All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training us. It is important then that when we read the Bible we apply it. Obviously, we will sometimes see applications for others but we must first see what a passage has to say to us. As Jesus warns, there is no point trying to take a speck of sawdust out of your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own!
In many places general applications are obvious. But what about those places where the verses clearly do not apply to your own situation? For example, if you are a young man or an elderly spinster reading 1 Peter 3:1-6 you may be tempted to say ‘I’m not a wife and never will be, so there’s nothing here for me’. In fact there is a great deal to learn from the very way that Peter approaches the subject and if we are observant all of us can not only learn from a passage like this how we to pray for wives or prospective wives but also a great deal that applies more directly to our own situations. There are at least ten lessons here.
The family is a basic unit of government in God’s ordering of the world
The very fact that Peter chooses to speak not only about civil government and the work place (see Chapter 2) but also about the family suggests that the family has an important place in God’s government of the world. Along with church and sate the home is one of God's three great institutions for governing people on earth. At the beginning all three were together. Adam was head of his family, leader of the church and head of state for that matter. For most of the Old Testament period in Israel church and state were combined. In this New Covenant era church, family and state are separate and need to respect each other and avoid confusion. There is state or civil government, family government and church government and these three ought to be clearly demarcated. The home is a basic unit in God's government and we all need to pay careful attention to family life. If family life goes awry in a community that community will be in great trouble. It is one of the great problems of our time.
We should be more concerned about fulfilling our duties than claiming our rights
It is also worth noting here that Peter spends no time on the wife's rights and all his time on her duties. This is the very opposite of much of what goes on today. Where rights are put above duties a sad and unbiblical imbalance can soon come in.
Often our situations at home will be far from ideal
It should come as no surprise that New Testament Christians faced the problem of harsh masters and unbelieving husbands. Such difficulties are found in all ages. We live in a fallen world and seldom will situations be ideal. We will face difficulties and struggles. The Bible assumes this.
Behaviour is often more effective than words
The temptation for the Christian wife is to spend all her time telling her unbelieving husband to believe. That is not the right approach. Very soon such a woman would turn into a nagger and drive her husband away from Christ not towards him. Peter argues for winning witness that comes without words and relies on immaculate behaviour not mere words. Again and again it is seen that actions speak louder than words. This fact can be used as an excuse for not witnessing when we can but that is to twist the Scriptures. We must be ready to give an answer whenever we are asked about the hope within, as Peter goes on to say, but first we must be godly.
Unbelievers are to be won for Christ
The phrase ‘soul winning’ is not fashionable among Christians today. It is a biblical idea, however. Peter speaks here of husbands being won over. Unbelievers are negative. They are against Christ and his people. They need to be won over. We must be doing all we can to win people over to Christ. Are you a soul winner?
Cultivation of the inner self is more important than outward adornment
True beauty is something inward not outward. It is like the washing of cups – the important thing is getting the inside clean. Too often people are like those gravestones Jesus mentions – whitewashed on the outside but full of corruption on the inside. Unlike outward beauty, inward beauty is unfading. It gets better as time goes on. Some women are able to hold back the ravages of time quite well for a while but eventually, like us all, they lose their outward beauty. Instead the thing to concentrate on is the real beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Gentleness and quietness are required of all believers. It should especially be seen in our dealings with our families. We do not accept the Greek idea that the physical is evil or unimportant but we must have the right perspective.
The Old Testament saints stand as examples to us of how to live
It is worth noting how readily Peter turns to the Old Testament saints to back up what he is saying here. The Old Testament not only points forward to Messiah by means of types and shadows but also gives us moral examples to follow.
Even apparently incidental details in Scripture have something to teach us
Peter seems to build his argument on the relatively minor fact that Sarah spoke of her husband Abraham as her master. He clearly read his Bible very carefully. That piece of information could easily be missed. We must similarly be alert to hints that the Scripture gives for us. It is all God's Word and every bit has something to teach us.
The objective test of a person’s Christianity is how they live
You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Just as the true sons of Abraham are those who like Abraham not only have the same faith but do good deeds so true daughters of Sarah are those who not only have faith like her but do what is right as she did also.
The way we live ought to be dictated by the desire to do right and not by fear
This must be the motivating factor. As believers we have not been a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
I believe this article appeared in Grace Magazine some time
I believe this article appeared in Grace Magazine some time