August 31, 2022 12:00 am
Was Sarah perfect? No. Did she have seasons of faithlessness and spiritual drought? Yes. But while her biography is marred by moments of failure, her legacy is marked by endurance and faithfulness.
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For in this way in former times the holy women also who hoped in God used to adorn themselves being submissive to their own husbands. This is coming back into the first century what was taking place in the lives of godly women in ancient centuries gone by. And he also very encouragingly reminds these women then that they're not alone. Believing women throughout the past history of redemption were adorned by the same submissive qualities of graciousness and composure. Ladies, I want to address you specifically today. We've arrived at a passage of Scripture that might strike you as no longer relevant for today's modern society.
It might seem old-fashioned or even offensive. It's a passage from God's Word that teaches submission in the context of marriage. In 1 Peter 3, the Apostle Peter used Abraham's wife Sarah as an example. As Stephen teaches from this text today, let's approach this as God's eternal word that's just as true today as it was when it was first written.
This lesson from the series for better or for worse is called Daughters of Sarah. Well there's there's no such thing as a perfect wedding ceremony and even if you did have a near-perfect wedding ceremony there's no such thing as a perfect marriage. In fact it won't be long after that near-perfect wedding ceremony that you'll realize it isn't a perfect marriage and that's because marriage is the union of imperfect people.
Marriage is two sinners uniting in covenant with God and for the first couple recorded in human history they ended up having their own troubles all the way to the 21st century church. We're still in need of answers aren't we? And it all goes back those questions to the same issue. How do we make this thing work?
How is it supposed to work? The Apostle Peter has been delivering some spirit inspired truth about the subject. Let's go back there today we're in 1st Peter go to chapter 3. He's opened his comments in that first paragraph by addressing wives.
The opening subject has revolved around the concept of submission. Then Peter moves on to their appearance, behavior, the internal attitudes of a godly wife. In fact this is the wardrobe of genuine beauty. Peter sort of turns everything around.
He turns the tables on contemporary thinking. He makes it clear that true beauty is not external it is internally driven and it appears externally as he describes in these gracious attributes of composure and kindness. A godly woman gets dressed from the inside out. Now he has spent several verses on giving wives and women in general instruction. Now Peter is going to give wives an illustration so let's pick it back up there we've arrived at verse 5 if you're new to our study. For in this way in former times the holy women also who hoped in God used to adorn themselves being submissive to their own husbands just as Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him Lord. Now guys there's a theme verse for your marriage right there.
Write it out on the 3x5 card put it on the refrigerator and it's perfect you know she acts up just point at the refrigerator as you head to the backyard where you're gonna live and and eat dinner. At any rate here's a here's a great verse. Well we're gonna come back to calling him Lord and in a moment but first let's go back to the fact that what Peter does is circle around now to this idea of submission. He began that way verse 1 in the same way you wives be submissive to your own husbands and now he brings it up again at the end of this paragraph verse 5 the middle part being submissive to their own husbands. Peter is a married man by the way. The Lord Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. We're given a story in Matthew chapter 8 and verse 14 and you typically don't get a mother-in-law without the benefit of getting a wife. Well is this subject you know sort of stuck in Peter's mind because he's having difficulty and you know the little lady needs a little instruction.
No. He's delivering what every generation needs. This is a wedding rehearsal on the core issues of how to leave that ceremony and engage in married life. As we learned in our previous exposition of verse 1 where the idea of submission first came up it means to willingly rank under. It can be expanded this word in the Greek New Testament to refer to voluntarily arranging and adapting and serving your husband with deference and respect. The word is actually as we discussed verse 1 this is an administrative term which carries the idea of voluntarily assisting in order to bring about completion.
It's not a negative concept it's a very positive concept. The roles of a wife and a husband were originally designed by God before the fall of man. Headship and submission were divinely ordained. In fact it's interesting that God uses the same language as Moses quotes God all the way back in the Garden of Eden as he is about to create Eve and walk her as it were down the aisle to Adam. This is the first marriage and it is arranged by the way and I think parents love the concept I certainly do but at any rate here she comes but before he creates her God uses this language and he says I will make for Adam a helper suitable for him. I'm going to give Adam a helper. That's another way of saying Adam is gonna need help, right? And all the men said a hearty.
I don't know if that was very hearty or not it and all the men gave a hearty. All right at any rate one author I quoted several weeks ago pointed out this. A wife who embraces this God glorifying perspective understands that as she voluntarily adapts and submits to her husband she's actually completing the picture.
She's helping him fulfill his responsibilities helping him become the man, the husband, the leader God intended him to be. The further down the the river we go as a culture the stranger this sounds the more foreign it seems. You mentioned the idea of submission and people in your world will think you came over on the Mayflower. I mean this is this is archaic at best.
It's tantamount to slavery, master-slave relationship at worst. God as we've learned calls it strength. As we learned in our last discussion this is a woman of power, power under control. Since my sermons are not only heard in here but out there through radio and internet. In fact we've just begun streaming these sermons live on Facebook. I'm not sure whose idea that was but I did call one of our pastors yesterday and asked him how that's going and he told me last Lord's Day nearly 3,000 people streamed this service live through Facebook. I don't know if that's how many people are skipping church today but because of the exposure I get a lot of reaction. My first sermon on this subject of submission led to responses that ranged from anger, people contact me, I received from one a charge of being a false teacher to frustration and even sadness that husbands were not really living a life worth following. Even though we're gonna get to men in the next paragraph where the weight of the burden resides for now remember that God in fact Peter's delivering this beginning in chapter two is defining roles for husbands and wives and children and kings and governments and legal authorities and it has nothing to do with there are people more valuable on the planet than others it simply has to do with God's order and his function and his design submitting to a position a person with a position of authority for a wife doesn't mean that she has less value in fact keep it keep in mind that submission doesn't have anything to do with less value or character but structure and design and function that policeman who stops me on the interstate for not reaching the minimum speed happens all the time I get out of my car and I obey him not because he's holier or he has a better relationship with God or he has more value on the planet or because he's special but because he has a role of authority that I don't have further submission in marriage doesn't mean that a wife is inferior that's where the world always wants to take you and you're saying that a woman is inferior if she submits to her husband has nothing to do with that has nothing to do with essence or value in fact if any man thinks submission of a wife is based on the inferiority of women is revealing his own inferiority complex and he needs to grow up we had another thought submission does not mean blind obedience God's idea of a wife serving her husband as a helper means that she is bringing things that she contributes things that will add to and improve she will challenge she will confront she will warn as we'll see in a moment any man who believes that submission is blind obedience is blind now for the women hearing this letter read in the first century assembly and remember they don't have their own personal copy they can highlight and underline they're hearing it and in that century it was really no different than this century it would have been just as out of style then as it is now and one of their greatest challenges as women of God would be that they're they're entering as new believers many of them into something new the church stuff still being written they don't have elective courses on marriage and family materials were in the process of being written for the New Testament Church not only was the church relatively young there were no books published on marriage in fact just out of curiosity I went to amazon.com and put in the title marriage and discovered there are a quarter of a million books readily available on the subject now many of them don't get it right but in this immediate context as well keep in mind this is directed to women who are in a very difficult situation they're they're in marriages to unbelievers a man Peter describes if you look back at verse 1 quickly who is disobedient to the word this is an expression of unbelief and it implies obstinacy it implies a disregard in it implies a mocking disregard for the gospel it's an it's an expression for unbelief but it can be broadened New Testament scholars believe to include men who are disobedient who claim to know Christ but live ungodly lives so he's addressing the subject in a difficult environment where it would not be easy to follow and adapt and help a husband what Peter is gonna do is draw from the resources they all have he's gonna dip into the Old Testament notice verse 5 again for in this way in former times the holy women also who hoped in God used to adorn themselves being submissive to their own husbands the Peters doing a couple of things he's essentially telling them that submission isn't new this is coming back into into the first century what was taking place in the lives of godly women in ancient centuries gone by and he also very encouragingly reminds these women then that they're not alone they're not the first to hear this believing women throughout the past history of redemption were adorned by the same submissive qualities of graciousness and composure would you notice his description further of them now in verse five two descriptions are provided first he calls them holy women they're holy women that doesn't mean they're perfect women the word holiness simply means separated unto God for his glory in other words these women were living their lives for the glory of God when they got out of bed in the morning they weren't ultimately asking that can I please my husband they're asking how can I give glory to God secondly Peter writes they hoped in God that is they looked to God for their strength their hope that's a New Testament one for workforce settled conviction their hope in God wasn't rooted in culture it wasn't rooted in what their peers could provide it wasn't even rooted in what their husbands could provide they were holy women who hoped in God there is your rock there is your refuge there is your source your hope is in God as Peter writes to these women in the first century that these women in the past centuries were known for their character and their holiness and their trust it's clear as these New Testament women would quickly identify these were not inferior intellects or moral cowards these were women of great strength and courage Peter at this point you might think would stop and give us a list give us a list of some of those holy women of old and in fact I'm sure that there are many in the assembly who wished that he had he doesn't he's gonna pick out one in a moment and we'll get to her but I don't know about you but my mind begins to go back into the Old Testament and think I wonder who the holy women were and it's not hard to think of women who courageously lived for God I think of of Abigail Abigail was married to a foolish man an arrogant a wealthy rancher and if you go back into the Old Testament and read the full story and I'll survey it very very quickly for those of you that are younger in the faith but when King day or young David before he's King and his men are in hiding from King Saul who wants to take his life they're on Nabal's property often they belong an expansive ranch and they just by default of character graciously watched over those herds and flocks from predators and from thieves and they weren't paid to do it they just because of their character did it in the end of the season David needs food and his men and so he sends a message to Nabal asking reminding him of what they've done and then asking for food and a ball and his pride and his foolish heart he mocks David and his men and basically tells them he's treasonous well David and his men mount up and they're gonna they're gonna go to enable Travis I'm gonna kill him which would have been wrong on his part his hands would have been stained with blood before mounting that throne it would have been devastating and this woman Abigail Nabal's wife overhears her husband's response of arrogant foolish short-sighted pride and she takes the initiative without being seen loads her donkey down with food heads off to meet David and meets him on the path before he could reach her family estate and with wise gracious counsel she confronts David with something that would have been wrong for him to do and as best as she can she represents her foolish husband David praises her wisdom returns home Abigail returns as well back into a very difficult marriage to this man but she doesn't keep the truth from him she does wait until morning and in the early morning light she informs Nabal that David and his men had come to kill him and she had intervened and his life has been spared and Nabal has a heart attack and dies ladies don't get any ideas with this okay although we are on the side kind of cheering her on aren't we the point isn't that she confronted him and he died the point is she did the right thing and with courage she took the initiative and communicated a warning to David she communicated the truth to her husband this is not a weak woman this is a strong woman strength under spirit control Peter is providing an illustration here as he shifts his focus to one woman in particular look at verse 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him Lord Peter is referring to that moment in their marriage where the angelic visitors have arrived announcing to some measure the benefit of the Covenant that they've entered by faith telling elderly Abraham that he and his elderly wife Sarah are going to have a child there first for the sake of time we won't turn there if you want to read and study it it's in Genesis 18 and you can do that at your your leisure and first Samuel 25 is where you hear the narrative of Abigail when Sarah hears the announcement of having a son she laughs to herself at this thought which was a bit strange if not humorous given the fact that she was 90 years of age and her husband was a hundred years of age the Bible records in verse 12 of Genesis 18 Sarah laughed to herself saying after I have become old shall I have this pleasure my lord being old also so if you want to literally apply that ladies if you want to call your husband Lord you can say in the same breath you're an old man okay that just goes together in the text but this is where the expression my lord is used now misunderstanding of this gives people an opportunity to jump all over this expression and use this as a proof text that this patriarchal concept of submission is tantamount to slavery I mean look at her scraping and bowing she isn't scraping and bowing all you have to do is read the text and study their marriage first of all you'll discover that Sarah is not the household servant she isn't a wallflower she is anything but a pushover she isn't weak-minded and she's not a doormat my lord as we would hear it in our ears was simply an expression of respect in fact she didn't say it to him she said it to herself this is an undergoing under girding attitude in fact Peter as he describes it here in this chapter uses a present tense participle which means that she is always calling him Lord that doesn't mean every time she sees him she says my lord this is the attitude this is the pattern of respect in her heart and in her life for her husband this is this ongoing attitude of deference and consideration and respect for Abraham now in the ancient world in fact up until a few centuries ago my lord or my lord was one of the expressions you might use to show deference and courtesy just keep in mind that this Lord here is a little L not a capital L and if you look closely at their marriage what you discover is that Sarah more than once challenged her husband to think differently as she completed him and even to act differently keeping it in balance as Peter writes to wives is the challenge isn't it but how to do it without cutting your husband off at the knees or wounding his spirit by the way Sarah created some problems didn't she like some of her weightiest advice was wrong self-centered not influenced by God's spirit and combined with a lack of spiritual character in Abraham they conspired to create a mess learning to become an instrument in the hand of God to offer wise counsel is that challenge now the Spirit of God through Peter is illustrating then submission with the life of Sarah not because she was perfect not because she had a perfect marriage not because she had a perfect husband none of that exists anyway she was chosen as an illustration in spite of that in spite of the fact that she wasn't perfect in spite of the fact that their marriage wasn't perfect in spite of the fact that Abraham didn't always live up to you know father of the faithful title but she pursued a pattern of submissive cooperation and assistance in fact the courage of her willingness if you go back and you study her life she follows her husband her husband is in the land of Ur the Chaldees and God says to Abraham leave it and go and the text says he went out not knowing where he was going honey are you coming yes I am and she did she watched him give away the best land of their greedy nephew I don't know if she knew but she watched her husband taking away their boy to sacrifice him I wonder why she didn't throw herself in front of the cart and she with her own faith will land in Hebrews 11 as one of the one of the signature heroes of the faith notice verse 6 and you have become her daughters you could render that children if you do what is right now I got a pause here for just a moment this English translation makes it sound like you can earn your way into Sarah's family a better understanding of what Peter is saying here is that you demonstrate that you have become her daughter when you do the right thing you bear her resemblance it's it's a daughter is acting like her mother it's a mother-daughter resemblance and you reveal to the world that you have become just that notice he also says without being frightened by any fear again from this context it would be a fearful thing to follow your husband it would be a fearful thing to follow him as best you can so long as he doesn't ask you to sin if he's an unbelieving husband it's a frightening thing for a woman who knows Christ to follow the lead of her husband who knows Christ knowing he can make mistakes and probably has remember your hope which overcomes fear your confidence is in the sovereignty of God in whom you hope well daughters of Sarah I hope you were both challenged and encouraged from this time in God's Word Stephen is currently in a series called for better or for worse this lesson is called daughters of Sarah if you want to listen to it again you'll find it on our website simply visit wisdom online org and there's a link to today's message right on our home page wisdom for the heart is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey the pastor of the shepherd's Church and the president of shepherds theological seminary learn more about us at wisdom online org join us again next time as we continue through this series and discover God's wisdom for the hearts you
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