************ Sermon on 1 Peter 3:1-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 22, 2003
1 Peter 3:1-8
Title: John Calvin on Clothing
Men and women were dressed to a tee. They all wore the latest fashions which featured an abundance of lace and fur and splashes of loud colors. They came dressed like that to the worship service.
The minister grimaced, but not visibly. He knew his flock quite well. They had been "fashion-conscious" ever since he could remember. The women always wore their beautiful outfits, trying to outdo each other by wearing the latest fashions. The men were no better. Their suits were multicolored with frilled cuffs and collars.
The year was 1540. The town was Geneva, Switzerland. The minster was John Calvin. Pastor Calvin mounted the 12 steps that led to his pulpit in the stately St. Pierre church. His sickly body was hidden under the tattered toga which he had purchased a decade earlier.
"Just look at yourselves," he began, pausing for effect. "Men dress up as young women as though they grieve over the fact that God has not made them women. And women dress as glorious rainbows, trying to catch the glances of men. The Father loathes all immodesty of body and soul."
The congregation broke out in animated conversation. "Here goes that Protestant Calvin again, laying down all those rules that makes life boring."
"Tell us, Sir. How should we dress?" The voice was that of a shop-keeper. His attire would have made a peacock envious.
"In clothing that simply protects you from the cold and heat," shot back Calvin. The congregation fell silent. What sort of standard was that for the fashion-conscious? Had this Calvin no sense of fabric or texture? Obviously not, judging by his usually drab appearance.
Calvin was reacting to the secular spirit which pervaded 16th century Geneva. He was living among a stubborn, worldly bunch who resisted the will of God. Week after week he preached to pews filled with peacocks who were preoccupied with the world rather than the Word.
We continue our study this evening of God's will for the family. God's will, according to Peter, is that husbands and wives, men and women, put more emphasis on inner beauty than on outer beauty.
I Wives - Clothed With Submission ...
A The Apostle Peter was a brave man. He was not scared to lecture Christian women on the subject of beauty. To be honest, there aren't many preachers today who would dare to do this. But the apostle was bound to Christ alone, and that gave him a freedom to declare the truth.
To all Christian women – especially wives and mothers – Peter says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes."
Let's put this into contemporary language. Peter says beauty does not come from a trip to the hair-dressers, or tanning salon, or athletic club. Peter says beauty does not depend on a new outfit with matching shoes and purse. Peter says beauty does not rely on makeup and skin cream. Peter says beauty does not come from a bottle or jar. Peter says beauty does not require a hair dryer and curling iron. Beauty, according to Peter, does not even depend on size and weight.
A couple of months ago I read an article in "Christianity Today" entitled "The Clothes Game." Let me quote the first paragraph:
"What's the number one thing that causes you to feel sexually tempted," my husband asked a roomful of lanky teenage boys. They wasted no time answering.Peter would not be impressed with this at all.
"I think the worst thing by far is the way girls dress in church," one boy replied.
A room full of bobbing heads affirmed his answer.
"It's like church is supposed to be a place where you don't have to face temptation and you walk in and Bam! There it is. How do you avoid that?"
They all turned their eyes to my husband, pleading for a good answer.
You've undoubtedly noticed it, too. The crop tops, the visible bra straps, the low-slung jeans that make up today's fashions for girls are everywhere. The discomfort we feel when we look at these clothes isn't just the result of our age. Fashion today really is all about sex.
If you're not convinced, consider the images our daughters face every day. Candies, a popular teen clothing and shoe label, is currently running an abstinence campaign. It's promoted by the sale of T-shirts -- teeny, tiny, belly-revealing, breast hugging T-shirts that read "BE SEXY." It doesn't mean you have to have sex. The "virginal" Britney Spears pairs an attitude of coy purity with revealing costumes. She teaches girls how to tease and tempt with their bodies, even as they play sweet and pure with their words.
These messages have convinced our daughters that this kind of sensual exposure is merely fashion. They don't understand that what's really being promoted is the idea that their bodies are for show, for the pleasure of others, not sacred temples meant for God's glory.
A couple of years ago I clipped an article from "Newsweek" magazine:
There was a LIFESTYLE article entitled, "The Body of the Beholder." The main point of the article: a new study shows that white girls dislike their bodies, but black girls are proud of theirs. [Newsweek, April 24, 1995]
The typical white girl says, "YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO THIN." According to one 16 year old, "Girls say, 'I'm so fat. I'm so ugly.' To me, the ideal is trim and strong, athletic – but not too strong." Peter would not be impressed with this. In fact, he would not hesitate to lecture anyone who talks this way.
In contrast, the typical black girl says, "SIZE DOESN'T MATTER – IF YOU'VE GOT THE RIGHT ATTITUDE." Wow, I thought, those black girls have it right. But then I read further: "It's what you wear, how your hair is done and how you put it together ..." Peter would not be impressed with this either. Again, he would not hesitate to lecture anyone who talks this way.
Do we place too much emphasis on what Peter calls "outward adornment"? Consider these statistics:
Topic: Beauty, Vanity of
In the United States each minute there is purchased 1,484 tubes of lipstick (at a cost of $4,566); 913 bottles of nail polish ($2,055); 1,324 mascaras, eye shadows, and eyeliners ($6,849); and 2,055 jars of skin care products ($12,785). That works out to $1,581,300 an hour.
Today, beauty product marketing represents an almost $17 billion-per-year business in the U.S., with an annual expenditure per person of about $70.
[These statistics comes from 1994; if anything, they are much higher today.]
We need to realize that there are so many lies about beauty. A recent TV program ran a story on how employers are biased towards beauty; they seem to think beautiful people are smarter, have better personalities, and can do a better job. Many people think beauty brings happiness, success, and a better marriage partner. Lies, all lies. We must pray for our sons and daughters that they won't believe these lies or fall for them.
B Peter says to Christian wives and mothers and girls and young ladies,
(1Pet 3:3-5) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (4) 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. (5) For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.
Let's make sure we understand Peter correctly. Peter is not telling Christian women to neglect their outward appearance. Peter's point is that Christian women should give more attention to developing a beautiful spirit than a beautiful body. The wise Christian woman, while not neglecting her outward appearance, will pay more attention to making her inner person beautiful.
C What is this inner beauty that Peter is talking about? He uses a number of different phrases to describe it: married women are to be clothed with submission (vs 1); all Christian women and girls are to be clothed with purity and reverence (vs 2), a gentle and quiet spirit (vs 4), and a desire to do what is right (vs 6).
Christian women are to be clothed with submission. The example Peter lays before us is Sarah. Peter reminds us that Sarah was submissive to Abraham. She obeyed him as her spiritual head. When Abraham spoke on spiritual matters, she was obedient to him.
What is this submission? Are we to think of the wife as a slave, cowering in fear before her husband? Is his every wish to be her command? Is she considered to be an inferior and he the superior? Is she supposed to offer her husband a blind obedience? The answer is no, no, no, and no! If this is the pattern in your marriage, let me tell you, you are not following the Lord's will for the Christian home.
Christian women are to be clothed with purity and reverence instead of being dressed as peacocks or to lead guys on.
Christian women are to be clothed with a gentle and quiet spirit. They are not to be loud and domineering. They are not to 2insist on their own way. They are not to be full of gripes and complaints. They are not to have an evil and malicious mouth.
Christian women are to be clothed with doing right – good deeds, loving acts, care and concern for those in their family and those around them.
D In our Scripture passage Peter was speaking especially to women whose husbands resisted the gospel. "Don't preach to them," he advised. "Just show God's grace by your behavior. Your husbands have heard the Word of grace, now show them the work of grace." When that is done, "they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives" (vs 1).
I need to point out that Peter offers no guarantee that an unbelieving husband will come to the faith by seeing what God's Spirit has done in his wife. There is no such guarantee. During my ministry I have known women of great inner beauty who do not actually win those whom they love to Christ.
Whether a wife is successful or not, the Bible says "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit ... is of great worth in God's sight" (vs 4). God rejoices in the work of His Spirit and proclaims it to be beautiful.
II Husbands - Clothed With Love
A For all Christian men – especially husbands and fathers – Peter also has a word. He says, "be considerate as you live with your wives" (vs 7).
Christian men, like Christian women, are to put more emphasis on inner beauty than on outer beauty. The beauty of a Christian man is not a body bulging with muscles, or a bank account swelling with money, or a face bristling with whiskers. The beauty of a Christian husband and father is being "considerate." Peter means that a Christian man must show tenderness and understanding. Or, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 5, "love." Christian men are to clothe themselves with love. And that love is to start off in the home – in their dealings with their wife and children.
Topic: Husbands and WivesUsing the words of Peter, we would have to say that here was a man who was considerate.
Subtopic: Duty of Husbands
Somerset Maughan tells of his mother. She was lovely and charming and beloved by all. His father was not by any means handsome, and had few social and surface gifts and graces. Someone once said to his mother, "When everyone is in love with you, and when you could have anyone you liked, how can you remain faithful to that ugly little man you married?" She answered simply: "He never hurts my feelings."
Do you want to find out if a man is a Christian. Don't go to his minister, his elders, his parents. Go and ask his wife. If a man doesn't treat his wife right, if he is not kind and considerate to her, then his Christianity has to be suspect.
B This tells us Peter's understanding of a husband's headship. Peter doesn't have a "lord relationship" in mind; rather, he speaks of a "love relationship." The husband is "considerate." This means that the husband's headship is not to be domineering, dominating, or abusive; a husband is not to treat his wife like she has no personality, thoughts, feelings, or identity of her own; rather, this is what the Lord expects: love her, love her, love her (Eph 5:25,28,33).
And in this love Christian men are to be like Christ Himself. Paul says,
(Eph 5:25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ...
Why can we say about Christ's love? In His great love for the church, Christ gave of Himself. He gave of His body and blood upon the cross. Likewise, says Scripture, the husband, in his great love for his wife, is to give of himself. He is to sacrifice for his wife. He is to serve his wife. In other words, God's will is for the husband to take the lead in exhibiting Christ-like behavior of service and self-sacrifice.
How many husbands are like this? How many husbands make sacrifices for their wife? How many husbands take the lead in imaging Christ? One example I know of is Coach Bill McCartney, the co-founder of Promise Keepers. He led his football team at the University of Colorado to victory after victory and a number of national championships. He resigned his job to spend time with his wife and family. For the sake of his family he showed the self-sacrificing love of Christ.
C What happens when Christian husbands and fathers are clothed with an inner beauty? Peter says, "nothing will hinder your prayers."
Peter has a beautiful picture in mind here. He sees husband and wife putting their hands together in prayer, husband and wife kneeling together in prayer. They pray for each other, together they pray for their children, together they pray for their church family, together they pray for the lost they know.
When a husband is not considerate, prayers are "hindered" or "blocked." The apostle could have mentioned other bad results. But he mentions the worst: it blocks the flow of grace. But when a husband is considerate towards his wife, nothing can hinder the prayers the couple offers together.
Notice carefully what Peter is saying. He does not make the comment we hear so often: "If you have problems, you should pray together." Rather, he says, "Don't cause problems; otherwise you cannot pray together."
I haven't exactly said this, but what we've been talking about is grace. It is because of grace that wives and mothers and women are able to submit, to be pure and reverent, to be gentle and quiet. It is because of grace that husbands and fathers and men are able to be considerate. God's grace changes people. God's grace, in other words, gives people an inner beauty. This inner beauty has its own results: it often attracts those who are opposed to the gospel; and, it allows husbands and wives and family members to pray together without being hindered.
What has priority in your life and marriage: this inner beauty or an outer beauty?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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