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Two Crucial Behaviors of a Godly Wife
1 Peter 3:2–The behavior God emphasizes for Christian wives,
especially of unbelieving husbands
What are the two most sought-after behaviors in women, by every man alive? Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 3:2, and follow along in your outline as Peter emphasizes two crucial behaviors for all Christian wives. Two essential lifestyle actions that make the most impact—period . . . two central behavioral priorities . . . two necessary activities of wives.
Do you see them? Start reading at verse 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.” Notice now these two atomic actions, verse 2, “as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” The ESV is very similar, “when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Peter writes to a group of Christians most likely kicked out of Rome for being faithful witnesses of Christ and sent to a frontier region of the Black Sea. They are starting over, under suspicion and facing persecution. Peter reminds them to stand firm in their tough circumstances in chapter 1 by remembering their salvation, keeping in mind all that God did for them through the sacrifice of Christ for their sins.
Then He calls them to stand firm in these difficult times through submission to the very government that punished them, for slaves to submit to difficult masters, and now for wives to submit, even if their husbands are still lost without Christ. The motivation for this submission of wives is in verses 21-25, where Peter describes a sinless Christ submitting to sinful man. And the example Peter gives Christian wives to follow is a Savior, who in the midst of submitting to unjust suffering didn’t complain, defend himself, verbally attack back, or manipulate–but it says in 1 Peter 2:23 (NAS), “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
In light of Christ’s amazing example, Peter calls Christian wives to do four major things in verse 1–look closely, “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.” Godly wives glorify God and honor Christ by imitating the trinity–they do this by being one with their husbands like the Father is one with Christ. But also like Christ submitted to the Father as head, so godly wives submit to their husband’s headship. Godly marriages display both oneness and authority/submission. In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands.
#1 Submit to your own husbands–like Christ submitted, so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word.
#2 Submit, so that even if your husband is in rebellion to God, they may be won.
#3 Continue hoping for your husband’s salvation, without a word, by the behavior of their wives.
#4 Using your actions over your words.
But what actions–what behavior are you talking about Peter? Along with a wife submitting to her husband’s leadership, what behavior will God use to crack through the hard heart of a lost husband, and to really minister to all husbands? What two behaviors are imperative for the Godly woman to master?
Verse 2 says (NAS), “As they observe your chaste and respectful behavior,” or (ESV) “when they see your respectful and pure conduct,”–purity and respect. Godly wives have learned the secret of purity and respect. But before you jump to conclusions, God through Peter gives us . . .
#1 Two clarifying conditions for a wife’s actions
God wants to make certain you don’t rewrite, reinterpret or skip over His expectations for a Godly wife towards her husband, whether he is saved or unsaved–so look closely at verse 2. It says, (NAS) “as they observe,” or in (ESV) “when they see,” telling us that . . .
First The wife’s actions are observable
In order to be a tool for God to use to reach an unsaved husband, and for any wife to be a Godly wife, her activities toward her mate are to be obvious, seen, perceived and noticed. And you ladies know just how difficult that is for most men. I don’t know why, but men don’t notice things–at least I don’t. I can ask Jean, “Honey, where is my visor?” She’ll say, “Look on the top shelf,” and I will look and I just don’t see it. She comes in, looks at the top shelf and there it is–it magically appeared. It is now to the point where I will say, “I looked for it, Honey, but it was ‘a man look’”–which admittedly is inferior to a woman look.
Most men don’t remember important dates, don’t notice new haircuts, or new clothes–we are terrible observers. That is why a woman needs to work extra hard to make certain that her husband sees her behavior–these actions are to be seen.
The word observe or see in verse 2 is also used by Peter in 1 Peter 2:12 (NAS), “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” And in 2 Peter 1:16 (NAS), “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
To observe is to see, to actually be an eyewitness–to see firsthand. The Greek word observe is also used to describe someone who sees with contemplation. It is pointing to such unique behavior that it might cause a person to think, and then ask, “Why?” The goal of the observation is for a husband to ask, in a positive manner, why does she act this way? What would motivate such actions? The answer the wife is hoping and praying for is Christ.
The Greek word observe also contains the idea of a supervisor, literally meaning to oversee. It’s as if the wife is an employee and her husband is an employer who oversees her work as her supervisor. Therefore, the wife works really hard to try to please her husband, as if he were the boss she works for. And observe also comes with the idea of ongoing action–the wife is consistently and faithfully demonstrating key behavior.
Peter is grounded in reality not fantasy–this is not a wife who imagines herself to be Godly, or pretends to be Godly, she proves she is Godly by her faithful actions, which highlights the second clarifying condition from verse 2.
Second The wife’s actions are practiced behaviors
This is not a woman who see’s herself as a pure person or one who thinks of herself as respecting her husband. This is not a woman who intends to take care of her husband, or merely desires to respect him–she does it. This is not a woman who is merely known for talking and praying, but a woman who is known for serving and obeying. This is not a woman who is merely pure in heart and respectful in character, this is a woman of action.
Again, look at verse 2 (NAS), “as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior,” or (ESV), “when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Peter is direct and clear–God is speaking about a wife’s behavior, conduct, actions, lifestyle and physical choices–these are things that are done, not merely hoped for or desired.
Peter just said in verse 1, “by the behavior of their wives.” Then to make certain we don’t miss it, he repeats the same word in verse 2, “As they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” The Greek word “behavior” comes from a word that originally meant to move about–the idea is to watch someone’s movements. It’s watching them behave in a way that causes curiosity as to why they behave in that way.
The Greek word behavior has an attention feel to it. It’s behavior that causes someone to pay attention. This is how Peter uses the word throughout his letter, just like he does in 1 Peter 2:12 (NAS), “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Generally this is what Jesus meant when He said in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:16 (NAS), “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
God wants a wife’s conduct to point to Christ. And Peter is telling you wives in verses 1 and 2, minimize the witness of your words, and maximize the witness of your ways. God says in verse 2 that actions speak louder than words. And these ongoing lifestyle actions are a powerful witness to an unsaved spouse. Plus these actions have a powerful impact on saved husbands–so powerful that if you wives mastered these, your husband would consider you the most incredible woman of God on the planet. I am not exaggerating–so, what are they?
#2 Two crucial behaviors of the Godly wife
(NAS) “As they observe your chaste and respectful behavior”
(ESV) “When they see your respectful and pure conduct”
Respect and purity–purity and respect . . . here’s a surprise. These two behaviors are leading complaints of Christian husbands in marital counseling with Christian wives. These behaviors are what men are crying out for, but not seeing. And God who made men and women—God who designed marriage knows exactly what you males and females need and how to make a marriage work the way He designed.
So for a marriage to work for a man, and for a wife to be used as a tool to see her husband turn to Christ, she needs to demonstrate purity and respect. This is essential, but not easy—why? These two behaviors do not come naturally, they only come supernaturally. They require a heart that wants to please Christ, and a life that is lived in complete dependence every day. These behaviors are lacking because other priorities have gotten in the way–the husband buries himself in work, and the wife retreats to her children. Life gets hard, and the older you grow the more tired you become.
Purity and respect are wanting in many marriages because it’s really difficult to show respect to a man you know too well–you know his motives, you see his sin and you know his weaknesses. You’re supposed to be romantic with that guy? You are supposed to respect a man like that? Can’t be done! But God says, “Yes, you can.” Just like a husband is commanded to show you unconditional love, you wives are to show unconditional respect. And God says you also can be pure. What observed behavior is Peter calling for?
Hey, I can do that–I can be pure, meaning innocent and blameless, like how the word purity is sometimes used in the New Testament. But not this time–that is not how purity is used in this context. In verse 2, purity means morally upright, chaste, in heart and action, being a “one man” woman. Purity is unmixed devotion.
The Greek word “purity” is referring to physical intimacy and giving yourself uniquely to one man–your husband. Is that you? Turn over to 1 Corinthians 7 and let’s see. Peter is describing behavior–pure behavior, untainted actions, not merely what you avoid, but mainly what you do. And God’s plan for singles and marrieds is totally opposite when it comes to the purity of physical intimacy. Let’s look at both in 1 Corinthians 7.
1 Before marriage—never
I am a fan of long courtships–to really get to know each other, and short engagements–to prevent compromise. In a relationship, the Bible teaches you to keep the physical expression in a dating couple to an absolute minimum, or even non-existent. Now before you tune me out–hear what God says—listen. Why should singles keep physical expression to a minimum, or not at all?
A God’s warnings against sex sin are very strong
God says 27 times in the New Testament that sex before marriage is sin, so intercourse is out, and Proverbs 5 says petting is for marriage, so that’s out. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4, God will express vengeance against those who commit premarital sex. God warns in 1 Corinthians 6 that sexual sin is a sin against your own body. And Proverbs 6 says sex sin marks you–God is warning you to stay away.
B It is good for a man not to touch a woman
First Corinthians 7:1–5 (NAS) says this, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” God says it is good for a single man not to touch women. What is God’s standard then? If intercourse and petting are out, then is everything up to that point okay? What does Paul mean when He says not to touch a woman? Does that mean you can’t hold hands? Or touch at all? Some of you are touching now. Should we institute the one-Bible-length apart rule?
The word “touch” is used four times in the Scripture–twice in Genesis, once in Ruth 2, and once in Proverbs 6, and in each case the word “touch” means:
•to touch a woman in such a way as to stir up sensual desires
•to touch a woman in such a way as to turn her on
•to touch a woman in such a way as to prepare for intimacy
Paul is telling us it’s good to be single, but never (as a single) to sexually turn on anyone. Don’t give lust an opportunity. What is God’s standard in the Word of God? Sexual intimacy outside of marriage, before marriage, other than your spouse–never. Now, what does that mean? Does that mean we can’t hold hands? . . . maybe. Can’t kiss? . . . if you stir up desires, no. Can’t hug? . . . it depends.
Now why did God give such a strict rule? It’s not strict, it’s a heart rule because everyone is different. If God gave us a line, we’d run right up to that line immediately, no matter what the situation. You’ve heard me share this before–imagine if God’s line was drawn at hugs. In other words, God said hugs are okay, but everything beyond that was bad. Then the Lord would have to spell out . . . how long a hug? The two-second hug is more spiritual than the ten-second . . . which angle of hug? The side hug is more spiritual than the front hug, but the super-spiritual give only back hugs. Which parts can we hug–never the front, just the shoulders, but the super-spiritual only hug the head–noogies are spiritual. And of course we’d want to know how tight a hug? The flower hug is more acceptable than the jaws-of-death hug.
Instead of spelling out that kind of externalism, God wisely says, “Singles, you can touch, (no fornication, no petting)–you can touch as long as there is no lust in the heart, no motor running, no turn-on.” God’s design is not to fire-up your passions prior to marriage for obvious reasons.
C God says flee youthful desires
Second Timothy 2:22 (NAS) says, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” First Corinthians 6:18 (NAS) says, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” Literally, God says run from your strong emotions and physical passions.
We are funny–we think God says talk about your passions, it’s okay, everyone stumbles in this area, just pray about it. No! God says flee, literally run in terror like you’re being chased by a bear who wants to kill you–run for your life. Why? Because you can’t handle it. If you don’t flee, you will fall–it’s too strong for you. Hey, God designed you–He knows what’s best.
Singles are to limit affection until married and run from lust. That means you stay away from any person, any circumstance and any place where you might compromise. When you’re alone at home, with the fireplace on, in the dark, late at night, laying next to each other under a blanket–you’re NOT fleeing.
D God expects singles to treat the opposite sex like family
First Timothy 5:1–2 (NAS) says, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Unless you are mentally sick or perverse, you’d never consider making out with your sister. Would you? Until that gal says I do, she’s not yours, she belongs to God. That gal’s father is the Sovereign King of the universe. She may have a permissive or indifferent earthly father, but her Heavenly Father is not permissive and not indifferent, and He is always watching and considers her His child. Do not mess with His daughter.
l was talking to a friend in a church parking lot, and a lady with two kids said, “Hi!” from a hundred yards away, and my friend groaned. I said, “What’s the groan for?” He said, “Before she was married, we went out and went too far physically. Now I always feel ashamed every time I see her.” That is not God’s plan for you. Listen, until she is yours, she belongs to Christ, and she belongs to her future spouse, not you–that goes for you gals as well.
E You can more than make up for lost time later
We have couples here who didn’t kiss until their wedding day–other couples waited to kiss at their engagement. These are normal men and women with strong passions, but a deep trust in God. I guarantee you, they have no regrets for waiting, and I assure you, now that they’re married, they’ve made up for lost time.
Are you craving romance? Here’s your answer–find the Godliest man or woman around, limit your affections till your wedding night, then study Song of Solomon together and watch out. God is the author of passion and romance–He designed it for marriage.
1 Before marriage–NEVER
2 After marriage—ALWAYS
A well-known pastor’s wife was on a panel of pastors’ wives at a large conference and was asked before a huge group of ladies, “After all these years, what have you learned that encourages your husband most?” All the ladies on the panel answered eloquently, but after trying to imagine what her husband would honestly say, she worked up the courage to blurt out, “Make love to him.” Every wife laughed, because they knew it was true.
The world says the only people who are passionate and enjoy physical intimacy are those who aren’t married. And the world says intimacy in marriage is dull and routine. But God says just the opposite–God invented intimacy between a husband and a wife in marriage for the enjoyment, intimacy, union, procreation and celebration of that couple. God made men and women as sexual creatures. God didn’t blush, wince or cringe when Adam and Eve were intimate, and God still doesn’t today with any believing married couple.
Jesus Christ designed the intimacy between husband and wife. And God designed love, physical intimacy and romance to flourish in marriage. And to prove that, just read the Song of Solomon. In just eight chapters, God demonstrates that He designed the physical relationship between a husband and wife to be filled with uninhibited passion and exhilarating delight. Only sin has messed up God’s design and our thinking on this issue, just like it messed up the Corinthians. Because the Christians in Corinth lived in such a perverse culture where sex was really distorted, they knew that sex outside marriage was sin, but some in the Church started thinking that sex inside marriage was also sin. So Paul says “No, after marriage always.”
Look back at I Corinthians 7 now, verse 2-5, “But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Four times in this passage God commands physical intimacy between a husband and a wife–four times. What is God saying? Take care of your spouse physically, stop making excuses, stop putting it off, stop stretching the seasons between intimacy further and further–purity in marriage is faithful intimacy . . . never demanding, never forceful, never without mutual agreement, but always.
Peter said in 1 Peter 3:1 to submit to your own husband–he’s your husband, he belongs to you, he’s your private possession. Purity for the married woman means there is no other in heart, mind and body–so it was not the wedding ceremony, the rings or the special gifts you gave to each other. You gave yourself, your body, to your spouse—and you can’t take it back or cut the hours or go on a diet in this area.
Many honest Christian men will say they’re on a starvation diet in this area. Yet you’re not a pure wife unless intimacy with your husband is a priority. And if you have an unsaved husband, this is an area in marriage where you can get his attention for Christ in a major way. Carolyn Mahaney, in Feminine Appeal says this to married women–“Our quest for purity inextricably involves the ardent pursuit of an exciting sexual relationship with our husbands.”
And here are three A-B-C helpful principles from the Song of Solomon to make purity an impactful behavior in marriage. Turn to Song of Solomon 7.
A Be Attractive–in Song of Solomon 7:1-6, Solomon was super-attracted to his wife–he describes all her loveliness, then says in verse 6, “How beautiful and pleasant you are Oh loved one with all your charms.” Wives need to discover what makes you attractive to your husband–what clothing, hairstyle or make-up do they find most appealing? Don’t overdo it. Peter will give us some cautions as he continues in these verses, but don’t stop caring how you look, just because you’re now married and have kids.
B Be Available–turn to Song of Solomon 6:3. Solomon and his bride understood availability, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Your body is your spouse’s possession–you are to give yourself without qualification, and not withhold the pleasure of intimacy. The only exception is for a mutually agreed upon season of prayer. You say, “I am just too tired.” Then take a nap. “I can’t do everything,” then do less. “I can’t make dinner and make love,” then make peanut butter sandwiches and make love to your husband–he’ll be happy. Plus, if your husband is unsaved, you’ll be glorifying God by obeying these verses.
C Be Anticipatory–wives, the most important part of intimacy for you is your brain, what you dwell on. In Song of Solomon 5:10-16, the wife actually muses in advance. She rightly dwells on intimacy with her husband, and after this long paragraph of musing, she declares he is altogether desirable. When you were engaged, your desire for intimacy was strong, mainly because of anticipation. And that is still needed in marriage–mental anticipation. The wife in Song of Solomon grew in passion as she mused about being with her husband physically.
You see, purity is uncontaminated one man/one woman devotion–to only one man, your husband. You don’t allow your heart and mind to focus on romance novels, movie stars, super-heroes, but a singular devotion toward your husband, which is proven through intimacy. Intimacy is a gift from God, and it is a command from God in Christian marriage–outside of marriage, never . . . but inside of marriage, always–for your own husband. That is why purity is a behavior that brings God glory, and has a powerful impact upon your husband, saved or unsaved. The other behavior Peter focuses on in verse 2 is . . .
(NAS) “As they observe your chaste and respectful behavior,” and (ESV) “when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Respect is also what Paul called for at the end of Ephesians 5, as he wraps up describing marriage as a strong way to point to Christ. Ephesians5:33 says, “Let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”
And in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, “respect” doesn’t mean everything your husband does is respectful, but it does mean your husband is your God-appointed authority. He is the Lord’s appointed leader in your life. Jesus put Him in charge. Therefore, respect him. The word respect is literally “fear”, and is used 93 times in the New Testament; “fear” 62 times, “be afraid” 23 times, “be afraid of” 5 times, and 3 other times.
Here it means “to think of a person as being important,” or “to see a person as being great” or “regarding a person as deserving to be honored.” How about that, wives? “Fear” is a kind of awe–like the kind of respect that Sarah gave to Abraham in 1 Peter 3:6, “Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” Wife, you are to have a reverential respect for your husband’s position as head of the home.
I know we’re far from this in our culture, but this is what God calls wives to do, not just think about–and if you haven’t learned this yet, get it down today, wives. Most men would rather be respected than loved. They are not like you. Ephesians 5:33 makes it clear, just as women have a deep created need to be loved, men have a deep created need to be respected. There is nothing more difficult for a husband than to love his wife when she is unlovely, and there is nothing more difficult for a wife than to respect her husband when he is disrespectable–but this is what God commands us to do. That is why we must depend on the Spirit. You are to give your husband unconditional respect.
You are not respecting your husband if you continue to bring his name up for prayer, point out all his weak points, contradict him publicly, criticize him publicly, correct him publicly, interrupt him to correct his story–who cares if it was a red car and not a blue car? It is his story, the details are not the issue–he is telling the story. You show little respect by constantly wishing you had more than what you have—every time you manifest discontent, it is an insult to him as a provider–comparing him to others, nagging him or arguing with him.
If a wife continues to argue, fight, nag or contend with her Christian husband, he can’t win, and this frustrates the man. It robs him of his masculinity because if he takes it from his wife, he is a coward–and if he fights back, he’s emotionally abusive . . . he can’t win.
This is why some men leave, don’t come home, get drunk, become silent, get busy with hobbies, watch porno or get angry. They’re frustrated out of their minds by a contentious, nagging, quarrelsome or withholding wife. A Christian husband can’t blame his wife, but this is how some women make it tough for their husbands. Do you see how this creates a vicious cycle that must be broken?
She doesn’t respect him, so he won’t love her, and he won’t love her, so she won’t respect him. And there is only one way to get out of the cruel cycle—for the husband to be the spiritual head and initiate genuine, sacrificial love toward his wife, and for the wife to have the spiritual courage to depend upon the Lord to give herself to these two crucial behaviors.
Wives, if you want to honor Christ and taste the blessings of a Biblical marriage, then respect your husband until he is respectable. If a Christian husband does not have the respect of his Christian wife, then he feels like a failure in every area. You know it’s true–you see it in the men you know.
You can say complimentary things to a man, and he will believe them, even though he shouldn’t . . . “You’re not fat, your just stocky”–big boned. “You’re not weird, you’re just creative, you do things differently, your artsy.” When a guy opens that jar his wife can’t open, or lifts that object she can’t lift, at that moment he feels like a Greek god. Men are simple creatures, and compliments go a long way. You say, “He’ll never believe that”–yes he will, especially when you’re sincere.
What are some areas respect should be given? Respect his hard work and efforts in the home . . . his efforts to provide and to protect the family . . . his attempts at leadership and serving . . . his desire to give sound counsel and be understanding . . . the ways he tries to be a friend to you and father the kids. And respect his passion to be intimate with you.
Husbands, you can make your wife’s job easier by being respectable. Give her something to talk about. “My husband, he loves the Lord, loves His Word, takes me out, he fathers the kids, he takes care of the yard, he brings me flowers, rubs my feet, talks with me, works hard, plans vacations”–give her something.
You ask some wives, “Tell me about your husband,” . . . “Mmmmm–he’s a male, has to shave a lot, he burps, watches football.” Give her something to work with, guys. But regardless, wives, embrace this reality–just as your husband must love you unconditionally, you wives must respect your husband unconditionally.
“Let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”
“As they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”