Christ Covenant Church
Jon Marq Toombs
11 February 2018
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:19
Rules for Husbands
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany / 

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[ sketch notes ]

“The purpose of marriage is
the enrichment of the lives of those who enter into this estate,
the propagation of the race, and the extension of Christ’s Church,
to the glory of the covenant God.”
(Book of Church Order / PCA)


THE COLLECT:  O Lord, you have taught us that all loveless actions are worth nothing; Send your Holy Spirit to pour into our hearts the most excellent gift of love, which is the true bond of peace and all virtue, for without this love we are dead before you; Grant this for the sake of your only Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. Book of Common Prayer 2011


Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Who are these husbands?

In the context of the letter to the Colossians, these husbands are married Christian men.

  • saints and faithful members of the church – 1:2
  • filled with faith, hope, and love – 1:4-5
  • delivered from darkness to light – 1:14
  • once alienated from God, now reconciled to him – 1:24
  • received Christ the Lord and walk in him 2:6
  • filled in Christ – 2:9
  • members of the covenant community — circumcised without human hands in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – 2:11 // baptized into the death and life of Christ / buried with him in baptism and raised with him through the faithful working of God who raised Jesus from the dead – 2:12
  • made alive by God 2:13
  • died to elemental spirits of the world in union with Christ – 2:20
  • raised with Christ to celestial realms – 3:1
  • undergoing spiritual formation / putting off the old self and putting on the new self – 3:5-11

The bottom line is that these husbands are not just any ordinary husbands. They are baptized Christians, members of God’s covenant family, living in union with Christ. Just like you.

Husbands, we want you to know who are as men in Christ. By the gracious work of the Holy Spirit you are ( /becoming ) suitable heads for your wives and children.

What must these Christian husbands do?

Two things. (1) They must love their wives. and (2) They must not be harsh with them.

According to apostolic tradition, this gentle love is rooted and grounded in two things:

The order of creation and the order of redemption.

In the order of creation, man was created first, then woman. A husband is the head of his wife. He has authority over — and responsibility for — his wife.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says,

I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

[Man] is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor is man independent of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

From the beginning, God-established distinct roles and responsibilities for men and women, for husbands and wives.

In terms of their identity and dignity, both male and female were created in the image and likeness of God. In terms of their responsibilties, there are similarities and differences.

They are one, but they’re not the same.

The truth to keep in mind for now is this: the relationship between husband and wife is symbiotic. The woman came from man, but man is born of woman. Man and woman are mutually inter-dependent on each other.

Remember, Adam called his wife Eve because was the mother of the living. Lest we downplay the significance of that phrase, note that in one his letters Paul says woman shall be saved through the childbirth, that is, through the birth of Jesus Christ, who came into the world, born of a woman, to crush the serpent’s head.

That is the original, natural order of creation which we must strive to attain and maintain.

Last week we saw what happens when God’s order of creation is altered, inverted, or reversed. Sin and death entered the world and everything was broken an ddijointed.

It’s tempting to blame this whole mess on the woman. But don’t you dare do it. Genesis 3 tells us that God also blamed the man.

Notice that Adam were together that day at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was near-by when Eve reached out her hand, took the forbidden fruit, and ate it. Instead of leading her away from the tree, reminding her of God’s word, or fighting off the serpent, he allowed his wife to flirt with the devil and they both got burned — and banished from the garden.

Also, notice that after Eve stole the fruit and gave it to her husband the Lord came looking for Adam — not Eve. “The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where ya at?”

Why? Because this is the order of creation. God gave the man authority over the woman,  and with that authority came responsibility. What he received from the Lord, he was supposed to pass on to his wife, and they were supposed to obey it and do God’s will together.

But Adam failed. He abdicated his authority in different ways big and small. He neglected his responsibility in different ways.

Adam loved his wife, but in this moment he did not love her as sacrificially as he should have. He was not harsh with her at all, but in this moment he should have been more assertive and insistent with her.

Adam should have been gentle with his wife, yet harsh with the serpent. But he failed.

Husbands, learn from Adam’s mistakes.

Loving your wife means you gotta be thick-skinned and tender-hearted. Tender-hearted enough to snuggle up with her, to see her side of things, and to support her. Thick-skinned enough to steer away from trouble, to stand against danger, and even slay the dragon.

Adam failed to that; and so do we. But Jesus did not. And that’s why we get to imitate him and strive to do the right thing for our wives and for ourselves.

Now, in the order of redemption, Jesus picked up where Adam left off. Jesus came as the new man who was “de-created” through the crucifixion, and “re-created” through the resurrection.

And a new woman was formed out his side through blood and water.

As Adam was put to sleep in order for Eve to be formed, so Christ was put to death in order for the church to be formed from his side, and brought to him as a new help-meet, suitable to him.

In all these things Christ was gentle with his wife, but he was harsh with his enemies. He crushed the serpent’s head and destroyed the works of the devil in order to rescue and redeem his bride. As we like to say, Jesus killed the dragon and got the girl. To do that requires a tough and tender love.

In the order of redemption a Christian husband still has authority and responsibility for his wife. But now he is called to a truer and better and higher standard in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 5, Pauls describes a profound mystery about the relationship of Christ and the church. He explains that every Christian marriage is an iconic representation / a visible depiction of that mystical union.

A wife is called to submit to her husband in the Lord; but a husband is called to imitate Christ and love his wife with gentleness.

A couple of weeks ago I was sharing these truths with some friends that I am counseling. The wife threw her hands up and blurted out, “Well, we got the hard part. Y’all got the easy part. All y’all have to do is love us.” And we all fell out laughing.

I know what she meant, and it was a funny moment. But lots of people think that wives have it harder than husbands, and husbands have it easier than wives. But is it really easier to love than submit? It depends on the kind of love.

The scriptures make it clear that the love with which husbands must love their wives is a Christ-shaped love.

That means it is a service-oriented, sacrifice-making, sober-minded, sexually-pure, self-denying, kind of love. (See Ephesians 5:21-31)

If you know anything about the way Christ loves the church, then you ought to know that there ain’t nothing easy about loving your wife as Christ loved the church.

There ain’t nothing easy about struggling and sweating, enduring hardships, fighting against a cursed world, just to scratch out a living and provide for you wife and kids. Especially when you know that you are dust and to dust you will return.

There ain’t nothing “easy” about taking up your cross and following Jesus into death and laying down your life for the sake of your wife nd children.

In order to love your wife like that you must submit yourself to the Lord in obedience of faith moment by moment day after day.

As I said last week, God calls everyone and everything to submit at one time or another. Even husbands. As Christ submit to the Father — not my will but yours — so husbands must submit, stand down, show preference, give in, back down, yield in order to obey the call to love their wives with gentless. Not my will, but God’s will be done.

How can husbands gently love their wives?

To be clear: loving your wife with gentleness is hard, costly work and we all need more grace to do it.

Sometimes it’s hard because a wife makes it hard. As the Book of Proverbs says, some are a delight, some are a drag; some women are a defense, some are a danger; some are dignified, some are ditzy.

And you know what? The same kinds of things can be said of all husbands.

Sometimes loving your wife with gentleness is hard because a husband makes it hard.

We’re all difficult to deal with from time to time. But that doesn’t give us any reason or excuse to neglect our calling.

I imagine that some of you husbands are feeling stress and thinking about all the “yeah, buts” and “what ifs”. You might even be wondering “How in the world can I ever love a woman who does x, y, z — or doesn’t do a, b, c?!”

Whether it feels possible or impossible to you, there is good news. With God all things are possible, for nothing is impossible with the Lord.

Husbands, remember this: You don’t need to worry about all the wives in the world. You only need to worry about the wife in your world — the wife God built for you and gave you.

If you are serious about loving your wife with gentleness, not harshness, the most practical thing you can do is get up and get dressed every day.

You must put off the fig leaves of culture and put on the faithful love of Christ, one layer at a time, day after day. Before you roll out of bed, start putting on

  • a compassionate, merciful heart
  • kindness – a general friendliness
  • humility – a low-minded, yet not dumbed-down, attitude
  • meekness – bringing your thoughts and feelings and will under control
  • patience – don’t be so hasty or in such a hurry; slow down, “mucho take it easy”
  • tolerance – put up with one another, let some things slide, pick your battles carefully
  • forgiveness – show grace to one another
  • let the peace of Christ rule your heart – make time to pray; avoid all forms of physical and emotional violence
  • let the word of Christ take up permanent residence in you life – feed your heart, soul, and mind on God’s word
  • practice gratitude – thank God for your wife and thank your wife for all she does early and often; a little appreciation goes a long way. A lot of appreciation goes all the way. 🙂

If you do these things day after day, you will soon discover that loving your wife with gentleness and grace comes more and more easy to you — and enjoyable. It’s not just a duty, but a delight.

Let us fall down before the majesty of Christ and seek grace to help us in our need:

O gracious Father, you have adopted us into your family in love and made us your sons and daughters. In wisdom you have given us household rules that we may know how to live and move and act in your family. O loving Christ our Lord, you have blazed the trail for us and show us the way to carry your cross and love our wives with gentleness. O Holy Spirit, you have come to dwell in us and conform us to the image of Christ and seal us for the day of redemption. Bear your fruit in us that we may have the love we need to love our wives according to your love not our lusts. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. O God, grant us the grace to obey your word from the heart. Amen