The Duties and Delights of a Godly Wife - Part 1

Ephesians 5:21-24

Tom Pennington  •  April 10, 2005
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When I told Sheila that I was planning this morning, that I was just compelled to comment on the death of the Pope, and that we were coming to the study of wives submitting to their husbands, she said, "well, you're certainly running counter-culture today, aren't you? Not trying to win any popularity contests."

Well it is true. Today we begin to look at the roles of men and women in marriage. We're continuing our series of marriage and family, and we come to the roles that God has assigned for men and women within the context of marriage. We're going to start by looking at Ephesians 5. You're familiar of course with that great passage, and it begins with the role of the wife, and so shall we.

Marriage, and specifically the wife's role in marriage, is under attack from the culture in which we live. We all understand that. We see it constantly around us. The most obvious front for this attack is the feminist agenda. In a famous document entitled "A Declaration of Feminism," it was a document intended to define the feminist agenda, you find these frightening words about marriage. Listen carefully.

Marriage has existed for the benefit of men and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women. The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of woman. Therefore, it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men. Now, we know that it is the institution of marriage that has failed us, and we must work to destroy it.

Those are frightening words, and there are women in our country and in our world who absolutely embrace what those words set forth. Of course, usually, the attack on marriage is much more subtle. Instead of calling for the destruction of marriage, many people just sort of redefine the roles. They seek to sort of redefine what God has put in place to govern marriage. But regardless of what form the attack takes, the attack on the role of the wife in marriage is as old as man himself. It's as old as time. In fact, it started in the garden of Eden, as a result of the curse. It's even possible that the problems in your marriage and mine began as part of God's divine curse on Adam and Eve for their sin.

Turn back to Genesis 3. It's a fascinating passage. Of course, you're familiar, the chapter begins with Adam and Eve choosing to sin; to disobey God. God had only given them one prohibition, only one thing they couldn't do, and yet they chose to do that. As a result, verse 14, God pronounces a series of judgments. First, a judgment or a curse on the serpent. And then in verse 16, to the woman. Notice what He says in verse 16. "To the woman God said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; [And then this enigmatic phrase] Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.'" What exactly does that mean? Well, we can't be absolutely certain, but there are some scholars who believe that the phrase "your desire will be for your husband" means that the wife will desire now to lord it over her husband. She will want to usurp, she'll be predisposed to usurp the role that God has given the man in marriage.

These same scholars believe that the phrase that ends the verse, "he will rule over you," means that the husband will regularly be tempted to abuse his position of headship, and he will rule as a despot. The word rule there in verse 16 is often used in that kind of context. Well, whether that interpretation of verse 16 is true or not, the fact is true enough. You've seen it if you're married. You will see it if you plan at some point to get married. We enter marriage with a natural built-in antagonism to the God-ordained roles that God has given us. If you do nothing; if you simply carry along with what is natural, then you will violate the roles that God has created for marriage. Because, that is the fallen, natural thing to do.

Today and next Sunday, I want us to examine the wife's role in marriage. What exactly does the Scripture lay out as the responsibility of the wife in marriage. So ladies, stay tuned, the following two weeks we're going to talk with the men about the role God has given them in marriage. This is absolutely foundational, and I hope that you'll pay careful attention to what God has designed marriage to be. A Christian marriage can only honor God as it reflects the divine intention, as it reflects the divine design. And so that's our goal, to discover exactly what that design is. Now, the most direct expression of the wife's responsibility in marriage is found in two New Testament passage, both written by Paul. Those passages are Ephesians 5 and Titus 2. More than any other passages in the New Testament, these two lay out what God expects from the Christian wife. And as we examine them together, we're going to discover the primary duties and delights of a Godly wife. I called the message that because it's true, ladies, these are your duties before God, but for the Christian woman who loves God and who delights in obeying Christ, they are also a delight.

So, what exactly are these duties and delights? Well, let's begin in Ephesians 5. It's there that we find her first great duty, and it doesn't come as a great surprise. It is submission, submission. Submission to duly constituted authority has fallen on hard times. This is a huge problem in contemporary society at all levels. Whether you're talking about children submitting to their parents, wives to husbands, church members to elders, students to teachers, employees to employers, citizens to government officials; at every level in our society, our culture is bent with a predisposal to refuse to submit to authority. The authority that God has sovereignly placed over us. But you need to understand at the outset that the principle of submission is absolutely foundational to human culture. But more than that, and this is important to understand, submission didn't come along when human culture began, submission to authority of various kinds. No, submission is rooted in the very character of God. Listen to Wayne Grudem, who's written a lot on this topic:

The idea of headship and submission never began. It has always existed in the eternal nature of God Himself. And in this most basic of all authority relationships, authority is not based on gifts or abilities. It's just there. The relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one of leadership and authority on the one hand, and voluntary, willing, joyful submission to that authority on the other hand. We can learn from this that submission to a rightful authority is a noble virtue. It is a privilege. It is something good and desirable. It is the virtue that has been demonstrated by the eternal Son of God forever. It is His glory. The glory of the Son as He relates to his Father. Submission is not a principle created in time for mankind. Submission is a part of the eternal character of God Himself, the Son eternally submitting to His Father.

So, as we come to this concept, understand that it too is foreign to our nature, not because it's not important. No, it's absolutely foundational, but because we oppose all that that is foundational to the character of God. Let me read this passage to you. Ephesians 5, let's begin reading in verse 18.

And do not [be drunk or] get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

I want you to notice, to begin with, that the practical instructions about marriage that are recorded in this chapter flow out of the fountain of verse 18. "Be filled with the Spirit…." What exactly does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? If being filled with the Spirit is what enables us to dwell in relationships including our marriages in a way that honors God, our families in a way that honors God, and in chapter 6 with employers and employees, which is the closest we have to the slave/master relationship. How can we dwell in the proper way in all these relationships? It's only made possible by being filled with the Spirit.

So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Well, it's not a mystical experience. In fact, Paul explains exactly what it means in a parallel passage. Turn over to Colossians 3. Keep your finger there in Ephesians 5. Colossians 3, this book was written around the same time as Ephesians to a different church. Paul wanted to share with them some of the same things. Notice in verse 18 he talks to wives about submitting, and in verse 19 he talks to husbands about loving their wives. Verse 20 he talks to children about being obedient to their parents. Fathers verse 22, slaves. So, it's parallel with what we discovered in Ephesians.

What's different is what begins, what is the fountain if you will, out of which these commands flow. In Ephesians 5 it's "Be filled with the Spirit." In Colossians 3 it's something different. Notice verse 16. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom…." and so forth. And then he flows into the same set of commands that are in Ephesians 5. So being filled with the Spirit is identical to allowing the word of Christ to dwell richly within you. Being filled with the Spirit is nothing more than having a mind and a heart and a life that are controlled by and permeated by the word of God. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

Now notice back in Ephesians 5 the very first result of being filled with the Spirit. I love this. We might have written a number of things if we were writing this epistle, as far as demonstrations of being controlled by the word of God, being filled with the Spirit, but what does Paul say? The very first consequence of being filled with the Spirit is music. It's a heart that delights in music, that sings and lifts praise to God from the heart, that's filled with thanksgiving. You want to know whether or not your life is dominated and controlled by the word of God? Do you find this happening? Do you find yourself breaking, in your heart, or sometimes out loud to our embarrassment, in song? Praise to God, that's the demonstration of being filled with the Spirit. But notice the second result of being filled with the Spirit in verse 21 is submission, submission. Notice verse 21. He writes, "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ". Literally, being subject. Notice that it is in that context as I just translated it, literally from the Greek text, "and being subject", it's a participle. Now pull out your English grammar and remember for a moment that a participle is not the main verb of a sentence. It modifies the main verb of the sentence. What's the main verb of this sentence? All the way back in verse 19, "be filled." Be filled, and as you're filled, you'll be submitting. You'll be subjecting yourself.

Now, the Greek of verse 21 could legitimately mean a couple of different things. Verse 21 could be saying that every Christian should be subject to every other Christian, in other words, a kind of mutual submission. Many commentators take this view, and by the way, this is true. You and I are to be mutually deferring to one another, in a kind of mutual submission. We're not to be asserting ourselves and our rights and what we want, and that's true in marriage as in the rest of life. But I lean toward a second interpretation of verse 21, and that is, that it's simply saying this: Christians should be subject to those in authority over them. In other words, it's a heading for what follows. Every other time this Greek word "be subject" occurs in the New Testament, it refers to the attitude we're to have toward those in authority over us, every other time. And so, it seems odd to make it mean mutual submission here.

Instead, what Paul is probably doing is he's giving a sort of encapsulated over-arching principle; and that is, we are to submit to those in authority. And then he's going to give several examples. First of all, to wives in verses 22-24, to children in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 6, and in that culture slaves in 6:5-8. All of those groups are under authority, and they are to submit. And so, verse 21 is kind of the umbrella, laying out the fact that if you have someone who is in authority over you, you are to be subject to that person in the fear of Christ. And notice when Paul sets out to explain the principles of submission, he begins with the Godly wife. Her first duty is to be subject or to submit. Now what I want us to do this morning in the time that remains is to sort of unpack what that means. We are going to ask a series of questions and answer each of those questions as we flow through this passage.

The first question we need to answer is this: what does it mean to submit? What does it mean to submit? Notice in verse 22 the words, "be subject" are in italics in your Bible. That means they are not in the original text because verse 22 borrows its verb from verse 21. So, the translators have supplied it there in verse 22 just so you can be clear on it. Wives, be subject, or be being subject to your own husbands. The verb is in the present tense. It's the wife's constant duty. She's to constantly be subject. Notice also, it's in the form of an imperative. This is not optional. This is a command from God Himself. Men, there's an important note for us here, and that is that it is addressed to women to submit. Husbands are not called to force their wives to submit. Submission is to be the voluntary response of her heart in obedience to God.

Now what does it mean exactly to submit? Well, before we examine what it means, I think it's important for us to examine what it doesn't mean. It's very important that we get these foundational truths correct. What does submission not mean?

First of all, it doesn't mean that a wife should tolerate physical abuse. Unfortunately, in our world there are men who think they properly exercise their headship by taking out physical abuse on their wives. Or sometimes there's nothing theoretical about it. It's simply an outburst of anger. Regardless of what form it comes, ladies, if your husband is involved in any kind of physical abuse, God has given you a way out. And that is, call the police and have him arrested. Turn to Romans 13, Romans 13:1.

Every person [that is man and woman] is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. [God has placed government in place, and all of us are to be in subjection (same word) to the governing authorities. We're to be in submission.] For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation [or judgment] upon themselves. [Now notice verse 3,] "For rulers [we're talking now about government rulers, officials of all kinds] are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same…. [Now remember folks, Paul is writing to the Roman church. These are people in the church, and he says, if you're doing what's good, then you don't need to fear authority. You'll have praise.] Verse 4, for it is a minister of God to you for good. But, if you do what is evil, [if you violate the law] be afraid for it [that is the government] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

Wives, don't protect your law-breaking physically-abusing husband from the wrath that God intends to bring to bear on his life. If he abuses you, call the police and have him arrested. Let God bring His minister to bear on your husband. If you sense you are in any physical danger, then of course you need to leave immediately. We argue from the Old Testament, and in the Old Testament, a person who had even taken another life in self-defense. If a wife could actually take her husband's life in defense of herself, we argue from the greater to the lesser; and that is, if she's in danger, or her children are in danger, she needs to get them out of that situation. She's no longer required on that occasion to submit to him. So, it doesn't mean that you should tolerate physical abuse.

Secondly, submission doesn't mean that you should sin in following your husband's instructions. You remember that great passage in Acts 4 where the apostles are arrested for preaching the gospel and the leaders of Israel say to them, "You've got to stop." And they say, well, we can't stop. We must what? Obey God rather than men. Ladies, you are not responsible to submit to your husband if: A, he commands you to do what God forbids, or B, he commands you not to do what God requires. Your first and primary allegiance is to God. And it is perfectly legitimate to disregard, in a gracious way, your husband, if he should ask you to do those things.

Thirdly, submission does not mean that you should refuse to graciously confront a pattern of sin in your believing husband. Some Christian wives think, well you know, I should just leave him alone, even if I see this pattern of sin in his life. You're not there to protect his sin. You're there to challenge him. Now, let me just say that you need to be patient with your husband, just as you hope and expect him to be patient with you. Some wives are eager to jump on any slight violation their husband makes, and pounce on him when they expect to be treated more graciously and more patiently. That's not what this is talking about. You need to be quick to forgive, particularly personal affronts.

But if there is a pattern of sin in your husband's life, then you are obligated before God to do the same thing every other Christian is, and that is to follow the process outlined in Matthew 18. You're responsible to graciously, at the right time, go to your husband and say I've noticed this in your life, and I'm deeply concerned about it, and I have to urge you to turn from that per Matthew 18. If your husband doesn't respond and doesn't hear you, then you are obligated to go to the next step and to bring someone into that process with you to confront him of his sin. So, submission does not mean that you tolerate an unrepentant pattern of sin in the life of your husband.

Nor does submission mean that the wife is somehow inferior to the husband. We are talking about roles. Listen folks, all of us understand submission. There isn't a single person sitting here who doesn't submit to someone. If you're in a home, and you're the child, you have to submit to your parent. If you are employed, you have to submit to the will of your employer. And all of us ultimately have to submit to the will of the government. Submission is part of our daily lives for every one of us. It doesn't at all imply inferiority. As I've said, Christ submits to the Father. He is absolutely equal with the Father. We're talking about roles.

But what does it mean "to submit". Well, the Greek word means not only "to submit to, to be subject to, but to be subordinate to". It is always used of submission to an authority. For example, it's used of Jesus submitting to his parents in Luke 2. It's used of citizens submitting to their government as we saw there in Romans 13:1. It's used of the whole universe submitting to Christ in 1 Corinthians 15. It's used of the church submitting to Christ here in Ephesians 5. So, to submit means "to willingly take a subordinate role in relation to that of another". As I said, you and I do this every day to someone. And this is the responsibility of Christian wives to their husbands. By the way, this is a universal New Testament exhortation for wives. Every passage that deals with the relationship of the wife to her husband tells her to submit to him and uses this very same Greek word: here in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1 and 5, Titus 2:4, all the same admonition, all to submit and all using the same exact word, to subordinate oneself under someone else, to accept that person as duly constituted authority in your life.

That brings us then to our second question. That's what submission is, but the second question is to whom are wives to submit? Notice verse 22 again. "Wives, be subject to your own husbands." This too is a crucial phrase, and it recurs. Every time that this command to submit, to wives, is given, some form of this expression is there. For example, in Titus 2:5, being subject to their own husbands. This is an essential part of Paul's instructions. Now, there are a couple of implications of this phrase, "to your own husbands".

The first implication is that no wife is excluded. If you have a husband, you're responsible to submit to that husband. I've heard wives say, well, you know, you just don't know my husband. Well, maybe not, but God does, and God says, wives, no exception, be submissive, submit to your own husband. There's a second implication of that phrase though, and it's that wives are not subject to all men, but only to their own husbands. This is an often-misunderstood issue. Nowhere does the Scripture teach that every woman must submit to every man in every situation. In fact, only in marriage and the church is leadership restricted to men. And even in the church, women are not called upon to submit to every man, but only to the men whom God has placed over the church. You are simply to submit only to those men who are in a position of duly constituted authority over you. In the church that's the elders and in your home and your family that's your husband.

Some men develop this kind of Napoleonic complex. You know, they read these passages about wives submitting to their husbands, and they stick their hand in their shirt and, you know, pontificate like the Napoleon and imagine that all women should do whatever they say. That isn't the spirit of Ephesians 5 or any of these other passages. Be subject, wives, to your own husbands.

You say, well what if my husband isn't a believer? Well, you're still responsible to submit. Turn to 1 Peter, 1 Peter 3. Peter addresses this very issue. He begins chapter 3 by saying, "In the same way." That refers back to verse 18 where he was talking about servants being submissive. In verse 13 all of submitting ourselves to every human institution. He's talking about the principle of submission, and he says,

In the same way, in the same principle of bringing yourself under someone who is over you in authority, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word [that is, are unbelievers] they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives as [the husbands] … observe your … [pure and fearful, literally] … behavior.

In other words, they observe that you are pure before God and that you fear God, and as they see you submitting to them in that context, they'll be won without a word. Obviously, this isn't a universal promise, but it is a command, and it's the way you should approach your marriage if you're married to an unbeliever.

On Easter I mentioned Ron and Shirley, our friends in California. After 20 years Ron, who was an avowed atheist and an aggressive international arms dealer kind of guy, working in the arms industry, came to faith in Christ. His wife, Shirley, later admitted to me that for a number of years she didn't practice 1 Peter 3. Instead, she preached at her husband. But you know what her constant preaching did? It further alienated him. When she came to understand this verse and to faithfully practice it over many years, she is confident that that's what the Lord used to bring him to faith in Christ. And that's what Peter says. To whom are you to submit? … to your own husband.

That brings us to the third question we need to answer, and that is: with what attitude should you submit? Notice verse 22 again. He says, "wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord." You are to submit to your own husband as you would if your husband were the Lord himself. That's what it's saying. Alexander Strock writes, "this little phrase tells us that the wife's submission to her husband is part of her submission to the Lord Jesus Christ."

Be subject to him as to the Lord. What does that look like? Well, this picture is kind of developed for us in Colossians, not in the husband/wife relationship, but in the context of another authority/ submission relationship, and that is that of slaves and masters. Now, obviously, wives aren't slaves. But the Godly attitude that should accompany submission to an authority is exactly the same. Notice Colossians 3:22.

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Paul is saying here to slaves, and by implication, to all of us who are submitting to another authority that God has placed over us; as we submit ourselves, we're to submit ourselves not for the sake of that person, but we're to do it as if it were the Lord Himself. We're to serve the Lord through that. We're to submit ourselves as if to the Lord. That's to be the mindset, the attitude that should describe your submission to your husband. It's as if you were submitting to the Lord.

Notice back in Ephesians 5 down in verse 33 there's a summary of the wife's duty. He says, verse 33, "Nevertheless," … the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." This also deals with this attitude of submission. It's not merely a sort of begrudging submission. You know a lot of wives will do that. A lot of Christian wives will say, well, okay, I'll do what he says. But they don't really respect their husbands. They don't have this attitude. Listen, Paul says, you must respect your husband. Paul doesn't ask if your husband is worthy of respect. He doesn't ask whether or not you feel respectful. He doesn't ask if you're more intelligent or more capable than your husband. He doesn't even raise the issue of whether you're more Godly than your husband. He simply commands that you make a decision to obey God by choosing to respect your husband as you do Christ.

Let me tell you ladies, it's been my experience in counseling that, if you will choose to obey this principle, if you will work at respecting your husband as you submit to him with this attitude, you'll begin to see more and more in your husband to respect. As one writer puts it, "It has been wisely stated, obedience is the opener of eyes. Discontent blinds women to the many good qualities in their husbands. But when gratitude and respect are cultivated, wives find more and more to respect." You make the decision to obey, and as time goes by you'll see more to respect. What would your husband say if I asked him how you're doing in your attitude of submission? Is there a respect? Are you doing it as to the Lord? That's the attitude that's to accompany submission.

There's a fourth question, and that is, for what reason are wives to submit? Notice verse 23. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is also the head of the church, Himself being the Savior of the body." Notice it begins with the word "for". This is a reason given now. Paul's saying here's why you're to do this thing. And notice carefully what he says. He doesn't say the husband ought to be the head of the wife. He says he is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of His church and is the Savior of the body, that is the church. It's a reality.

Douglas Wilson in his book Reforming Marriage writes, "Arguing with the fact of the husband's headship in the home is like jumping off a cliff in order to quarrel with the law of gravity. Marshall the arguments on the way down however you like, you will eventually find yourself refuted in a messy way." The word head is the common Greek word for the physical head of the body. Since our heads are on the top of our bodies, and since they direct the activity of the body, the word head came to be used often figuratively for someone in leadership, someone in a position of authority. And we understand that. We use the English word head that way. We speak of the Head of State. We speak of the head of a department. It's to be in charge. It's to be in the position of leadership.

Men, this means that God has placed you in the inescapable position of leadership, whether you like it or not. You are the head. You may not feel like you're leading, but you are leading. And ladies, let me tell you that whether you like it or not, your husband is leading. Some wives say, well, I don't think so. I mean, my husband doesn't lead. That's what I'm all upset about is he doesn't lead. In fact, he is leading. It may not be the best kind of leadership. And it may be extremely subtle. And you may not be willing to follow it, but if you really want to follow, just stop talking and watch and listen. He is the head, and it's a matter of you choosing to follow, however he leads, in whatever fashion he leads. Titus 2:5 adds another reason for Godly wives to submit to their husbands. Not only because they are the head as Christ is the head, but so that the word of God will not be dishonored. There's a motive for you ladies. By submitting to your husbands, as is encouraged by Scripture, you keep the word of God from being dishonored.

That brings us to our final question, and that is, in what areas are wives to submit, in what areas? Notice verse 24. "But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." Now, notice again what Paul says. Wives ought to be subject to their husbands as the church is subject to Christ in everything. What could be clearer than that? In everything. Sheila and I were talking last night. She was saying that every time she's taught this passage to women, the very first questions she gets are: well I know it says in everything, but what about …? One woman came up to her afterwards and said, you know, you don't understand. I can't submit to my husband because he lets the children eat sugar, no, not that. What's going to hurt the child more? To have sugar or a mother who disobeys the clear command to submit to her husband?

The way many wives approach this command is like the man who said that when he and his wife were married they agreed together that he would make all the big decisions, and she would make all the little decisions. And he said, you know in 20 years of marriage, there hasn't been one big decision.

Carol Mahaney in Feminine Appeal, which is an excellent book by the way, lists some of the excuses that women give for not submitting. She writes, "All my husband ever does is watch ESPN. My husband is irresponsible with the finances. I have a husband who never disciplines the children. I'm married to a man who doesn't lead our family well." She concludes the list this way. "None of these excuses is admissible. Unless a moral issue is at stake, we are obliged by Scripture to submit to our husbands.

As Elisabeth Eliot bluntly states, "God's Word does not give us any footnotes," in everything. You know ladies, in everything doesn't mean that you just go along with whatever he specifically asks. That's how some Christian wives live. You know they live in fear that he's going to ask something because then they're going to have to do it. They just hope he keeps his mouth shut, and then they can do what they want. That's not the spirit behind this expression. To be subject to your husbands in everything means that you choose to build your life around him and his desires. It means that you do what your husband wants. How can you know what your husband wants you to do? Ask him.

By the way, let me just say that submission doesn't mean that you can't graciously appeal to your husband when he makes a bad decision. Honey, I never make any bad decisions, just so you know. But if your husband makes a bad decision. It's okay to appeal to him. Daniel 1 outlines a great process for doing that, a respectful process for doing that. But in the end, you must be willing to submit your will to his. Now, folks, let me tell you. I understand how I sound today. I know I sound extremely anachronistic, counter-culture. But the question has to be, what does the Bible say? Don't shoot the messenger. This is what the Bible teaches. Read it for yourself. Study the passages for yourself. How can you do this?

Turn to 1 Peter because I think Peter gives us a little clue. First Peter 3:3,

Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; [In other words, don't spend all of your time worrying about the outside. It's okay, you know, as the guy used to say, to put a little paint on the barn if the barn needs a little paint. It's alright. But don't spend all your time there.] Verse 4, "… let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Let's be honest ladies. When you hear about submission, submitting to your husband in everything, there's some fear that arises. So, how do you deal with that? Look at verse 5 again. You don't put your hope in your husband. You submit to your husband, but you put your hope where? … in God, in God. In the end it comes down to this: submission is simply a demonstration of your confidence in the sovereign power of God. It is a test of your faith. Do you really believe that God controls your husband, and that He can change his heart if He chooses just as He changes the heart of the king, the proverb says? Do you really believe that? If so, then you can freely and willingly submit to your husband. It's a tall order. How do you do that? Well, we go all the way back to Ephesians 5. There's only one way to live this, ladies. It's by being filled with the Spirit. It's by being controlled, permeated, dominated by the word of God, and trusting God to direct your husband. And to intervene, or if he doesn't choose to intervene in this life, rewarding you in eternity for your faithfulness with His man. Do you trust God? Do you hope in God?

Let's pray together.

Father, thank you for the clarity of Your Word. Lord, it is so out of step with our times. It is so contrary to the culture. But, Lord, help us who know you and love you, through Jesus Christ, to be committed to Your truth. Let every man be a liar but You be true. Father, I pray that You help us to embrace these things.

I pray for the ladies here today who have to acknowledge that they haven't been living the way this text lays out their responsibilities. Lord, I pray that they would make the decision even now to pursue obedience. Lord, help them to do what's right without fear, knowing that you are in control.

Father, I pray that You would establish families in this church that are a reflection of Your holy will, and that our church would be stronger because our marriages are strong, our families are stronger because they are built on the foundation that You laid.

We pray all of this to the glory of Your Son, Amen.