One of the things which made the timing of Christ’s incarnation so exciting was the way in which God providentially brought many factors together. Only “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…” Things like the Greek language and the unity of the western world under Rome, made that timing perfect. Another thing was the building of roads throughout Europe and the Middle East, providing for the easy travel of the gospel. It was at that point in history that a proverbial statement became popular. “All Roads lead to Rome,” and in a sense, at the time, they did. That was their purpose. We still use the phrase once in a while to suggest that all things eventually come together. In reality there is no road in Idaho or the United States which will take a traveler to the city of Rome.
But if we modify the proverb just a bit it, it becomes perfectly true. “All roads lead to the glory of God.” Every road, through every kind of scenery, mountains, desert roads, coastal roads, all glorify the Creator. Creation, even in its fallen and cursed state glories the Lord. The salvation of a few unworthy sinners, glorifies the Saviour. And the condemnation of other sinners, also glorifies the Lord, because His holiness is magnified. The service of God by His saints magnifies His name, whether they are preachers or Christian plumbers. In our scripture we have an example of this, especially when we add this scriptures to Peter’s previous exhortations.
All roads lead to God’s glorification.
Do you remember the context of those wonderful scriptures we’ve been studying recently? “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” The context was Peter’s exhortation to servants. Verse 18 – “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear…”
In this letter, after making his introductions, Peter describes all God’s saints as a chosen generation and peculiar people. He summarizes his exhortation to us all by saying, lay aside all malice and guile. Live such a life that in everything you do you shall “glorify God in the day of visitation” – verse 12. and speaking to all God’s saints he says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” “For the Lord’s sake” ultimately means, “for the Lord’s glory.” And then he turns his attention to servants – which we could apply to employees. Again, he essentially says, serve your masters for the glory of your Saviour – “this is acceptable with God.” For even Christ Jesus submitted and served, “committing himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
In chapter 3 Peter sets his sights on another major group of Christians – wives saved by the grace of God.
There were very likely a great many women whom the Lord saved, while their husbands remained heathens. And the purpose of Peter’s exhortations to these ladies comes down to the same thing as to the servants – the glorification of the Saviour. “LIKEWISE, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…” He says, “Just has I have exhorted servants to be submissive, I exhort you Christian wives to submissively serve your husbands so they may be won by your chaste conversation.” The word “chaste” refers to “purity,” and we might say “clean” or “modest.” The word “conversation” shouldn’t be confined to not talking back, not criticizing and not nagging. That “conversation” is referring to these wives entire manner of life. Live your lives in such a way that will draw the attention of your unsaved husbands to Christ. Glorify the Lord through your Christian living.
That is just what he had earlier said to the saints in general, and to servants more specifically. And it is what he will say to Christian husbands in the next paragraph. Every pathway of life leads to the glory to God, and every Christian traveler should walk with that intent.
In these modern days of changing social morés, there are a lot of women who dislike what Peter is saying. They seem to think that this is somehow demeans them. But Peter says nothing about the their character or position in the sight of God. There have always been families where the women were more godly than their husbands, just as there were undoubtedly better men among the servants of the Roman empire than there were among their employers and owners. One example of a Godly lady would be Abigail, the wife of Nabal. So many of us, including men, have been caught up in various degrees of the “women’s liberation movement.” Forgetting that salvation includes a very special liberation, some woman lash out at what the Apostles say about their gender and their responsibilities. Those ladies need to recognize that Peter uses the same word, in the same way, in I Peter 2:13 when speaking, not to ladies, but to all Christians. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” – for the Lord’s glory.
Jesus submitted Himself to the will of His parents, so we have His example. Paul tells the church in Corinth to submit to the pastoral leadership God had given them – I Corinthians 16:16. Peter says generally in chapter 5 – “Likewise, ye younger (Christians), submit yourselves unto the elder, (in fact), yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and give the grace to the humble.” The primary reason people refuse to submit to the Lord’s exhortations to submit is pride. So James says, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble, Submit yourselves therefore to God” – James 4:6-7. Before Paul tells wives to submit to your own husbands as unto the Lord in Ephesians 5:21, he says to every one of us: “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” I am commanded by God to be submissive. As a husband, as a father, as a pastor and as a Christian I am commanded to submit to various people. Christian ladies should not be offended when they are told to submit to their own husbands.
Remember, the details of our lives should be lived in such a way as to glorify our Saviour.
One of the goals in the way we live should be to point people to Calvary and Christ. And that is why Christian wives should submit themselves to their husbands whether Christian or non-Christian. “Wives be in subjection to your own husbands (that they may) behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” What sort of fear, Peter?
The apostle gives us the example of Sarah. Is there any evidence that Sarah was afraid of Abraham? Did he ever threaten her with physical violence? Was there abuse in that family? Was she battered? I admit that there are a few things about that couple which I think is shameful. And we don’t have much information about their day-to-day domestic details. But I don’t detect any kind of fear in Sarah except in the sense of respect. It is not true of all husbands, but it appears to be that Abraham earned his wives’ respect – not fright.
In that context Peter speaks about the attire of Christian ladies. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but Peter is not telling women not to put on apparel, is he? Everyone must wear some sort of clothing – some sort of apparel. And most people, nearly all women, have hair, and something must be done with that hair. Peter isn’t telling Christian ladies to cut off all their hair, so they won’t feel tempted to make it outlandishly ornate – plaiting it. What he is saying is: since our bodies are only the outward containers of our souls and spirits, let’s not focus first and foremost on them. Dress modestly, keep your hair-style reasonable, and to don’t try to impress people with your jewelry. When Samuel was looking for the next king of Israel, “the LORD said unto (him), Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” – I Samuel 16:7.
What Peter is saying about women, he could have said about men. But in their case the reverse would usually be more appropriate if he was here today. Many men don’t show enough respect to the Lord in the way they dress, especially in the house of God. They refuse to recognize that God’s Old Testament priests were to dress for the occasion – their service in the house of God. They refuse to recognize that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it should be adorned in a fashion which suits the Lord.
Peter says, “let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” The reason many Christian men care little for their outward appearance is because the hidden man of their hearts is not as Christ-like as the ought to be. As husbands, demanding their wives to be submissive to them, tell them to put a skirt on to attend God’s House, they can’t be submissive to the Lord sufficiently to put on a dress shirt as they sit next to them. They would condemn the preacher for wearing a t-shirt onto the pulpit, but it’s fine for them to wear a t-shirt when hoping to hear a message from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they say, “Well, it’s just way things are in casual North Idaho.” And I say, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be in North Idaho, or anywhere else. Neither Peter nor Paul are opening the door to double standards when it comes to Christian attire. A “meek and quiet spirit” are to be found in both Christian women and Christian men.
Peter gives us the example of Sarah. “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”
I have a hard time explaining and justifying all the aspects of the Abrahamic home life. Reading Genesis 12 to 23, it appears to me that Abraham sincerely loved Sarah. Nevertheless, it appears that sometimes he loved himself far more. He told his wife to deceive Pharoah, and then later Abimelech, by saying she was merely his sister, when she was more than that. It’s obvious that he told her to do this out of fear for his own neck. And when it appeared that Sarah couldn’t give the family any children, Abraham became a polygamist. Can you imagine how difficult it was for Sarah to submit herself to all the whims of her husband? If any woman had a right to rebel against her husband it would have been Sarah. But she did it. She went wherever he went. She did and said what she was told to do and say.
I think that it is interesting that Peter referred to the fact that Sarah called Abraham her “lord.” It’s interesting because, at least as recorded in God’s Word, she only did it on one occasion. But it was said in such a way as to make it appear natural and not uncommon. I have known some married couples who addressed each other as “husband” and “wife.” “Husband, what would you like to have for supper.” For the people I am picturing, it was natural to them, and they did it often with the utmost respect. Also, I have read of other couples who called each other “Mr. Smith” and “Mrs. Smith.” Again, it seemed to be natural to them.
In Genesis 18 the pre-incarnate Christ and a couple of His angels visited Abraham. They came to inform him that despite their very old bodies, God was going to give Abraham and Sarah the son which He had promised them. When Sarah heard it she “laughed within herself, saying, after I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord (my husband) being old also?” These words, unspoken and yet so natural, seem to reveal the attitude of her heart. I believe she loved her husband and made him the Lord’s representative in her heart and life. Peter says, “This do likewise.” You ladies will be the daughters of Sarah, when your hearts are like Sarah’s.
“Whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” One of my commentaries explains the last clause as: “don’t let your heart flutter over what your husband says.” In other words, trust the Lord and do what your husband says. It is that husband who God holds responsible for family decisions and for following the divine directives. Wife, don’t let your heart flutter too badly about those things, just do your best to bring glory to the Lord.
Laying aside some of the details, the primary point of this paragraph is to keep first things first. The primary point is to live our lives focused on bringing glory to the Lord. Christians married to unsaved husbands clearly will have a difficult time reaching that objective. But if they will strive to live Godly, the Lord will be pleased, and they could conceivably bring their husbands to a knowledge of the truth about Christ.
That’s what the Christian life is all about.