Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Episode Resources

Watch "Submit or Resist"—a dramatic presentation that preceded this message at Revive '17.

Watch Robyn deliver this message.

Leslie Basham: As a new wife, Robyn McKelvy searched the Scriptures to understand what submission in marriage is . . . and what it isn’t.

Robyn McKelvy: Submission does not mean in God's Word that I am inferior or that I lose my identity. Submission does not mean that we're a doormat, that our opinion is not necessary. Submission is a calling.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Over the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing on living out the beauty of the gospel. We’ve done that by studying the first paragraph of Titus chapter 2 with the speakers from the Revive '17 conference. They led us through that passage verse by verse, phrase by phrase.

Now we come to the instruction in Titus 2 that says women should be submissive to their own husbands. I'll be the first to admit that that’s a really controversial phrase in our day, but our speaker is going to show us why biblical submission adds to that beautiful picture of the gospel. Robyn McKelvy is married to Ray, she’s a pastor’s wife and mother of ten children. As you listen, picture a large wrapped gift next to Robyn on the platform. As she speaks, she’ll place slips of paper with Scriptures into the box. Here’s Robyn.

Robyn McKelvy: I get the privilege, thank you, Nancy, or maybe not, of speaking on submission. And not only speaking on submission, but telling you about this beautiful thing of strength that God has given to us as women.

And so, you already know, when Nancy introduced me that I have ten kids, but I’m not the only one that had ten kids, so did my mom. I’m number six on a line of ten. I was the fifth of six girls, so you had to be independent. I felt like I could do everything I wanted to do in life. Independence was not a problem for me.

My dad was career military. He was pretty stubborn and pretty strong and strict—very strict. And my mom was a 5’1” spitfire. So I was woven from both of those cloths. So independence or having an opinion was not a problem for me.

At the age of twenty-one, I gave my life to Christ, and I wanted to know all that God’s Word said. So I told my dad, “Don’t tell me. If I see it in God’s Word, I’m going to do it,” because I wanted to know truth. And somewhere in there, I think I wanted to be independent because that was not a problem for me.

As a single woman, I worked a job as a supervisor over computer operations and programming. I lived in my own house, and I paid my own bills. I was always on my own because independence was not a problem for me.

But then this guy started following me around. (laughter) Then I was married to him, and there was some problems—big time. (laughter) But I desired to be a godly wife and a godly woman and to do what God asked of me to do. I wanted to find out from His Word what this new role as a woman and a wife meant, so I went to God’s Word to find it out.

I found some Scriptures in there, and one of the first Scriptures that I found said, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” So I thought, Boy, God’s given that man a gift, and I’m his gift! (laughter) So I’m, like, “Lord, You know he needed me.” (laughter) So I put that in my gift package because I know the Lord needs me.

And then I said, “Let me look at the Word.” When I looked at the Word, I saw in Genesis that God said in Genesis 2, verse 18, “I’m going to make a helper [what?] suitable for him.”

“Lord, you know that brother needs help! Here I am, Lord, send me.” (laughter)

And then Titus 2 said I needed to love my husband. That wasn’t a problem because I fell in love with that man, so that wasn’t a problem. I could easily put that in there. 

I could easily put in Ephesians 5:33 where it said I needed to respect him. That was an easy thing to do because he was a respectable man. And we hadn’t really gone through anything else, so I could easily do that.

And then Ephesians 4:32 said I’m going to be kind to him and tenderhearted. I’m going to forgive him just as Christ forgave me. And I tell you, Christ forgave me of a lot of stuff, so that was an easy thing for me to do.

And then Proverbs 12:4 said, “A wife of noble character is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness to his bones.” I had no intention of shaming this man, so that was easy for me to put in my gift box.

But then I got to Colossians 3, verse 18, and it said, “Wives, be subject to your own husband.” And I said, “This has to be a typo. (laughter) The scribe that wrote this must have been mad at his wife that day.” (laughter) So I didn’t think I needed to put that in there.

But for women like me, whom the Lord knew needed the same thing said more than once for me to believe and do what His Word said to do, He wrote it in Ephesians 5:22. He wrote it in 1 Peter 3. And He also, back again, I can go to Titus. It says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22).

I had to put it in there. That’s a hard thing to do. It says, “Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that if any of them do not believe the Word, that they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1). Ouch! But it goes in there.

And then, the final verse that I looked at, and there were so many more, and I offered so many things, it says, “That she does him good and not harm all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:12). And I wanted to live a long life and do—“I don’t want to miss that one because that might be one of the days of my life.”

So I wanted to live a long life, so I put a whole bunch of those in there. It was easy for me to do him good and not harm him all the days of my life because at this time, when you’re looking at this, it’s an easy thing to do because there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff yet.

So in wanting to do that, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to present to my husband on my wedding day a big, old gift, because that’s what God wants to give our husbands.

One of the things in doing him good, I’m committing every single day of my life, to waking up and doing good to that man and not harming him. It’s shown in Scripture how I can do this is by submitting to him. I found out by looking at God’s Word—and you guys know, I read three Scriptures that were almost identical. God did that for me. They were almost identical because He wants me to show grace to my husband. And by submitting to my husband, I show him grace.

Submission is God’s idea, not my idea. Can you say that with me? Submission is God’s idea, not my idea. So if God has this idea, it’s a good thing because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. So if God wants me to show submission to him, I want to absolutely know what godly submission looks like.

Anything that God wants to give to us, the enemy wants to make sure he mars it. The enemy comes at us with this thing called submission, and he’s, like, “You know what? You don’t have to do that. God’s holding out on you.” Does that sound familiar? He keeps coming at us with the same attacks.

I had to find out from Scripture what submission was not. I wanted godly submission. So I found out submission does not mean, in God’s Word, that I’m inferior or I lose my identity. The enemy of God wants you to believe that inferiority or the one submitting has less value than the one that you’re submitting to. That’s not true.

Submission does not mean, ladies, that we’re a doormat, that our opinion is not necessary. Submission is not about the one who’s smarter or a quicker thinker, who’s a better leader. Submission is a calling. And God’s asked us to submit.

Submission also does not mean that I must blindly obey or submit to verbal or physical abuse. God gives men commands, too, on how to relate to this wife that He’s given to them. And they also have a gift box, but we’re not talking about them today. This is about what God is asking us to do as women.

But 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as a weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you to the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

It also says in Colossians 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

So if my husband is asking me to blindly obey, or he’s physically or verbally abusing me, this is not biblical submission. And if I want to do him good and not harm all the rest of my days, then I’m going to make sure I find help for him so my family’s okay.

And then the third thing submission does not mean is that I follow my husband into sin. Acts chapter 5 talks about Ananias and Saphira. They both decided together to lie, and they both lost their lives. So if your husband is asking you to deceive, that’s not biblical submission. And we want to be biblical about this thing.

So in submitting, I want to make sure I understand from God’s Word what biblical submission looks like. And I have found that biblical submission is voluntary—it’s like offering a gift—voluntarily placing myself under a divinely appointed leader.

I understand from Scripture, it tells me that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. So the way that I do this biblical submission thing by submitting to God. And as I submit to God, I submit to my husband.

Remember that single girl that could do anything? Well, she’s still here. I don’t change. I don’t lose my identity. She’s still here. But I’m doing the things that Christ gives me the strength to do by following after Christ. Every day—every day I get up, and I lay down my will so that God’s will is accomplished in my life.

And in the same way, Christ is the one who will give me the strength to live out this as a beautiful woman because man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. So if my heart is in right relationship with God, then I’m beautiful. And so my submission to my husband is a beautiful thing, and it brings God applause.

Submission does mean that I give up my desire to control. That’s a hard thing when you feel like you can do it all. But that’s not biblical submission. Every day, once again, I wake up, and I pray that it’s not my will that’s done, but it’s God’s will that’s done.

God asks me every day to be a picture to my husband by humbling myself, because James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud—[but what does He do to the humble?]—He gives grace.” So guess what I am? I’m a picture of grace to my husband on a daily basis. How phenomenal is that? How beautiful is that?

Sometimes we miss God’s miraculous works because we decide to take matters into our own hands, ladies. And then we don’t understand that that proves that we don’t trust an Almighty God.

In this church I grew up in, there was this old lady there, and she was crazy for Jesus. So on Wednesday nights, we would have prayer and testimony time. She would come out, and she would pray and shout. I would be on the back row, laughing.

But at the age of twenty-one, I told you before, I gave my life to Christ, and I wanted to learn what the Bible said about this Christian living. She was the happiest person I knew when it came to the joy of the Lord. So, because she was my grandmother, I asked her, “Grandma, why do you shout and get crazy all the time at church?” (laughter)

And she told me it was because of the goodness of God and all that He had given her. She said the joy of the Lord was her strength, and nobody could take this joy away.

In one of our many talks, as we were talking about these things, all of these different things, I asked Grandma to tell me some more stories. She gave me this one story that I will never forget, and I want to pass it to you because it’s something worth remembering.

She told me about her loving church. That was like her lifeline. She was married to this man. He was an unsaved man. He said to her one Sunday morning as she was dressed to go to church, “Miss Nanny, I don’t want you going to that church today.”

Desiring to submit to him but to also remember that she wanted to be a testimony of God to him, she sat down right beside her unsaved husband, and she began, “Lord, I want to bless You. I want to bless You, Lord. My whole soul wants to bless you. I want to bless You with all that’s within me. I want to bless Your holy name.”

She said, “Lord, thank You for two hands that I can praise You with. Thank You for the mouth that You’ve given me that I can speak Your praises. And, Father, thank You for eyes that I can see so that I can read Your truth.”

She said, “Lord, thank You for this husband that You’ve given to me and the children that You’ve given to me. And, Father, I just want to praise You for that. And, Lord, I want to praise You because You are worthy to be praised, Father. You are sweeter than honey in the honeycomb, and I want to praise You for that.”

And by the time my grandmother quit shouting around that house that day, that man said, “Miss Nanny, go to church! Go to church, Miss Nanny!” (laughter and applause)

I say all that because we are so worried about this thing called submission that we forget all of the great things God has given us. He’s given us some great things. Submission is just part of this gift that I give, and that you give to your husbands.

On May 28, 1988, I gave a gift to that man over there. Ray McKelvy, get on up here and get your gift. Everything in here I offer to him on a daily basis because I want to be God’s picture of grace to him. I don’t need to worry about myself. I need to worry about what’s in here so that I make sure I bring no shame to the Lord’s name. So that when people see us walking around—I mean, he offered a gift, too. We’ll get to that later—maybe not this conference—but we’ll get to that.

But I offered him this gift, and we walk around with this gift, and people are asking, “How can I get one of those?” People need to see the Lord’s grace displayed in a husband/wife relationship because then they get to see what this relationship that Christ has with His Bride, the Church. (applause) Too many of us are failing in showing this beautiful thing that God has given to us in the form of submission.

Will you stand with me while I pray for us? Thank you, Ray.

I want to answer some questions to you:

Can I submit to a man that may not be walking with the Lord? Yes, I can because I want God to be honored and glorified, and I want His grace to be seen.

So I pray for all of us today. Father, Thank You for the privilege, number one, of being here and hearing truth from Your Word. There’s so many people standing up preaching, compromising truth. But, Lord, we want to be women of truth so that the world can see that our lights are shining in such a way that people want to know they see our good works, and we want to bring glory to You.

So for every one of us in here, Lord, may we die to ourselves on a daily basis so that Your will can be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: I want you to stay standing for just a moment. We’re going to continue praying. I just asked Robyn’s husband, Ray, if he would be willing to pray over every marriage represented in this room, and that includes future marriages.

The Lord knows if you’re single whether He has one of those for you or not. But I want you as Brother Ray prays for us, to just lift up, if you’re a married woman or you hope to be a married woman someday, let’s just bow our heads before the Lord, and you lift up yourself and your marriage to the Lord. Ray’s going to pray over these women, us as women, and our marriages.

Pastor Ray McKelvy: Father, we thank You so much for this time to call upon Your name. You are a great God. You’re the one who created marriage. You’re the one who called us into that relationship, and so, Father, I pray for our single sisters right now who are saying, “Lord, my hands are empty in this area.”

We pray that You would prepare their hearts and make them women who are sound in their faith and those who are willing to die for You on a daily basis. We pray for these young women that they would trust in You with all their heart and not lean on their own understanding.

We pray for the men that are out there. God, I pray that, in a world where men have found the comfort in being passive, that You would call them out, Lord, that You would bring them out of the shadows and out of the video games and out of all those things that distract them, that they would be men with purpose.

We know that there are marriages here that are hard, that are difficult. But, Father, You specialize in those who are in broken situations. We know that You revive the dead. We pray for these marriages that are struggling. God, call these men to follow You. This is a serious thing.

We pray for the men who are leading these families, that, God, You would break them. If they’re not following You, that they would find themselves on their knees before You.

I know some women are praying that with their hands lifted right now. God, You do a work. I pray that You would move her out of the way—not permanently—but move her out of the way, Father, that You might do Your thing in these men’s lives.

And for these wives, may they daily present the gift of submission—not because we deserve it as men, but because it’s an act of sacrifice to God the Father. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: Ray and Robyn McKelvy have been showing us the beauty of a marriage lived for God’s glory. Robyn’s been telling us what biblical submission is and what it isn’t. She’s based that message on Titus 2, which is full of practical, trustworthy, timeless wisdom for us as women.

I’d like to invite you to learn from the wisdom of Titus 2 in a deeper way. I’ve written an in-depth study of this passage in a book called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. We’d love to send you a copy of this beautiful, hardback book, along with a study guide that will help you get more out of this passage. You can find Adorned wherever you buy books—online or a retail outlet. But when you get it from Revive Our Hearts, it’s more than just a purchase. You are helping support this ministry, allowing us to continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

When you give a gift of any size to Revive Our Hearts this week, we want to send you a copy of the Adorned book as well as the accompanying study guide. You can make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. Thank you for your support, your prayers, and your encouragement as we continue sharing this message with women around the world.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. You have an important role in launching the next generation and helping them build God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow Robyn McKelvey will show you how to live out crucial role. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Robyn: Facebook is not the place to be getting wisdom on raising children. We've to to get in God's Word. It says, "Older women train and teach the younger women not only to love their husbands but to love their children." In loving children, even as God loved us, He chastens and rebukes those He loves. So you have to be available to chasten and discipline your children.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to put you face to face with the truth. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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