Dear radio friends,
Today we bring to a conclusion our series on marriage, our series on the true Christian wife and the true Christian husband. We were, last week, considering the seventh verse of I Peter 3. Let’s get right back into that verse. We were talking about what it means to dwell with our wife as with the weaker vessel.
We were about to draw attention to the fact that Peter focuses on these words, “as unto the weaker vessel.” The apostle refers, here, to the wife as a vessel. That is something that is not demeaning. Romans 9 calls all men vessels. They are either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy. The apostle Paul refers to himself as a chosen vessel. So this is not demeaning but refers to something that is fitted, something that is tailored by one’s own fingers and hands. The word points to our existence as created by God, fitted for a purpose that God has in mind.
Then there is a comparative: dwell with your wife as unto the weaker vessel. “Weaker” – a comparative. That means that a man is a vessel that is weak. God says, “You are weak, man.” But He says that a woman is a weaker vessel. What does that mean? That does not mean that a woman is weaker mentally. It does not mean that a woman is weaker spiritually. It does not mean that the woman is weaker in moral courage. But in her created identity, as the woman, she is the weaker vessel, first of all, physically. God has made the male, the man, the stronger of the two most often. And no amount of steroids or body-building is going to change that. God made the male physically stronger. But she is weaker also positionally. That is, God made the woman for the man, to be his helpmeet. He made the man the head and the woman to be under her husband – vulnerable. That is not demeaning. That is her very femininity.
Now, understand how God has created the woman. Unbelief does not like this at all. Unbelieving women have a controversy with God. They malign and they blaspheme God. But man cannot escape what God has done. What God has done is not bad, but it is good. Sin, of course, causes a man to exploit a woman, to become a predator, to prey upon her, to abuse her, to take advantage of her, to turn this Word of God into tyranny. Sin perverts, and God will judge those who pervert His Word.
But, Christian husbands, God is saying that you are different. You understand, do you not? Dwell with your wife according to the knowledge that she is the weaker vessel. Do you ever think about that? Do you ever meditate about that as a husband? Are you conducting yourself toward your wife as God made your wife to be, not as you think she ought to be, not as you conceive of her? Are you dwelling with her as God made her? Are you leading, protecting, nurturing, cherishing her, even as the Lord cares for His bride, the church? And are you teaching your sons how to dwell one day with a wife? Are you teaching your sons, in how they treat their sisters and other girls, that they may not poke fun of them, they may not be rough with them? They must be polite, they must open the door for them. Are you telling your sons, are you insisting that your sons do this? Do you think that is just politeness? Husbands, that is your calling. You must dwell with your wife in the knowledge that she is the weaker vessel.
Secondly, you must give honor to your wife as being heirs together of the grace of life. Give her honor. It does not say to give her flowers, candy, or a dress to make up after a spat. You might want to do that. But give her honor. That is something that comes not from Fanny Mae, but from the heart. Give, show, assign to her honor. Honor is one of those favorite words of the inspired apostle Peter. In chapter 1:7, we read that we shall “be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” In II Peter 1:17, Jesus received from His Father honor. And it is a word that is used also of God in Revelation 4 and 5: Worthy art thou to receive honor. Honor is simply a word that expresses an understanding of the great value a thing has and you treat it according to the value that it has. You recognize, then, what God has given to you in your wife. You see God’s work in giving to you your wife. You see the value of that wife as your helpmeet, as a fellow pilgrim, and as the mother of your children. And you honor her as being heir together of the grace of life. You see, Peter is saying, you must view your wife, first, as God made her (as the weaker vessel), and secondly, as Christ has redeemed her (as an heir of the grace of life). She is a joint heir with you because of the grace of God. She has been given eternal life by grace. She is the heir of what Christ has purchased.
God has given to your believing wife an inheritance undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for her. As an heir of the grace of life, she is the daughter of the King of kings. Did you hear me? You are married to a daughter of the King of kings. You are married to a woman who exists for His praise and glory. You are married to royalty, royalty in Jesus Christ. Did you ever think about that? God has pledged His commitment to her. Now, in the light of who God created her to be (the weaker vessel), and in the light of the redemption of Christ, the blood of Christ was shed for her – in the light of those truths, you must live with her. Then your attitude toward her, and what you expect of her, and how the children relate to her and how they honor her, you must believe and you must behave towards her as she is the heir of the grace of life. That is the way you treat her.
An antique road-show comes to town and your friend’s words are in the back of your mind and you say, “Well, let’s take it in.” So you clean it up and take it in. Suddenly the TV camera is on you and it is appraised. They ask, “You know what it is?” You say, “No.” The man says, “This is a rare 18th century French cut-glass bowl. Do you have any idea of its worth?” You say, “No.” “Well, $15,000 – $20,000.”
If that happened to you, that bowl would not go back to the shelf to hold nuts and bolts.
Has the bowl changed? No, it always was that. What has changed? You learned what it is. It always was that. Now you know it.
Now look at the text. Do you recognize who your wife is? You say, “Well, she’s been here….” Do you recognize who your wife is? Give honor to your wife as being a joint heir of the grace of life with you. She is precious to God! She did not gain that worth all of a sudden. No. God told you what her worth is to Him in His grace. This is what God gave to her. This determines how you are to live with her. She is not just a wife. She is not just a homemaker. She is not just a woman, a girl. Just! Oh, may God give you eyes to see, as a husband, what the honor here is. She has been made by grace to be a vessel belonging to the King of kings, a daughter of the King. May God open your eyes as a man, as a husband, and may God open your eyes as boys. There is nothing in the world which can help you to understand, which can show you what the godly woman is. The world is going to degrade them into sexual exploitation. But not God. The world is going to degrade them as somehow having to be equal physical with a man and all the rest. But God does not degrade women. The world and feminist movement and sin degrade a woman. But God does not. God says she is a princess. “My daughters are the daughters of a King. And I am going to bring them to my palace.” Now to you, God says, “Do you know your wife?”
Then the world is going to pick up on how you treat your wife and how you live with her. For Peter is emphasizing to us as pilgrim-strangers that the truth that we belong to God must always be observed by the world. You know how your neighbors live. You might never have talked to your neighbors. But you know how they live. And you might even know what the husband/wife relationship is in their marriage. You know that. You pick up on how they relate to each other – even if you have not talked to them. You know. The world picks up on you, too, husband. The men at the office, the men at the job site – they never saw your wife, maybe. But they certainly know what you think of her. Husbands, those men must know that you believe that you are living with a princess – a beautiful woman by the grace of God.
The verse ends with an incentive: “that your prayers be not hindered.” This is an incentive for both of the duties. We must dwell with our wife and we must give honor to our wife, and we must do that so that our prayers are not hindered. The word “hindered” refers to what any army does when it seeks to retard the progress of the invader. It would then blow up bridges, dig trenches. It would do anything to impede the progress of the army, stop the invading army, grind it to a halt. Paul uses this word in Romans 15:22, “For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.” That is, there were things that happened that prevented his coming to the city of Rome. Then again, in Galatians 5:7 he says, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” The apostle says, “Who was the one throwing up a road-block in your life of obedience? Who is impeding your progress in obeying the truth of God? Who got in your way?”
Now God says that how you live with your wife has everything to do with your prayers. Do you want your prayers impeded? Do you want them hindered? Husbands, do you want your prayers to go no higher than the roof of your mouth? Then pay attention to how you dwell with your wife. If you do not want God to hear your prayers, then dwell with your wife sinfully. That is exactly what is going to happen. You will not be given the assurance that God hears your prayer. You are not living in love with your wife? You are not doing that? You say, “Well, there are all kinds of reasons….” You are not doing that? God says, “Your prayers will be hindered.”
Now I want you to know, brothers, with me, that this is used as an incentive for prayer. That tells us something. Let me ask you: Does the warning of God’s Word that something will wreak havoc in your prayer life get your attention? Or do you say, “No big deal.” There are few things that are so precious to a true child of God as prayer – the intimacy, the strength, the joy of prayer. Do you take that lightly? Can you endure without prayer? Can you live with a brassy heaven over your soul? Or do you say, “Whatever impedes my prayers, it’s not worth it!”
How will it do that? From God’s perspective, God has willed that if His children are not walking on this earth in obedience to Him, they shall not enjoy the assurance of His ear from heaven. Psalter #174, “If in my heart I sin regard, My prayer He will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). If you treat your sin indifferently, God will not give you the assurance that He hears your prayers. Isaiah 59:1, 2, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” God will hear a broken heart. God will hear a contrite spirit. No matter how weak or muffled will be the cry, God will hear that. But if we walk carelessly we will not be able to barge our way into the presence of God.
So God says that the very way of being assured that you shall be heard of God in your prayers is to be found in the way of dwelling with your wife and honoring her. God says that if we are not right on the horizontal level, we cannot be right on the vertical level. God says, “Leave there thy gift. If you bring me a gift in prayer, leave it there. First be reconciled to thy brother (thy wife), then come and offer thy gift.” There are few things that are more telling in a marriage than your ability to pray with your wife. Can you take her hand tonight in yours and go to God? Or must you cross over the line of hypocrisy and come with words into His presence from your lips but not from your heart? Husbands in Christ, God is serious about how we live as men. He is serious about our lives as husbands. He is serious for His holy name’s sake. He has taken to Himself a wife – the church. He dwells with her in honor. He loves His church. It is His church and He loves her. And He allows no one to harm her. He cherishes her and He lavishes her with His love and He comforts her in His Word. And He is going to take His church, His bride, to Himself in glory.
Now, husbands, dwell with your wife. Honor her. Go to the cross for forgiveness, for strength. God has pledged to give you what you need according to His own grace and faithfulness. And may it be that, as husbands, you and I are living commentaries on this text, so that God could say today, “I have no need to write unto you, for your own life shows the truth of what it means for a husband to dwell with his wife.”
God grant His blessing upon us.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and we pray that Thou wilt write it on our heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.