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Living with and Loving the Lost
1 Peter 3:1b Winning a lost husband, don’t marry an unbeliever and living with lost family
Would you like to know how to dance? Jean and I would–not to break dance, or do the stanky leg, or bust out the latest Usher move. We don’t have the time, nor is it a priority, but if we could, we’d love to learn how to waltz or do some Old English dancing.
In the last three years, we’ve had two dance training opportunities. We listened intensely to the trainer. We concentrated on their instructions as best we could, I worked hard to lead, and Jean worked hard to follow. And occasionally, for brief moments, we worked in perfect unison. But the rest of the time, forget about functioning as a team, we were barely able to keep from stepping all over each other. We laughed a lot, because we knew it was supposed to be fun–but we were hot, sweaty and slightly bruised.
Now can you imagine a husband and a wife trying to dance–but each one, the man and the woman, individually listening the entire time to a different dance instructors teaching them different dances? The husband is being instructed in the tango, but the wife is being trained to step through the waltz–the guy is steppin’ the salsa, but the gal is following the foxtrot.
This is exactly what Peter is describing in 1 Peter 3:1b, as he describes a saved wife married to an unsaved husband. It happens often–a couple gets married, both husband and wife are unsaved when, by the grace of God, one of them is born again. So now the believer finds himself married to a spouse who follows a different master. A Christian is married to a non-Christian. Even more agonizing than that is, after two so-called Christians are married, one partner suddenly and inexplicably denies Christ–so now to the heartbreak of everyone, the believer is now married to a spouse who dances to a totally different tune. Or, one of the worst decisions a Christian can make, they know it’s wrong, but they decide anyway to marry an unbeliever or really weak, most likely religious, so-called unsaved Christian.
This is called being unequally yoked–like two oxen paired together to plow a field, but they’re so mismatched they work against each other and wear each other out in their common task. One is pulling straight, while the other is pulling to the right, then left, then stopping, then running–not working together, as if they were listening to two different masters–two different dance instructors. The yoking process hurts them both and prevents them from accomplishing their created purpose.
Peter says it this way in 1 Peter 3:1 (NAS) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” Peter is concerned about two main issues here–for all wives and all women . . .
#1 how they may please the Lord, and
#2 how, if the Lord wills, a believing wife may be used by God to win her husband, through the Gospel, to salvation in Christ
And here is a happy, simple truth–both issues, 1) how all women can please the Lord, and 2) how a wife married to an unsaved husband can be used to win him to Christ–require the same behavior. Do you want to glorify God as a woman? Do you want to be a godly woman? Do you young, single women and older married women want to be like Christ? And if you are married to an unbelieving husband, do you want to be used of God to win your husband to Christ? All of the above requires following Peter’s instruction here.
Notice that all wives are addressed here–not just those who are married to unbelieving husbands. In the middle of verse one, circle the phrase “even if”, in “so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word.” This tells us the majority of the husbands were believing, just not all of them–so he’s speaking to all marriages here. In fact, in English, there’s one type of “if”, but in Greek there are at least five major kinds of “if”, and the Greek “if” used here is a 1st class condition, which assumes that the statement is true–there are believing wives who are married to unbelieving husbands, but not all of them.
So as Peter gives instructions for believing wives, he will also instruct each of you today in four major ways:
1 To instruct wives as to the power of submission
2 To teach believing wives what they must do in order to be used of God to possibly see their husbands won to Christ
3 To warn singles never to marry an unbeliever, and
4 To help singles know what they must be and do in order not to marry a so-called Christian who is not really saved
How can you dance to the same tune? By way of introduction,
A For the single, marry only in the Lord
God is very strong, very clear and very direct to you singles–no matter what, marry only in the Lord. Most young Christian gals 18-24 want to marry a combo man, which is a future husband who is a combination of Brad Pitt, Paul Walker and John MacArthur. When they get to 25, they want a man who’s active in church–at 30, someone who goes to church–at 35, someone who knows where a church is—and at 40, someone who can spell the word “church”.
You know the difference between a rooster, a patriot and an old maid right? A rooster says, “Cock-a-doodle-do”–a patriot says, “Yankee doodle do”–and an old maid says, “Any dude will do.”
What God says is totally different. After talking about the advantages of singleness and the responsibility fathers have in giving their daughters away in marriage, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:39(NAS), “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” “Only in the Lord” means someone in Christ, and Christ in them–a true born again believer. And get this–a genuine Christian is always committed–obedient to the Word of God, committed to Christ as His first love, committed to the work of Christ in this world, committed to Christ’s church. An authentic believer is one who will love Christ more than his wife.
And there are some single women here who are still rightly waiting for just that man. I tease singles, but I am thankful they wait. They choose Bible over biceps and righteousness over riches. And parents, you want your children to find a Godly spouse? Here is the secret–pray, and you be a Godly spouse now.
Parents, is Christ your first love? Luke 14 would ask you this–are your affections for Him more than for your spouse or children? Are your desires to serve Him greater than your desire for money, house, car or any possession? Can your children tell that you would gladly die for Christ if called upon by Him to do so? Have the courage to ask your kids if you model Christ as first? Can they see your passion for Him in your commitment to His Bride, the Church? Ask them how they’d answer this question: what is your passionate commitment? If Christ is not the answer, you need to repent. If you want your kids to marry a committed, humble, truth-driven, Christ-loving Christian, you’d better be one now.
Turn to 2 Corinthians 6. Even if your parents are not Godly, Paul not only says marry only in the Lord, but he says, don’t be bound to an unbeliever in any way. Yes, share Christ with them, love them, serve them but don’t partner with, join, or marry them. Second Corinthians 6:14–18 (NAS) says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of God, and they shall be My people. 17 ‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Singles, missionary dating is a bad idea. Dating, courting, going out with a non-Christian lacks wisdom and borders on disobedience. If there is even a question as to their salvation, wait for them to be proven, which means fruit plus time. Marriage is not a rush job, and true character is only proven over time. If one is unsaved, the relationship can’t go anywhere. If it progresses, you will defraud them, which means you are making an unspoken promise that you can’t Biblically fulfill. Then if you marry them, you’re in flat-out disobedience–you’re not in God’s will. You will not know His favor until you repent–and even if you repent, you will still reap what you sow.
Missionary dating is a flat out denial of eternity–you will spend your entire existence in heaven except for a momentary trip in time on earth. This life is the Christian’s only hell. But the non-believer will spend their entire existence in hell–not having beers with their buddies, but in absolute eternal torment except for their brief existence on earth, which will be their only heaven.
Dating a non-Christian denies the truth that your King is Christ, but their king is Satan. You live for God’s glory, and they live for their own glory. You follow Christ as Lord, and they follow Satan. Dating an unbeliever diminishes the importance of the Gospel as more important than your relationships or your life. Missionary dating contradicts Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NAS), “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” And dating a non-Christian denies the fact that they are dead–spiritually dead–you are dating the dead, making out with a zombie, flirting with a corpse. When you grab their hand, it comes off (not true)–but you’re alive to Christ, and they are dead to Christ.
Listen, say this to that non-Christian guy or gal that likes you . . . or that marginal, maybe-not-grounded, sort of, so-called Christian that you like, or that likes you—say, “I do care about you–in fact so much, I won’t date you until, or because I want you to know Christ, and prove to be a spiritual leader. So come to my church, hang out with Christians of the same sex, and get to know Christ. If they don’t do it, then they are really only after you, and not pursuing Christ first above-all, hate father/mother/own life.
B For the married, remain as you are
Turn to 1 Corinthians 7:12. If you disobey Christ and marry an unbeliever, or you wake up one day married to an unbeliever, or you get saved and now are married to an unbeliever, God says remain as you are, don’t leave them, but seek to honor Christ by remaining in that marriage to win your spouse and your children to Christ. Turn to 1 Corinthians 7. God says unless they send you away because your loving, gracious, humble salvation in Christ is so-o-o offensive to them, then stay in that marriage. The believing wife has the responsibility to stay with her unbelieving husband. If he wants to maintain the union, she must not divorce Him–notice verses 12-13.
First Corinthians 7:12–17 (NAS) says, “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.” Paul goes on to say the unsaved spouse benefits from the divine blessings the saved spouse receives from the Lord. “14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” However, if an unbelieving husband does not want to stay with his believing wife, she does not need to force him to remain in their marriage, because such an attempt may produce nothing but turmoil, and believers are called to peace. “15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” When the bond of marriage is broken under such conditions, the believer is free to remarry, as in the case of death, but only in the Lord. “16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.”
Paul says, stay in that unequally yoked marriage–and back to 1 Peter, Peter says remain in your marriage wives and fire up your mission. First Peter 3:1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” Both Peter and Paul are absolute–the Christian wife must remain as she is with her heathen husband unless he sends her away, and only because of her gracious, loving, tender, sweet witness of Christ.
But wait a minute–this is an unequally yoked relationship–it will lose its saltiness. Bad company corrupts good morals–no Christian is strong enough to be bound to a non-Christian. He will want to sleep in on Sunday and tell her to stay home–and she will want desperately to go to church on Sunday . . . and she’s commanded to go to church by God in Hebrews 10:24. He will want his wife to watch pornography with him–and she will want to keep her eyes pure. He will want her to lie to others about money, their time, what they do–and she is commanded to tell the truth.
As a Roman, honoring the gods of the household brings blessing, but ignoring them brings judgment–so this unsaved husband will demand that his saved wife honor the gods of that household and not Christ. This is a tough situation, so what’s a believing wife to do? Jesus, through Peter, gives the Christian wife this simple truth. Be a great wife to your unsaved husband. In fact, apart from sin, become the woman to your husband that every man dreams about. In other words, be a silent preacher–actions speak louder than words. Through the loveliness of your behavior, have him rethink his beliefs. Through the beauty of your conduct, have him notice Christ. Through the fragrance of your manners, let him see your Master.
Many wives develop conditional love without even knowing it. They say, “I will be the kind of wife I should be, if he becomes the kind of husband he should be.” But God says different. God doesn’t let the woman off the hook–even if she is married to a beast. What does God expect? First Peter 3:1 says, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.”
In the same way Christ was submissive to suffering, in verses 21-25, “in the same way,” you wives be submissive to your own husbands. You’re to rank yourself under your husband–you’re to follow his lead, you’re to trust God to lead through him. Not a spineless submission, but a voluntary selflessness, a sacrificing self-denial, a joyful death to self–it is a submission which is based upon the death of pride and the desire to serve. It’s submission not of fear, but from perfect love. Too many misunderstand submission–here are three truths.
1 Submission is not merely for Christian wives
Submission is to be seen in men at their workplace, children to parents, members to elders, young men to older men, and all believers to civic authority.
2 Submission doesn’t mean wives or women in general are inferior
No, submission to authority is consistent with equality, importance, dignity and honor–it’s not an issue of lesser/greater. Jesus subjected Himself to both his parents. The Holy Spirit and Christ submit themselves to God the Father. And in chapter 2, all Christians are to submit themselves to the civil authorities.
The Bible clearly teaches men and women are equal in their standing before Christ–Galatians 3:28 (NAS) says, “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.” And Peter makes certain men and women know that his command for wives to submit to their husbands does not imply inferiority, sub-spirituality, or a lesser importance. Peter affirms the opposite in verse 7, calling wives joint heirs of the grace of life.
Sadly, there are Christian couples who practice a submission that doesn’t honor wives in joint heir status, totally ignoring the oneness every Christian couple was created to enjoy. So instead of being one heart one mind, enjoying conversations, discussion, and dialogue with her husband, who is still fully responsible for final decisions–some husbands rarely involve their wives in any decision–it’s merely, “Do what I say, submit.”
This is the lead dancer who yanks his partner around the room. This is not what the Scripture teaches, and . . .
3 Submission doesn’t mean you wives give into the sinful demands of your husband
The Bible makes it clear in Acts 5:29 (NAS), “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” A Christian wife must humbly, graciously, quietly obey God first over her husband, but she does obey her husband in everything but sin. Submission means you rank yourself under your own husband as God’s appointed authority in your life, and follow His lead, honoring and respecting him as the final say in all decisions.
Women tend to worry about the consequences of their husbands’ decisions–but that is the time to encourage yourself with the truth that God is Sovereign. So when a husband makes a wrong decision, God’s will is still being accomplished, since God is still working all things together for good. So when Peter says in verse 1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands,” he’s literally telling wives to arrange yourself under your husband, to subordinate, to yield to his admonition or advice.
Submission–the Greek word hupotasso–is used 40 times in the New Testament in reference to family, civic, church authority and to God Himself. Remember submission is an attribute of God, and we bring Him glory when we reflect his character of submission to authority. Even though submission is disdained on campus, it is a delight to God. Submission is seen as weak by people, but is truly worship of Christ.
Submission to your husband flows out of your submission to Christ. You can’t submit on your own–you’re not able, and most are not willing to. Now some of us husbands are so easy to submit to. But for others of you, it is very difficult (that’s not true).
Since our fall into sin as a race, all of Eve’s daughters have rebelled against submission–part of it is judgment, and part of it is our fallen sinful corrupt nature that wants to rebel. In Genesis 3:16, when Adam and Eve fell into sin and God judged them, God decreed to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
The word “desire” indicates Eve, and now all wives, will automatically in their own flesh want to dominate Adam. The Hebrew word “desire” is used just one chapter later in Genesis 4:7, where sin desires to master over Cain. The picture is of a desire to dominate, which will either conquer you or be conquered. In other words, the battle of the sexes came from the fall into sin. And the judgment is not that women have to submit to their husband–no, that was her created role as a helper. No, the Bible tells us since the fall we will have struggles with a husband’s headship and a wife’s submission–self-will, fear, distrust, and mainly pride will all cause husbands and wives to grapple.
James 4:6-7 says (NAS), “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” All women are filled with pride. All believe their way is best—they are united in their distrust of God’s love, wisdom and control–which causes women to distrust their flawed husband, even though God says the husband is her authority to submit to and follow.
God must empower each wife in order for her to fulfill her role. But God won’t empower her until a wife submits to Christ first. In order to submit, it requires that we first turn from our sin to Christ in repentance and faith, submitting to Him as King. We must say to Christ, You are all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful, and your ways alone are right, and all other ways are wrong.
We must view ourselves as sinners who deserve God’s wrath, and see God who is sinless, yet so loving that He took God’s wrath for our sin upon Himself by dying on the cross, taking our punishment. So as we submit to His work on our behalf, exchanging all that we are for all that He is, God takes our sin upon Himself and He gives us His righteousness justifying us. He also transforms us internally, so we now have the ability to submit, and we have a new heart that wants to.
When you submit to Christ, you will submit to your husband, because Christ leads you wives through your husband as your head. Christ is the one who protects, provides and satisfies you, and it is He who stands behind your husband as you bow your will before your husband’s. Submission is an inner quality that affirms the leadership of a husband. God made men to lead, and a wife is to follow his authority. And this authority is not mutual. Yes, you are equal before Christ, equal in character, equal in blessing, equal as sinners, but different in function. Like two great equally good actors in a play, one takes the lead, the author takes the supporting role, but neither upstage the other, because it’d ruin the performance and the entire play.
And as Peter writes these Christians who are in a hostile place, He wants to make certain that those who are in the most vulnerable position, as citizens, slaves and women married to unbelievers know what God’s heart is toward them. What does God expect? Look at the middle phrase of verse 1, “so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word”–God expects the unequally yoked wives to be . . .
#1 Pursuing God’s purpose for submission
Again in the middle of verse 1, every word is God-breathed–Peter says, “so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word.” So that, the Greek word hina, indicates purpose–so that, the purpose being, if any of them are disobedient.
We’ve already learned God calls wives to submit themselves to their own husbands–but for what purpose? First purpose is to bring God glory by putting God’s submission (the authority submission and oneness) within the Trinity on display in your marriage. Submissive ladies can say, “I desire to glorify you Lord, not focus on my fears, or hurts, or pains, but only You, Lord.”
Peter already gave us a second purpose in this context, in that submission follows Christ’s example described in verses 21-25 of chapter 2, where Christ submitted to unrighteous suffering without grumbling, without retaliating, without threatening and without doubting. Submissive women who are under the weight of difficult circumstances can say, “I want to follow your example Lord.”
And here in the middle of verse 1, Peter gives a third purpose for submission and that is to evangelize your unsaved husband. Unequally yoked submissive wives can say, “More than anything, I want my husband to know you, Christ–this is why I submit.”
The phrase “so that” is God telling Christian wives that your submission to your unsaved husband in your heart and in every area of life but sin has a purpose– to win your husband to Christ. Peter is not giving a guarantee that if she submits her man will come to faith in Christ–but if she is to be an agent in bringing him to repentance in Christ, then it will be first through submission, then the behavior of the wife. Heart-driven, fully-willing, spirit-empowered, moment-by-moment submission has purpose. God’s heart for unequally yoked wives is . . .
#2 Don’t be making excuses for the lack of submission
Notice the phrase—“even if any of them are disobedient to the word.” The Bible is repeatedly clear about the role of a Christian wife in submission to her Christian husband.
Ephesians 5:22 (NAS) “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
Colossians 3:18 (NAS) “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Titus 2:5 (NAS) “to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
The role of the Christian wife is submission–but wives of every age might be tempted to excuse themselves from submission if they found themselves married to a non-Christian husband. So God is very pointed through Peter here. Even if any of them, some of them, literally one of them is disobedient to the Word–then submit to your husband.
How do we know Peter is describing a non-Christian husband here, and not merely a disobedient Christian husband with the phrase “are disobedient to the word”? There are several proofs–some are technical.
1 The verb “disobey” is in a mood which states a fact–the husband’s disobedience is a reality–a fact.
2 The verb “disobey” is present tense, meaning it is ongoing disobedience, disobedience that characterizes the husband’s life. The pattern of this man’s life is disobedience to the Word of God.
3 The verb “disobey” is an active voice, meaning the husband is not being forced to disobey, he is choosing to disobey. He is not forced to steal bread to feed his family, this man is disobedient because he wants to be disobedient.
4 There are only two verbs in verse 1–they are “disobeying” and “will be won”, and they are set in contrast to each other–the goal is to “win” the disobedient husband. That would not be true if Peter were describing a believing husband.
5 The way Peter uses the word “disobey” (one of his favorite words in 1 Peter) shows us it’s used to describe a person who is unsaved.
1 Peter 2:8b (NAS) “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”
1 Peter 3:20 (NAS) “who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.”
1 Peter 4:17 (NAS) “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Each time “disobedient” is used in the letter, it is describing the unsaved–a non-Christian, the unbelieving or rebellious. God’s purpose is for Christian wives to submit, even if her husband is actively opposed to Christ, living a disobedient life–she is to submit to her own husband in all ways except to sin. From the heart, like Christ, for God’s glory, filling out her role as a wife and a woman of God, she is to submit–like Christ who submitted to non-Christians in suffering vv. 21-25, all Christian women are to submit to their husbands, even if He is disobedient to God’s Word and rejects the Gospel of grace.
So what exactly is it going to take to win a non-Christian husband? For the answer to that, you have to come back next week.
First All genuine Christians maintain a pattern of obedience
1 John 2:4 (NAS) “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’” If you are a genuine Christian, you are not perfect, you sin every day, you struggle with temptation, but you also walk in obedience. Are you walking in obedience? Are you a genuine Christian? Are you?
Second Continual disobedience to any known New Testament command by a believer is a serious concern
It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as complaining or continual unnecessary comments, or the lack of giving or service, or failure to attend church faithfully, or dealing with your anger–any on-going, unrepentant, continual sin in the life of a person who claims to be a Christian is a warning they are headed for a divine spanking, or they are self-deceived and are not saved at all. Are you?
Third Singles decide what is on your non-negotiable list
My negotiable: list, hair color, height, age, race, lips, piercings, tats, music, background, family, backpacking experience . . . and more. My non-negotiable list: loved Jesus more than any of her peers, obeyed the Word of God as the final authority, served Christ in the church faithfully for a long time, had amazing eyes and was attractive to me.
Figure out what is on your non-negotiable list, and if loving Christ more than you, following His Word no matter what, and faithful long service to His Church is not on that list, you are ignoring what God’s Word has just taught us and taking a huge risk. The second most important decision of your life must not be taken lightly or quickly or emotionally.
Fourth Submission in difficult conditions demonstrates your heart
Pouting, sulking, scheming, bargaining, nagging, preaching, coercing, and humiliating simply means you are not trusting God to change your husband, saved or unsaved. Peter says you wives are responsible for you, not for your husband. Your husband is God’s job. You trust the Lord through a heart of submission. This is the position of faith, trust and love. Like two pilots, a pilot and a co-pilot, both are necessary to fly the plane, but both have different functions to fulfill, so both the husband and the wife have different functions to fulfill in a marriage.
Submission is not spineless, cringing, based on fear–true submission is a voluntary unselfishness, along with a willing and cooperative spirit that seeks the highest good of her husband. Is that you?
Fifth Submission does not come naturally, only supernaturally
You have to be raised from the dead to submit
You are blind, and need to have sight
You are powerless, and must be empowered within
You are too sinful, and must be washed and cleansed internally
You are too guilty, and must be completely forgiven
You are too empty, and must be made full
And none of that comes until you turn to Christ, depending on His death on the cross as a punishment for your sinfulness, and change directions from following yourself or religions or another person to follow only Christ and His Word in repentance. You can’t submit, obey, please God, enjoy oneness, experience the grace of life in marriage without Jesus Christ–turn to Him today. You can’t truly submit to anyone until you submit to Christ.