THE DEFINITION OF A GODLY WIFE
This morning in continuing our series in defining the family, I want to give you the definition of a Godly wife. Turn to Ephesians 5:23-25 and let’s read together God’s definition of a wife.
This morning, I am not going to put the notes on the screen as usual. Most of the time this is a great help. Sometimes, however, it is distracting and simply gets in the way. This morning I want you to see two basic truths. Everything I will say is designed to either explain why these two statements are true or show you how to apply these two statements to your marriage. This morning these two statements need to be so clear that they are penetrating. It is so difficult to disciple in today’s world. I only get 30 minutes or so a week in which to teach the depth of scripture and combat the images and messages you get from the world on a daily basis. The only thing I can do in 30 minutes is to paste these two statements to your heart and trust you to allow the Holy Spirit to teach them to you this week.
I. Role Defined
God defines your role as a wife: “Wives submit to your husbands in everything as to the Lord.” I believe that is what God said and it is therefore what He meant. You cannot interpret or define away biblical submission. But before you tune me out, let me give you these two statements and try to explain them to you.
Biblical submission means two things:
1) It is obediently displaying your role in marriage’s picture of salvation.
2) It is the key which equips you to impact your husband’s heart.
They are inherent in the teaching of marriage throughout scripture. Let me show you the same thing in another passage: I Peter 3:1-6. In a few moments, I am going to give you the 5 verse every wife should know and this s one of them.
Statement 1 is: Biblical submission is obediently displaying your role in marriage’s picture of salvation. See how Peter says “likewise” – that connects you to the example of Jesus at the end of chapter 2. You are being like Jesus and therefore furthering His example when you submit.
Statement 2 is: Biblical submission is the key which equips you to impact your husband’s heart. This is the key to your husband’s heart. Notice here that Peter gives a great promise to wives that they will literally win the heart of their husband and transform who he is with this key.
This is not what the world will tell you. Remember that we have defined the 3 major sources of our struggles in marriage: selfishness, Satan, and society. We see these 3 at work against wives. Selfishness is why submission is hard. Satan tempted Eve with this very sin and her sinful choice marred her heart in such a way that it is difficult for her to fulfill God’s plan for marriage by fulfilling her role of submission. Satan now uses society in a fallen world to try and convince wives to follow its fallen plan and not God’s. As a result, we loose the evangelistic testimony of biblical families in the church and you lose the power God has given you as a woman to impact your husband’s heart. Finally, Satan drives so much of this as our enemy “seeking whom he may devour.”
Let’s define biblical submission. It is a woman taking all of her needs, wants, and desires, and setting them aside as a voluntary choice of faith and making instead her husband’s needs, wants, and desires her highest priority. She does not do this because his are more important. She does this as a choice of faith believing in God’s plan of marriage. She is placing her faith in the biblical truth of statements 1 and 2.
First, let’s look at statement 1. The bible clearly teaches as we saw in previous weeks that marriage was designed as God’s most complete and beautiful picture of salvation. The husband plays the role of Jesus and loves with such selflessness that he pictures Jesus who “gave Himself for [the church],…” Eph. 5:25. This is why verse 23 says “wives submit yourselves in everything to your husbands, as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”
When a husband loves his wife with such sacrificial love, and she loves him in response to that, the people around you that are watching your marriage are going to want to know how to have a marriage like yours. You now have the open door to tell that it is Jesus that has made your marriage so wonderful by His grace, power, and love. Their very next question is clear: “How do I bring Jesus into my life and my marriage?” They must be able to see the clear picture of how a person receives Jesus into his life and marriage – they submit themselves and everything that they are to Jesus. You must submit to Him totally. The wife models the truth of a person “taking up his cross to follow Jesus.”
As you will notice, this has nothing to do with a hierarchy or gender or position. It has everything to do with modeling the picture of salvation that God intended and designed your marriage to be. And to answer your obvious question, yes you must submit yourself to your husband in the same fashion and to the same extent that you give your life to Jesus. You cannot re-interpret scripture. It is clear in what it says and means. But that clarity also helps us properly understand what God is doing in this marriage design. He is not reducing the importance of women. He is not asking of you as a wife anything different from what He asks of your husband. He has is commanded to play a role as well and his role is to give the supreme sacrifice “as Jesus gave Himself for the church.”
This is truth of statement 1. As a wife, you are obediently displaying your role in the picture of salvation. The great promise of scripture is that when you obey God’s plan He will greatly bless your obedience. That is why He blesses wives with the truth of statement 2. Before we cover that statement, however, I want to debunk a few myths that the world lies to you about concerning submission.
Destroying the Worldly Myths Regarding Submission
Here are the responses to a few of the major lies that society and Satan will tell women in order to draw them away from fulfilling God’s plan.
A. The Bible is “old school chauvinistic.”
This lie is faithfully told by all of the feminists and liberal philosophers and politicians. It simply is not what the bible teaches. In fact, the bible teaches the opposite. Genesis 1:26-7 clearly states that God planned both male and female according to specific and unique designs. Genesis 2:18-25 tells us that God was not pleased with His creation of Adam and that it was not “good” until Eve was created – so Eve was deeply special and specifically designed and made wonderful by God.
In the context of marriage, the bible ALWAYS give great honor to women. Throughout Proverbs, God teaches that women and wives are priceless in their value. Read Proverbs 18:22 and 19:14. Proverbs 31 teaches us that a virtuous wife is priceless(10-11), is deeply gifted and talented(12-27), and is praised by her family and honored by the Lord(28-31).
I Peter 3:7 commands husbands to “give honor [to their wives] as joint heirs of the grace of life … lest your prayers be hindered.” In other words, husbands must honor their wives as blood bought daughters of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords or God will count to them as sin. Please someone explain to me where the chauvinism exists. God honors His daughters and commands it from men.
B. The Bible places women in a lesser role.
Women are not given any other commandment than is placed on any other Christian. Read all of Ephesians 5. Verses 1 and 2 command all believers to give a sacrificial love to everyone around them as an example of Jesus. Verses 18-21 command believers to exhibit a spirit-filled life by submitting to the other believers as a sign of respect to God. Workers are commanded to submit to their employers in chapter 6:5-8 in order to example Jesus. The Christian life is consistently taught as one of submission. Why would a wife submit to her brothers and sisters in Christ, her boss at work as an evangelistic example of Jesus, and then not submit to her husband. Why is he excepted from the same act of love that she is commanded to give everyone else?
Furthermore, he is commanded to the very same submission. He is doing the same Christian service and sacrifice as her. Moreover, he is called to the role of dying on the cross for her. He too is giving totally and completely of himself as well. There is no lesser role for a woman as a wife in God’s
C. Submission requires a woman to lose her identity.
Finally, a woman does not lose her identity. This idea presumes the false idea that she sublimates her identity to her husband’s and therefore loses her own self in him. This is dysfunction and the bible NEVER teaches dysfunction.
Where is any believer’s identity? It is always in their relationship with Jesus. Ephesians chapter 1 begins with a lesson on the believer’s identity in Christ. Chapter 5:18-21 teaches that we are to surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit and “be filled” as the scriptural process of surrendering our lives to Jesus. Verse 23 commands wives to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord.” In other words, you have already submitted your life to Christ and your identity is in Him. The submission to your husband flows from your identity in Christ. You lose nothing in your submission to him. Your identity as a believer is secure in Christ.
This truth is supported clearly in I Peter 2:21- 3:6. Moreover, Jesus was able to humble Himself for us and take our sins to the cross BECAUSE of who He was. Review Philippians 2. It was His security in His identity that gave Him the strength to die for us. He did not lose His identity, but acted true to His real identity and God exalted Him because of His submission.
This is true for women as well. When you understand who you are in Christ, you are free to serve, strengthened to serve, and God lavishes His blessing on you for being who He has called you to be. That is why the wife in Proverbs 31 is so deeply honored. She acted in the strength of who she was as a believer and did not give up her identity as falsely claimed by the philosophy of an unbelieving world.
Unlocking the key to your Husband’s Heart
Statement 2 makes wives a promise. If you will be obedient to God’s design and display the role of a submitted believer, then He will also give you the key to unlocking your husband’s heart. This is a powerful promise that liberal philosophers and feminists never tell you. Please listen to me wives: God has given you more power over your husband’s life and heart than any other thing or person!
Respect is the key that opens his heart. Briefly let me remind you of the truth of Genesis 1-3. God created your husband as a male and gave him a male engine. He was placed on the earth to “tend and keep.” See Genesis 2. This means he is designed to build things and conquer things. When Adam and Eve sinned, Adam sinned by not protecting his wife from the serpent and from abdicating his role of defending. He was not deceived and let the serpent beguile her. Genesis 3:1-7; I Timothy 2:14.
God explained to Adam that because of his sin he would not be able to successfully accomplish his role – he would farm by the sweat of his brow and receive only failure in return. The sin wound on every man’s heart is a sense of failure in his heart. Man’s deepest need is to be respected and honored. These two forces drive him either upward or downward. You join with the forces and drive him either upward or downward. You do not have to understand this. God made your husband and understands him. God loves you enough to give you the instruction manual.
Every man’s deepest desire is to be his wife’s greatest hero. When you submit to him, you are really honoring him. You are giving him respect. When you follow God’s design for a wife, you touch the deepest need and wound in his heart and soul. He is wired to respond to you with his heart, affection, and life when you do this.
This is such an important key that virtually every verse in scripture concerning wives includes the command to honor or respect. Some do it in the positive such as I Peter 3:1-6. This verse evens tells you that you will impact an unbelieving spouse and “win” him through your submission and respect. Now that is a promise from God!
Others teach this in the negative by way of warning. Review Proverbs 25:24. This admonition is repeated at least 4 other times in Proverbs. Proverbs 31:10-11 teaches you that the heart of her husband will “safely” trust in her. You make it safe for you husband to give you his heart when you honor him. It even says that he will not “have any lack of gain” when she does this. Why? It is simple. She builds up his confidence to do successfully what God has called him to do.
This is the definition of a Godly wife and His promise to you. Submit in obedience and watch God bless your marriage.