Dear Radio Friends,
We continue our series on Christian marriage, specifically on the beauty of a Christian wife and woman. We come today to I Peter 3:5, 6. We read, “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 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.”
Returning again to this passage in I Peter 3, we see that verses 5 and 6 are an illustration of the beauty of the Christian woman which was taught to us in verses 3 and 4. We considered that beauty of the Christian woman the past two times. Now, as we continue, we see that verses 5 and 6 will be an illustration of the beauty of the Christian woman. The apostle is spending a good deal of time on this subject of the beauty of the Christian wife and woman. That is important. There are reasons for doing that. One reason, certainly, is a spiritual sympathy, a concern for the Christian woman today in the unrelenting pressures of the world brought upon women, wives, and girls to conform to this world in the whole matter of appearance and identity as a woman. From fashion models which are skinnier and thinner, to clothes and styles, to magazine covers and articles, to Barbie dolls, to billboards. The wicked world exerts unrelenting pressure to have you conform to what it considers beauty. The world, plainly, tells us that beauty is a perfect figure. Beauty is the amount of cleavage you have, or the naked midriff, or the seductive look. The world tells us that beauty is brazen, seductive, manipulative, assertive, and outward. How vital it is for you to know from God what beauty is and to spend time in the divine school of cosmetology, by the grace of God, to put on, and to apply daily the beauty that God says is to be found in Christ, a beauty that God says is of great price.
There is another reason why Peter emphasizes these things. That is also the reason we have today. It is a pastoral concern, a concern of the church of Jesus Christ that in every area of our life we be transformed to the image of Christ. God has given us the ministry of His Word in the church. He has given that ministry of the Word (and, by the
Now, let us once again, as we are looking at this passage as examples of what womanly beauty is all about, go back to the context of this passage. We remember that in the first verses of the chapter Peter has exhorted wives to be submissive to their own husbands. Then he called them to display an inward beauty, so that the thought has fallen under two categories: the fundamental duty of a Christian wife, and the fundamental beauty of a Christian wife. The fundamental duty: be in subjection to your own husbands. The fundamental beauty: not to be found or to be consumed in the outward – not merely in how you have done your hair or jewelry or clothing, but the beauty that is to be found in the heart, in a meek and quiet spirit. And we saw that a meek !and quiet spirit is a spirit that reposes all in God. It is a satisfaction with the will of God. It is seen in an attitude which is not turbulent, argumentative, or self-assertive but patient and trusting in God. And God said that this is of great value to Him.
Now, the apostle, having described the duty and the beauty of a Christian wife, goes on to give an illustration, an example, of what he has been talking about. We hear the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The inspired apostle Paul might not have known that statement, but he knew the principle involved. He will teach us now by examples. And we want to listen. Everyone ought to listen to this, not only the wives and the young girls. As a husband today, perhaps you said, “Honey, you should listen to the Reformed Witness Hour. The radio pastor is talking about the beauty of Christian women.” Maybe other men have said to their daughters, “Oh, be sure you are listening to this.” That is good. But you, as a man, elder, young boy, teenage boy should be listening. For this Word of God is not only to wives and to women and to girls who are being addressed !specifically. But it is to husbands and men, and to young men and boys. I want to stress the point. What are you as a husband, as a young man, and as a boy looking for? What is directing and governing your sexuality? The world, or the Bible? Our Christian sisters have enough to deal with in the world. They do not need you as a husband or as young teenage boys or adult boys bringing upon them also the wicked pressures of the world. But they need you to be an encouragement to them that they be adorned in the beauty of Jesus Christ. So I ask you as a husband, as a young man, what gains your attention in a girl? What do you want in your wife? Is it what God delights in?
Our text is plainly an illustration of the teaching that the apostle has given in verses 1-4 of I Peter 3. He is going to take the Old Testament and he is going to give examples of that teaching to make it very plain to us.
Let us take a moment to pause and ask why? Peter could have stopped at the end of verse 4. Nothing would have been compromised. The instruction that he gave was complete. He set forth the duty of a Christian woman: submit to your husband. He defined the beauty of a Christian woman. He says it is not when you are all done up, hung on, zipped on, painted, and pierced. But it is the hidden man of the heart. Then he goes on to illustrate from the Old Testament what he has been talking about. Why does he do that? There are two things here. First, we are taught the great purpose of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures. Much of the Bible is history and biography. We know that the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, sets forth one line of truth, one line of redemption, the salvation that God grants in Jesus Christ to the glory of His name. The Bible is not two books. ! It is one book. Romans 11:36, “For of him, and through him, and to him” be glory; that is the theme of the Bible.
But God has given to us in the Scriptures many living, breathing, real, touchable examples of that redemptive grace of Jesus Christ in the lives of His people. The theme of the Bible is one: the salvation of Jesus Christ in the church of Jesus Christ of all ages, both Old and New Testaments. But God now gives examples of that redeeming grace. Reading the Old Testament, you must not begin, perhaps, to interpret it as some do by spiritualizing everything. You ask, what do I mean? I mean this: you read the Old Testament and immediately skip over the historical reality of what is taking place, the concrete facts that are being told you about the life of this person, and immediately you want to find an enlightened, spiritual interpretation. You make everything into a type of Christ. You find some deep and hidden meaning behind every event and purpose. No, God has given us tangible, c!oncrete examples of godly living, the life of faith, the life of the saints. God has shown us the concrete issues of a godly life in the life of the saints. The Bible does not just teach us the principles of godliness. The Bible goes on to give us flesh and blood examples. In I Corinthians 10:11 we read, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition.” Romans 15:4, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” So do not read your Bible as a dated, ancient book describing life long ago that somehow is not relevant to us in our enlightened age. Do not read the Bible that way. That is arrogance. Do not read the Bible as a riddle book. But read the Bible, first of all, as concrete. In its histories and lives of the saints you have the life of grace, you have the call of godliness! acted out before you.
Now what does God say to that approach to the Bible. God says, “Don’t talk so arrogantly.” Remember what God said to Job? He said to Job, “How long have you been around? You are but as yesterday.” God says in the Bible, “This is My word for women: Don’t tell God He doesn’t love women, that He doesn’t know about them. He cherishes them. He made them. He created them in the beauty of Christ for His glory. He loves the femininity of a woman. He knows and embraces, in His love, women. Do not tell God that He does not know!”
Now Peter says that from the examples of the Old Testament we learn two things about a godly woman. We learn, first of all, their character and, secondly, their conduct. We learn of their character. We read the Word of God, “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” We learn, first of all, of the women of the Old Testament, the godly women, that their character was holy. They were not holy of themselves. But they were given holiness in the promised Savior, Jesus Christ. By God’s grace they were women who were set apart unto God by virtue of God’s love and power. So, in the Old Testament, God called His people a holy nation. They were set aside for the purposes of God. God would say, “These people I have formed for Myself. They shall show forth My praise” (Is. 43:21). !r God is telling us that a godly woman’s character is, first of all, characterized by personal holiness. She is one who is set aside for the praises of God. Her character is not, first of all, to be set aside for the eye of men. Oh, these women in the Old Testament were beautiful women! Sarah, Rebecca, Abigail. But they groomed the hidden virtues of the heart. And they desired to be attractive in the eye of God. They worshiped the Lord in the beauty of holiness, for holiness is beauty. Beauty is a heart that is set apart to God, an attitude, a desire, a steadfast commitment to be chaste and devoted to God.
And, secondly, we are told of these godly women, not only of their character, but of their conduct. They adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands. First of all, they adorned themselves with the feminine beauty that Peter has been describing – the beauty of the hidden man of the heart. That was not a new thing in Peter’s day, but that was always the grace of God in godly women. Holy women of God have always been dressing up in the beauty of Jesus Christ. When you read the accounts of Sarah and Rebecca in the Old Testament, you must not think of someone with a dull appearance and sunken eyes. You must see someone who possesses the hidden beauty of Christ radiating out of her. It does not mean that she despised her outward appearance, that she considered her outward appearance evil, that she dressed slovenly, that she appeared haggard and unkempt. Do not le!t the world tell you how to view Scripture.
The women of the Old Testament were beautiful. They were beautiful because of a hidden beauty in the heart. And they were in subjection to their husbands. That word means to come under or to recognize God’s authority. They came under the authority of God as displayed in their own husbands. I think, for instance, of I Samuel 25 and of Abigail. If you are not acquainted with that, read it today. Abigail was the wife of a fool. The Bible calls her husband a fool, so I may too. His name was Nabal. His name meant “fool.” And he was such a fool that no one could talk to him. Nabal had sent David’s men away, he had scorned David’s men, and as a result David, who was not very smart at this point either, not very godly in his response, decided that he was going to go and kill Nabal and his whole house. But Abigail showed a wisdom, a great wisdom, to come under the subjection of a foolish husband, but at the same time, through her own words of wisdom and godliness, to divert David’s wrath.
Peter says, acquaint yourselves with these women in the Old Testament. Look at their examples. Look at the testimony of their lives. These women hoped in God. These women devoted their hearts unto Him. You will find in them a beauty of the heart. You will find that they are examples of principled submission to their husbands – not dependent upon the character of their husband, but dependent upon their allegiance to the living God. That is why they submitted.
This tells us, once again, to read the Scriptures for its examples. Read it not only to see Jesus Christ and the footprints of God’s redemption, but read it for the concrete examples of godliness in women. Do not overlook them. Girls, do not get your models from TV or popular magazines or the Barbie doll. Do not get your models from contemporary Christian music artists. They seek to pattern the world. Do not go to the fashions. Do not say, “Well, this is what everyone else does in school.” God says, Go to the Bible. Ask God to show you what a godly woman is.
Next time we will continue in the discussion of these beautiful examples in the Old Testament of womanly beauty.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and we pray that it will bless our hearts. To Thee be praise and glory, world without end. Amen.