Colossians 3:18

Dr. Steve Viars December 31, 1994 Colossians 3:18

- we're beginning the new year by moving into a very exciting and helpful
   section of the book of Colossians.

  - as you know, this book's theme is the preeminence of Jesus Christ
  - Paul wants these dear folks to be convinced of that great truth, and
     then to live in a way that is consistent with it.

  - now, in chapter 3, we're getting down to what that approach to life
     really looks like.
       - in other words--what happens where the rubber hits the road.

       1)  it's one thing to say you believe that Christ is preeminent,
            it's something else to "let the peace of Christ rule your

       2) it's one thing to say you believe that Christ is preeminent,
           it's something else to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you

       3) it's one thing to say you believe in the preeminence of Jesus
           Christ, it's something else to let His name motivate you, and
           guide the way you speak and behave.

- now, while verses 15-17 have been intensely practical--the rest f the
   verses in the chapter are at least that practical--and even more

- this morning we're talking about:
   "Wives Demonstrating That Jesus Is Preeminent By Joyfully Submitting
     To Their Husbands."

- read verse 18

- now, on the surface, that verse is pretty cut and dry.
   - Paul doesn't mince any words
       - it's not a long detailed argument
       - there aren't any big words
       - Paul's point is that one way you can tell if a woman believes
          that Jesus Christ is preeminent is if she is joyfully
          fulfilling her God-given role in the home.

- now, there's no question that, generally speaking, this is not a
   popular topic today.
- let's work together on why this may be true:

I. Why This Is An Unpopular Topic Today

    A. Submission, in general, is often frowned upon today.

        - in the letter we sent you this week about today's lesson, we
            asked to study four questions.
        - if you're relatively new to your study of the Scripture on this
            topic, you may have been surprised that we would ask those
            four questions about a lesson on the submission of wives to
            their husbands...
              - because the four questions we asked we're just about
                 women and wives...but about all of us.

- Isa. 53:6 - "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned
     everyone to his own way..."

- we purposely asked those questions to point out that submission is not
   just a woman's's not just a woman's problem.
    - every person struggles with authority--especially the imperfect
        human authority that we all live under...

           - a government that is imperfect at every level
           - bosses that are imperfect
           - spiritual authority that is imperfect

   - let me ask you to turn over to the companion text in Eph. 5 to see
      why this is such an important issue.
        - read 5:18-21

    - submission is an issue that every believer in Jesus Christ has to
       face, and wrestle with
        - and in our day and age, submission is often plain frowned upon.

INPUT - What are some opposites, or substitutes for biblical submission?
        In other words, if a person is not being biblically submissive,
        what might they be instead?

- we need to make this point because when some husbands hear the word
    submission, they automatically think of their wives...
      - when the truth is -- biblically a man ought to first think of
      - if a man has not growing in submission to the authority God has
         placed in his life, he shouldn't be surprised that his wife is
         following his bad example.

          - if he comes home every day griping about his boss
          - looks for every opportunity to criticize the government and
              speak disparagingly about them
          - cheats on his taxes
          - violates civil law
          - has no place for submission to spiritual authority or the
             authority of God

             - he shouldn't be surprised that his wife follows that
                example in her relationship to him.

             - now, that’s not a condescending statement towards wives--as
                if they blindly follow what their husbands do--but the
                truth is
                  - some wives have never seen biblical submission in
                        - they didn't grow up around it
                        - they don't see it in the workplace today
                        - unfortunately, they don't even see it at home.

    B. Many say - "Roles are unimportant."

        - I was recently in a gas station which had a big poster
           advertising cigarettes
             - there was a couple - apparently happy, well-adjusted
                 - both smoking cigarettes
                 - bold heading was - "who cares who wears the pants?"

        - what that has to do with a person smoking cigarettes escapes me
           - but that approach to the issue of husband/wife roles is very
                - who cares?
                - it doesn't matter
                - don't get so uptight about that

- INPUT - Your reaction to that point if view? (that roles don't matter)

            1) just wait till there's a disagreement!
            2) God said roles do matter.

    C. Many say - "Paul was just a woman hater."

        - some believe that Paul was a hopeless bachelor that just
           didn't like women
             - maybe he had been married at one time since only married
                men were admitted to the Sanhedrin
                  - or maybe they made an exception for him.

        - but at this point of his life -- he hated women and couldn't
            possibly speak truth that you and I should live by today.

        - there's some real problems with that view:

            1) these aren't Paul's words-they're God's

                 II Peter 1:20-21, Matt. 5:18

            2) Paul demonstrated a very high view of women in his
                 - commended women, had many women co-workers and friends
                 - told husbands to sacrificially love their wives

    D. Many say - "You can't build a doctrine on one verse of Scripture."

        - even if this was the only verse on the subject--we would still
            have to deal with what it says (using right principles of
            Bible study)

        - but in this case – that’s not an issue - because there are
           many, many verses on this subject.

           - Eph. 5:22-24 - "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own
                             husbands, as unto the Lord..."

           - I Cor. 11:3 - "...and the head of the woman is the man..."

           - I Cor. 14:34-35 - "Let your women keep silence in the
               churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but
               they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith
               the law.  And if they will learn anything, let them ask
               their husbands at home..."

           - Titus 2:4-5 - "That they may teach the young women to be
               sober-minded, to love their husbands, to love their
               children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good,
               obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be
               not blasphemed."

           - I Peter 3:1-6

- so we're not talking about a concept that is only mentioned once or
   twice in the Scripture.
     - the issue isn't how clearly or how often the doctrine is taught
     - the issue is -- Is Jesus Christ so preeminent that I want to live
         like Him, and in obedience to Him, no matter what.

    E. Many say "Paul was speaking culturally."

        1) Paul's teaching was based on doctrine, not culture.

            - there are two doctrinal issues that Paul often returns to
              when discussing this subject.

            - INPUT - what are they?

                 a. order of creation - I Tim. 2:13

                 b. nature of the fall - I Tim. 2:14

            - the point is that culture does change
               (we don't greet each other with a holy kiss, today)
               (the ladies in our church don't wear veils, today)

            - but the subject of submission of a wife to her husband is
                rooted in doctrine---not culture.
                  - doctrine does not change
                  - we dare not, regardless of what our culture is doing,
                     change//alter doctrinal truth.

        2) Does that mean Col. 3:19 is cultural?

            - If a person argues that one part of a passage is cultural,
              then they need to be prepared to make that concession about
              the entire passage.
                 - would anyone want to say that about 3:19?
                 - about 3:20-21?  etc?

           - of course not -- then why Col. 3:18? (because at this
              particular time in history, 3:18 is especially offensive to
              our culture.  Who's to say that it won't be one of the
              other issues in the passage in years ahead?)
                  (once you start cutting - where do you stop?)

     F. Many say, "Then, God must want women to be unhappy and

        - that is not at all the picture that God gives us concerning
            women in the Scripture.

        - in fact, the picture is just the opposite...
            - women who are happy, busy, effective, productive,
               important, etc.

            - INPUT - Examples?

                  - the Proverbs 31 woman
                  - the wife and mother of Psalm 128 - the fruitful vine
                        - what a compliment!

- the overall point we're making is that this is not a popular topic
     - but as you take each argument out and honestly evaluate it, they
        fall by the wayside.

    - as Isaiah said, "the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word
        of our God shall stand forever." (40:8)

- now let's do some work specifically on the verse:

II. What Biblical Submission (in a marriage) Is

    A. Meaning of the term

        1. military term - "line up under"

            - just like the military, there's the recognition that not
                everyone can be in charge.
            - not everyone can have the final say.

            - Pastor often uses the phrase - "someone has to have the
                axe over his neck."

            - so in marriage, submission is a divine plan for function
               and order

        2. done willingly--to oneself

            - this passage doesn't say - "husbands, make your wives
            - that’s not the biblical picture at all.

            - the biblical picture is -- the husband willingly, and
               joyfully submits to all the authority in his life
                  - and the wife does the same.

                  - it's voluntary, "self-imposed", something done

    B. From the other words in the verse

        - studying the way this command is given helps us understand
            biblical submission.

        1) to your husband

            - it's not at all true that all women have to submit to all
            - Paul says - I'm talking about your relationship to your
                husband -- the one you married
                 - the one person that you're closest to in all the world

        2) as is fitting in the Lord

           - Paul says this is appropriate behavior for those who are
               saved, for those who are living in the Lord.

           - when a wife chooses to live this way--it's right, it's
               fitting, it's appropriate, it's proper.


    C. What it's not.

        - perhaps one of the reasons that this subject is unpopular is
           because it has been widely misunderstood.

- sometimes it has not been taught carefully and biblically
- sometimes husbands have misused this truth (which is a very wicked
   thing to do)

    1. that the wife is inferior.

        INPUT - how do we know that’as not the case?

          - Jesus was submissive to his parents - Luke 2:51

          - Christ is submissive to the Father - John 5:30

    2. that the husband is always right

         cf. Rom. 13:1 - illustration of government

    3. that the wife does not use her abilities, gifts, etc.

        - in fact, that exactly the opposite of the biblical picture

            - cf. I Tim. 3:4 - one that manages his own household well

        - the biblical picture is that the wise husband recognizes his
            wife's gifts and abilities
               - cf. Jay - CLH - p. 82 ff.

    4. that submission will squash freedom

        - you and I are most free when we are joyfully and aggressively
            living within the roles God has given us.

        - cf. the music illustration.

    5. that the wife never expresses an opinion, gives advice, etc.

        - Eph. 4:15, 25, 29 are written to her, too.

    6. that the wife always submits

        - Acts 5:29

- so the bottom line is:
   - we need to define this subject carefully
   - we need to be sure we talk about what submission isn't

      - but when that important work is done...
         - the point is still the point

         - if a wife wants to show that Jesus Christ is preeminent in her
            heart and life, then she can do so by joyfully submitting
            herself to her husband.


- let's think about how this can work itself out in the average home
   represented here today:

   INPUT - What things might a wife do to show she wants to joyfully
           submit to her husband, and what things might a wife do to show
           she doesn't?

- INPUT - what question should every wife be asking this morning?

- INPUT - what question should every husband be asking?

- let's conclude our time by studying:

III. Why This Is Possible

    - I realize that you may be here this morning and would say, PV, what
      you're talking about this morning is hard---for a bunch of reasons.

        - I'm not sure I like it!
        - I'm not sure I feel like doing it
        - I've not seen it done much
        - in a number of ways, I'm not doing it
        - habits are hard to break

(this outline is from William Hendriksen)

    A. Jesus Christ provides the power

        - throughout history, other philosophers have talked about how
            husbands and wives should live together.
        - but as William Hendriksen says, their teachings are like trains
            lacking engines.

            - ideas, in and of themselves--will not produce results (cf.
                the statement- after it's all said and done, there's a
                lot more said than done.)

        - Phil. 4:13, Titus 2:11

    B. Jesus Christ provides the purpose

        - we're not talking about living this way so life will be better
            - or because the marriage will be smoother
            - or there will be less problems

        - we're talking about glorifying God (3:17)
            - we're talking about the importance of being a good picture
                  of Christ and the church.

    C. Jesus Christ provides the pattern

        - in this verse, and each of the succeeding ones about
          relationships in the family, our Savior provided the perfect
          example to follow.

        - a wife can be submissive because she has a Savior who was, and
            is submissive.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video