Peter has a spirit-inspired strategy, but here it is. Look at the end of verse 1.
They may be won without a word by the behavior of their wife. Your demeanor, your behavior is living out what becomes an undeniable, supernatural demonstration that there really must be a living God in your life for you to live that way, especially with me, an unbelieving husband. What does it mean to live out the gospel? Is it possible that someone could be attracted to the gospel and the Christian faith by watching someone live out the gospel before them?
The Apostle Peter thought so, and he advised Christian women who were married to unbelievers to take that approach. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey is going to teach and explain this passage. On our last broadcast, Stephen began a message called Witnessing Without Words. It comes from his series entitled For Better or For Worse.
We're going to bring you a little bit of review and then conclude that lesson right now. Let's try to appreciate what was going on here as Peter wrote this letter. Well, in the first century, in many countries and centuries to this date, by the way, but especially in first century Rome, the wife was expected to adopt her husband's religion. In fact, there were many gods and goddesses. The Roman pantheon was stocked with all kinds of gods and goddesses. She was expected to adopt her husband's patron god. And more than likely, that god or goddess had been the patron god of his family for centuries, generations perhaps.
But now, she's a Christian. And he's probably okay at first with her adding her god to his god. You know, that's okay. Don't make too big a deal of it. Just add him to this one and we're fine.
You know, go along with the traditions of both. But it isn't long before he realizes that she isn't going to add her god to his god. In fact, the implication of the context because of his stubborn resoluteness now at this point when he writes the letter to them, the implication is that he is now totally opposed to the gospel which she has explained to him. She's tried to explain why her god is the true and living god and his god's a myth, why she's following the only god and all the other gods who make believe. She's no doubt tried to explain to an unbelieving world that irrational, frustrating, infuriating doctrine of exclusivity where Jesus Christ said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.
He's the only way, John 14.6. She has let him know that she cannot have dual allegiance. She can't play a game. She can't go worship with him in his temple and then go to church. And as a result, her conversion has disrupted the family order, her husband's social order because his occupation in Rome was also many times tied to one particular patron god. You'd have a god over law, industry, textile, manufacturing. They would gather around that particular kind of worship and now she's not going to go to those meetings.
It's disrupted everything. Now in this context, the husband is defiantly opposed to the gospel and she's going to naturally feel like she hasn't done a good enough job convincing him, giving him the right word, the right argument, the right example, and she's passionate. Of course she's passionate. She knows he's going to hell and she's going to heaven and she doesn't want that. She's going to naturally think, I need to say more, not less.
I need to turn the heat up. No, no, Peter says here, say less. Notice? So that they may be one without a word. Notice Peter doesn't say that they may be one without the word because faith comes by hearing and hearing by what?
The word of God, Romans 10 17. Of course she must be ready to speak about Christ. Peter isn't denying her that. But Peter is encouraging here and making sure she understands that taking the initiative isn't the solution. In fact, it may only deepen his defiance even more. One author wrote it this way 100 years ago, commenting on this text and I quote him, to persist in talking to someone who does not want to listen only hardens them more. But those whose hearts are hardened against preaching may be softened by behavior. By the way, this truth applies to all of us as we make disciples, as we go out into our world and we share the gospel with individuals. Remember this principle, no one has ever been argued into the kingdom of God. No one, no one has ever been debated into the family of God. No husband has ever said she finally wore me down and beat me down so I got saved. Instead of turning up the heat, Peter tells them to turn it down. Let your witness be without words.
You could render it without talking, without pleading, without arguing. Now granted, the impatience in her own soul is going to stem not only from the reality of his eternal damnation and her prayers daily and throughout the day are for his salvation. That's a huge part of it. But there's another part of it and that relates to the misconception of what she might have in her heart about a Christian marriage. She's never had one. And she perhaps has come to the understanding, she looks at couples around her in the assembly that if her husband gets saved, they are going to experience marital bliss like she's never experienced. I mean if he comes to faith, not only will he be saved, he can then save her from loneliness or frustration or discontentment and on and on and on. I mean surely a Christian marriage doesn't involve any of that. A Christian wife never feels any of that, right? Surely a Christian husband has a corner on communication skills.
Wisely, no amens on that one. No, Christian marriages involve work too. Christian marriages have communication difficulties too because Christians are still fallen sinners too.
I read this humorous story and I think you need a break right now. Not long ago about a Christian couple had been married for 60 years. Throughout their lives, they presented just a model of unity and love in the church and they had not kept any secrets from each other all those years except for one large box the wife kept on the top shelf of her closet. When they got married, she put the box up there and asked her husband never ever to look inside it and never to ask her questions about its contents. And for 60 years, the man honored her request and never looked in it and never asked about it.
In fact, he forgot about it. It's just a good thing husbands are good at and he just completely forgot about the box until one day his wife grew seriously ill in the hospital and after weeks, the doctor said she more than likely is not going to recover. So as his husband was putting his wife's things in order, he remembered that box in the closet and he got it down, took it to the hospital and asked his wife if they could open it together. He wanted to know and she agreed. They opened the box and inside were two pairs of crocheted mittens. Two pairs of crocheted mittens along with stacks of $5 bills that totaled $45,000.
Yeah. The man was astonished. The woman told her husband that the day before they were married, her grandmother told her this, that if she and her husband ever got into an argument with one another and she found him impossible to reconcile, he was unwilling to apologize or take any part of responsibility on his part. She was to keep her mouth shut and crochet a pair of mittens. He was touched.
There were only two sets of mittens in the box. I mean 60 years, only two times he'd been stubbornly unwilling to. He was almost moved to tears. He was almost moved to tears. Then he asked her about the stacks of money. What's this? And his wife said, well, every time I crocheted a pair of mittens, I sold them for $5.
If you're doing the math, that'd be 9000 arguments where he refused to apologize. All right. Peter has a spirit inspired strategy. It doesn't have anything to do with crocheting mittens, by the way.
But here it is. Look at the end of verse 1, that they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives. Earlier, by the way, in chapter 2 and verse 12, if you look over there, Peter uses the same word for the kind of life believers ought to live, to silence the slander of unbelievers watching them. Keep your behavior excellent, he writes, as they observe your good deeds. Now he uses that same phrase here, and he implies then that the unbelieving world is watching you more than you know, beloved. They're watching you.
And Peter's telling the wife, more than you know, your husband's watching you. They are observing your behavior. The verb to observe isn't referring to just a casual glance, but a steady, careful observation. In fact, it's a rare verb which is used for someone who is a spectator. They are an eyewitness and they're carefully watching what is unfolding.
It's the idea here. Rather than hearing the gospel from you, Peter says, let them see the gospel in and through you. They're watching. Your demeanor, your behavior is living out what becomes an undeniable, supernatural demonstration that there really must be a living God in your life for you to live that way, especially with me, an unbelieving husband who is obstinate to something she treasures. Peter offers them the possibility, you notice here, the husband's defiant conscience may very well be softened. He may be forced to admit in his own heart, he may not say it, but to admit that there really is the presence of a God who must be a living God in her life and in her faith, which he would be thinking, I have mocked and I have ridiculed and I know I have, but the translation of the gospel into her behavior right in front of my eyes, this can prove to be that irresistible witness. And it's a witness without words. As they observe your behavior, Peter writes, make sure it has these two attributes.
He gives us two of them. The first one he mentions is a chaste behavior, verse two, as they observe your chaste behavior. The word chaste may be translated in your text as pure. It certainly carries the idea of moral purity, a purity of conduct that's known not only to your world, but to him. And so you let him know that. He just knows it by watching the way you act out in your world that you are committed to him alone. Even an unbelieving man can pick up on that, right?
In fact, the implication is that he isn't that way, but she is. I read recently from one pastor who remarked that at one wedding rehearsal he was leading, he was commenting to the wedding party on the symbolism of the unity candle, that middle candle that stands between the two candles on the side from each family. He said after the middle candle is lit, blowing out the two side candles means that the two from either family have now become one. One of the wedding party, one of the young men responded in surprise and honesty. And he actually said, I always thought it meant that there were now no other flames on the side.
And that works too. Notice secondly, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior, respectful attitude, similarly used in other contexts in the previous chapter and in this one. This is going to be a convicting testimony to him because she's treating him with respect and he treats her with what?
Disrespect. She isn't running down as God. She isn't taking every opportunity to let him know why it's foolish to go to that temple.
I mean, what are you thinking? She treats him in every way she possibly can with respect. And the wife is ultimately motivated to show respect where she can for her husband because, not because he deserves it, but because she ultimately is showing respect and obedience and submission to the design of God and the will of God according to the word of God. She desires above everything his favor even more than her husband's.
And by observing that kind of behavior as an eyewitness, who knows? I like to make that a capital W. Who knows what will happen? She may get a new husband after all, not another one, but the old one made new in Christ. Wouldn't that be something?
Peter says it's possible. Chuck Swindoll writes in his commentary on this text, this is the lifestyle of a wife who with selfless cooperation and devotion to her husband becomes a wife who is impossible to ignore. That may be in your life reversed. It may be you're a man, a believer married to an unbelieving wife.
I've slipped this into my sermon and this. I was sent this link. It's a link to the testimony of a woman that used to be on our staff. Her name is Emily Elliott.
We now support Emily. She is a missionary, part-time to children in the southern part of our state. She's 90. She was one of our secretaries for many years, worked in the graphic arts department, faithful to Christ. Her husband, George, went home to be the Lord three years ago and he was on our pastoral staff doing visitation and evangelism. This article was written after an interview with her by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association because of what happened in that famous Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade in New York.
They kind of put Graham on the map and it lasted for weeks and I think it was something like two million people actually attended. It told a story and this came to my mind as I'm standing up here last hour. It would be a good illustration for a husband who's in this condition or situation because what happened was a friend from work invited George to go to church. They're all unbelievers and he invited him and so he went, kind of interested and then the pastor announced there was going to be this crusade in the big city and he was invited to go and she said, sure, go ahead. So, you know, they set it all up and he went, got on the bus, went a couple of hours and went to the crusade and was there in the crusade.
He heard the gospel very clearly and he went forward and received Christ as his Lord and Savior. He came back and Emily's the one being interviewed in this magazine and she said, I knew something was different. In fact, I saw him begin reading his Bible and she said, we were all from church going families. We respected, I love this comment. She said, we respected the Bible but we didn't go around reading it.
You know, that's a little too, that's a little fanatical and he's reading it. She said, he isn't preaching to me but a couple of weeks later as the crusade was expanded, he said to me, look, I'll watch the kids. I'd like you to go. And she said, I went because I wanted to get out of the house, go to the big city, kind of have a night out. Okay, I'd have to go, you know, listen to this for a little while but it was freedom for a little while and so she said, I agree.
Got on the bus, went, place was jam-packed. Billy Graham preached the gospel and she said, I had this compelling movement in my heart as if somebody grabbed me by the collar and I went down there with all those other people and accepted Christ. She said she would learn years later, it just never came up but it was years later that her little girl, one of her little girls, now grown young woman said to her, you know, mom, I never told you this but that night you went to that crusade, I came out of my bedroom and I walked into the living room and dad was on his knees at the couch and he was weeping and praying for you. That's this text.
And though I cannot imagine how difficult it is for you, this is your text. This is the Spirit's strategy. Don't heat it up, cool it down as God opens the door. Let me encourage you as well that as your children see your testimony as the believing spouse, maybe your grandchildren, they may become powerful allies and evangelists in the home. I have seen it over my years in ministry where God uses the words of a little child to just provoke spiritual thinking.
Be encouraged that may happen, it may be a co-worker, it may be anybody but I wanted to share this with you. One author that I was reading, she was actually illustrated in a book I was reading, she was raised by her dad to be a devout atheist. He insisted that she and the rest of the children in their family agree to be atheists in contract form.
They actually had to sign a contract even before they started elementary school. She says it this way, early on I started backsliding into the gospel. That great, she knew, she writes, that my father was wrong even though I didn't know how or why. And she used as an illustration the perception and insight and then the testimony of another little girl. She writes about this three-year-old girl who also was raised in an atheistic family.
In fact, there was no church contact, there was no Bible ever in the home. And one day, little three-year-old, she asks her father what your three-year-old probably asked you. Daddy, where did the world come from? And he answered her in naturalistic evolutionary terms. And then he added, well, you know, some people say the world comes from a powerful being and they call him God. And at this, the little girl started dancing around the room with joy as she said, I knew what you told me wasn't true. It's him.
It's him. For the wife wanting to apply the strategy of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter's objective inspired text, what does respectful behavior look like? Let me just prime the pump. I got to move quickly, but let me give you a few suggestions.
I'm going to go quicker than you can write. But talk about him in a positive light to others. Don't slander him to others.
Even what you're saying is true. Make sure that your prayer request for him is a prayer request for his salvation without all the details. Be warm and gracious to his family and his friends.
They're probably unsaved as well. And a welcome mat from you will surprise them and could be used by the Spirit in their lives. Make your commitment to him obvious to those in his world. Ask him for his opinion and his guidance whenever possible. Don't compliment other husbands and other marriages to him and we ought to be like them. Make your loyalty to him unconditional. Find areas where he's leading the way and express appreciation. Make sure you're a good follower, even if you're a better decision maker. Don't expect perfection. Make room for failure. It happens to non-Christian men and Christian men as well.
When asked about your faith, say as little as needed, not as much as you want. Expect God to work according to his timetable. Expect God to work according to his timetable. Remember, to him a thousand years is like a day. And while God works his will throughout all of eternity, you follow his will for today. Just today.
Just today. Let me just tell you one of the most famous examples in church history of a godly wife married to an unbeliever was a woman named Monica. Monica was the mother of Augustine. And God would use Monica in the conversion of both her son, Augustine, and her husband also on his deathbed. Augustine, if you're new to the faith, you may not know, he was a significant church leader and theologian in the fourth century.
In fact, he's considered by many to be the theological forerunner of the Protestant Reformation. Augustine, in his later years, wrote his autobiography. And in it, he included the testimony, a personal testimony about his mother, Monica, and her behavior toward her unbelieving husband. Augustine wrote, and I've put it into English we can understand, my mother served him faithfully and did her diligence to win him unto Christ, preaching Christ unto him by her behavior. And the Lord made her lovely to her husband. And at last, when he was at the end of his earthly life, she won him for Christ. It doesn't take much to imagine the challenges and hard pressed experiences and the longing and the quiet praying and the tears of Monica and perhaps yours as well. No doubt looking for strength to go on in her quiet service for the glory of God, I've little doubt that one passage in the New Testament would have been especially precious to her as it might be for some of you.
It would be this text. 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 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. That was a lesson called Witnessing Without Words.
It's lesson number two in Stephen's series on marriage called For Better or For Worse. Stephen is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. Our ministry is on social media, and that's a great way to stay informed and to interact with us. Be sure and like our Facebook page so that you'll get updates. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and we post our daily Bible message to our YouTube channel as well, so subscribe to that. We'd enjoy interacting with you.
We'd really enjoy hearing from you and learning how God is using this ministry to build you up in the faith. Please take a few moments and drop us a note. Our mailing address is Wisdom International, PO Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627.
Let me give you that again. You can write to us at Wisdom International, PO Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. By the way, please consider including a gift when you write. Stephen often reminds us that our ministry is empowered by your prayer and enabled by your support.
Your partnership is vital to us, and we're thankful for it. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons, we also have a magazine that we publish. Stephen deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain rooted and grounded in God's Word every day. A new addition to the magazine is a journal. The journal gives you the opportunity to take some notes as you listen to the wisdom journey or wisdom for the heart. We call the magazine Heart to Heart. We use it to show our appreciation to all of our wisdom partners. We also send three issues of Heart to Heart magazine as a gift to everyone who asks. We'd like to send it to you if you haven't seen it yet. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. Join us again next time here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-05 21:34:15 / 2023-03-05 21:43:41 / 9