Sunday, November 21, 2021

“Do What Is Right And Do Not Give Way To Fear” [Matt's Messages]

“Do What Is Right And Do Not Give Way To Fear”
As Foreigners and Exiles - The Message of 1 Peter
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 21, 2021 :: 1 Peter 3:1-7

I want to remind you that this part of Peter’s letter flows out of our current memory verse which we have been hiding in our hearts now since the end of August. 1 Peter 2:11-12.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

And one of the key ways that we do that is to submit to other humans.

For the last two Sundays, we’ve heard the Apostle Peter tell us to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to various human authorities, good and not-so-good.

Chapter 2 verses 13-17 was submission of citizens or subjects to governmental authorities. “Honor the king.”

There at the end of chapter 2, Peter got almost carried away as he described our Lord’s unique example of submission as the sinless suffering Servant who bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds we are healed. We all like sheep had gone astray, but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. 

Isn’t that wonderful? Peter sure thought so. 

But he was also not done urging his readers to practice Christ-like submission.

What group of people do you think that Peter will speak to next?

It turns out that it is Christian wives. Wives that are followers of Jesus Christ. Let me read it to you. 1 Peter chapter 3, verses 1 through 6. And then he has one verse, as well, for Christian husbands. I think that might be because we husbands can only handle one verse before we get into trouble. I don’t know. 

Everybody needs to tune-in this morning to this message. It is actually for everybody.

Some of you might have thought that you could tune-out because you are not currently married. Some of us husbands might have thought that we could tune-out at least until we got to verse 7. 

But while this passage applies directly to Christians who are married right now, it applies indirectly to all Christians. And while 6 verses are specifically for Christian wives and 1 verse is specifically for Christian husbands, it’s all God’s Word to all of us, and we all can profit from understanding the logic and purpose and heart of this passage and apply that to all of our lives today.

In fact, I’ve titled this message with the last 11 words of verse 6 in the NIV:

“Do What Is Right and Do Not Give Way To Fear.”

And that applies to everybody, doesn’t it? Some of us just need to hear those words to receive God’s Word for us today.

“Do what is right.”

In the Greek, that’s actually just one word, “agathopoiousai.” “Do the good.”

Which is actually one of Peter’s favorite words. He uses it 4 times in this one short letter!

He used it two weeks ago in chapter 2:15, “For it is God's will that by doing good [agathopoiousai] you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

And he used it last week in verse 20 of chapter 2, “But if you suffer for doing good [agathopoiountes, same word] and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” 

And he’s going to use it again in just a few more verses, chapter 3, verse 17.

I think that Peter wants us to do to good, to do what is right. And to do it without giving way to fear.

There’s actually a double fear in the Greek in verse 6. “Without fearing any fear.” “Without giving in to a fear of a fearful thing.”

Those two things go together a lot, don’t they? Doing the right thing and being scared.

It often takes courage to do the good thing.

One of you sent me a text this week asking for prayer because you had done what you thought was the right thing, and it didn’t go over well with others. You had stood up for someone else, and the people you had stood up around felt stood up to, and it was  uncomfortable all of a sudden.

Foreigners feel that a lot, don’t they? Because foreigners can’t often get comfortable. They don’t quite fit in, and when they stand up, they stand out. So over and over again in this letter, Peter wants to build our courage. He tells us again and again to not fear other humans (even when he’s telling us to submit to them!). 

But instead to fear God and God alone.

“Do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

And what he’s specifically talking about as “right” and “good” in verse 6 is Christian wives submitting to their husbands. Look up at verse 1.

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

I want to summarize the application of this passage this morning in three points for Christian wives, and one point for Christian husbands. And we all should be taking notes.


How does that hit you this morning?

Some of us here may struggle with receiving this teaching this morning. Perhaps because of our culture, perhaps because of our experiences, our backgrounds and current situation, perhaps because of misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and also perhaps because of our own sinful hearts and desires.

This may not sit well with you the first time you hear it, so let’s spend a little bit of time thinking about it together more deeply.

The first thing I want to point out is how this command dignifies and honors Christian wives.

This command elevates married Christian women.

That might surprise you, but think about it.

To whom does Peter address this command?

Is it to the husbands? “Husbands, get your wives under control?” It certainly does not say that! “Husbands, subjugate your wives.”

No. Even verse 7 doesn’t say anything like that!

No, Peter talks directly to the married women hearing this letter read to them in the churches of Asia Minor. He talks directly to them! Same as he talked to the servants in the last section. He treats these married women as free moral agents under God and encourages them to freely choose, as Christians, to voluntarily put themselves under the authority of their husbands.

This is not demeaning in the slightest.

In fact, who is specifically he asking them to follow?

He’s asking them to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

These ladies are the first followers directly addressed after the example of Jesus is extolled at the end of the last chapter.

Peter is asking these Christian wives to follow in Jesus’ steps.

By submitting to their husbands. Their own husbands. Not every husband. Just their own husband.

Heather Joy, the Lord is asking you to submit to me as your husband, but not to any other husband in this church or in this world. That might be hard enough! Just following me. I’m sure you don’t feel like it all the time, and I make it more difficult than it needs to be. But it doesn’t have to be any harder. 

Same with all of the rest of you wives. You are not called to submit to every husband, just your own.

And it’s going to look different for different couples. Peter doesn’t spell out a lot of specifics here. There aren’t a lot of details in this passage. I think that’s great because culture changes and there are all kind of couples out there that will do this in different ways.

But every Christian wife is supposed to do it.

Christian wives, submit to your own husbands. Why?

Well, the Apostle Paul tells us that Christians wives are to submit to their husbands because they are living parables of the relationship of Jesus Christ to His church (see Ephesians 5:22).

But that’s not where Peter goes with it here. Remember, Peter is chiefly concerned with our witness to the unbelieving world.

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Peter is mainly concerned here with Christian wives that have non-Christian husbands. Pagan husbands. Listen to verse 1 again.

“Wives, in the same way [as Jesus Christ!] be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word [if they refuse to believe the word of the gospel], they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Do you see the pattern?

Ladies, your unbelieving husbands are watching you. They are watching your life.

And they want to know what this “Jesus thing” is going to do to you and to your marriage.

It would be very unusual and uncomfortable in the first century Roman Empire for a married couple to worship different, separate gods. The wife would be expected to worship the god of her husband.

Can a Christian wife do that? No, she cannot. And she has to “do what is right” and “not give way to fear” and refuse to worship her husband’s god, no matter what. And she didn’t have the rights and freedoms that women in our society enjoy right now.

A Christian wife in a marriage like that was a “foreigner” and an “exile” in her own home!

And the unbelieving husband would be watching and watching her life to see if this “Jesus thing” was going to cause him trouble. 

And it might. Jesus changes lives and that changes relationships. If the husband wants the wife to sin, she has to say, “No.” If he says, “We’re going to cheat on our taxes, sign right here.” She says, “I can’t do that.” This “Jesus thing” may make things harder for him in significant ways.

But not in every way. Peter tells the Christian wives to submit themselves to their husbands for the good of the gospel.

Not because they are in any way inferior to their husbands.

They are just as valuable, just as precious, made in just the same image of God.

But because their husbands are watching, and so is the rest of the world.

People are watching our marriages.

The world is watching our marriages. Are they seeing Jesus in them?

I know that it is really hard to be what we call “spiritually single.” To be the only Christian in a marriage. Maybe the only Christian in a family. There are several of you ladies in this church that have walked that road, some of you for many many miles.

I honor you! You do not have it easy.

Years ago, I preached on this passage and posted it online, and it was for several years on the first page of search results on Google for “married to an unbeliever.” Thousands and thousands of hits. Ladies in this kind of a “spiritually mixed marriage” are looking for support and encouragement.

If that’s you, I want you to know that I honor you and are behind you all the way. Because it’s living like that, Peter says, that will win over unbelieving husbands “without words.”

It’s not by nagging or being preachy or pressuring or badgering or complaining to your husband about going to church, but by living a life of purity and reverence and submission.

It’s by living a beautiful life.


What does this submission look like? It’s very attractive, but not through externals. Look at verse 3.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”

Now, Peter is not saying that Christian women can never dress up.

No. He’s saying that no matter how beautiful you make your outsides, that’s not going to win your husband to Christ, and it’s not what God really cares about either.

Sadly, some Christian women often get this wrong. They can spend hours in front of the mirror and almost no time at all in their Bibles or in prayer.

Peter is not saying you can’t look in the mirror. Peter is not saying, “Be as ugly as you can!” Peter is not saying you can’t be outwardly beautiful. My wife is extraordinarily outwardly beautiful!

But outward beauty can fade or be taken away in heartbeat. And it’s not where it’s at.

Here’s where it’s at. Verse 4. You beauty “should be that of your inner self [literally “the hidden heart”], the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”

Peter loves that word “unfading,” as well. He uses it several times in this letter. It’s the same word he used to described our living hope in the first chapter. Our inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.

This is a beauty that cannot be taken away from you ladies!

The “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”

Now, these words “gentle and quiet” can also be taken wrongly.

Peter is not saying that women with loud personalities are ungodly.

Peter is not talking about how loud your personality is. If God made you loud, then be loud. If God made you to make a splash, make a splash.

There are lots of different kinds of godly women in the Bible, and some of them are loud and feisty and forceful. Praise God! The church needs you!

Peter is talking about your heart. Not your personality, but your character.

He’s asking if you are noisy inside. If you are angry and frustrated inside. If you are chaotic and destructive and selfish and violent on the inside.

Or are you gentle and quiet in your spirit?

Do you have peace?
Do you have serenity?
Are you calm?

That word “gentle” there in verse 4 is the same word in Greek our Lord Jesus used to describe Himself in the title of that book we’re all reading as a church, Gentle and Lowly.

Are you like Jesus on the inside, ladies?

That’s what Peter is saying.

That’s “of great worth in God’s sight.”

Ladies, don’t let the world tell you what is beautiful.
Don’t let the world tell you how to act.
Don’t let social media tell you what is beautiful and chase after that.

Let God tell you what is beautiful, and run after that in your hearts!

Christian wives cultivate beauty on the inside.

You know, the world is not going to know exactly what to do with Christian wives submitting to their husbands. The world is going to scoff at it and mock it and even warn everybody about how dangerous it is.

And when done wrong, it can be dangerous.

But when the world sees women who are beautiful on the inside with the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, some of them will get curious. Some of them will want a piece of that.

And some of them will to come to know Christ.

And so will some of the unbelieving husbands.

It’s always been like that. Peter goes back to the Old Testament to show the pattern. Look at verse 5.

“For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”


Just like Sarah did.

The Apostle Peter loved his Old Testament, so he reaches back to the first book of the Bible to put forward the first lady of faith, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as an example of wifely submission.

In Genesis 18, she called Abraham, her “Lord” which doesn’t mean “god” in this context, it means something more like “Captain” or “Chief” or “Leader.”

Abraham wasn’t always the easiest guy to follow, either, though he was a believer.

So Sarah had a rocky ride at times. But she respected Abraham and followed him and submitted to him, not because he was so great, but because Sarah’s God was so great and had promised great things.

And she was putting her hope Him.

And Sarah was beautiful, too, even in her old age! But her true beauty was on the inside when she put her hope in YHWH.

Sarah was a model for the Christian wives of Peter’s day and our day.

We need more women like that to be models.

We need “super-models” of inner beauty who hope in God and do the right thing no matter what.

“You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

Ladies, find a woman like that and model your life after her.

Are you getting a better sense of what it means to submit to your husband like this? Sarah obeyed Abraham, so at least, on some level, submission means obedience. But not like a child or like a slave or an employee. A married couple are both adults and also equals, as we’ll see in a minute in verse 7.

But a Christian wife puts herself under the authority of her husband and follows his leadership.

Being submissive means, at least:

- Desiring to follow him
- Looking to her husband as her leader, calling him that
- Being fiercely loyal to him  
- Not talking him down or gossiping about him or incessantly complaining about him
- Not selfishly fighting him or insisting on her own way
- Not being fiercely independent
- Not going her own way, devil may care
- Not being reckless, brash, hateful, chaotic, destructive, demanding in the home
- Not being defiant, resistant, unentreatable

Wives do all of those things wrong when they put their hope in everything else than God.

Ladies, do you see how putting your hope in God enables you to submit to your own husband?

You aren’t putting your hope in your husband.
You aren’t putting your hope in your outward beauty.
You aren’t putting your hope in your rights.

You are putting your hope in your God, and believing everything He says about you and about your future. About how loved you are. About how you are chosen. About how you are precious to Him. Of how your spirit is of “great worth in God’s sight.”

And then you can be fearless and do the right thing.

“Do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

Some of you gals who are not married, are thinking, “Hmm. I thought I wanted to get married, but now I’m hearing more of what’s involved, I want to re-think this!”

Heather Joy, you do not have to call me, “Lord,” but thank you for treating me like one. 

By the way, there is a word that’s been on many of your minds as I’ve been talking.

And it’s the word “abuse.”

What about abusive situations?

Is Peter saying that Christian wives should just grin and bear it?

I don’t think so.

The Bible tells us that God hates oppression which is what abuse is.

If you are being abused: physically, sexually, mentally, get out. Get help. Go to the authorities. Come up with a plan and get to safety if you can.

Come see me. I will do my best to help you. Heather and I have helped other women.

I know it’s hard. It’s sometimes even hard to know if what is happening to you is actually abuse.

I’ve been reading a great book by Darby Strickland called Is It Abuse? A Biblical Guide to Identifying Domestic Abuse and Helping Victims.

God hates oppression, and calls followers of Christ to help the oppressed.

Just as Peter is not saying you should go along with your husband’s sin, he’s not saying that you should just simply submit to his abuse.

And, Husbands, do not abuse your wives.

In fact, we are called to do the exact opposite of that. Look at verse 7.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Talk about getting serious! When Christian men sin against their wives, God can cut off answers to our prayers! He says, “Talk to me again when you have made things right with your wife.”


Peter says that Christian husbands are to be considerate or to “dwell according to knowledge” with your wives.

In other words, to really know them and really know what they really need. To be sensitive to your wives.

Guys are not always known for being sensitive. Christians husbands should be.

By the way, I think the reason why there’s only one verse for husbands here is that there were much fewer men in the situation of being a Christian husband with a non-Christian wife at this time.
And Peter is primarily addressing those who are more vulnerable in society. But I also think that he wants to make some really big points that were really revolutionary.

He says that Christians husbands not only need to study their wives...

By the way, husbands, do you know what your wife wants for Christmas?

Do you know what your wife needs this week from you?

I don’t know what your wife needs, but I have a pretty good idea what mine does.

And I’ve already ordered her Christmas gifts. (I hope I got it right! I’ve been studying for the test.)

Peter says that Christian husbands not only need to study their wives, but to respect them as the weaker partner. 

The word for respect means to “show honor.”

Husbands honoring their wives.

And not just honoring them because they are so wonderful, but because they are in some sense weaker than you are.

Most commentators think the “weaker” here means weaker physically, and I’m inclined to agree. That’s generally true of most guys and gals. 

But I also think that the weaker could be socially. In almost all societies (aside from Amazon ones) wives inhabit the weaker social position.

And Christian husbands are aware of that and lift them up.

And instead of taking advantage of their relative weakness physically, they honor them physically, socially, sexually, mentally.

This is the polar opposite of abuse!

And here’s the kicker:

It’s not just because they can be weaker, but because they are our equals, guys.

See what Peter says there in verse 7?

See how subversive this was socially in that day and age?

Peter is undermining both unchecked feminism and unchecked patriarchalism.

Christian Husbands, “treat [your wives] with heirs with you of the gracious gift of life...”

Fellow participants in grace.
Co-heirs with your Christian wife in salvation!

Neither of you is ahead of each other at the Cross. The Bible says that male and female are One in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t voluntary submission in the marriage relationship. Obviously there is.

But there is no superiority or inferiority.

There should just be honor.

Christian husbands should so honor their wives by listening to them, respecting their opinions, taking their advice, heeding their counsel, working so closely with them that their wives hardly ever have to think about submitting to their husbands because they are so in sync.

And when the world sees Christian marriages like that?

Watch out! They will see our good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

Christian husbands, intently study and honor your wives.

Pardon me while I do it right here and right now:

Heather Joy, I honor you. Thank you for following me. I honor you. You are what I am most thankful for, here on Earth, this Thanksgiving Season. You are a daughter of Sarah.  I honor how you do what is right and do not give way to fear.


Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21
06. "Love Each Other Deeply, From the Heart" 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
07. "But Now You Are..." 1 Peter 2:4-10
08. “As Foreigners And Exiles” 1 Peter 2:11-12
09. "Submit Yourselves For the Lord's Sake 1 Peter 2:13-17
10. "Follow In His Steps" 1 Peter 2:18-25