Colossians 3.19



1.   We have now come to the fourth of this short and rather informal series of messages on the subject of love.  The first message dealt with the love of God.  The second message dealt with the love of Christ.  The third message dealt with the love of the Holy Spirit.

2.   Calvary Road Baptist Church is an extremely loving congregation, as anyone whose involvement in all of our church’s activities can attest to.  Our real strength is in our youth, which suggests that ours is not a mature congregation.  But we are a loving group of people.

3.   Even so, perhaps especially so, it is the nature of the Christian life to expect that believers will from time to time fall short in expressing love.  So I turn, today and next week, to that arena where God’s people do so frequently struggle, the Christian home.  Why is the Christian home the place of such struggle for the believer?

4.   Aside from the enemy’s opposition, the Christian home meets with difficulty because God’s plan for believers is to save them where they are, to save them though sinning, and to then begin a gradual process of growing and maturing and consecrating them.  That means, it is to be expected that Christians will come up short in different areas of our lives.  But it is also to be expected that Christians will make progress, will grow in grace and godliness, and will change in their behavior and lifestyles over time.

5.   For instance:  I am not too surprised to find that a Christian woman is a lousy housekeeper during the initial years of her walk with God.  But she becomes an embarrassment to both her husband and to the cause of Christ if she does not present a clean home and a spotless kitchen after being a Christian for a few years.  After all, there are few things more disgusting to a husband, and few things that do so much damage to a Christian woman’s testimony, than a messy house and a filthy kitchen.

6.   It is an indication, I think, of the devastating impact feminism has had on wives that so many who profess to be Christians are so blind to the connection that is made in the minds of their husbands to their love for them and the tidiness and cleanliness of the homes they keep for those men they say they love.  It is difficult to convince a man that you love him, wifey, if the house you keep for him is a pig sty.  Amen?

7.   But today’s message is not directed to wives, but to men who are husbands, and to men who hope to someday be husbands.  A husband presumes a wife, does it not?  After all, no man can be a husband unless he has a wife.

8.   That understood, allow me during this exposition time to brief you concerning this relationship that exists between a husband and a wife:



There are many passages we might turn to this morning, but my concern at this time is limited to showing you what God has ordained for what we call marriage.  It is not up to government or any liberal denomination to expand the boundaries of marriage to include homosexual men who want to call their despicable practices marriage, or Lesbians either, for that matter.  Neither is marriage up to a husband and a wife to work out as they see fit, as though God is pleased when every couple does that which is right in their own eyes.  No.  Marriage is not a social arrangement that man has the freedom to manipulate or adjust as he sees fit.  Marriage is a covenantal relationship established by God.

1B.    In the book of Genesis we see God’s original plan for husbands.  Turn to Genesis chapter 2.

1C.   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.” 

1D.   From this verse we clearly see that God made Adam first, and that His plan was to create for Adam someone to help him, someone who would be fit to help him. 

2D.   If only more husbands would call upon their wives to help them, and if only more wives were committed to being helpers of their husbands.  How much better off we would all be.

2C.   Genesis 2.24:  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” 

1D.   Shouldn’t this be a wake up call for men who do not leave their parents, physically and emotionally and financially, when they marry? 

2D.   Too many parents, these days, do not raise their sons to be men, to stand on their own two feet, to make their own way in life. 

3D.   Instead, I suspect to make themselves feel needed and important, they are always ready to jump in at the first sign of trouble, virtually guaranteeing that their boys will never be men in the full sense of the word.

4D.   This verse also shows that husbands and wives are supposed to be glued together for a lifetime, so long as they both shall live.  The wording is “one flesh.”

3C.   Genesis 3.16-17:  “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, . . .” 

Two observations here: 

1D.   First, God specifically told Eve “he shall rule over thee.”  The Hebrew word for “rule” that is used here is said by Brown-Driver-Briggs, the most widely used of Hebrew lexicons, to mean “to have dominion over,” “to exercise dominion.”[1]  The same word is found in Psalm 103.19:  “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.”  So, you see, God’s statement is quite strong.

2D.   Next, take note of God’s rebuke of Adam:  “Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife.”  Or, to paraphrase, “Because you listened to your wife.”  Sometimes a guy listens to his wife when he shouldn’t.  How much experience does any wife have at being a godly husband?

4C.   So, it is clear that God ordained this institution that we call marriage.  He determined the nature of the relationship that is to exist between a husband and a wife.  And He decided that the husband is to rule his wife.  Not many wives know much about how to be a godly husband, having enough problems trying to figure out how to be the right kind of wife.  Amen?

2B.    In First Corinthians 11, we are given evidence that this relationship between a husband and his wife has nothing to do with superiority, but is what I call a functional hierarchy.

1C.   First Corinthians 11.3:  “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”  This verse is critical in clearing up many misconceptions that both men and women have about marriage.

2C.   The structure of this hierarchy is God, then Christ, then husband, then wife.  That this is a hierarchy cannot be denied.  But it is a hierarchy of function and not a hierarchy of worth or value.  I say this because Christ is not inferior to God, since they are coequal members of the triune godhead.  Yet Jesus is subordinate to the Father, as this verse declares.

3C.   So you see, women are not inferior to men.  Therefore, God’s plan for any woman who marries is for her to be functionally subordinate to her husband, though she is in no way inferior to her husband.

4C.   Thus, this modern day nonsense of a married couple dividing up the labor of the home, so that she raises the kids while he does other things, runs counter to the thrust of Biblical teaching.  The husband is in charge of everything, including child rearing, and his wife’s God-assigned role is to help him fulfill the tasks, duties and responsibilities God has assigned to him.

3B.    So, God’s original plan was for marriage to be a functional hierarchy of equals, with the husband being the one who rules.  Enter the church, whose responsibility, among other things, is to reinforce this principle by our practice.  Only two of many passages for your consideration:

1C.   First Corinthians 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 any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1D.   You know, I forget sometimes, and answer questions posed to me by married women whose husbands are present in a church service. 

2D.   But for a married woman to ask me a question in a church service is said by Paul to be shameful.  So, when a woman does that, instead of asking her husband at home, she is shaming him.

3D.   You fellows need to bristle a bit if your wife forgets and asks a question in a church service.  After all, it is an insult to you.  So, don’t depend upon me to remember to not recognize your wife.  Sometimes I forget.  It’s your job to rule the woman you married.

2C.   First Timothy 2.11:  “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” 

1D.   Like the previous passage we read, this verse establishes the public policy of the church.  No woman is forbidden to seek the counsel of her pastor in private.  Indeed, no husband has the authority to forbid his wife from seeking pastoral counsel. 

2D.   But, in front of others, the practice in the church has been ordained to reinforce the functional hierarchy that God has ordained for the home.



1B.    First, we see that it is decreed by God.

1C.   In Genesis 3.16, we already saw that God pronounced His decree for women to Eve:  “he shall rule over thee.”  Thus, God has ordained that the general pattern for husband and wife relationships would be one in which the man rules the wife. 

2C.   To rule does not exclude a husband seeking input from his wife, but it does preclude his wife being the decision maker in the home.  To rule is to make decisions about money, about policy, about child training, and so forth.  The husband is to be the decision maker, exercising dominion.

2B.    Next, we see that this has been practiced worldwide throughout history.

1C.   To be sure, in western Europe and North America for the last few decades the rise of feminism has thrown people into confusion.  But when the entire human population, for the entire course of history, is considered, husbands have indeed ruled their wives.

2C.   It is sad that most of the time the lot in life of most wives has been desperate and bleak.  With Hindu wives burned on their husband’s funeral pyres, with moslem wives subjected to beatings and arbitrary divorce by their husbands, with wives bought and sold for livestock and like livestock in Africa, with unfaithfulness and promiscuity being the rule rather than the exception by most husbands in most settings. 

3C.   Thus, God’s prediction when He said to Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow,” has been fulfilled for most women in a tragic fashion.

3B.    But this relationship we call marriage has from time to time been tempered by God’s grace.

1C.   God’s grace is nowhere indicated in the Bible to overturn the hierarchical relationship that God ordained between husbands and wives, but that relationship is qualitatively changed by God’s grace.

2C.   What happens to a husband when his wife is graced by God to be wise, to be discreet, to be helpful to him, to be loyal, to be godly, to keep a good home, to execute his wishes with his children?  In short, what happens when a man’s wife shows herself to be virtuous, to be prized above rubies?  Does it not affect the way he treats her?  To be sure.

3C.   As well, what happens to a wife whose husband is graced by God to love her, to dwell with her according to knowledge, to protect her, to provide for her, to insist that his children honor and obey her?  Should she not have enough sense to respond well to him?  You would think so.

4C.   When God visits a marriage with grace He does not alter the functional hierarchy one bit.  But He affects the heart of the husband, or the wife, or both, to such a degree that conflict is replaced by contentment, frustration is replaced by delight, and willfulness is replaced by willingness to submit one to another in such a way that the relationship really works well.



 A bit of review might be in order:

1B.    The pagan practice, throughout history, has been to brutalize women as inferiors. 

1C.   This has been made possible, of course, by the fact that women are generally smaller, weaker, and less prone to violent behavior than men are. 

2C.   Thus, without any exposure to the truth that would require otherwise, pagan cultures always treat women as inferior, based in large part on a woman’s appearance and physical strength.

2B.    However, God’s plan has always been for women to be recognized as equal to men.

1C.   By equal, I mean in terms of worth and value, while occupying a position subordinate to men in God’s functional hierarchy in the home. 

2C.   As well, it has ever been God’s plan for women to be treated kindly by their husbands.  And when a man, or a community, or a culture, is illuminated by the light of God’s grace, the women in that man’s life or those men’s lives are highly esteemed, properly treated, and even sacrificially loved. 

3C.   This is no more obviously the case than in the English speaking world that has been so marvelously blessed by God and so wonderfully used by God to carry the Gospel to all the nations.

3B.    But it was also in those same places, the United States first, and then England, where secular humanism reared its ugly head.

1C.   Rejecting the Bible as God’s authoritative Word, refusing to submit to God, or to even acknowledge His existence, humanism is the religion of human autonomy and atheism.

2C.   Humanism then gave birth to feminism, which not only reacted to and rejected the concept of a functional hierarchy in the home and in the church, but asserted that women are identical to men, and not just equal in value to men.

3C.   It has taken scientists about 50 years to reestablish what the Bible has all along declared, that men and women are not the same.  Our metabolisms are different.  Our thought patterns are different.  The development of our brains even occurs differently.  Apparently, it never occurred to feminists to look at men and women, so that some of the obvious differences would be noticed. 

4C.   So, we now have in the western English speaking world an entire culture that, for the most part, feels ambivalent about, or is opposed to, the concept of a functional hierarchy in marriage, or anywhere else for that matter.

4B.    What can we expect to happen next? 

1C.   As we move farther and farther away from God and His Bible we will move closer and closer to the way those parts of the world were before their exposure to the Bible. 

2C.   I have chosen to call what is coming the neo-pagan darkness, where men will once again treat women as abusively and as recklessly as they did in Africa and in Asia and in North and South America before the arrival of the gospel. 

3C.   Of course, this will result in a reestablishment of the functional hierarchy, but with none of the tenderness and kindness and love that accompanied the advance of the gospel.  The humanists will have gotten their way by ridding us all of God and His influence, but at what cost to women, and at what cost to the souls of us all?



1.   The relationship that exists between a husband and his wife is a relationship that was established by God, and is explained in Scripture, but has been for the most part ruined by secular humanism and its daughter, militant feminism.

2.   The result?  A terrible mess.  I believe that men are hardwired by God to be leaders of their wives.  But for the most part, many are so disoriented by social convention, and confused by the mixed signals they have received throughout their whole lives, that they really have no idea what they are doing as husbands.

3.   Do you realize what this means?  It means that you don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of succeeding as a husband.  Everything is against you.  The culture is against you.  The laws are against you.  Your wife is against you, bucking and kicking when you try to lead her . . . if you try to lead her. 

4.   And if she has never reacted against you, it is likely you don’t really lead.  Some women are very clever at making their husbands think they lead.  But even the most spiritual woman will, from time to time, have trouble following the leadership of her husband . . . if he leads, that is. 

5.   Most women who don’t resist their husbands are married to men who do not really provide spiritual leadership.  But I digress.  What will happen, my friend? 

6.   You will likely fail as a husband.  Either you will leave your wife, resulting in spiritual Christians openly standing against you as your only hope of being brought to repentance, or you will fail in another way, by being a lousy husband who does not leave your wife. 

7.   Those are not good options, are they?  But they are the likely options, after all.  After brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song I will bring a sermon to address this issue.

8.   Let us stand, as brother Isenberger comes.



1.   It is a measure of how pukey our culture has become, and how worldly professing Christians so closely identify with our pukey culture, that we have not the sense God gave to a brick to stand against any man who leaves his wife.  So many of us are so worldly that when something like this happens we do not know what to do.

2.   When a man leaves his wife, or when a wife leaves her husband, not a finger should be lifted by anyone who knows the deserter, to help him or her in any way.  As much social and peer and family pressure should be brought to bear on the deserter as possible, to discourage him or her from the course of action he has embarked upon, because you do nothing to help the deserter by extending sympathy or understanding to someone who has greatly sinned. 

3.   Help such a person, and his twisted thinking will result in him believing that you somehow agree with what he has done.  Believe me, I have seen such things play out many times.  Listen to me, if you really want to bring the Law to bear upon the sinner’s soul, so he is encouraged to flee to Christ. 

4.   Do we see the prophet Nathan saying to the adulterous David, “There, there, David.  We understand.  Being a king is hard.  There is all that pressure, and all that frustration, and no one understands”?  No.  On the contrary, we do see that man of God standing before David, and in front of David’s family and friends, saying, “Thou art the man!”[2]

5.   It is difficult to imagine David being brought to repentance for his great sins apart from Nathan publicly standing against him in that way.  Remember, as well, not only did Nathan risk losing David’s friendship by doing what he did, he risked losing his life by doing what he did.  Sadly, there are few Nathans left.

6.   But it is only slightly less destructive than deserting your wife for you to be a husband who simply refuses to be the husband God wants her to have, who is just a proverbial bump on a log who does not leave and does not properly husband your wife . . . you are just there.  What a sense of desperation such a slug of a husband brings upon a wife.  What a bad example such a husband sets for his children.  Terrible.

7.   Turn in your Bible to Colossians 3.19.  I want to speak to you young men and to you young husbands, who want better for your wife than desertion down the road, and who want better for your wife than years of quiet desperation.  When you have found my text, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:  “Husbands, love your wives.”

8.   I am not interested in preaching to you today about what you should not do, but about what God has commanded you to do.  I want to speak to you about loving your wife.



1B.    The two great commandments that overarch all of God’s commandments are indicated in a conversation Jesus once had, in Matthew 22.36-39:

36     Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37     Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38     This is the first and great commandment.

39     And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


2B.    What you need to recognize is that the command to love your neighbor is simply a generalized requirement that God has for all men, and that the command in our text to love your wife is that same command applied to her as your spouse.

3B.    Thus, your obligation to love your wife is no greater than your responsibility to love your neighbor.  And how much should you love your neighbor?  As much as you love yourself.  How much, then, should you love your wife?  As much as you love yourself.

4B.    I say all this with the understanding that the limits God places on how you show your love to your wife is somewhat different than the lengths to which you are to go to show love to your neighbor.  Is this distinction clear to one and all?  Hug and kiss your wife, but do not hug and kiss me.  Amen?



1B.    You are commanded to love your wife.  You should love your wife as you love yourself.  And how do you love yourself?  By meeting all your perceived needs and doing your best to meet all your wants.  Thus, you should meet your wife’s needs and strive to meet her wants, as well.

2B.    That would require you to meet her romantic needs, her need for food and shelter and clothing, and the spiritual need God’s Word says she has for a husband who provides spiritual leadership.  In other words, sir, you have a lot on your plate to say grace over.  Being a husband is a man-sized job.  Specifically, it is a Christian man-sized job.

3B.    And you are not man enough for the job.  Face it.  You do not love your wife with a love that approaches the love you have for yourself.  You do not sacrificially provide for her.  You are all too willing to sit on your royal rear end and let her work her fingers to the bone, are you not?  Have you ever tried to open your Bible to lead her in devotions?  Do you set her down and lead her in prayer?

4B.    Sometimes a Christian man will try to lead his unconverted wife and will give up in frustration.  But have you ever even tried?  I mean, really tried?  Too many men these days are so pathetically effeminate that they seem quite content when their wives do all the leading and make all the decisions.  Other men simply default on leadership responsibilities in the home by allowing wives take up spiritual duties they should tend to themselves.  What do I mean by this?  Some men pray and read their Bibles, but they do not control the finances and do not provide direction to their families in other ways.  Who is really in charge at your house?  Who makes the decisions?

5B.    All of this is related to the fact that you are sinful in your nature and quite incapable of either pleasing God or succeeding as a husband.  If you go on the way you are going you will likely raise daughters who will end up being bossy wives, pushing their wimpy husbands around, or you will raise sons who will do wicked things to establish in their own minds that they are real men.  We see these sad effects throughout our country.

6B.    All of this is the direct result of you having a nature that is opposed to God, that is unable to please God, that is actually at enmity with God, Romans 8.8.  Your nature makes it impossible to be the husband you need to be and the husband you ought to be.



1B.    Why is the collapse of your marriage inevitable?  And by the collapse of your marriage I do not insist upon divorce.  I insist upon failure.  Whether your marriage ends in divorce or stays together as a miserable example of unhappiness, in either case I choose to call it collapse.  For it cannot succeed as a marriage, it cannot be a happy home, it cannot glorify God, it cannot be fulfilling, because of the corruption of your nature.

2B.    May I explain?  We go back to the two commandments that Jesus spoke of that I mentioned a few moments ago.  The second command was to love your neighbor as yourself.  But what about the first and greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”?

3B.    Do you realize that the same corrupt nature that makes it impossible for you to love your neighbor as yourself also makes it impossible for you to love the Lord thy God?  What do you suppose God’s response to that failure will be?  He commands that you love Him.  He is worthy of your love.  Only He deserves your love.  Yet you do not and cannot, because of your heart’s sinfulness, love Him.

4B.    In Exodus 20.5, we read, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.”  For your failure to love Him, while all the while wickedly loving only yourself as all sinners do, He will withhold His blessing from you, and from your marriage . . . and you will fail.  He is under no obligation to bless your marriage and to bless your efforts to be a husband so long as you fail to love Him.  And without His blessings upon your life and upon your marriage, both you and your marriage are doomed.

5B.    Thus, should you someday abandon your wife, it will only be because you have refused to love God.  And how can we support you, or sympathize with you, or help you in any way, when you recklessly ruin your own life and ruin the lives of others by your stubborn refusal to love God, Who is love, Who deserves your love, and Who demands your love?  You see, with us it’s a matter of loyalty and nothing less than that.

6B.    And even if you remain with your wife and pretend to make a go of it while still not loving God, you are still culpable, you are still negligent, you are still criminal in your neglect.  You still ruin lives, only more slowly.  You still cause pain, only less sharply.  You still cause ruination, only by degrees instead of catastrophically.

7B.    In either case, don’t you see, you are doomed.  You are doomed to failure, one way or the other, in your marriage, and you are doomed to eternal damnation in the end.



1B.    Only if you are converted will you be reconciled to God.  Only if you are converted will your sins be forgiven.  Only if you are converted will you escape damnation.  Only if you are converted will you be given the capacity to love God, to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love your wife.  Nothing less will do, my friend, than the conversion of your eternal and undying soul.

2B.    David wrote of being converted.  Isaiah wrote of being converted.  The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the need for sinners being converted.  And you need to be converted.  “Except ye be converted . . . ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said, in Matthew 18.3.  And Peter urged multitudes to “be converted,” in Acts 3.19.

3B.    If your soul is converted to Jesus Christ you will have no more natural ability to be a husband than you ever had before.  But you will have the grace of God to help you.  And God will love others through you, including your wife.  Indeed, those of us who have been converted realize that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[3]



1.   Do you think you love your wife?  Do you want to be the kind of husband who truly loves his wife?  Do you want to avoid the dismal failure as a husband that is so often the experience of men these days?

2.   Then you need to see about the conversion of your soul to Christ.  The desire to be a good husband is not the best motivation to be converted, but any reason to seriously deal with the matter is a good enough reason.

3.   So, this is what I recommend that you do:  When we stand to pray, and when I dismiss everyone, I want you come over here and step into the conference room for just a moment.  I want to have the briefest word with you, give you something to read, and make an appointment to meet with you at another time.

4.   And don’t worry.  Unless your wife is insane, or unless she is a viper that you shouldn’t listen to at all, she will not object to you talking to me about conversion.  And if you are not yet married, any marriage that you enter into without being converted runs the greatest of risks of failure unless you get converted.

5.   Do not hesitate.  Step into the conference room for just a few moments, as soon as we stand for prayer and are dismissed.

[1] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: 1979), page 605.

[2] Second Samuel 12.7

[3] Romans 5.5

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