Examples Of Womanly Beauty (II)

October 7, 2001 / No. 3066

Dear radio friends,

In the past weeks we have been looking at the beauty of the Christian woman. The portrait of true, womanly beauty is displayed in God’s Word at large, and especially in I Peter 3:5 and 6. We hope that these messages have been of benefit and encouragement to you. Perhaps you are one who listens while getting ready for church. Many of our listeners have informed us that they tune in to our program while making those final necessary preparations before they leave for church. Others tell us that they listen during the afternoon hours. One of our stations (WYLL-1120AM, airing in the Chicagoland area) is heard on Saturday afternoons at 3:30. We would certainly like to hear from you. A special welcome to these new listeners. No matter when you listen, we would enjoy hearing from you. Please write to us this week. We will send you a copy of the schedule of our different programs and! stations. Include your questions when you write in. Perhaps you would like to relate to us how these messages have affected you personally. Some of these responses we could, perhaps, read on the broadcast at a later date.

Returning now to our study in I Peter 3, we have seen that the apostle has described for us the beauty of the Christian woman. That beauty, he said, consists not in outward adorning, but in the inward adorning of the heart in a meek and submissive spirit before God. The Word of God is well aware of the saying that is common: A picture is worth a thousand words. So the apostle Peter, after having set forth the principles of true womanly beauty in the sight of God, is not content to leave it at that. But in verses 5 and 6 of I Peter 3, he brings out examples from the Old Testament Scriptures to highlight the teaching. We read: “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” These are the words, then, that we would like to look at specifically today.

Our question is this: Who was Sarah? She was the wife of Abraham, one of the most fascinating of the women in the Old Testament, a woman of many facets, a woman who was tried in her faith and, by God’s grace, a woman whose faith was shown to be strong and to God’s glory. The Bible does not overlook the faults of Sarah. She could be a very pushy woman. If you are acquainted with Old Testament history and the book of Genesis, you will remember that God had made a promise to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. Sarah was barren. She could not have children. For thirteen years they waited, and still they had not received a son. It was then that Sarah came to her husband Abraham and said, “Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.” And Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sara!h. He obeyed his wife’s voice. There was a role-reversal there. He hearkened to her. He should have said, “No, no, Sarah. God will keep His word to us. You will have a child.” But Abraham, along with Sarah at that point, resorted to his own means and strength.

At other times Sarah was a woman who did not stand up when she should have. When Abraham said to her as they journeyed down into Egypt, “I’ll tell Pharaoh that you are my sister,” she went along with that. Abraham was afraid that, because of Sarah’s beauty, Pharaoh would take her and kill him. She should have dug in her heels and said, “Oh, no, Abraham. This is not God’s way. I am your wife and you must tell Pharaoh that I am your wife. We must remember that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him.” But there, in that incident, she did not stand up.

Yet, the Bible focuses on Sarah’s virtues, on God’s grace in her, and on her faith. We learn something here. The saints, as they are shown to us in the Scriptures, are far from perfect. Yet, when God sums up their lives, He sums them up by focusing on the good that He worked in their lives by grace. We read of David: “He wholly followed the Lord his God, except in the matter of Uriah.” We would say, “Only in the matter of Uriah and Bathsheba? The Bible tells us so many faults of David.” But God does not mention them, not at that time. When God sums the life of His saints, He sees His work of grace in them. And God is often more gracious than we are. We may study the life of Sarah and think of her only as the woman who laughed in unbelief when God appeared and said, “Sarah shall have a son,” and then later on denied that she laughed. But God remembers th!e work of grace in her. For I remind you that Sarah is mentioned in the heroes of faith, in Hebrews 11:11: “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age; because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

When God sums the life of His saints,
He sees His work of grace in them.
And God is often more gracious than we are.
In your study of the life of Sarah you might say, “Well, look at her.” And, “look at that.” Yes, she was a woman with faults. But God says, “I see My work of grace in her. And she stands out in the pages of Scripture as a lesson for you to learn, a lesson about the graces that God works within a Christian woman.” Peter says that she is an example of two things. She is an example in what she did and in what she called her husband. We read, she “obeyed Abraham.” That word “obey” means “listen to, respond favorably to his direction.” She showed a submissive disposition unto her husband. She showed a heart that hopes in God and is submissive to God and is submissive to her head, her husband.

We have already said that there were a number of times in her married life when she should not have done what Abraham said, as, for example, when he asked her to lie to Pharaoh about not being his wife. But here we read that she obeyed. We must think, for instance, of the time when God called Abraham to go to a land that He would show him, and Abraham had only the word and promise of God. Sarah obeyed her husband and went with him. She was called to leave the place of security and relatives. That is probably more important to a woman than to a man. She was not a stone. She was no different than you are. Maybe she asked Abraham, “Where are we going? You don’t know where we are going? Why are we going? God has promised what? He said we will have a child?” Sarah did not stumble. She packed up her belongings and went with her husband. God says we will have a child? Ye!s. Sarah obeyed. Sarah, by faith, clung to the promises of God.

Then you remember that incident in Genesis 22 when the Lord appeared to Abraham to tell him that he must sacrifice that son that was given to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, and the account of Abraham’s willingness even to offer up his son, and how the angel of the Lord stopped him just at the moment that he would have killed his own son. Now, I would not blame Abraham if, at that point, he had kept Sarah ignorant of what God had said. But I do not believe that he did. I believe that he told her exactly what God said. And Sarah did not try to stop him. She had a son, for whom she had waited and whom she had nursed and held, a son that cheered her as a little boy; and now Abraham says, “God says I must offer him to the Lord.” Sarah also, by faith, with Abraham, gave over her son to the !Lord. And it can well be that, as we read in Hebrews 11:20, Abraham’s faith reckoned that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. It could well be that those were the last words that the two of them spoke that day as Abraham left with Isaac. They confessed together, “We will obey God, and God is able to raise him even from the dead.” So she is an example to us in her life. She obeyed her husband. She lived out of the same faith as her husband. She was strong in faith.

Secondly, we read that she is an example in that she called him lord. Now what does that mean? Does that mean that you wives should call your husbands not “honey,” or “sweetie,” but “lord”? No, it does not mean that. It means this, that what you call someone reflects what you think of your relationship to that person. For the young people and the children who are listening, I would like to say that again. What you call someone reflects what you think of your relationship to that person.

It is most interesting that the one time the Bible records that Sarah called Abraham “lord” (and the Bible records it only one time) is found in Genesis 18:12. That takes us right to the heart of it. There were three angels that appeared to Abraham. And God spoke His promise to Abraham: “Sarah, thy wife, shall have a son.” Now, Sarah was eavesdropping, as you remember. She heard. And as she heard that promise of God she laughed within herself. The Spirit of God, who looks into the chambers of our hearts and souls, heard that she laughed. And God said, “Why did Sarah laugh?” Sarah had laughed when she heard the promise. She laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” Now you see, what you say behind someone’s back is the clearest indication of what you think about him. Here is Sarah. She is !behind the flap of the tent. She is with her own thoughts. She is not, at that point, standing in the faith by which she could attain to the promise that she is going to have a son. She is going to speak. And she is going to speak about her husband. She is in one of those moments when she believes that no one is hearing her. What does she say? “Shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

… what you say behind someone’s back
is the clearest indication of what you think about him.
You see, sometimes to the face of people we can be very polite. We say, “Yes, sir! Ma’am; Dad; Mom; yes, sir, officer.” But what you say behind the door, when you think you are alone and you mumble to yourself, that is what you really think about them. Now look at Sarah. Here she is in a situation when her own unbelief in God’s promise is responding within her. If ever she was going to speak in a degrading way of her husband, it would be right then. She cannot, at that moment, lay hold of the promise. To her it appears ridiculous. “Me, at my age, I’m going to have a child? And my husband who is even older than I am? That, that (what would you call him?), that old man?” She did not. She said, “Shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” She called him lord. That means that Sarah !embraced, on a practical level in her marriage, the headship of her husband. She may have struggled with the impossibility of God’s promise. But she showed something there. She showed what lived in her heart: Abraham, my husband, is God’s appointed head over me.

Sarah embraced, on a practical level
in her marriage, the headship of her husband.
The Scriptures say that, out of the heart the lips speak. Do you see it? There is the example. Sarah, in her deepest spiritual identity, saw herself as a woman who was very comfortable with the headship of a husband that God had placed over her.

That brings a very comforting conclusion, does it not? For the apostle Peter says concerning Sarah: “whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” The word “amazement” there is terror. We must not read this as if it means, “You do this and then you will be Sarah’s daughter.” No. It is to be read as a statement of encouragement. Not a condition, but “whose daughters ye are.” As you continue doing well and are not afraid of any terror, you are, by grace, the daughter of Sarah. That is significant. The Bible calls Abraham the “father of all believers.” And now the Bible calls believing women the daughters of Sarah. Believing women, who by grace are beautiful in Jesus Christ and seek to be submissive to their own husbands, are Sarah’s daugh!ters.

The Bible gives that unique place to Sarah. For instance, in Galatians 4, we are referred to as the children of the free woman. We are the children, the children spiritually, of Sarah, a woman who could not have children, a woman who was beyond hope, yet who believed. Yes, she did. And she gave birth to Isaac and called him “laughter,” because, she said, “Now the Lord hath made me to laugh with joy.” Sarah, by faith, against all the impossibilities, saw the promise of God and believed those promises and learned the truth that there is nothing too hard for her God.

Now, are you her daughter? That is, that same grace, that same faith – is that in you? The apostle says, You give evidence of that, that you are the daughter of Sarah, when you do well and are not afraid with any amazement. The evidence of being Sarah’s daughter is that you, too, by the grace of God, not perfectly, because of your sin, nevertheless, you too do good and you overcome terror. You do good in a world where there is a glut of filth, where society says the opposite of everything we have learned. People would say that all that we have been saying in these last weeks about the beauty of the Christian woman is old-fashioned and repressive and terrible. But you, now, you as a believing woman, you by grace believe this Word of God. You covet the beauty that God gives in the heart. You seek to live in submission to your husband. God says,! “That’s good.” God says, “Continue in that and don’t be afraid with any terror.” This frees you from terror. In the atmosphere of faith and trust, women are freed from fear.

Believing women, who by grace
are beautiful in Jesus Christ
and seek to be submissive to their own husbands,
are Sarah’s daughters.
There is naturally so much to make us afraid. As a woman, submissive to a man? That makes me vulnerable. I’m not going to leave myself vulnerable, we say. Is that not a weak position to be in? More. I tend to be afraid, fear for what’s going to happen, fear for the well-being of my children, and more. The world puts you in fear, at least it tries. They barrage you with the statistics of how many women die of breast cancer and how many lose their husbands to other women, and how many women are mugged, and how many children get rare diseases. And you are especially tormented and put in fear if you believe that true beauty is the beauty of the inward and not the outward. They will set you up in the world and try to make you afraid.

But God says you do not need to fear. You do not need to be filled with terror. You are not vulnerable with your Savior. A woman who trusts in God has the right to put her fears to rest. It is fear that drives out a meek and quiet spirit. It is fear that forces a woman to think that attractiveness to men is something outward. It is fear. Yes, it is fear which causes a woman to think that it is her figure or her face that makes her attractive to a man. That is driven by fear. But trust in God, hope in God, enjoying in your own heart holiness with God, living in fellowship with God – all of that leads the Christian woman to say, “I shall not be afraid, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”

Do bad things happen in this world? Yes. But do we believe in God who is in control over all things, or do we not? The Scriptures teach us that God sits in heaven. And He reigns over all things.

Now, make your refuge in God. Do not make your own refuge. Run to the will of God. Find out the will of God for you. Find out the will of God for you as a woman of God. Do not listen to the world. Go to God! Do not swallow all of this nonsense against the Bible, as if the Bible is written by men who are enemies of women and that it conveys all types of bad things against women. The Bible is God’s Word. God made you. No one loves a woman as God does. No one sees the beauty of the saved woman as God does. Go to God in the Scriptures. And seek the beauty that is in Him. Hope and trust and believe in Him. And you, you as a woman, mother, young girl, or older woman or widow, you, by grace, are an example, an example to many who are watching you even in your own home.

That is the way it is in the kingdom. Those who follow the examples of God themselves become an example before their sisters. They become examples to their sisters and to their daughters all around them. Then your generation in the church will call you “blessed, beautiful daughters of God!”

And God is glorified in you.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We ask that Thy Spirit may write it on our hearts. Amen.