Colossians 3:19a

Husbands, Love Your Wives



1. God gave one simple command to each partner in marriage.

a. The apostle gives ONE main command to the wife: submit.

b. He gives ONE main command to the husband: love.

c. If each partner would just OBEY this one simple command, what happy, well adjusted, Christian homes we would have

2. But SIN entered the world and threw a monkey wrench into human relationships. (Among other things!)

a. Sin affected the woman in such a way that it is difficult for her to submit to her husband; and sin affected the man in such a way that it is difficult for him to love his wife.

b. Apart from sin, this would all come simply and naturally as it did for Adam and Eve in the Garden before the fall.

c. Hence, SIN is the culprit… the problem is our sinful hearts… our fallen human natures.

d. When a husband and wife are not functioning properly, it is not a financial problem, or psychological, or a compatibility problem… it is a SIN problem… it is at its roots, a spiritual problem.

3. That means that the ANSWERS to problems that arise in a Christian home are not to be found in a manual on counseling, or some new psychological technique.

a. The answers are to be found in the pages of God’s Word… the Bible. It contains ALL we need for life and godliness.

b. It contains God’s inspired answer to the very issues and problems that YOU are facing in YOUR home with YOUR spouse right now.

c. Your problems are not different from anyone else’s. There hath no temptation taken but such is COMMON to man.

d. Here is the answer to ALL of your marriage problems: Wives submit to your own husbands; husbands, love your wives!

e. That is God’s way to escape! Whether you take it or not is up to you.

f. But don’t ever say that your problems are too difficult… or like no one else’s… or that resolving them is too complex.

g. It really is that simple: husbands love; wives submit.

h. Now that we’ve learned how to resolve every problem that could ever arise in our homes, let’s close in prayer :>)

Love Your Wives Commanded

A. Agape Love

1. Defined:

a. It is a selfless, sacrificial kind of love demonstrated actively in service for another…

b. It is a sacrificing of self for the good of another; putting others first; esteeming others better…

2. Present, active, imperative.

a. Active voice: it is something to be DONE… action… works…
• This kind of love is not something simply to be felt, or thought, or believed.
• It is something to be DONE… practiced… put into action.
• It is a love demonstrated in active deeds of service.

b. Imperative mood: It is a command.
• It is not a suggestion or a request.
• It is a command… we are ordered by the Lord to love our wives.
• There are no exception clauses, loopholes, no excuses and no exemptions.
• It is a command to be obeyed. To NOT love one’s wife is sin. Period. It is disobeying a command.

c. Present tense: continuous action…
• Loving our wives is not something that we do once and we’ve got it over with… with nothing left to do.
• The command to love your wife is NEVER finished.
• It is not something to be done now and then… on occasion… on your anniversary or some other special time. It is to be the daily, moment-by-moment practice of a Christian husband.
• It is ongoing, – for the rest of our lives
• It is a command that we are expected to OBEY every moment of every day for the rest of our lives.
• So be CAREFUL young men about jumping into marriage. When you say, “I do” you are committing yourself to selfless service to that woman every day for the rest of your life… and there’s no way out! If you’re not up for that, don’t get married.

3. God demonstrated this kind of love on Calvary (John 3:16).

a. God didn’t just sit around in heaven and FEEL love for the world. He DID something about it! He loved the world in such a way that it was demonstrated in DEEDS! He sent His Son!

b. It is a love that is bestowed graciously –
• It is given freely – as a gift –
• God’s love is not based upon the merit of the one receiving the love…
• God’s love is gracious: expecting nothing in return.
• It is a love NOT based on the loveliness of the one receiving the love.
• God loved the world… even when the world was spitting in His face… rejecting Him.
• God bestowed His love even on His enemies.
• When we were dead in sins… something God hates infinitely… yet He chose to place His love on us.
• There wasn’t anything lovely or even worth loving in the world… That’s grace!

c. It is a love that knows no limits.
• Christ loved us even unto the death of the cross.
• No effort was too great… no price was too high to pay in demonstrating His love for us.
• Christ stopped at nothing to show His love.

d. It is an act of the will… a deliberate choice.
• Love is a command that requires obedience… regardless of how you feel.
• Love is a choice – God chose to place His love on us.
• In this sense it is a kind of covenant love. A covenant is entered into by choice… by an act of the will… choosing to place your love and care on someone.
• Ex: Deut. 7:7 – God “chose” to love Israel; He chose to “set His love” upon them.
» His choice is equated with His love.
» He chose to enter a covenant with that nation and thus chose to set His love upon them.
» The marriage covenant is similar.
» Entering marriage a husband chooses to set his love upon this woman for the rest of his life.
» This kind of love is an act of the will—a CHOICE to set your love on the woman with whom you enter a covenant.
» Some marriages are prearranged and the husband doesn’t even KNOW his wife well. But entering into that covenant he CHOOSES to set his love on that woman and no one else.
» It is a choice… and act of the will.

e. Agape love is not the same as warm feelings.
• Christ died for the men who nailed Him to the cross.
• His love was not the same as warm gushy feelings.
• It was an act of selflessness… for the good of others… that He CHOSE to give graciously even to those who were so undeserving… like you and me.
• It was not a feeling. It was a planned, deliberate, premeditated, conscious, choice that God made to GIVE love to us.

4. Agape Love Is to Be Differentiated From Phileo.

a. In contrast to agape love (a planned, deliberate, premeditated conscious choice) is another kind of love: phileo love.

b. Phileo love is the warm, affectionate, emotional, and even romantic, love of our feelings.

c. Phileo love is sometimes called “brotherly love”—like the city of Philadelphia… (the city of brotherly affection)

d. It is the warm affection of friends, family, and spouses.

e. Phileo love is what attracted you to your wife in the first place.
• There was an emotional attraction to her.
• There was warm affection towards her.
• There were strong inner feelings towards her.
• This is the phileo love that brought you together in the first place.
• This is different than agape love.

f. God has agape love for the world.
• God chose to sacrifice His Son for the spiritual well being of the world… all the people in the world.
• God graciously granted this love to the world—freely—regardless of the unworthiness and unloveliness of the world.
• God made a conscious, premeditated, planned, deliberate CHOICE to place His love on the world.
• That love was demonstrated on Calvary.

g. But God does NOT have phileo love for the world.
• Phileo love is reserved for the family of God…
• Phileo love—warm affection—is reserved for those who are no longer His enemies, and are now reconciled… friends of God…
• Jesus did not feel warm and gushy toward the soldiers who nailed Him to the tree.
• God the Father does not feel warm and gushy toward the world that He has described as His enemies.
• James tells us that friendship and warm affection with the world is ENMITY with God.

5. Thus, agape love and phileo love CAN exist separately.

a. It is possible to have warm feelings toward someone, but to be unwilling to sacrifice self for that person. (phileo but not agape)
• That’s why the divorce rate is so high.
• People enter into a relationship based on feelings… (phileo love)
• And feelings are fickle. They come and go.
• People fall in and out of phileo love… because it is based on emotions… which go up and down… in and out… all over the chart—even in a good marriage!
• That kind of love is phileo – not agape.
• When a relationship is based on phileo love, it is as unstable as water.
• There is no guarantee that it will last.
• When it doesn’t last, it is an indication that it was based on phileo love, and agape love was absent!

b. On the other hand, it is also possible to have agape but not phileo love…
• It is possible to choose to graciously grant self-sacrificing service to someone towards whom you have no warm affections.
• Ex: Christ and the soldiers nailing Him to the tree.
• There are no limits or boundaries to agape love.
• It can be demonstrated to anyone under any circumstances…—it requires no warm affection at all.
• It is a conscious choice to be willing to suffer and sacrifice self in the service of another.

c. The feelings of phileo love will only take you so far.

d. The selflessness of agape love knows no limits.

e. God has BOTH agape love and phileo love for His children. That is the ideal. But they can exist separately.

f. The ideal in a husband/wife relationship is for BOTH to exist too… but they can exist separately.

6. The COMMAND in Col.3:18 – agape love is commanded.

a. The command is NOT for a husband to have warm affection or even romantic love for his wife. There are times when that is impossible.

b. The command is for the husband to grant agape love to his wife… and do DEEDS of agape love for her. That is always possible… regardless of the feelings or circumstances!

c. Agape love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A Christian husband is to be filled with the Spirit continually… day by day… moment by moment.

d. The indwelling Holy Spirit enables the husband to be willing to sacrifice himself for the spiritual well being of his wife…

e. Agape love is the kind of love that causes a man to sacrifice himself, his own desires, his will, and his own self interest for the well-being of his wife.

f. The command is for each of us as husbands to continually and sacrificially do deeds of service for the spiritual good of our spouse… expecting nothing in return… offered freely regardless of the behavior of our spouse… and regardless of whether we FEEL like it or not.

g. This kind of love is expressed in DEEDS… putting her first; caring for her; protecting her; providing for her; esteeming her better than yourself…

h. In this command, God is not telling us what to FEEL; rather, God is telling us what to DO.

7. Confusing the two kinds of love.

a. I and every other pastor counseling couples in trouble have heard husband says repeatedly, “But I don’t love my wife any more!”

b. I’m not entirely sure what the motive is in saying that.

c. I don’t know what they think I am going to say in response to that… perhaps something like, “O you poor guy. You no longer love your wife. I guess if you don’t love her any more, you can’t have a marriage without love. Maybe you should find someone else that you could really be happy with!”

d. When a husband tells me that, MY response is always the same: “If you don’t love your wife, then REPENT of your sin and OBEY God and START loving her.”

e. If you don’t love your wife, it is NOT her fault. It is YOUR fault… MY fault.

f. The command is, “Husbands LOVE your wives.” Period.

8. There is no excuse under the sun for NOT obeying God.

a. The verse does not say, “Love your wife as long as she’s nice to you or if she lives up to her part of the bargain.”

b. Husbands, we are to love our wives regardless of their behavior!

c. Agape love is not based on the loveliness of the one loved!

d. Usually when a husband says, “I don’t love my wife any more” what he MEANS is, “I don’t have warm feelings for her any more. The romance and affection is over.” (No more phileo love.)

e. Well, God did not command you to have phileo love toward your wife. He does not command you to have warm feelings.

f. But He DOES command you to sacrifice yourself for her… to selflessly serve her… to esteem her better than yourself… and to do so continually… graciously… without regard to her merit or behavior one whit!

g. Whether your wife is treating you like a king or is spitting in your face and stabbing you in the back—God commands Christian husbands to demonstrate agape love towards her.

h. And God expects obedience whether we feel like it or not.

i. That’s what the Bible says.

j. The husband is commanded to actively and continually demonstrate DEEDS of selfless service for his wife… putting her first… and to do it for the rest of your life… expecting nothing in return… even if she continues to spit in your face.

k. There is no wiggle room for a husband to get around his responsibility to love his wife!

l. This command is present, active, and imperative!

m. Wow! When Jesus taught the disciples about marriage and divorce, they said, “If the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry!”

n. While they went overboard in their assessment, they at least understood the seriousness of the issue in God’s sight!

9. When a husband continually, genuinely, selflessly, and graciously does deeds of sacrificial service for his wife… over time, most women will respond!

a. It’s a rare Jezebel that won’t. Most women would melt with that kind of love bestowed upon them. It will soften the most hard-hearted woman.

b. We are not talking about one big expression of love, but an ongoing attitude and deeds of love… that flows like a river.

c. What wife in her right mind WOULDN’T want to submit to a man who continually put her first… esteemed her better than himself… was willing to sacrifice himself and his own self interests for her welfare… sought to please her in everything???

d. Only the Holy Spirit can enable a husband to continue this if the wife is unresponsive… but God WILL enable you both to WILL and to DO of His good pleasure… and it IS God’s good pleasure for a husband to love his wife.

e. And when a wife responds to that with willing submission… that relationship can be a taste of heaven.

f. But to obey this command, a husband is to COMMIT himself to this kind of service for the rest of his life… no matter HOW his wife responds.

g. This is the way of the cross… an end of self… and in losing our old self life, we FIND or discover an abundant life!

HOW Husbands Are to Love Their Wives

A. Even as Christ Also Loved the Church (Eph. 5:25)

1. A husband is to love his wife AS Christ loved the church

a. Christ loved the church even though the church does not always submit to Him.
• Husbands are to love their wives like that: even if they DON’T submit.
• Their bad behavior is no excuse for OUR bad behavior! Two wrongs don’t make a right.
• Some churches leave their first love, but Christ’s love for His bride never waivers.
• Our love for our wife should not waver either… even if she is not giving us love in return. That’s HOW Christ loved the church.
• The church age, like every other dispensation has been a colossal failure! Yet Christ loves the church.
• His love for us is not based on our love for Him.
• His love for the church is not based on the worthiness of the church.
• Whether the church submits or not, Christ loves His bride.
• We are to love our wives AS Christ loved the church.
• That is a commitment… a choice to place your love on the lady with whom you entered a covenant before God to set your love upon her… for better or for worse… whether she submits or not.

b. Christ’s love for the church is not based on what HE gets out of it.
• What does Christ GET out of this relationship?
• There is no comparison between what He GAVE and what he GETS!
• He gave His all… what He gets from us is quite paltry… miserably small!
• No, His love for the church is not based on what HE gets out of the relationship.
• And our love for our wives ought not to be based upon what we GET out of the relationship.
• Basing a relationship of what we GET out of it is pure selfishness… the opposite of agape love. Agape love is not selfish, it is self-less!
• There aren’t any “yeh buts!” with this command. (Yeh but if I do that, she’ll walk all over me… she’ll take advantage… she’ll get her own way… and what do I get out of it all? Nothing!”
• Love is willing to give everything and get nothing. That’s how Christ loved the church… and it’s how we are to love our wives.

c. His love for the church is everlasting.
• God said to Israel: I have loved thee with an everlasting love!
• We read of the love of Christ in Rom. 8: What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing!
• His love for us never ends. His love for the church doesn’t end when the church sins, or when the church fails. It doesn’t even end when the church is not faithful to Him.
• His love for the church is everlasting. That’s how WE should love our wives.

d. Christ loved the church even when the church sought for other lovers.
• God said of Israel in the days of her deepest apostasy, “I have loved you with an everlasting love!”
• The churches have behaved no different than Israel. We too have committed spiritual adultery.
• Friendship with the world is spiritual adultery in God’s sight. In spite of the church’s worldliness… (spiritual adultery), Christ still loves her. The church is His bride.
• He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. That’s how Jehovah loved Israel and how Christ loved the church.
• That’s how we are to love our wives.

2. Christ loved the church by giving HIMSELF for it. (Eph. 5:25)

a. This shows us the DEPTH of Christ’s love: the cross!

b. He didn’t merely give up things; He gave HIMSELF… that means His ALL… His Person… His life…

c. He was willing to DIE for the church… to pay the ultimate price.

d. Eph. 3:18-19 – His love can be known (experienced) but it passes understanding (cannot be fully known) because it is infinite! His love knows no limits, no boundaries.

e. This is the degree to which we are to love our wives.

f. We don’t have the right to say, “I’ll go so far and that’s it.” There is no length to the love of Christ for His church. It goes on and on… and that is how we are to love our wives.

g. Do you want to learn about how DEEP God expects our love for our wives to be? Meditate on the cross.

h. The cross of Calvary is God’s standard of the kind of love husbands are to show to their wives.

B. God’s Method of Loving Our Wives: The Cross.

1. God’s standard of love for our wives is the cross.

a. God’s standard of love is not hard to achieve. It is WAY beyond hard: it is impossible.

b. And ladies, you thought your command to submit was hard?

c. The command God gave to husbands is far MORE difficult… because the standard has been elevated to Christ Himself! It is a TALL order.

2. We are to love our wives AS Christ loved the church… even to the point of death!

a. It is a selfless love… expects nothing in return… is a life dedicated to sacrificial service to her… it is a commitment to put her first and esteem her better than yourself… it is a choice to place your love upon her regardless of what you get out of it… it is an act of the will in which you choose to give your SELF for her good… regardless of the price… even unto death… and it is a commitment to do so every day for the rest of your life!

b. Before sin entered the world, this was Adam’s ongoing attitude expressed in continuous deeds towards Eve… and came as naturally as breathing.

c. It does NOT come that naturally to us today… not since sin entered the world… because SIN often dominates our hearts.

d. Sin is essentially SELF WILL… in defiance of God’s commands.

e. Instead of being filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit and manifesting the indwelling life of Christ, we instead are too often controlled by our sin nature, put self first… and manifest our old self life… and self will.

f. When it comes to struggling in my role as a husband… struggling to give selfless, sacrificial service for my wife, the biggest obstacle is ME… self…

3. Rom. 6:6-7 – God’s method for removing that obstacle is the cross!

a. The reason we don’t love our wives as Christ loved the church is because we love ourselves too much! Therefore, we don’t want to be longsuffering or experience unpleasant circumstances. (we don’t really want to manifest Christ—who was WILLING to suffer… when reviled He reviled not)

b. God wants us to bring that old self life to the cross and leave it there!

c. When we were saved, our old selfish man was crucified. He’s dead.

d. But his nature is very much alive and well in us all.

e. And because of SIN that dwells in us, we want to please self rather than others.

f. Therefore, if we are going to love our wives as we ought, we need to BELIEVE what God said: our old man is dead and we have been set FREE (vs. 7) from sin and a life dedicated to pleasing self.

g. We have been set free from sin and self to manifest the LOVE and LIFE of Christ… towards our wives!

h. When we BELIEVE God and yield to Him… the Holy Spirit is free to work in us and manifest Christlike fruit THROUGH us to our wives… namely, LOVE!

i. To love our wives AS Christ loved the church… to live up to that infinitely high standard is far beyond us. It requires supernatural power… and all the power of the resurrection… the power of a new life… is available to us 24-7 IF we will yield to God…

j. When we yield, it is God who works in us both to WILL (a desire) and to DO (the performance) His good pleasure… and loving your wife IS God’s good pleasure for you and for me!

k. Only a Spirit filled husband can fulfill this infinitely high standard: to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.

l. God loves our wives infinitely more than we ever could… and His love can flow through us to her even when we don’t FEEL like it.

m. And over time… as we allow ourselves to be channels of God’s supernatural love for our wives, eventually, if there were no warm feelings… as we continually obey and yield, those feelings will come back.

n. The very WORST possible earthly relationships can be restored and become once again a taste of heaven on earth.

o. That’s what God wants for you and me… for our marriages.

p. When a husband LOVES his wife this way, ANY woman will respond favorably.

q. When agape continues unabated and unbounded—graciously—the feelings will return… and there is BOTH agape and phileo love… and eros love—romantic and sexual love.

4. The original spark in all relationships began with phileo love (warm affection; deep emotions; and romantic feelings).

a. And between believers, that phileo love grows into agape love… which knows no limits.

b. But as we all know, sin can destroy any relationship… no matter how strong the feelings used to be.

c. Sin can enter a relationship and turn a taste of heaven into a taste of hell on earth…

d. And the cross is the answer for all that. The cross brings about reconciliation between the sinner and God… and between sinful husbands and wives. It brings peace.

e. When sin HAS shattered a relationship… the way back is NOT phileo love. Don’t wait until the feelings come back. You might wait a LONG time…

f. Don’t just sit around and WAIT for that honeymoon kind of love to fall out of the sky—you are waiting for something that may never happen.

g. The way back is OBEDIENCE to the command to show AGAPE love to your wife through concrete DEEDS of love.
• The way to restore a broken relationship is NOT to wait for that original spark (phileo) to ignite all by itself.
• The way to restore a broken relationship requires ACTION on our part… DOING… deeds of love for your wife… obeying God’s Word.
• Confess your sin to God and your spouse and repent of your sin because it IS a sin issue.
• BELIEVE that your old man is dead and you are FREE from a live of self centeredness… FREE to serve your wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church.
• And OBEY… DO… PRACTICE love as God commanded you to.
• It might take a while, but the feelings WILL come back… that original spark.
• Just obey, and be committed to God to obey, and determined to obey no matter how you are treated, and no matter how long it takes…
• Just keep on loving your wife… and you might discover that the relationship will be restored much quicker than you ever imagined.

5. What God has required of husbands:

a. Is not HARD in the sense that it is complicated. It is exceedingly simple: One command: Husbands love your wives!

b. But it is hard in the sense that it requires us to come to the cross… an end of self… an end of a life designed to get my own way and please myself.

c. It is the crucified life… but isn’t that what you agreed to when you came to Christ in the first place? Pick up a cross and follow me!

d. It is the way of the cross that leads home. It cures the home too!

e. It’s the JOY of a resurrected life… but no one enjoys the power of resurrection without first experiencing death to self!

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