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God’s Divine Design for the Wife

By Matthew Black, Pastor

Text: Ephesians 5:22-24

Date: Sunday, March 8, 2009


Tabernacle Baptist Church

7020 Barrington Road

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133


Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5:22-24.  We are also going to read Genesis 2:18, so turn there also. Our message this morning is entitled “God’s Divine Design for the wife”.

This morning I was talking to my daughter Katie, and I told her wasn’t it wonderful to know the Lord and how she will probably one day raise a her family in godliness.  Her response was delightful. She said, “Isn’t my husband going to raise our family?” I told her “Yes, but you are going to be his helper”. I was so happy that she understands that.  I can’t remember ever teaching her. For children I can tell you that actions speak louder than words.

Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For 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. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

I also want us to turn back to Genesis 2:18 where the whole foundation is laid for a woman’s place in the home. We read that in God’s perfect creation there was something “not good.” Let’s see what that is: “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God made the woman a helper suitable for the man. Married ladies here today, you are designed to be your husband’s helper. That’s what the message is all about today.  Let’s go to the Lord in prayer before we turn back to Ephesians 5.

[Prayer for Guidance]

This message is about married women, but it is vital to everyone here today. Let me speak specifically to those who are single or widowed. These verses are important for you.  You may get married one day, and you need to pay attention very carefully.  Every one of us came from homes and some of them were very dysfunctional. We all need to get a biblical perspective on the home.

This is a message about wives, but let me say that the primary responsibility for the marriage falls on the husband. It is true that there are women who are not operating in their roles as they should.

  1. The Prospect. Marriage can be wonderful. God says in 1 Peter 2:7 that married couples need to function properly, because they are “heirs together of the grace of life”. God has a plan for his children, and part of that plan is to function properly in the role He’s called us to.

  1. The Pattern. The pattern for marriage is found in Ephesians 5:33 which summarizes the roles of husband and wife in the home:“…let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband”. A man is to love his wife at all times even if she is not loveable at the moment. A wife is to respect her husband at all times even if he doesn’t deserve respect at the moment. This is God’s Law.  It is His command. God’s been making happy marriages for a long time.  He’s the wisest Being in the universe. He makes no mistakes. The only way your family is going to have God’s blessing is if you follow God’s pattern.  If you decide not to, you are going to severely mess up your life and the lives of your children if you have any. Determine right now to follow God’s pattern. 

  1. But there is a Problem. Men and women do not want to fulfill their God given roles.  Often men do not want to lead, or if they do, they often lead with a heavy hand. Women often do not want to follow, or if they do, they do it with resentment and not joy.

Most marriages begin with amazing bliss, but then the honeymoon is quickly over! The man thinks his wife is now going to be his slave. The wife thinks the man is going to for ever be Prince Charming. What a wake up call.  Many marriages very quickly descend into nitpicking, unhappiness, a total lack of forgiveness, and deep bitterness. Finally, there can be an ongoing anger or rage which leads people to want to end the marriage.

Over 50% of people in America to seek to end the marriage. Those that divorce think ending their marriage will end the nightmare. A very sad problem when God’s plan for marriage is not followed is the children do not have a father in the home.  Understand that once a marriage ends, the real nightmare begins, especially for the children.

USA Today recently reported, “The United States has the weakest families in the Western world because we have the highest divorce rate and the highest rate of single parenting”.[1]

I want to speak of this first hand, because I was raised by a single mother. Without Christ, this is a very destructive situation. If I had not come to know Christ, I would have been a cause for the crime statistics to go up. I speak from personal experience that without a father in the home, mom goes to work, and children are often left on their own. Proverbs 29:15 says, “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”. Without supervision and mentoring from my father, I can tell you that that those in that situation are causing many of the out-of-wedlock births in our country.  There is a rise in alcoholism, drug use, vandalism, and theft. My friends and I were the vandals that most people are afraid of.  When I walked into the house next door and saw all the vandalism, it was a familiar sight. My friends and I would do the same thing to vacant houses when were children.  Most of my friends were from single parent homes, and none of us had a mom who loved the Lord. So we lived a very sad existence bringing our mothers to shame.

  1. The Picture. Marriage is all about the Gospel.  You are a picture of Christ and his church.  No marriage is perfect, but generally speaking if your marriage were the only Gospel tract people read, would they see Christ?

Transition: I want to encourage you this morning that your marriage can be everything God wants it to be, but it’s going to take some diligent application of God’s Word to your life. My hope is that through this series you will conform your marriage to Christ so that your lost family and friends will desire Christ by looking at your marriage. All marriages need work every day to keep them close. What you put into it is what you will get out of it.

So let’s begin by talking about…

I.          The Matter of Submission. Sometimes the words “submission” and “subjection” are hard words for women to hear. Yet they are words that our Lord Jesus Christ gladly personified. Jesus Christ is the example of submission for you ladies.

1.      Christ subjected Himself to the Father. He said, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). He said, “I do always those things that please [my Father]” (John 8:29).

2.      He subjected Himself to the wicked authorities that crucified Him.

3.      He subjected Himself to the death of the cross. Hebrews 12:2, “for the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

B.   Submission is very hard for anyone, including the woman. Before the fall of man into sin there was no burden with submission.

C.   It is important that we understand what submission means.

1.      First, submission does not mean that you are inferior to your husband. Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

When it comes to our standing before God, there is no distinction between male and female.

We’re all equally created in the image of God, equally fallen and in need of salvation.  Submission isn’t a matter of who is smarter or the most deserving. Submission in marriage is simply another reflection of the beautiful pattern of roles seen in the Trinity. The Son has submitted to the Father through all eternity, fulfilling His will, seeking to please Him.[2]

2.      Secondly, submission does not mean you give into the sinful demands of your husband. No matter what authority has been given to a person by God, no one has the authority to make you compromise your conscience. When the religious leaders told the apostles to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, they replied “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If your husband asks you to lie, you should kindly refuse.

3.      Thirdly, submission does not mean always agreeing with everything your husband does. All human authorities make mistakes. Sometimes we husbands think we are making fantastic decisions, and they turn out to be disastrous.  You are allowed to respectfully give counsel to your husband. You are his helper.  He needs your help.

If after you’ve clearly given your perspective and prayerfully presented your point of view, your husband continues on a course that you disagree with but which isn’t sinful, you are obligated to support and obey him.[3]

In the meantime you can pray for your husband to make wise decisions, and to help you to trust in the sovereign plan of God.

4.      Finally, submission does not mean that your husband takes the place of Christ. You are to submit to him as unto the Lord, but only the Lord is going to satisfy your longings. Your husband is going to fail.  I didn’t have to tell you that he has already failed you miserably. Wives, the sooner you realize that the deepest longings of your heart can only be satisfied by God, the happier you will be.

D.  Second, consider what submission does mean.

1.      Submission—definition. The word most often used in the New Testament for submission or subjection is a military term that indicates proper placement and rank.  It means, “to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject oneself, to obey, to submit to one’s control, to yield to one’s admonishment or advice.” [4]

2.      Submission flows out of your submission to the Lord. On your own you will not be able to submit to your husband’s leadership. We see in Genesis 3:16 that following the Fall, the woman’s desire has been to get out of God’s created order and take the leadership of the home.  Genesis 3:16, “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. The idea here is that “Eve’s desire will be to dominate her husband”, but her place is under the rule of her husband. It was not difficult before the Fall for Eve to submit to her husband.  In fact it was delightful. But after the Fall, we all have self-will and pride and a deceitful heart.  Our pride is always going to tell us that our way is best. We have a built in tendency to distrust authority.

But let me repeat, godly submission ladies flows out of your submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. You need God’s strength and grace to trust your husbands. Submitting to your husband is submitting to God’s created order.

3.      We need to understand also that Submission was established at creation. The woman’s place of submission is not a result of the fall, but was part of God’s divine plan from the beginning. Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” This occurred long before the Fall. To depart from God’s created order is to depart from God. 1 Timothy 2:13, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” The wife’s purpose in life is to complete the man. She is to help her husband achieve his goals. She is to mold the children. She is to be a keeper at home.

4.      Based on that order of creation, submission is embracing the mission and vision of your husband. The word “submit” in our text is a military term used for troop alignment. Soldiers are to carry out the commands of their generals.

Application: Do you know your husband’s calling?  Are you looking out for his interests?  Are you helping him or opposing him. 

5.      Above all, submission is a spiritual issue.  It is not simply outwardly embracing your husband’s goals and vision, but it is a real submission to the Lord.

E.   If submitting seems difficult, consider that all people are called to submit, verse 21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”. We are all under authority.  God has placed people in various levels of authority according to His sovereign plan. Psalm 75:6-7, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”

1.      We are to submit within the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). Wives are to submit to husbands, children to parents.

2.      We are to submit in the work place to our employers (Ephesians 6:5-8).

3.      We are to submit within the church to God’s appointed officers. Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

4.      Concerning relations within the church, the younger are to submit to the elder people in the church. 1 Peter 5:5, “ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility”.

5.      We are all to submit to the government and government officials. Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God”.

6.      The entire church is to submit to Christ as the Head (Ephesians 4:24).

F.   For women specifically, verse 22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands” (cf. Colossians 3:18).

1.      This includes submission in her role with all her duties in the home.

a. She is to submit to her husband and make his breadwinning a success.  She is a helper fitted for her husband (Genesis 2:18).  Eve was made to help and compliment Adam.  She is not to be the HEAD of the home. She’s got an even more important job than being the head of the home.  She is to be the HEART and HELP of the home! 

b. She is to bear children. This is one of the most important jobs in the world! Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:14, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” very Moment Mom is molding!  Everything you do is being watched!


You and I often don’t realize the power of simply living for the Lord in front of our children.  You see, they watch.  They listen.  They’re not taking notes literally, but they are taking note of every action, and every moment they are applying it to their own hearts.  Every decision we make, we are helping form our children to either excuse their behavior since Mom and Dad did it, or to make the hard choice to do right since they saw Mom and Dad do right.   Molding takes place every moment you are with your children, so make sure YOU are molding your children. 


c. She is the organizer of the home. She is to guide the home. Look at Titus 2:3-5, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,  5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”.  It is a full time job to raise a child.  It takes all the influence you have. There is no substitute for spending time with your child.  You are responsible to organize your child’s life according to godliness.  You will give an account.

d. The mother is the teacher in the home. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Training a child in godly principles includes character training. Here are a few things to teach and develop in your children.  Your child has an amazing capacity to learn deep life forming habits in his first 10 years. 

Children need to be called out of this world and God has called you to do it. 
Think of how God called Adam, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Paul…

2.      This matter is carried out in the church1 Corinthians 14:34, “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. 35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

3.      This matter of submission was established at creation. Turn over to 1 Timothy 2:11-13. Paul writes to Timothy about church life.  He says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

4.      This matter of submission is in place whether your husband is a Christian or not. 1 Peter 3:1-2, “Likewise, 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; 2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear”.


Conclusion: So we’ve looked at the Matter of Submission.  Tonight we are going to look at the Manner, the Motive, the Model, and the Magnitude of Submission.



[2] Elyse Fitzpatrick. Helper by Design (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003), 147.

[3] Ibid., 149.

[4]J.P. Louw and E.A. Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, 2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 1:467.

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