Good morning! My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
As a church, we’ve been studying the letter of Colossians…
And today, we’re going to come to a part that is going to sound a bit foreign to our modern ears.
It might even make you uncomfortable.
So, let me just say a few things on the outset.
What we’re about to read is the type of passage that most American churches skip over
Which is one of the reasons we teach right through a book in the Bible.
Because if churches just pick out the passages we all want to hear, we end up shaping a Christianity that looks more like our culture than it does actual Biblical, Christianity.
And that’s part of why this teaching today might feel hard….because it may feel unfamiliar.
And so we need to start with a truth that we say here multiple times a week: We believe that this is the Word of God, and that it is the truth, and that it is authoritative over our lives.
And IF this is the Word of God, then certainly there are going to be areas where it says things that are different than the predominant beliefs of our culture, right?
And that’s true of any culture.
Say you were a missionary to East Africa, and you learn that polygamy (that’s having multiple spouses, usually wives) still exists in rural areas there…
What would you say as you taught new believers how to follow Jesus?
What if they said, “No, I want to have 3 wives someday.”
I’m guessing you would say, “I’m sorry, the Word of God says, no. Even if that’s hard for your culture. This is HIGHER than our culture.”
But what about when the Word of God challenges our culture? And it says something different than the “norm” that’s accepted in our current culture?
The question is: As Christians, do we truly believe that the Word of God still higher?
Okay, with that being said, let’s open this up
Colossians 3:18 – 19
Paul is going to talk about marriage today
Now, I realize that not everyone in the room is married.
But I also realize that even if you’re single or divorced, or still in high school, that for the vast majority of you, marriage is probably in your future.
And the more you can learn this stuff now, the better off you’ll be!
And if it’s not in your future, there is still much to learn here about what it means to be a servant of Christ.
THE ROLE OF THE WIFE
(Colossians 3:18 – 19) – NIV
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Now, there is more to chapter 3 in Colossians, but we’re going to hit on the “kids and parents” section in House Groups this week.
And then, we’re actually, in this series, not going to teach through that slavery portion at the end of this chapter.
And the ONLY reason for that is because Pastor Josh just gave an excellent, and exhaustive message on the Bible’s view of slavery just a few months ago
You can find that on our website or app in our Philemon series
(How to Flip Your Marriage Title Slide)
So let’s look now to Paul’s teaching on marriage
He starts with what this verse that feels so out of place to our western, American, postmodern, 21st century cultural ears.
Paul says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”
Okay, what does the word “submit” mean?
Because that’s the word that makes us feel uncomfortable right?
Submit, first of all, does not mean subjugate (to be under the control of other), submit does not even mean “obey”
It does not mean do everything your husband says, or anything remotely like that.
Submit is a positional word…about following another person.
It’s not a word about how much value a person has.
In fact, before we go any further into application, let me try and clearly explain how submission and serving does not equal inferiority
I saw this explained in 1 Corinthians once, and it’s been really helpful for me.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul says this:
(1 Corinthians 11:3) – NIV
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
So we read, the head of every man is Christ.
And we think, “That’s good. We want men to be led by Christ!”
And then we read, the head of the woman is man.
And many of us think, “I don’t like how it sounds”
Well, some of you like how that sounds, but to many of us, it doesn’t sound right to our cultural ears.
But then, look at what Paul says:
And the head of Christ is God.
The head, the leader of Jesus, is God the Father.
Now, let me ask you:
Is Jesus the Son inferior to God the Father?
No. no way.
In fact, it’s literally heresy to say Jesus the Son is inferior to God the Father just because they don’t have the same role and function!
The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are one, and they are equal, but they have different roles and responsibilities.
(How to Flip Your Marriage Title Slide)
And so in the marriage relationship, there is equality of value (we are coheirs in Christ 1 peter 3 says), but how we interact with each other, and the roles we play, are different.
The wife is to submit herself, that is, to serve under, the Godly leadership of her husband…as is fitting in the Lord.
Meaning, that what we do in general as Christians anyway is to put our selfishness aside, and consider one another as more important than ourselves (Phil 2)
And let me say, ladies, if he’s ever leading you to do something that isn’t Godly, your first priority is always to Christ.
And the word submit in the sentence doesn’t mean that the husband is forcing it upon his wife, but it means that she is “submitting herself,” she is willingly choosing to live a life of service and trusting his Godly leadership
Now, if this sounds frustrating to you, and your blood pressure is going up, remember, I haven’t gotten to the husband yet.
He is given an equally hard word.
And if you feel a sense of discomfort, one of the things I want to encourage you to do is to study this more deeply.
My hero Charles Spurgeon always said if you read a verse that makes you uncomfortable, that’s the one you probably need to press into the most.
Here are some passages you can read more deeply on this topic (take a picture of this)
1 Peter 3
1 Corinthians 11
1 Timothy 2
THE ROLE OF THE HUSBAND
Now, if you’re a guy, and you’ve been sitting back in your chair smiling about how you think you have it easy, wives, you can now say, “Wipe that grin off your face.”
Look now to verse 19
It says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them”
Amazingly, this would have been a surprising & controversial statement in the ancient world as women were given almost no dignity
But Paul writes of husbands loving and cherishing their wives, and then watch what he writes about the husband’s duty to his wife in Ephesians
In fact, would you turn to that passage?
And let’s look now at a very similar passage in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.
This is an amazing passage
(Ephesians 5:21-25) – NIV
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
And let me say: I know that so much of this sounds so different to our ears.
But my commitment to this church, since the day I started it, was to just teach what this says.
Not to skip it, not to reinterpret it so it sounds better, but to simply read what it actually says, and explain it in context and with other connecting Scriptures.
Even if it’s really hard to stand up here and talk about it
That’s my commitment to you, and to God.
(How to Flip Your Marriage Title Slide)
So, Verse 21: It says, “Submit to one another.”
So every Christian, every imitator of Christ, wives and husbands, are doing some form of submitting.
Now, there still is that functional role of Godly leadership in the home, by the husband…that’s verse 24.
But submission, as it relates to sacrifice and servanthood, that’s for everyone.
Notice how Paul clarifies what this means for the husband in verse 25
Husbands, you are to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Husbands, you are to love your wife (that woman sitting next to many of you) so deeply…
You are to cherish her and listen to her like she is the most special person on the planet…
You are to serve her so abundantly…
You are to put her first so often…
You are to sacrifice for her so much…that you would die for her…
...like “Christ died for his bride, the church,”
THAT’S how you’re supposed to treat your wife as a Christian man.
Here’s how this comes together:
Ladies, would you follow a Godly man who treated you like that?
That’s what Paul is talking about.
So what does it mean then that the husband is the head of the wife?
If you study our passages today, and all the other ones I gave you earlier, you can’t escape this idea of “headship” in Scripture…even if you’ve never heard it before in those trendy church marriage series they do.
So what does it mean?
I think it’ll make more sense if we keep reading in that Ephesians passage
(Ephesians 5:25-28b) – NIV
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
(How to Flip Your Marriage Title Slide)
So contextually, husbands are the head, in two ways:
#1: We see that husbands are to be the “chief sacrificer”
Like Christ, husbands are to be first in laying our lives down for our families.
We should be first to volunteer to do the hard work, make the hard phone call, to take responsibility, to suffer, to apologize
Men, study the life of Christ.
He’s strong. He is bold. And yet, He doesn’t walk around demanding the disciples do things.
That’s why Paul warns husband to never be harsh with their wives.
Jesus is a strong, yet sacrificial and servant leader…washing the feet of those around Him.
It’s his love, and his service, that is compelling people to FOLLOW Him.
And the 2nd way the Bible tells us that the husband is the head is in the realm of spiritual leadership:
Like Christ does for the church, the husband is to wash his wife with the word, helping her grow.
And the same for his family.
Ephesians 6 says:
(Ephesians 6:4) – NIV
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Men, whether you are a father now, or might be one in the future, I want you to know just how impactful your spiritual leadership is:
One of the most remarkable statistics out there is that when the mother of a family is the first in her entire family to accept Christ, 17% of the time, the rest of the family also comes to Christ.
When the father of a family is the first in his family to accept Christ, 93% of the time, the rest of the family also comes to Christ.
(How to Flip Your Marriage Title Slide)
Men, God has made you in a way, to be a major spiritual influence on your kids’ lives.
And on your wife’s spiritual life.
But it starts with you. And you getting more and more serious about your own walk with God.
And then leading your family in this area.
To say, “Nope, we’re coming to church today.”
“We’re going to start reading the Bible together.”
By the way, I know that this message, raises a lot of “what if” questions?
“What if my husband…?”
“Or what if, in my situation…?”
This is why we preach the gospel of House Groups all the time.
Take your questions to House Groups this week, and let the body of Christ, help you apply the Word of God to your situation.
A DIFFERENT WAY
And my prayer is that some of you are willing to try something different with your marriage.
Because the default, for most of us, has just been that we just want to be on top, and in charge.
We want to get our way.
And we want the other person to be serving us.
Much of the disappointment we experience in marriage comes from feeling that the other person isn’t doing enough. We think:
If they would only help more around the house
If they would only want to be intimate more
If they would only talk more in conversation
If they would only just pick up their socks!
But notice how we think our marriage will change in each of those scenarios
We’re thinking, “If they would only change, and do this for me, our marriage would get better.”
But that’s not how God gave us instructions to improve our marriage
God doesn’t want us to be on top, looking down at our spouse, waiting for them to do what we want and make us happy.
You’ll never improve your marriage that way.
But what is God’s way?
A Christian, and Biblical, view of marriage…a right-side up marriage…
…is a marriage where you come under…
…that we each come, in our own way…to submit, to follow, to serve, to sacrifice…all of the Biblical words we get about marriage.
Not only because that’s what God calls us to, but on a deeper level, it’s because that’s how God treated us.
See, the main story of the New Testament is the covenant that Jesus makes with us…and it’s often described in bride and groom language.
We, the church, are the Bride, and Jesus, is the groom.
And our earthly marriages are meant to be a reflection of that heavenly marriage
And so, if we just look at these tough passages on marriage and say, “Oh no, that can’t be right. We need to each equally get our way”
If we do that, we’ll walk away thinking the marriage is supposed to be about fairness, or about us each getting our happiness, but Biblically, marriage is a reflection of how Christ treats us!
And our marriages won’t reflect Him when we’re just thinking about how we can get our way, and how the other person can make us more happy.
Because Jesus never thought that way.
Our earthly marriages are meant to be a reflection of His sacrifice, His Love, his Forgiveness, and His commitment.
When you’re at your wedding, and you do your vows, and you look your spouse in the eye, and you say:
“I will love you for richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health, for or better or worse, till death do us part…”
Why do we say that?
We say that because that’s how our Groom, Jesus, treats us.
Despite seeing all of our flaws, and all of continued sins, how does He treat us in this marriage?
He comes under, by sacrificing His life for our sins and allowing us, through our faith, to enter into a relationship with Him where he will NEVER leave you.
And never forsake you…despite…despite our imperfections and sin.
And by the way, if you want to know more about how you can be in a relationship like that with Jesus, I urge you to talk with our follow-up team in the front right after the service today.
And in this culture…where no one seems to commit to each other anymore, and if they do, it’s rare to stay together, can you see Christians how we can look different if we flipped our marriages right-side up?
Can you see how we would look different if we acknowledged that the purpose of marriage is not to find someone else to make us happy…
But that the purpose of marriage is to find someone else to make happy.
And To serve them, to give our lives for them, and to love them, unconditionally, like Christ loved us.
Can you see, church, how that flipping of a marriage, actually makes a marriage?
When a marriage goes from each person thinking about what they can get, to each person thinking about what they give…
The marriage actually thrives!
God’s plan actually works!
And what if, Renovation Church, what if we lived this out?
What if your neighbors, and your family members, come over to your house, and they see you not complaining about your spouse…
But they see how you try and out-serve each other, and out sacrifice for each other.
What would they think?
And what would they think about Christ?
What if your neighbors, and your family members, when they come over, what if they saw that even when we get frustrated and angry at each other… (which we will!)
That we don’t walk away, and we don’t quit, even when life gets rough.
But that we stay committed, in love, and in forgiveness, because that’s who Jesus Christ is to us…even when we mess up.
What if we could reflect that?
But it’s starts with trusting his Word, and trusting his ways.
Let me pray.
CLOSE OF SERVICE
All right, our service is over for the day.
If you want to get baptized soon, the baptism info meeting is starting in 1 minute.
You can meet Pastor Josh (who’s right by the door there. Wave Josh)
You can meet him right by the office door around the corner.
For everyone else, we’ll see you next week at another baptism Sunday!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.
JANUARY 15, 2023