Partners or Peons - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, the paragraph which begins with verse 21:

Ephesians 5

21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the saviour of the body.
24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify it and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The Testimony of the Family

We have spoken to you about the family unit as Heaven's namesake, and we emphasized that one of the most effective ways of witnessing in this day of apostasy is through the Christian family. God named it for Himself so that there would be a unit which would be able to give a testimony which would reach hearts as no other testimony would. I said that most of us are so selfish that we are more interested in the tranquillity of our homes than we are in the testimonies that our homes ought to be; we are interested in discussions on the Christian family in the hope that the tranquillity of the home may provide some relief for us. I said that perhaps we are putting the cart before the horse, and that if we are interested under God in making our homes the testimonies that they should be, then the tranquillity will naturally follow.

The verses of Scripture which I have read suggest one step in the right direction toward providing a tranquil home–the relationship which exists between the husband and the wife, whether that relationship is a partnership or whether that relationship is a matter of slavery, whether the individuals concerned are partners or whether they are peons. You may use other words if you like.

I am given to alliteration to aid the memories of those to whom I speak, and I would like for you to think with me along the line, “Am I a partner in this relationship or am I a peon in this relationship?”

Sharing In Marriage

We are all interested in the study of original languages, and sometimes folk feel that you won't have a proper understanding of the Word unless you do have an understanding of the original language. We certainly go along with that, but I suggest to you that sometimes you do not have an adequate understanding of the Word because you don't have a good Webster's dictionary by your side. Many times when we use an ordinary word, folk have no idea what we are talking about because they have formed their own conceptions and misconceptions of the word involved. I would like to suggest to you that Webster defines a partner as a sharer–one of those associated as joint principals in carrying on a business with a view to joint profit.

Do I hear someone saying, “What in the world has that got to do with the family?” The rearing of the family is the greatest business I know anything about. I cannot think of anything more important than the rearing of a family. The greatest investment that my wife and I have is our children.

One time quite some years ago someone came to us and said, “I see you are driving the same old car.” I said, “Yes, it still runs, thank God.” He said, “Where is your new car?” Perhaps more facetiously than I should have, I said, “In the crib in the bedroom.” You see, we would much rather have a baby in a crib than to have a new car in the garage. I say that for the sake of emphasis in order that you will recognize that it is right to talk about the marriage relationship in the manner which I have just suggested. A partnership in marriage does recognize the principle of sharing, and does indicate that a partner is one of the two associated as joint principals–notice the word–in carrying on a business with a view to joint profit.

Perhaps you have not lived long enough for your children to have disappointed you, and may it please God, I trust you never will. But I know some families that don't have enough money, although they are among the wealthiest people in the world, to recoup their losses in relation to their families, because the partnership did not work as it should when the children were small.

Bondage In Marriage

What is a peon? Maybe I am using this word because I am from West Texas and it is a good word there. Webster says, “A peon is an individual who is forced to serve virtually in bondage to creditors, a person bound to service in payment of a debt.” Let me say for you again because I want you to get it: A peon is one forced to serve virtually in bondage to creditors, a person bound to service in payment of debt.

Although you may be fortunate in your own marriage, I would like to suggest to you that there are few marriages which are partnerships in the Scriptural sense of the word. Some of them have developed into purely business arrangements–not in the Scriptural sense of the word, but in the worldly sense of the word. I hope your marriage is not among them, but perhaps you can look back over your life and say, “Mine was.”

There are marriages where the bonds of matrimony are truly chains of bondage, and instead of partnership there is peonage, with the wife or the husband or both feeling that they are bound to service in the payment of a debt. I have had couples sit with me, and he will say, “I don't love her,” and she will say, “I don't love him;” and both of them will say, “As soon as our children are reared, we are through.” That is peonage, Beloved. That is slavery.

I have had others sit in my office and say to me, “We have always been taught that divorce is wrong, so we are staying together. We hate the sight of each other, but we incurred a debt and we are going to pay it.” That is peonage. That is slavery. That is being pressed into service in order to pay a debt. May I say that if every couple who enters into marriage will review the Scriptural teaching concerning marriage, much of this can be avoided; the Scripture emphasizes that marriage indeed is a partnership.

Adam's Helper

Will you turn with me, please, to a passage of Scripture in the book of Genesis, chapter 2. We have already read together verse 18:

Genesis 2

18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

As we thought a bit about that verse, we learned that in God's sight, Adam without his wife was like a lone branch of a tree, like the lone limb of a body. There was nothing attractive about it at all, so God made an helpmeet for him; and I am purposely pronouncing that in the way that most folk think of it. They think of “help meet” as one word, “helpmeet”; but if you will look carefully at your Bibles, you will see that they are two words. The new edition of the Scofield Reference Bible has put in brackets another word to emphasize the way it ought to be, “a help fit for him.” The Berkeley version translates this same passage, “God made a suitable helper, completing him.” A help meet to some folk means nothing more than a slave, but that was not what God had in mind. He made a suitable helper, completing him. The Amplified version of the Scripture says, “a helper suitable, adaptable”. Wives, that is hard, isn't it, to adapt to your husband; to be adaptable, suitable, to him?

This verse emphasizes what I want you to get as the basic thought of this entire series of messages: Marriage is a partnership. How much of a partnership is indicated in the remaining portion of this chapter, if you will look at verse 21:

Genesis 2

21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Eve's Relationship to Adam

You have heard these words so often related to marriage ceremonies that they have become commonplace, but they are a wonderful illustration of what marriage ought to be as a partnership. In the marriage ceremonies which I perform, I say words which I think originated in Matthew Henry: “When God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and from his side took a rib and from that made woman, He portrayed His wisdom. He did not take something from Adam's feet beneath which he might trample her; nor did He take something from his head that she might rule over him; but He took something from his side, that she might be nearest and dearest to his heart.” That is the partnership.

Becoming One Flesh

Did you notice verse 24?

Genesis 2

24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Do you know what that means? If you know what that means, you know more than the Holy Spirit was pleased to reveal to the Apostle Paul, because

in chapter 5 of the Ephesian letter you will notice in verse 31 a repetition of these words:

Ephesians 5

31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32This is a great mystery:

“This,” said the Apostle Paul, “is a mystery,” and it is a mystery. It is a mystery how two people can be brought together by the Lord and become one. Most of the time that is dismissed as related to the sexual act, in connection with the nuptial bed; but I am talking about something far deeper and far more important than that. When two people become one flesh, then there is a partnership that is never broken. Do you realize that the reason some partnerships are broken, even though the marriage ceremony has been read and the couple has plighted their troth one to the other, even though they have gone to the wedding bed together, is that they have never become one. That is possible, and that is the reason the partnership oftentimes does not last any longer than it does. You have got to be one.

The wonderful thing that I can say to you is that if perchance you are engaged in a relationship that is somewhat peonage to you, it can be changed, and the two of you can become one. When you do become one in Christ–and that is the only way you can–then indeed you two will be one flesh. When one of you rejoices, the other will rejoice; when one of you aches, the other will ache; when one of you is burdened, the other will know it. Do you have that kind of relationship? You can have.

A Personal Reference

Forgive me again for the references I will make to my family during this series of messages, but as I have said, this is the illustration God gives. I thank God for my wife. Someone said to me today, “Your wife must be an awfully sweet person,” and I said, “She is.” I had a man tell me one time, “Joe Temple, you wouldn't have a friend in the world if it weren't for your wife.” I didn't object too strenuously to that because I was born one of those “um” Yankees you hear about, and it took me a long time to learn to be gracious. It took me a long time to learn to keep my mouth shut. But she is a gracious, sweet, precious person. I thank God that He gave her to me and that we are one flesh.

Do you know one of the reasons I know we are? She senses my every need. God has given her an unusual gift. She knows when I am burdened, and I know when she is. I am very busy many, many days, and I leave in the morning and don't get home till late at night. But we are in contact by phone many times during the day. Sometimes when I call home, she will answer and I will say, “Honey, what is wrong?” “Oh, nothing. Nothing.” I will say, “Honey, I have got a lot to do and I know there is something wrong. Let's not temporize. What is wrong?” Sure enough, the tears will come, and she will tell me about one of those difficult days that women know about and that men don't know anything about. I wonder what would happen if men had to stay at home all day long and do exactly what women have to do. I wonder what would happen. I am sure there would be more nagging, more screaming, more figurative hair-pulling, than there is.

If you learn to be one flesh it is amazing how you can be a release for each other, a pressure valve for each other; when you become one, you can learn what each other's needs are and be adaptable.

Being Heirs Together

One other passage of Scripture I would like to look at with you in connection with the emphasis on marriage as a partnership. You will find it in the first epistle of Peter, chapter 3. We are going to take only one phrase for this immediate discussion, and that phrase will be found in verse 7:

I Peter 3

7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [ and literally it is ”dwell together with them” ] according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Will you notice the phrase, “heirs together.” It comes from one word, and it may be translated by the word “participants,” as in a common venture. The Paraphrased translation renders this verse in a way that is not too easy on husbands: “You husbands must be careful of your wives, being thoughtful of their needs, and honoring them as the weaker sex, remembering that you and your wife [notice carefully now] are partners in receiving God's blessing together, and if you don't treat them [this is the part that is not too easy] as you should, your prayers will not get ready answers.”

We turned to this passage of Scripture primarily because it emphasizes that the phrase, “heirs together,” may be translated by the word “partners.” Unless you realize–and I know I am repeating, but I am doing so for a purpose–unless you realize that your marriage is a partnership, it is not going to be what it ought to be. “Oh,” someone says, “I have known that for years. It has got to be a give and take, fifty-fifty.” Every time I have someone come into my office with a marital problem, and the husband is there because the wife has persuaded him to come against his will, and he says, “I know it has got to be give and take,” I have a real temptation to forget where I am and who I am, and to express myself. It isn't fifty-fifty. Will you remember that?

There are others who say, “No, it isn't fifty-fifty. It is fifty-one–forty-nine, with the husband having the controlling interest.” It isn't. I am not going to spend time arguing about whether the husband has the controlling interest or not, but I am going to say to you that the secret of this partnership and its success is found in verse 21 of Ephesians, chapter 5:

Ephesians 5

21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Taking One's Correct Place

Notice the word “submitting.” Do I hear someone saying, “Now, wait a minute. You are contradicting yourself. How can you have a partnership if one person is going to be the boss? Submitting yourselves? Isn't that contradictory?” Not if you keep in mind what the meaning of this word “submit” actually is. I suggest to you that this word “submitting” and the word “submit” are translations of a word which is a military term, for all practical purposes, and it refers to an individual who takes his place according to rank. It does not mean that one is better than the other, but it does mean, militarily speaking, that according to the set-up of the armed forces, there are certain ranks assigned for the smooth operation of the military maneuver. I say to you that certain ranks have been assigned for the smooth operation of the marriage relationship; if each partner in the marriage will take his place according to rank, then the marriage will operate smoothly.

The Woman's Place

We are going to talk about the place that the wife should take in the relationship. I would like to say to you that the manner in which the wife takes her place in the marriage relationship can make or break the marriage. I have had many, many wives sit in my office, their marriages broken, and say to me, “I have no idea what caused our marriage to break up. We were so much in love.” After they had talked a while, I thought I could tell.

The way a wife takes her place in the marriage relationship I repeat, can make or break a marriage; it can further or hinder the testimony and the tranquillity of the home. I want to give you wives some suggestions as to how you can take your rightful place in the home. So you husbands who are here: If you have wives who are not taking their rightful places in the home, don't go home and eat them out. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to teach them what their place ought to be, for many wives have no idea what that place is; and their husbands, who know, don't want to take the effort to exercise their responsibility to teach them what that place is.

Continuous Submission

The first basic requirement for the wife to take her place in the home is found in the grammatical construction of verse 22 of Ephesians, chapter 5:

Ephesians 5

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

The grammatical construction in the original text indicates that this should be a continuous practice. Wives, continuously submit yourselves unto your husbands. Make it a practice. The reason this is so important is that there are some wives who know how to submit when they want something. Not long ago I talked with a lady who said, “I would give my right arm if my husband would come to church.” I had heard that quite often, so I said to her, “Didn't your husband buy you a new house about two months ago? It seemed to me,” I said, “that you didn't need one, and he didn't see why in the world you even wanted one, but he bought you one.” “Well, yes.” I said, “How did you get it?”, and I just looked at her. I didn't need to say anything else, because she knew. When she wanted something bad enough, she knew how to submit. Even though she went around saying she would give her right arm if her husband would come to church, she really wouldn't. She would not even take her place as a wife to get her husband to come to church, and that is exactly why he didn't come. Don't do it spasmodically. Learn to do it as a continuous practice.

Recognizing the Scriptural Principle

Do I hear someone saying, “What, me? Submit myself to him? Well, now, wait a minute. I have got more brains in a thimble than he could carry in a bushel; you don't mean to say that I am supposed to submit myself to him?” Things like that have been said to me. I say, “Yes. You submit yourself to him, not because he doesn't have any acumen and your ability and personality. You submit yourself to him as a matter of principle.”

Wives, listen to me: Unless you are willing to recognize that from the standpoint of the Scripture–I am not talking about the standpoint of society; I am talking about the standpoint of the Scripture–unless you realize that it is a Scriptural principle, you will find it very difficult to submit yourselves to your husbands.

But when you recognize that God teaches in His Word, as He does here in verses 23 and 24, that it is a principle for the smooth operation of the marriage relationship, you can do it; for we read:

Ephesians 5

23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

If you will turn to Paul's letter to the Colossians, and notice chapter 3, verse 18, where the same subject is under discussion, you will read:

Colossians 3

18Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

It is the proper thing; it is the thing that God ordained. That is the reason you can submit yourself to your husband in everything. In everything? Surely not everything. In everything!

Confidence In Submission

Before we are through with this series of discussions, you will see why you can submit yourself to your husband in everything in perfect confidence; you will see that it will come out all right. That is the thing that bugs some of you, isn't it? Some of you wives don't indicate that I am hitting the sore spot, but some of you really don't think that your husbands have enough sense to run the partnership, do you? You are afraid that if you don't put in your two cents' worth at the proper time, the partnership may fail in the business venture. You say to yourself, “That is exactly right. I believe that God gave me more sense than He gave him, and that is why He brought us together.” Well, it isn't. If you are willing to take your place according to rank, you can trust God. We will see in a moment that the partnership won't go broke even if you don't put in your two cents' worth.

Reverent Submission

How are you going to subject yourself to your husband? As a matter of practice and principle, let me suggest that there is a very excellent portrayal of this subjection in the passage of Scripture to which we turned a moment or two ago, the first epistle of Peter, chapter 3. Notice the description of the manner in which Sarah subjected herself to her husband, and the women of her generation likewise. When you have time, read the entire paragraph, verses 1-7. Let me suggest to you that one of the characteristics of the submission to which I refer will be one of reverence. Look at the first verse:

I Peter 3

1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

This is a very unhappy translation. That is what is wrong with many marriage relationships now; there is too much conversation on the part of the wife–sometimes too much gabby conversation on the part of the wife. The word “conversation” really means “manner of life.” It really refers to your behavior.

But the word in which we are primarily interested is the last word of verse 2, and it is the word “fear.” Do I hear some woman saying, “I have never seen a man yet that I am afraid of?” I have heard a few folk like that. But God said the way for you to subject yourself to your husband is to manifest some fear. No, God does not want you to run hurriedly to put the supper on the table as soon as he puts his foot in the door because he might give you a black eye if you don't. We are not talking about that. This word “fear” is elsewhere translated by the word “reverence.”

Meanings of Reverence

Do you recall that we read verse 33 of chapter 5 of the book of Ephesians, and the very last statement was, “See that the wife reverence her husband.” That word “reverence” and this word “fear” are translations of the same word in the original text. What is it God is saying twice over? He said, “See that the wife reverence her husband.” What do we mean by that? The Amplified version makes a number of suggestions. It says that you are to feel for your husband all that reverence includes. Then it gives a number of synonyms for this word “reverence.” You know them, but we will refresh your memory: respect, defer, honor, esteem, admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, enjoy your husband. That is what it means to reverence. That is what it means to fear. That is not so hard to do after all, is it?

Examples of Praise and Devotion

Let me say to you that if you will reverence your husband in even some of these ways, you will be surprised what it will do. Don't stand up and talk because we don't have time, but how long has it been since you bragged on your husband? How long has it been since you told him something wonderful and admirable about himself?

You know, it doesn't matter how large the crowds God may permit me to speak to, and it doesn't matter how many compliments may come my way, there is always one that I am listening for. If my wife is in the congregation, and on the way home she will reach over and take my hand in hers and say, “Honey, you have never preached better in your whole life than you did this morning,” it makes the day for me, even though I may know pretty well that I didn't preach near as well as I have in the past.

You won't kill your husbands by praise, women; learn to praise them. Learn to admire them. Learn to be devoted to them. Are you devoted to your husband? “Why, I love him more than anything in the world.” I am not talking about that. I am asking, are you devoted to him? Is he your main interest in life? Is he? “Why, I never look at another man.” I am not talking about that. I am asking is he your main interest in life? Let me express it this way: Is he your ministry?

My wife oftentimes is asked by folk, “How many Bible clubs do you teach a week?” She says, “None.” “Well, how many Bible classes do you teach?” “None.” “Well, what in the world do you do? Hasn't God called you into any kind of ministry?” She says, “Yes, and I have been pursuing it diligently for twenty-eight years.” “Well, what do you do?” She says, “My husband is my ministry,” and she means that. I thank God for it, because I could not do one-tenth of what I do if she were not entirely devoted to me.

A Personal Illustration

I am going to give you a simple little illustration. I am blind in one eye and can't see out of the other. I have bifocals–slaboffs, I think they call them–but I take off my glasses to read fine print. I can't see anything. But, do you know how devoted my wife is to me? I remembered it when I reached in my suitcase this morning to dress to come to church. It was just like her, bless her heart; she had written on a slip of paper and tucked into a pair of socks, “These are black over-the-calf socks.” With everything else she has to do, she does all my packing. I never packed a suitcase in my life. She is so devoted to me that she knew that I would probably be rushing, and that I would pick up this pair of socks and look at it and try to decide what it was and what it wasn't, so she let me know.

Now that may be a little extreme, but that is what I mean by devotion. Are you devoted to your husband? “I am not his slave,” you say; “Let him fix his own socks, if he can.” Well, I would have done all right. I might have got here with one sock one color and one another, and you might not have known anything about it. But what my wife did made my heart fill to overflowing with love for her because she is that devoted. Someone says, “You must be awful. She must be scared to death of you.” She isn't. No, she reverences me.

Listening Attentively

Go back to I Peter, chapter 3, and notice verse 6:

I Peter 3

6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Look at that word “obey” in verse 6 as I remind you that it is the translation of a word which means “listen attentively.” When I say to you, “Do you obey your husband?”, I don't mean whether, if you husband said, “Go bring me my slippers,” you would run and get his slippers. I don't mean that. There is something wrong with the relationship if he has to ask you to get his slippers. He ought to go get them himself if he has to ask you to do it. The word I am going to use for the sake of alliteration is “respect.” Respect him enough to listen to what he has to say. Do I hear someone saying, “Well, I do everything he tells me to do.”? I am not talking about that. Do you interrupt your husband when he is telling you something and say, “You told me last night.”? Is that what you do? Well, let me tell you, it might be cheaper to let him tell it to you again. It may mean that much to him. When you go to bed at night, do you do much talking? My wife and I do most of our talking then. It is about the only time we are alone. I have wondered how many times she wanted to go to sleep and I just kept on. But she listens just as attentively as though there is a whole day ahead of her instead of a few hours' sleep at night.

Do you have enough respect for him to listen to what he says? I have had some women sit in my office and say to me, “My husband never tells me anything.” And I say to them, “Has he never told you anything?” “Oh, years ago he used to tell me everything, but he never tells me anything now.” As I let them talk, because I usually say very little, I discover the reason. I wouldn't either. Learn to have respect.

Exercising Restraint

Will you look at verse 4, please. Speaking of adornment, Peter says:

I Peter 3

4But 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.

We are talking about the inner adorning now. By and by something may be said about the outward adorning. But about the inner adorning, look at the phrase again: “a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” May I suggest to you the word “restraint.” If you want to take your place that God gives you as a wife in the marriage relationship, reverence your husband. Respect him. And exercise some restraint.

Someone says, “A meek and quiet spirit–I don't want it.” Well, that is the only thing that the Lord Jesus Christ ever said He Himself had–a meek and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:34). You may be aware that the word “meek” can be translated by the word “gentle.” I like this word “quiet,” because very literally rendered, it means “to keep your seat.” Do you wives have a difficult time keeping your seat if your husband is doing the talking? I don't know how many homes I am in through the years when some question is asked, and the husband says, “Well…,” and the wife says, “Yak…yak…yak.” That is all he gets said, and he shrugs his shoulders. She says, “Honey, tell him about…” “No, you go ahead and tell him, Dear, you tell him.” It is just simpler that way; but oh, how it deflates your husband, and how it grates on his nerves, because you won't keep your seat.

Correcting One's Husband

My mother-in-law is a precious soul. My wife learned something invaluable from her. She is in Central America at the age of 79 as a missionary because she hasn't anything else to do. That is the kind of person she is–a wonderful person. My wife told me that when her father was alive and her mother and father would go out visiting, her father, preacher-like, was given to over-exuberance, sometimes unintentionally; he was economical with the truth, and his wife never would keep her seat when that happened. For example, if he said, “We had 299 out for the service this morning,” she would say, “Dear, I believe it was only 290.” If he said that he had spent four dollars and ninety-five cents for something, she would say, “Honey, I think you will find it was three-fifty.” My wife said that she told the Lord then that if He ever gave her a husband, she would never interrupt him when he said anything. You don't know how glad I am of that, because I am bothered with this same exuberance; it is difficult not to get overly enthused, and it is terribly deflating when you have told something that has everyone standing up, nearly, for your wife to say, “Well, let me tell you about that.” Wives, learn restraint.

Confiding In God

Someone may say, “But you don't know my husband. If I kept quiet, there is no telling what would happen to us.” Do you feel that way sometimes? Someone may say, “Well, it is all right for you to stand up there and talk, but I have lived with this man long enough to know what I am talking about, and if I kept quiet, it would be too bad.” Well, it wouldn't be; look at verse 5 of this same passage of Scripture:

I Peter 3

5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

Notice the phrase, “trusted in God.” I am going to give you the word “reliance” for that: reverence, respect, restraint, reliance. Do you know what the word “trusted” really means? It means to confide in God. Women, let me suggest to you that the next time your husband embarks on a venture and you become a little bit concerned, instead of getting hold of his coat tail and pulling him back in the house and saying, “Now, honey, that is not going to work, and we can't do it,” why don't you, as soon as he goes out the door, pray? Do you have a place to pray? Well, you ought to have a place to pray, if it is no more than a laundry room–a place where you can shut the door, a place where you won't hear the phone when it rings. Go to that place, wherever it is, and confide in the Lord about it. Don't tell your husband he is a fool. Tell the Lord he is. Say, “Lord, he hasn't got sense enough to… Lord, if he gets into that, we are going to lose everything we have, and I can't tell him. Lord, you lead him. You restrain him. You help him.”

It will be amazing how many times your husband will come home and say, “Honey, what do you really think about that thing I was talking about this morning?” If you want to say, “Well, I just want to tell you that…”, don't do it. Say, because you have been in your prayer closet, “Well, Honey, what do you mean, what do I think about it? Don't you think it is a good idea?” “I have been thinking about it, and you know, I don't know why, but I just don't want to do it.” Don't say to him, “I knew it wouldn't work.” Say to him–don't even tell him you prayed about it–just say to him, “Well, Honey, that is up to you. If you don't want to do it, maybe there is something better along the way.”

An Illustration of Confidence In God

I knew a very wealthy woman some years ago who had a very handsome husband who had to come in contact with a great many ladies, and she moved in an upper bracket where homes were broken very easily. She told me this story: Many women came to her and said, “Aren't you worried about your husband, with his contacts with all those women, and the way the world is? We have lost our husbands. Aren't you worried about him? Do you have that much confidence in him?” She said something I will never forget. She said, “I don't have an ounce of confidence in him, because I don't have any confidence in the flesh, regardless of who is living in it.” “Well, why aren't you worried then?” She quoted II Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 4, and said, “I have confidence in the Lord concerning him.”

That is the secret, wives. Don't lie awake at night worrying whether everything is going to be all right. Don't worry whether you are going to have a roof over your heads the next day. Rely on the Lord, as you subject yourself to your own husband.

I don't know whether Sara knew that Abraham was going to offer up Isaac or not, but don't you know that if she did know it, it was awfully hard for her to stay at home? I think the only reason she could, if she knew, was that while they were going to to the mountain, she was going to the Lord. Try that.

Giving Way to Hysterical Fear

This one last word I would like to leave with you, and for the sake of alliteration we will call the word “repose.” Look at verse 6:

I Peter 3

6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well [notice this phrase particularly] and are not afraid with any amazement.

How quickly we pass over that statement, “and are not afraid with any amazement.” Several translations have been suggested for it. One of them is, “if you do not become a prey to fluttering fear.” When I was growing up there was a lady in our community who was sickly, and I said to Mother, “What is wrong with her? She is always sick. She has been sick as long as I can remember.” Mother said, “Son, she has palpitations.” I don't think they use that term any more; I haven't heard anything diagnosed as that of late. That meant that every time her husband wanted to do something she didn't want him to do, her heart palpitated. It fluttered and she had to go to bed; she might die of a heart attack. You see what was happening; she became a prey to fluttering fear. Many wives have ruined prospects for their husbands because they have become a prey to fluttering fear.

This has been translated by the phrase, “if you do not give way to hysterical fear.” Many wives have gotten what they wanted by a show of hysterics. Sometimes the hysterics are sincere, because their trust is not in the Lord and they are overwhelmed by hysterical fear. Someone has suggested that the phrase might be translated, “Don't let anxieties unnerve you.” This means in relation to what your husband is doing. You may have a lot of anxieties about a great many things, but we are talking about being in subjection to your husband. You find it so difficult to let him go ahead and do what he thinks he wants to do that you get sick in bed over it. You are unnerved by the anxieties that grip your soul.

The Basic Answer of Staying In Fellowship

Someone says, “All right. You have said it. I can recognize some of these things in my own life, and I want to know what can be done about it.” Most people do exactly what I did tonight; I did it for a purpose. They begin the reading of this paragraph in Ephesians, chapter 5, with verse 21. You should begin the reading of the paragraph with verse 18:

Ephesians 5

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

No, there isn't a period there. Most folk stop there, and say that the characteristics of a spirit-filled life are speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I beg to suggest to you that another characteristic of a Spirit-filled life is what I am talking about today:

Ephesians 5

21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Wives, if you are finding it difficult to submit yourselves to your husbands, may I suggest that you let the Holy Spirit take control; if you are not submitting yourself to your husband, may I suggest that you are not controlled by the Holy Spirit at that particular time.

May I remind you that the characteristics which we have described in relation to submission are repeated under the designation of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22. So let's face it: That man that gives you so much trouble isn't as sorry as you think he is; you are just not walking in the Spirit. Let's face it: That man who is so difficult to live with, and you don't know how much longer you can live with him, isn't the problem. Oh, he may be all you say he is and more that you don't even know about, but that is not that problem. The problem is that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your lack of submission, and He is not producing the fruit in your life that needs to be pronounced so that you can live in a home marked by tranquillity. Wives, take your place according to rank, yielding yourselves to the Holy Spirit to live through you.


Father, we thank Thee for the privilege of sharing the Word with others. We pray that we will find in each of our hearts where it is needed the confession of our failure to walk in the Spirit, and an acknowledgment of the fact that the reason we have fulfilled the lust of the flesh in our homes to the point where there is not the tranquillity there ought to be is that we have grieved the Holy Spirit by walking in the flesh. Grant, Father, that as proper places are taken, tranquillity will result and testimonies will be real. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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