the hidden person of the heart.
It's what we really think, how we really feel, what we're really like. Lord, I just pray that you would, you would give us grace to get to that person, the inner person; that our makeover would be more spiritual than even physical. You've given beauty, Lord, but there's a beauty that can be unfazed by wrinkles and age that gets better with age. Help us in that regard, Father, in Jesus' name, amen.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.