Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Duty of the Christian: Subjection — The Husbands’ Submission to God on Behalf of Their Wives

In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches from 1 Peter 3:7 on how husbands are to live with their wives and to submit to God. Pastor explains how husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loves His church and are to make the marriage relationship the highest priority on earth. Pastor Babij further exhorts husbands to treat their wives honorably as fellow heirs in Christ and not to ignore or mistreat their wives. Such actions will damage a husband’s walk with the Lord since God ignores the prayers of unrighteous husbands. Pastor closes by warning husbands that they cannot be right with God if they are not right with their wives.

Full Transcript:

We are in 1 Peter 3:7, and we will be looking at this one verse. Of course, this verse is flowing from what has already been said in 1 Peter. We have been looking at and learning about submission. Already, I have said that submission is to put oneself under the authority of another or to take a subordinate place. In addition, it is a voluntary selflessness, which is based on the death of pride and desire to serve.

Submission is God’s structure for things, and it is found in the word of God. Submission produces unity and fellowship. Unity is enhanced through submission, and submission is enhanced to God through the word of God where people are obeying the word. Also, it is submission to God through His will where we are desiring to know the will of God concerning our life and our relationships. Then, there is submission to God through His authority.

Last time, we were introduced to a third application of a Christian’s responsible behavior, which is the wife’s responsibility to her unsaved husband. Not only is it to an unsaved husband, but to any woman using those principles to any husband. Thus, the Christian’s wife responsibility is in the way she submits to him before God.

Now, we are going to be looking at the fourth application of a Christian’s responsible behavior, which is a Christian husband’s submission to God on behalf of his wife. 1 Peter 3:7:

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Before we look at this, let’s pray:

Lord, I pray that as we look at this passage of Scripture and as we consider this day, Lord, which is Mother’s Day, that You have raised up mother’s who have taught their children the word of God, and You have raised up, from their teaching, godly seeds. Lord, as they receive that, they may grow up and be married. Then, Lord, should they live out the principles of the word of God. However, Lord, if someone was married and did not know You yet, then, Lord, they didn’t know what to do and they still don’t know what to do until they come to the word of God and desire to know Your will concerning how a husband is to treat his wife, who will be the mother of his children. I pray that we would learn that well, and that we would practice these principles found here in our daily lives. I pray, Lord, because of it, You will receive the glory and that You would keep unity not only in the church, but also in the family. I pray this in Your name. Amen.

It has been said that husbands must be the thermostat in the home by setting the emotional and spiritual temperature. Often, the wife is the thermometer by letting the husband know what exactly the temperature is, and she is usually good at that. Though, both are needed. One leads, and one helps that person lead to make a strong home. Husbands, you need to know how to set the emotional and spiritual thermostat and then learn to maintain a comfortable atmosphere.

Thankfully, the Lord has given us men help on how to maintain a comfortable temperature by taking responsibility as a man after God’s own heart, or as, in this passage, a man who desires, as a goal, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Then, the husband is to put every effort into submitting to God, especially to God’s design for marriage in behalf of his wife.

Sometime ago, there was a woman named Ann Landers, who was called, “The Answer Lady.” She wrote a column every week in the newspaper about different issues, especially marital issues. One day, she wrote a title called, “Answer Lady has No Answers.” She acknowledged after thirty-six years of marriage, she was divorcing. She expressed her astonishment of how it could even have happened to her. They once had a good relationship, and Landers perplexing question in her article was: How did it happen that something so good turned out so bad?

She said when they were married, they enjoyed each other, they liked each other, they were friends, they were lovers, they were confidantes, and they were excited about each other. However, over the years, their relationship began to deteriorate. Affection turned to apathy. Excitement turned to exasperation. Attraction turned to aversion. Enjoyment turned to enmity.

It is safe to say that most couples who marry do not marry because they don’t enjoy each other. They marry because they do enjoy each other. They are excited about each other. They don’t get married because they hate each other. All too often, this has changed for many couples. Ann Landers situation is not an isolated incident, and we all know that very well. Sin abounds in marriage. The best place to be sanctified, by the spirit of God, is in a marital relationship.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible for married people to remain sweethearts through the entirety of their lives if (and yes, that’s a big if) husband and wife make and fulfill certain obligations and commitments that have been given to them in the word of God.

In God’s eyes, marriage is a commitment, and marriage wasn’t man’s invention or something socially convenient for time, but now is outdated. From the beginning of time until now, God has ordained this institution, and it is a good institution. It can be abused, but it also can be rendered good at every phase of life.

If certain obligations are maintained, the husband can supply the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of his wife and family. In our passage of Scripture, in the same way refers to the obligations of the wife just as she is to be holy, one who trusts in God, and one who adorns the Gospel in subjection to her own husbands. In a similar yet different way, husbands are given, by God, certain obligations toward his wife.

The first obligation is that the husband should have a considerate obligation to live with his wife. Why do I say that? In our passage it says:

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives…

However, there is a difference. It is not defined in Scripture that a husband is to be submissive to his wife. He is not. He is to be submissive to God, and he is to be submissive to God as far as his responsibility is to his wife.

In Scripture, it is defined as not a husband’s submission to the wife, but responsibility toward her. Husbands are continually to live with their wives while following in the footsteps of Jesus, and Jesus continues to love his church. Husbands, because you are the head of your wife, you are not to submit to her, but you are to submit to God’s will and to love her as Christ loves the church. This includes intimacy, which goes back to the Old Testament in Genesis.

In other words, a husband is called to fulfill his marital duties, to love his wife, and to dwell with her. It meant to dwell in a tent. When you dwell in a tent, there are not many places you can go but the tent. Thus, a husband is to dwell in a tent with his wife. Genesis 2:23-24:

The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Ephesians says the “one-flesh” is a great mystery, and the Bible says you become one unit before God. So, to leave your parents means that your relationship to your parents must be radically changed. It means that you must establish an adult relationship with your parents. It means that you must be more concerned about your mate’s ideas, opinions, and practices than those of your parents. It means that you must not be slavishly dependent on your parents for affection, approval, assistance, council, or financial stability.

It means that you must eliminate any bad attitudes toward your parents or you will be tied emotionally to them regardless of how far you move away from them. It means that you must stop trying to change your mate simply because your parents do not like him or her, or the way he or she is. Bottom line, it means that you make the husband-wife relationship your priority relationship.

Remember, the priorities of a Christian are God first, then husband and wife. Not kids, but husband and wife. You are not married to your kids, and you will never be married to your kids. When your kids grow up, they leave the home. When the kids grow up and leave and the husband and wife look at each other and say, “who are you,” then it is because you haven’t been developing a relationship with each other. You are married to your wife always, so she is always under God, and that is your responsibility.

A second thing that comes underneath that is that of a provider. He is to provide a place to live. He is to work to supply the needs. It is clear in Scripture where it says in 1 Timothy 5:8:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Most men don’t have a problem working, but for some that is where their commitment to their marriage begins and ends, which is wrong. Work, but don’t get so busy that you don’t develop your relationship. Don’t make work an excuse for scurrying your God-given responsibilities as a man. God’s kind of marriage involves cleaving to one another in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in pleasure and pain, in joy and sorrow, in good times and bad times, in agreements and in disagreements.

God’s kind of marriage means that people know that they must face problems. They must discuss them and seek God’s help in them. They must resolve them rather than run from them because there is no way out. They are committed to one another for life, and that is God’s view of marriage. Thus, they must cleave to one another today and tomorrow if they both shall live.

Sin has complicated marriage, but remember, salvation reorients both the man and the woman as to what marriage is. There is no textbook on how to have a good marriage except one, which is the Bible. The Bible tells you to have a relationship with God first and how to be made right with Him through Jesus Christ. When you are made right with Him through Jesus Christ and God gives you His spirit and a hunger for the word of God, then you are going to do what God wants you to do. He gives you a desire to work your marriage out even though before you wanted to give up or get out. That is not what God intended. God intended for us to be married forever.

The second obligation that comes underneath that is that the husband should have a cooperative obligation to handle his wife with a mindful sensitivity. In our passage, the word understanding is where we get the root word to know. In other words, the husband is to dwell with his wife in an understanding way by getting to know her with an intelligent recognition of the nature of the marriage relationship.

A Christian husband is to live with his wife in an understanding way with a mindful sensitivity, which means every gathering and gaining knowledge about his wife. I often say in my pre-marital counseling sessions that it’s going to take men the rest of their marriage to figure her out. You never stop figuring her out, and the reason being that there are different phases of life and marriage.

The Bible is saying that the Christian husband needs to know his wife. Men, don’t say that you know your wife until you know her. The day you get married and say, “I do,” is not the day you know her. The day when you die, you may be able to claim that you knew your wife, especially if you have been growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the word of God, growing together spiritually, and God has been transforming your mind. Now, you truly pay attention to what you ought.

A Christian husband needs to know the moods of his wife: what makes her moods change? He needs to know the feelings of his wife: what makes her happy and sad? He needs to know the thoughts of his wife. He cannot get into her head, but he could understand that a woman, as they say, thinks from four different perspectives. A man thinks probably from one perspective.

The mind of a wife is what she thinks. The emotions are how she feels. The will is what she wants. The spirit is what God wants her to do. At different points in her life, what does she really need? What does she fear in her life? In different times of her life, there may be different kinds of fears the woman may have. What are her hopes? What are her dreams? What does she want to see accomplished in your marriage?

God has given Christian husbands an important task of which there should be no excuse to claim ignorance. However, I must warn Christian husbands that there are several things that are deadly to the process of living with your wife in an understanding and considerate way.

First, there is the spirituality killer, which is leaving the Lord out and not putting God first in all things. It is worrying about spinning all the plates and not trusting God with what he has provided for you and given to you. Husbands, you need to purpose in your heart to serve God whole-heartedly. In other words, taking the initiative in spiritual leadership.

Men, you need to lead spiritually. Your wife is not to pull you by a chain in spiritual matters. She is not to prod you in spiritual matters. You need to take on the lead and follow the Lord. If you do that, she will follow you, but if you don’t, that is a spirituality killer.

There is an intimacy killer too, which is hurting her with your tongue. Being insensitive and unkind with hurtful words, which are often short, angry, and demanding. It is showing her that you are not attentive, thoughtful, trustworthy, or responsible. Those are things that will not help your marriage.

Remember, we are to speak words that are edifying, of good report, and that are uplifting in our home. One survey revealed that the average husband and wife had thirty-seven minutes a week together in actual communication. I did some math, which I hope is right, and there are 1,440 minutes in a day, 10,080 minutes in a week, and 525,600 minutes in a year.

When you divide that up, then in the course of a year, you would have talked to your wife about seven minutes a day. When your wife brings to your attention, men, that you don’t talk to her enough, then consider this: she is most likely right, and the math is on her side. In other words, you and I are in trouble. If you miss a day, it is even worse.

We must talk to each other, and I don’t mean chit-chat about your day or what the weather was like, but you engage in actual conversation that gets into some spiritual things, in-depth things, and things that are substantive about what is going on in each other’s lives. So, there are intimacy killers. There are also social killers, which is spending and using money incorrectly. In marital counseling, communication and finances are big ones that a councilor must deal with all the time.

The family and home are meant to be the environment where human beings can find shelter, warmth, protection, and safety in each other. It’s a place where they could have a good conversation, kindness, and support. Husbands, you need to be committed to knowing and understanding your wives. It is your job, by God, to do that. That is how He designed it. If you want to be happy yourself, you want to follow that.

Also, in our passage of Scripture, we see that husbands need to know that their wife is different. Realize that your wife is different. Despite what the culture is saying about how men and women are both alike, the Bible is stressing that there is a marked difference between a man and a woman. Christian husbands are to acknowledge the proper relation of the sexes in God’s design and act with tenderness, wisdom, and understanding. Now, why is the Christian husband to consider his wife?

Well, he dwells with someone who is weaker and delicate. There are several understandings to that. First, in her human body, there is physical weakness there. She is different in body structure and function. It points to the inferior and physical strength and frailty of a woman. Some say that it means emotionally weaker, but that is probably not true to a certain extent, or positionally weaker as being subordinate.

Also, it could mean someone who is to be a priced vessel, or that the woman is a fragile vessel from God’s point of view. Regardless of how somebody would understand weaker vessel, it brings us to the place where the husband needs to care for his wife. She is not weaker mentally, morally, or spiritually. She is weaker in a physical and muscular sense.

There are exceptions, but man is stronger when it comes to physical accomplishments and endurance. According to Dr. Paul Popenoe, founder of the American Institution of Family Relations in Los Angeles, dedicated years of research in the biological difference between men and women. Here are some of his findings:

On average, man possess 50% more brute-strength than women. 40% of a mans body weight is muscle. A woman is only 23%. Woman are different and have several, unique, and important functions. Of course, menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. Also, women’s hormones are often of a different type and more numerous than mans. A woman’s vital capacity or breathing power is significantly lower than a mans due to her smaller lungs. Also, women’s blood contains more water and 20% fewer red blood cells. Since the red cells supply oxygen to the body cells, women tire more easily and more prone to faint.

Those are some things people have discovered about the woman. The point being there is that the woman is different in her body structure, strength, and endurance. The point in Scripture is that the word vessel, or container, is used to refer to a clay jar or some beautiful, fragile vase, which was not built for strength but to be displayed by someone. These were usually put in high places and places of honor so that they could be protected from damage or harm.

In other words, the Christian husbands are to treat their wives like a beautiful, fragile vase. If misused or abused, it could reach a breaking point and possibly irreparable damage within the relationship. She is termed weaker not for intellectual or moral weakness, but purely for physical reasons, which the husband must recognize with due consideration for marital happiness.

He needs to treat his wife as a delicate person, and someone who is to be treated delicately. This leads into the next thing the Bible says to the husband about his obligation, which is to have a careful obligation to treat his wife with honor. In our text, honor means to attach high value, worth, or importance to a person or thing.

The husband should give honor to his wife because his wife is equally God’s vessel, and God gives honor to her along with you as fellow heirs of the riches of Christ. In other words, treat your wives different to you in one way and equal to you in another way, which is in spiritual privilege and eternal importance. Why should the husband show honor to her?

First, she is a joint heir with him in the grace of life. That is an interesting statement. The woman has the same, equal spiritual rights as the man. God has given her life as a gift, he has given her marriage as a gift, he has given her children or a heritage as a gift, but also eternal life, through Christ, is a gift. Thus, God’s gift of eternal life belongs to the woman as well as the man and all the benefits that go with that. It says in Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This is dealing with the benefits of salvation. We are on equal ground when it comes to salvation. Eternal life through Christ is a gift for the man and a gift for the woman, so they both have Christ and are patterns together in the Lord. They are heirs of God’s gracious gift of everlasting life.

Because of that, they don’t work against each other and they should work with each other. They should work together to establish a Christian home, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to be active members and support their local church and ministries together, and to provide a measure of stability in their community. Also, Christians are to be the moral and spiritual pillars of a nation.

It is the church that keeps the moral and ethical standard of a nation. As soon as the church gives it up, there is no more standard. As soon as the world throws God out, then there is no responsibility to anyone above them or anyone who has authority over them. Thus, the church is to present the message of the Gospel, and to present that there is a moral and ethical code that they can deliver to the world. In fact, there is a passage of Scripture that brings all those things together in Psalm 128:1-4:

How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.

2When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.

3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.

4Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

Blessing means that God is near to you for good as opposed to cursing and that God is against you for evil or for bad. When you see the word bless, it means that God is near, He is in the equation, and that is why the blessings come. God gives you a happy life because He is involved with all the aspects of your life, so there are benefits that come to you because of that.

Another reason a husband should honor his wife is that if he doesn’t treat his wife correctly, then the Christian husbands fellowship with the Lord is all messed up. The Christian husband should surely not want to damage their relationship in their marriage because it messes up their own spiritual life and their fellowship and walk with the Lord.

This caveat put at the end of this passage of Scripture that is loaded with information for the man brings me to my last point, which is that the husband should have a commitment to maintain a spiritual atmosphere with her in the home. It is his job to do that, and if he does not do that, then the Bible does say, in our passage, that his prayers will be hindered.

If a husband’s prayers suffer interruption, it is because of a nonfunctioning marriage. For you, men, it affects your spiritual life. To hinder means that it cuts in on the flow of your spiritual growth in the Lord, and the power you receive from God to live that life. It is severely crippled, and your fellowship with God is severely crippled because of the way you are treating your wife. If you ask me, that’s heavy. In fact, that should cause men to get on their faces and repent and change their ways with their wife.

When I get to prayer, I want God to listen to me. I want the ear of God all the time in my life. What could cut that off? Not treating your wife right will cut that off, and God is serious about that. A husband who treats his wife in a wrong way will himself be unfit to pray. In fact, one commentator says this:

Not only will he be unfit to pray, but he will scarcely pray at all. His worship in the congregation will also be equally affected.

When that happens, he is not so interested in Spiritual things. He doesn’t have the power of God in his life anymore. It doesn’t mean he lost his salvation or relationship with God. His fellowship and walk with God is cut-in on by his bad behavior to his wife. Now, you must ask yourself this question: why is that even in the Bible?

This one passage of Scripture, men, you can put this on the wall, look at it everyday and ask yourself: am I doing these things? Then, correct where you need to correct, and why? At least, for one motivation, which is that your prayers will not be cut-off by God.

Because of the husband’s neglect of his wife, God chooses to ignore his prayers. It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t hear, but it means that God chooses to ignore your prayers. Husbands, you have here, in this passage, because of how you treat your wife, it will either bring results of blessings or results where your prayers are cut off. You must consider why your prayers are not answered.

Husbands, you cannot be right with God and not right with your wife. You are one-flesh. You stay right with God when you are right with your wife because of who she is, what God made her to be, and your responsibility as the head of your home. God is serious about keeping men responsible. Psalm 34:15:

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.

The Apostle Peter is talking about righteous behavior in the home by the husband. If my behavior is not perfect but is a forward movement in holiness and righteousness, then as a husband, I am considering these principles and adjusting what I need to adjust in my life and my home so that my wife is honored like this, treated as a fragile vessel, and a joint heir with me in my salvation and with my relationship to God. If I shoot her in the foot, I am shooting myself in the foot. If I hurt her with words, I am hurting me.

You cannot be one, do harm to that one, and not be affected yourself. Dissensions prevent the united prayers on which many of God’s blessings depend. She is your equal pattern in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should, so that your prayers will not be cut-in on by God. In our wedding ceremonies, I always say Proverbs 18:22:

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

Men, the day that you found that good thing, you received favor from the Lord, but every day, that passage of Scripture should mean something to you. It is God’s will that you be this kind of man. The wife is the helper, not the leader. The wife is the subordinate one, not the head. The wife is the delicate and prized vessel, not the protector or leader in the home. The man is, and men, this is a very convicting passage of Scripture.

The first time I read this in Scripture, I was floored, walking in circles, and saying to myself, “that is pretty heavy.” Let’s be honest with ourselves: sometimes we don’t treat our wives the way we should.

Considering Mother’s Day and considering women, the word of God uplifts women to their proper place and gives them dignity. The world treats women horribly. They exploit women and misuse women. Today, all the scandals going on in our news is about how men have abused women. That should not be in the church. We are to be the model. It must start in our homes and in our relationships.

In doing that, we are going to have an opportunity and open door to share the Gospel with that young couple that just got married, and they don’t really know what they are doing yet. The Scriptures are very helpful to come along side of men and say, “this is what God taught me, so let me teach you.” Then, they put it into practice, and the church gets stronger when homes and relationships are stronger.

I believe the only thing that is holding back the end-coming is that God has left the church here and the church is holding back the mystery of iniquity. Once the church is gone, then that is when all hell breaks loose.

Men, maybe this is the first time you are hearing this and maybe you have heard it before, but it never really impacted you. I pray that today you would take these things and live them out every day until your wife takes notice. Let’s pray:

Lord, Thank You. Lord, these passages of Scripture are very convicting. They slice like a razor blade into our souls. Yet, Lord, they also have a healing effect because they are transforming our mind to think in a way that honors God, and in a way that we can do these things in our home and reap the benefits. As a man, I can be someone who knows God listens to me because I am treating my wife correctly, and that I am working on it every day. That my wife is learning to submit to me. I know, Lord, when we treat our wives right and we love them like You love the church, submission is not the hard part. In fact, it comes quite naturally. Lord, do what You need to do today with the word of God, and continue to work on our hearts so that we can become these men, who want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and honor you with our relationship that You have given with our wives. I pray this in Your name. Amen.