The Beauty and Behavior of a Godly Woman

Wives, here we go. I think the assumption here in 1 Peter 3:1–6 is that the husband’s an unbeliever. Somebody might say, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,” might simply mean a believing husband who’s disobedient (1 Peter 3:1).

I don’t think so, but it would certainly apply in those situations because this phrase, “Obey the word,” has at least two other situations. It’s “obey the truth,” in 1 Peter 1:22, I think. We said how the heart is purified because it was the truth is the gospel. And in 1 Peter 4:17, it talks about the believers and those who do not obey the gospel.

So you get those three instances: obey word, obey truth, obey gospel. I think they all mean the same thing and refer to faith. I think this is an unbelieving husband and some of you in this room are in that situation. Or if you’re in a situation where he claims to be a believer but you don’t see any fruit. Principles would be the same here. Let’s read and see what specifics we can learn here.

’Without a Word’

“Wives, be subject.” So now we’ve got be subject to governments, be subject to slave masters, be subject to husbands. So you see the motif. This is simply taking the humility and the deferential bent of the new person in Christ and applying it to a situation, a particular relationship. And in Peter’s mind, there is a unique kind of submission of wives to husbands here.

What is it? What’s it like? Is it demeaning? Is she a doormat? What is it? Let’s let Peter fill up this concept. You may have real positive feelings about that word because your experience. You may have horrible feelings about this idea, and so let’s not let our experience to dominate here.

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won.” That’s another reason that I think it’s unbelief because that language in the New Testament for winning people is usually for salvation. “May be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”

In the context, I don’t think without a word means they can’t talk to each other. That would be naive, wouldn’t it? “They don’t talk to each other ever in this marriage.” I don’t think so. And it can’t mean he doesn’t have a clue what she stands for. He doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in her life and what’s changed about her when she got converted. So somehow that communication happens.

I think “without a word” means “preaching, nagging, reminding word is not going to be the key here.” Something like that. “Without a word by the conduct of their wives.”

A Wife’s Conduct

So it shifts from “word” to “conduct.” Knowing that if the man’s going to be won, it already says back in 1 Peter 1: 23–25, “We are born again through the living abiding word.” This is the gospel which you heard. Nobody is born again without the word. So he’s got to know the word, whether it comes from him, her, or somebody else. That’s got to happen.

And I don’t think he’s forbidding a wife from sharing with her husband what’s happened to her. At the meeting with some friends and she met Jesus and now this relationship is difficult, more difficult. “When they see,” when husbands see — now there’s that word — “respectful” which I already tried to explain “in fear.” “When they see your ‘in fear’ and pure conduct.” So conduct is the dominant issue here. “Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear” (1 Peter 3:3).

What in the world does he bring that up for? He’s talking about submission. He’s talking about a conduct that might win the husband over to Christianity and he introduces jewelry and hairstyles and clothing. Why? Here’s my guess, you test it. My guess is that now as well as then some women might default to, “I could win him if I’m pretty enough. I could win him if I’m sexy enough. I could win him if I’ve stood out from all the other women, then he might want me more and he might want my faith more.” And Peter says, “That won’t work.” He’s just saying, “That strategy will not save sinners.”

He might like you. He might like that sexy dress. Whatever you may try to do, that’s not going to win him to what we’re trying to do here. I think that might be what’s going on here. In other words, he’s trying to say to women, “Don’t go about it the wrong way. Don’t put a premium on your hair and a premium on your complexion and a premium on your figure and a premium on your clothing thinking that’s going to have a spiritual effect on the guy.”

Now, don’t go to the other extreme either. Okay? This word right here, subject, would mean she does take into account his desires. She wants basically to please him. Husbands and wives want to please. We’re going to get to the men in a minute. That’s a big deal with the men. “Live together with your wives according to knowledge” is going to be a big deal. So in others when I say, “Don’t worry about your hair, don’t worry about your figure, don’t worry about your clothes,” I don’t mean frumpy.

Everything in its own place. And for the Christian woman, Madison Avenue and the TV ads and the standards of what women look like when they walk modeling aisles is not your standard. Christ is your standard and that’s where he’s going to go.

Adorning, Hidden Person

First Peter 3:4: “Let your adorning be the hidden person.” I love this. You’re a person. You’re not a body to be gawked at. I was praying the other day, 69 year old males are still males. Okay? Which means we have a bent towards sexual attraction, looking at things we shouldn’t look at or looking too long at what we might look at innocently or whatever.

So I’m long at the airport and my eyes are flashing here and there as people walk by and I’m just whispering to the Lord, “God, help me to see women’s eyes.” And I don’t mean makeup. I mean that’s where the person is. “I want to see people, not bodies. Help me.”

Isn’t that what this is? Know women, men too, but women here, you’re a person, not a body to be decorated. And once that gets straight, then the body will fall into line with appropriate clothing and appropriate makeup and appropriate hair and all the other things that are appropriate. But it’s not your God. It’s not what you’re going live for. Please don’t live for that.

Quiet, Serene, and Tranquil in Spirit

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable.” Same thing with regard to our inheritance. “Imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet.” And if this right here has a negative connotation for you, try the word “serene” or “tranquil.” Like if you say, “Well, we’re supposed to be quiet. Women always have to be quiet. Women aren’t allowed to talk.”

I doubt that in this verse especially that verse was supposed to land on women with painful constraint, but rather beautiful serenity. Like a pond or a lake that is serene, it’s tranquil. Because he’s going to say in just a minute, “Don’t be afraid of anything.” And these are my kind of women he’s describing here. Fearless before American collapse, fearless for your kids, fearless in the face of difficulty at church. Fearless.

These are strong women. You’ll see it. And the strength is coming from inside. The strength is not being built up. If you look at movie stars and whatnot who always, they’re trying to strike a pose with how sexy their clothes are, how sexy their figure is, how sexy their hair is, how sexy everything is. Why do they do that?

Power. That’s why. They know what men fall for or gawk at. It feels powerful. “I get looks. I’m effective in my body. I can do this.” And Peter’s just saying, “Power is good. And I’ll tell you where power resides. Power is in a personhood, in a heart.” Person. Heart. Beauty that is gentle like returning good for evil with mighty resolve not to do any more than Jesus did when he hung on the cross. Quiet, serene, tranquil in spirit, which in God’s sight is very, very precious.

Female Holiness

And then he gives a reason for why he’s saying that kind of strength or that kind of inner demeanor, “For this is how the holy women” (1 Peter 3:5). He’s back to this issue of holiness now. That’s our calling. Men and women. He’s on women. There’s a female holiness. Is that what you’re living for? Holiness. “The holy women.” It’s a beautiful phrase. “The holy women,” where did they get this? “Who hoped in God.” There’s the key right there.

Do you hope in your husband’s approval? Do you hope in your husband’s conversion? Do you hope in men around you liking what they see or do you hope in God? And by that it doesn’t mean you don’t want your husband be converted. You don’t want to have an impression. You don’t want people to look upon you with favor. It means you’ve got priorities here. And God is all.

God is all. “My hope is in God. I’m getting my identity from God. I’m getting my satisfaction from God. I’m getting my hope and my future, my joy from God. And now in that freedom, I’m going to submit to my husband in the earnest prayer and hope that he will come alongside me and I’ll be able to delight in his spiritual leadership.” The holy women hoped in God used to adorn themselves this way, gentle, quiet spirit.

Sarah’s Submission

They “adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands as Sarah” (1 Peter 3:5–6). And he used this controversial word “obeyed.” Obeyed Abraham calling him lord. Let me linger there a minute because there’s something really interesting here. Sarah obeyed Abraham — comma — calling him lord.

Now, if I were writing this and I wanted to illustrate for the women in Cappadocia and Asia what submission looked like in the life of Sarah, I talk about Egypt and Abimelech. You remember that story? We’re going down there and he sees she’s pretty. Abraham’s scared that he might get knocked off so she could belong to the Harem. He says, “Let’s say you’re my sister.” What?

Then they’re going to take her and she did it. Not a word. That’s submission. Why did he use that? That’s incontrovertible submission. She went along with that harebrained idea. He didn’t use that. He says she called him Lords like going back into the Old Testament. Where’d she do that? God, in the form of these person shows up and says, “Sarah’s going to have a baby next year.” And she laughs in her tent and then they criticize her for laughing. You did laugh. Genesis 18:12: “So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’”

That’s the only place she calls him lord in Genesis.

What? Peter, why did you choose that? Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” It’s like, “My lord.” “My lord this.” “My lord that.” I don’t know why, but here’s my guess. Okay? Understand I’m not God here. But I’m guessing that he went back there looking for some kind of illustration that he wanted and he picked this precisely because it was not a big deal, but a default way of talking.

In her default moments, she spoke of him with that kind of respect, maybe. In other words, do you, as a wife, have to work hard to think in terms of, “I want my husband to be the leader in this family and I want to be a good partner and responder and supporter of that leadership and that’s how I want to submit and I got to work at that and it doesn’t come naturally for me”? Or is there a, somebody’s talking with you about your husband — whether you use the word “my lord” that probably in our culture would be a little weird — but you know, you know how you talk with other women especially, either respectfully or not of him.

I had a big counseling issue recently where a husband said, “I just looked on my wife’s private Facebook. I’m linked with her and I saw a conversation show up where she was talking to another woman about me and it was so, so demeaning.” That shouldn’t happen.

Sarah, in her default behind-the-scenes moments, is speaking words that are respectful. It’s just a little thing, little thing in Genesis 18, and I think it’s brought out just to show how natural it was for women who hoped in God, were holy women. She obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

Good Deeds Make Beauty

“And you are her children.” Now it gets even better. “You are her children, if you do good” (1 Peer 3:6). Same thing he’s been saying all along, good deeds, making Christian life beautiful. “If you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” So if any of you women ever feel like the call to be submissive to a husband is a position of weakness, you’re missing the point. This is a fearless woman.

And the need to be fearless when you have an unbelieving husband in that culture might be bigger than your need for fearlessness because I don’t really know my culture well enough to know what his freedoms were, but men are, in their worst moments, mean creatures, cruel and abusive and scary to get married to one of those. So she’s fearless. So she tries to win him “without a word,” keeps her “conduct pure.”

I’m summarizing now from my notes here. She says, “Classy looks is not the way that’s going to work. I want to please God with a tranquil and serene and quiet spirit. I want to hope in God, not hope in marriage, not hope in my husband’s conversion, but hope in God. And out of that deep confident hope in God as my shepherd and my Savior and my Lord, I’m going to submit to my husband. Unless he asked me to sin, who’s got that same qualifiers to do with the government. And I’m going to load the good deeds into my life, so he sees that I don’t live for myself and I’m going to be fearless in it all.”