“Let Jesus Be Supreme in Our Marriage” - Colosssians 3:18-19

Marriage is one of the most hotly debated topics in our day. It is hard to go through a day without reading an article or watching a news piece debating marriage. The issue of the day has become “who should be allowed to be married.” The same-sex marriage debate has taken over our culture. Now the Bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. But I think that one of the reasons that this issue has
become so debated is the lack of godly marriages throughout out land and throughout our churches.

Marriage is the foundation of society. After God created the world and man in his own image, he said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” So God caused Adam to go into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs and made a woman and brought her to Adam. Adam responded with poetry, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” God built society around marriage and the family. But we have become so ingrained in debating who should be married that we have lost how we should be in marriage. I believe that we would not be having our current marriage debate, if men and woman, trusted and obeyed God’s Word about marriage. The world’s argument would have no weight because of the powerful example of godly marriages within our churches.

I know that when the topic of marriage arises it can create many deep and emotional responses. Some of you were very happily married, but have lost your spouse to death. Let me encourage you to think and reflect about the good gift God gave you in your spouse. Hear my words today and rejoice in marriage and share that joy with others. Others of you may have been very hurt in a marriage. My words today may open up old wounds. But let me encourage you to think and reflect about your own marriage and use your experience to help others in theirs. I am committed to teaching the whole counsel of God. And I know that this approach, may at times, address certain topics that seem controversial or create feelings of uneasiness, but God has a word to say about marriage. We cannot avoid God’s truth because we may not like how it makes us feel. We must let Jesus be Supreme in our marriages.

So this morning, we are continuing to work through this letter to the church at Colossae. This letter is known for having a very high view of Jesus Christ. Paul wants Jesus Christ to be supreme in everything. So we read in Colossians 1:17-18 that Jesus, “is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy.” We have finally arrived at the point in the letter, where the Apostle Paul fleshes out the practical instruction for the Christian household. Today’s message will be very clear, but not necessarily easy. I have 2 Truths this morning on how we let Jesus be Supreme in our marriage. We let Jesus be Supreme in our Marriage when: Wives submit to their husbands and when husbands love their wives. Sometimes it is just that simple and yet profoundly difficult. Let us look at our first truth this morning.

Wives Submit to Your Husbands

Look at verse 18, “Wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” It is very straight forward. The idea that wives should submit to their husbands is not found only in this first, but found throughout the New Testament. Listen to a sample of verses that discuss a wife’s submission:

Ephesians 5:22 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

1 Peter 3:1-6 3 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 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. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Titus 2:3 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God

Submission, for wives is very common biblical theme. So we cannot attempt to excuse it or explain it away. We have to trust that God’s design for marriage and the roles within the marriage relationship are best. Now before we talk more about what submission is and what it looks like in a marriage, let’s first look at what it is not:

Submission does not mean inferiority. Men and women are equal in worth but different in role. We see this most clearly this in Jesus. Jesus was completely God. Col 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Jesus was fully God and yet he chose to submit to God the Father. John 5:30 Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” Jesus submitted to God and Jesus is equal with God. Submission does not mean someone is inferior. Without submission, we cannot understand the Godhead as Trinity. So wives when God calls you to submit, he understands for Jesus, the Divine Son, submitted to the Father. Do not allow yourself to think that submission is a bad thing and it causes someone to be inferior.

Submission is not only a concept for women, but for all believers: Eph 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 1 Peter 5:5, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Submission does not mean the wife becomes a slave, a doormat or a wallflower: A close study of the ideal wife in Proverbs 31 shows a woman that speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction. She is a woman that works diligently with her hands and is clothed with strength and dignity. The godly wife is not a slave, a doormat or a wallflower, but is intelligent, diligent, expressive and uses her gifts for the glory of God.

So what is submission? Submission is voluntarily yielding in love.[1] It is voluntary. For submission comes from the wife, never from the husband to the wife. A husband never subjugates his wife; he never makes his wife submit. The Bible does not allow for any abuse of a woman by her husband. Rather the wife freely submits to her husband out of reverence to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A wife is called to submit to her own husband and not to men in general. As one scholar says, “Paul does not ask every woman to submit to every man, but rather asks wives to submit to their own husbands. Paul is not insisting that every relationship between a woman and a man is one of submission and headship, but that where leadership is an ingredient of the situation, as in marriage, the woman should submit to that leadership (headship) of the man.”[2]

It says in Ephesians 5:24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” The Bible says you should submit in everything. Your husband’s flawed character is not a reason for you not to obey God. Marriage is between two sinners. It will not be perfect. Wives, let me tell you something you already know, your husband is not perfect. But the Bible still requires you to submit to him. For the command does not come from your imperfect sinner of a husband, but for the Supreme Wise Creator of the Universe.

There is much that can be said about the submission of the wife to the husband, but ultimately it is a spiritual matter. The Lord commands wives to submit to their husbands, because that is how he has ordered the marriage relationship. We see this in the second half of the verse 18, “as is fitting in the Lord.” This phrase is referring to what is proper in the Christian marriage. This is the outworking or the implication of having Jesus Christ as Lord. Wives, if you to walk with as Jesus Christ as your Lord; then you should submit to your husbands, for this is proper for those that are in the Lord. This does not mean that you follow your husband into sin for as said in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” But God is calling you to submit. So what does submission look like?

The wife must respect and honor her husband with her words and character. A wife should never speak against her husband, but build him up in the eyes of others. A wife must bring concerns, advice and corrections in a loving and gracious manner with gentleness. A wife should regularly pray for her husband that he may have wisdom in the leadership of the home. Wives remember the verses we looked at last week. If you are going to be able to honor the Lord in your submission to your husbands, you must let the peace of Christ rule your hearts and his word dwell in you richly. We can only fulfill the Lord’s commands with his help.

So ladies examine your relationship with your husband. Are you honoring God in your submission to your husband? If you are not, confess to God and to your husband. Trust in the cleansing of the blood of Christ. Ask God for help to obey his word through the power of the Holy Spirit to live differently. We need to have Jesus be supreme in our marriage. Our world desperately needs to see wives who chose to honor God and His Word by submitting to their husbands. We let Jesus be supreme in our marriage when wives submit to their husbands.

Secondly, we let Jesus be Supreme in Our Marriages when Husbands Love their Wives.

Husbands you must love your wives. Love is not primarily an emotion. It is an action. Men must act in love towards their wives. The most famous chapter on love in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. Listen to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In the original language all of those adjectives of love were written as verbs. So love is not about a feeling it is about doing. Husbands must be patient, be kind, not be envious, or boastful or proud. A husband must not be rude or self-seeking or easily angered. A husband must not keep a record of wrongs. He must always protect, always trust and always persevere with his wife. God defined love as action. So husbands, we must love our wives.

Love Like Christ

The greatest challenge for husbands is the example that God gives us in how we are to love. Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Husbands we are to love our wives as Christ has loved the church. Jesus gave up his life for the church and therefore we must do the same. We have to be willing to love our wives more than our own desires. We have to joyfully sacrifice our lives for the sake of our wives. Simply put, you cannot love your wife too much. Because you have never loved your wife as much as Christ loved the church, you can always grow in your love for your wife.

Just like wives are called to submit to their own husband, husbands are commanded to love their own wives. This is very important. In order to love our wives well, we must know our wives. We must know how to love her therefore we must study and listen to her so we can learn how to most effectively love her. The love we give to our wives is not just a general love, although it is that, it is much more than that. For example, my wife tends to struggle more emotionally during rainy days. Knowing this, I can uniquely love her by making more a point to do something sweet for her on days when I know she has the tendency to be naturally down. So I may bring her home ice cream or take the kids out of the house or do extra chores during rainy days like this past Monday and Tuesday. God has uniquely made my wife. I need to know her strengths and her weaknesses, her temperament, what brings her joy and sadness so that I can better love her. God did not just give me any woman, he gave my beloved so I want love her uniquely and specifically as my wife. He who finds a wife finds what it is good.

Love without Expectation

It is also interesting to note that the husband must love his wife regardless of the treatment of his wife. Jesus Christ gave his life for the benefit of sinners. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We love our wives like Christ loved the church, when we must chose to continue to lay down our life even when our wife is acting sinful. She may be rude and disrespectful, but you are still called to love her. We should remind ourselves of the Paul’s word in the passage above, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Those words are given to the church in helping us live and love in unity. If that is what we must do to those in the church, how much more should we be called to do in the home? Bear with your spouse. Forgive your spouse whatever grievances you may have against her. Forgive her as God has forgiven you.

Love in Gentleness

After Paul tells husbands to love their wives, he tells them that they must not be harsh with them. Why is it easy to be harsh with our wives? It is easy not to be harsh with friends and coworkers, but in our own homes sometimes it is easy to be harsh with our wives. One of the reason why we are harsh with our wives when we are not with others, is we do not give our wives the rightful place they deserve. We have to look at our wives as the most precious gift that we have. Imagine you had 1967 Chevy Corvette Convertible. One of the most prized car for all collectors, valued up to $300,000. You would make sure it had a safe place in your garage. You would have it covered. You would keep clean. You would shine and buff and wax it to make it shine. You would never take out a key and scratch the exterior. You would never take a hammer and break the tail lights. You would take care of the car and protect it because it is precious to you. When we are harsh with our wives, it is like we are taking our keys out and scratching our 1967 Chevy Corvette Convertible. Our wives are worth much more than car. Proverbs 31:10 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

Do you love your wife as Christ loved the church? Do you look at your wife as precious, more precious than rubies? Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them. When let Jesus be Supreme in our marriages when husbands love their wives. 

Marriage as a Display of the Gospel

In God’s Sovereign wisdom, he has chosen to make marriage a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When wives submit to their husbands and when husbands love their wives, the gospel is displayed to the world. When Jesus is supreme in our marriage it is not only for the sake of our marriage, but for the sake of God’s own name. Let me read two scriptures to you then make some closing comments.

Ephesians 5:22-33

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Titus 2:5

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

God gives pictures, illustrations throughout our world to display Himself and His own character and His love for His people. Marriage is not only the foundation of every society, but it is a picture of God. When husbands love their wives well we are proclaiming to the world that Jesus is real. Husbands offer a picture of how God loves His bride. When wives submit to their husbands the word of God is not be maligned, but the Word that is able to make one wise for salvation is trusted. Wives offer a picture of how the church responds the love offer of the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

German Theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer was imprisoned in Germany in World War II after an assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler. He was eventually executed, but two years before his death he wrote, “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” where he wrote this:

Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.[3]

Marriage is much more than your love for each other and your happiness in marriage. Marriage is a picture of what God has done in sending his own Son to redeem a lost and rebellion people. Marriage is picture of how God gracious loves sinners and how sinners respond to the amazing love with submission. We want Jesus to be supreme in our marriage because we want Jesus to be Supreme in all the world.

Beloved, marriage is a wonderful gift from God. This church is full of wonderful examples of godly men who sacrificially love and lead their wives and are full of many strong godly women who gracious, voluntarily yield to their husbands in love. I pray that we look to those examples and we see Christ and the Church. Marriage is not only about us it is about the gospel. Let us display the glory of God as Jesus reigns supreme in our marriage as wives submit to their husbands and husbands love their wives.

[1] Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Pg 168
[2] Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Pg 169
[3] Quoted from Momentary Marriage by John Piper originally in Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 27. All the quotes from Bonhoeffer on the facing pages of each chapter of this book were taken from Letters and Papers from Prison; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (London: SCM Press, 1954); Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan, 1967).