PHBC February 15, 1998
Series: First Peter, Ser. #41
THE POWER, PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE OF AN EXEMPLARY LIFE
Scripture: I Peter 3:1-11
TEXT: 1 Peter 3:1-4 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. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
INTRO: In the past two messages from Peter’s First Epistle to Pilgrims we have discusses the subject of wives being in submission to their own husbands. One reason this is to be so is the power of an exemplary life to accomplish what may be not be accomplished by the declaration of the Word of God.
As I meditated on these verses this week, I began to think on the matter of the power of an exemplary life. While this message is certainly fitting in this series, it also goes beyond the realm of this particular context. I want to speak to you, this morning, on The Power, Purpose, and Importance Of An Exemplary Life.
I recall a poem I read over 40 years ago. It went something like this:
I’d rather see a sermon
Than here one any day.
I’d rather have one walk with me,
Than to merely show the way.
It was a good deal longer and very meaningful. It set forth the power, purpose and importance of an exemplary life. Our text here in I Peter shows the power, purpose and importance of an exemplary life. 1 Peter 3:1-2 . . . 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.
Matthew Henry wrote, "There is nothing more powerful, next to the word of God, to win people, than a good conversation, and the careful discharge of relative duties." A little later he wrote, "Evil men are strict observers of the conversation of the professors of religion; their curiosity, envy, and jealousy, make them watch narrowly the ways and lives of good people. A chaste conversation, attended with due and proper respect to every one, is an excellent means to win them to the faith of the gospel and obedience to the word."
I. SOME SPECIFIC ADMONITIONS TO WIVES CONCERNING LEADING AN EXEMPLARY LIVE ARE FOUND IN OUR TEXT
A. A husband may be won by the godly life of the wife who might not be won with the word. 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.
B. A wife’s manner of dress and demeanor can be very powerful before her husband and others, as well.
1. In her overall appearance, clothing, jewelry and demeanor she should avoid anything that is designed to allure and ensnare men, or that would cause men to lust.
a. She must never dress in a manner suggests pride and vanity.
b. She must never adorn herself in a manner that is indecent and luxurious, immodest and immoderate, and unsuitable to her age, character, and station in life.
c. Peter is not suggesting it is wrong to wear anything nice or that looks well on you, rather he is admonishing wives to avoid the extravagant, suggestive, immodest styles of worldly and wicked women.
2. She should avoid styling of her hair after the ways of lewd women.
a. The customs of a particular time should be avoided if they tend to identify one as a lewd person.
b. The plaiting of the hair was, in that day, not only the practice of the pagans, it was a sign of a lewd, worldly woman.
c. According to John Gill, pagan and lewd women would plait their hair and form the plait into horns, or crowns, or towers.
d. The apostle is not suggesting a woman should not have a nice hairdo, but simply avoid that which is extravagant, unsuitable for her age, or identifies with lewd women.
3. The godly woman should also avoid excessive and extravagant use of jewelry and other ornaments of precious metals.
a. Godly women have used jewelry for centuries.
(1) When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac he sent jewelry for the woman. Genesis 24:22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold. Genesis 24:30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. Genesis 24:53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.
(2) The women of Israel placed jewelry, received from the Egyptians, upon their children. Exodus 3:22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
(3) When Godly Jehoshaphat and his people conquered an enemy they took the jewels worn by the enemy for their own use. 2 Chronicles 20:25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
b. What is forbidden in this passage is the extravagant and prideful display of precious jewels and ornaments such as was practiced by some of the Israelites in a time of backsliding and worldliness. Isaiah 3:16-25 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: 17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. 18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, 19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels, 22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. 24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. 25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
c. Paul addressed this same matter. 1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.
C. Women should avoid placing great emphasis on their clothing. 1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.
1. Here we have evidence that Peter is not forbidding the use of any of these things in moderation.
2. If the warning about plaited hair, or as Paul says "broided hair," is to be taken as an absolute prohibition of all plaiting of the hair, then this third warning—the putting on of apparel—must be taken as absolute also.
3. If the warning about jewelry and other ornaments of that nature is to be taken as an absolute prohibition against any jewelry or ornaments, then this third matter must be taken in the absolute also.
4. Peter is not suggesting that a woman should wear no clothing for that would be a violation of decency and Scripture. 1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. Matthew 6:28-32 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
D. The attire and adornment that is very powerful in its influence upon a lost husband. 1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
E. This is even an adornment that God looks upon with great pleasure. even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1. Worldly, gaudy, extravagant dress may be highly esteemed by men but not so with God who looks on the heart. Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
2. God takes pleasure in that which is often not even observed by men. Psalm 147:10-11 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
3. God looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF LEADING AN EXEMPLARY LIFE
A. In the case of the Christian wife it is of utmost importance for it may be the means God will use to gain the wife. 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.
B. The importance of a godly and exemplary life is evident from the fact that Peter used the example of Sarah and others from Old Testament times. 1 Peter 3:5-6 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
C. Jesus shows the power of an exemplary, godly life in the sermon on the mount. Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
D. The power, purpose and importance of an exemplary life are seen in the admonitions to be examples to others.
1. Paul and his co-workers led exemplary lives so that others might follow their example. 2 Thessalonians 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
2. Jesus left us an example to follow. 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
3. James tells of the example of the prophets in suffering for Christ. James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
4. Paul admonished Timothy to lead an exemplary life for the assistance of those before whom he lived. 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
5. Paul praised the Thessalonians for their exemplary lives and actions. 1 Thessalonians 1:7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
6. Peter admonishes pastors to be examples for the flock over which they have the oversight. 1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
III. THE EFFECTS OF THE EXEMPLARY GODLY LIFE
A. In the case of the wife of a lost husband God may make it effectual in bringing him to salvation. 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.
B. In the case of the pastor it will have a good effect on those to whom he ministers. 1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
C. In the case of a pastor or any Christian, it can cause those who are contrary to our cause ashamed. Titus 2:7-8 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
D. Leading a godly exemplary life gives others something which they can, without fear, follow. 2 Thessalonians 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
E. The godly lives of Paul and his co-workers working in conjunction with the preaching of the gospel were instrumental in the salvation of the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
CONC: A good example is almost as powerful in the hands of God as is the word of God. God can make it effectual as it pleases him. It is certain he will not use a wife or another Christian who does not lead an exemplary life in the salvation of sinners. But, he will and does use godly examples. If you are the best example of a Christian some lost person knows, what kind of example do they have?
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