What Is a True Woman?
*This message was transcribed from Nancy's True Woman '10--Chattanooga message.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all. Thank you. You may be seated.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts).“For He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB).
What you’ve just heard, what we’ve just sung, what you’ve just seen in the lives of these women from Newport, Arkansas, this is the gospel. It’s the good news of Jesus Christ. (applause)
That gospel is good news for those women in that prison facility. It’s changed their lives. Christ has changed their lives. But that gospel is not just good news for them, it’s good news for us.
Titus chapter 3 reminds us that we ourselves—that’s all of us here—“were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (verses 2-3). Have you ever seen yourself in that light? Does that verse describe you?
You will never love the gospel and fully appreciate the wonder of what Christ has done until you’ve come to see yourself as a great sinner. It’s not just women in prison for capital offenses. It’s us. We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient. But thank God, there’s a next verse there in Titus chapter 3,
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy (verse 4).
I believe God has already been speaking to hearts here in this place who need to be changed by the gospel. You need to be forgiven. As we approach this holy week—passion week that we’ll be observing next week. . .the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ—I can’t think of a better time for women to come and say, “Christ, I need You. I need to be forgiven. I need to be changed from the inside out by the power of that gospel.”
That’s the heart of Scripture. It’s God’s answer to a sinful, fallen, rebellious, broken world—the cross of Christ. It has the power to change a woman who murdered her mother and is doing a life sentence for that. It has the power to change you, and it has the power to change me.
It’s the good news the world desperately needs to hear, and it’s the good news they desperately need to see lived out in us. They need it in every age. The world needs that gospel today. The world needed that gospel 2,000 years ago when the apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Titus there on the island of Crete.
So, I hope you haven’t closed your Bible yet. If you have, let me invite you to open back up to the book of Titus, and, believe it or not, that’s where we’re just going to keep going. God put that passage on Pastor Voddie’s heart, and I believe He put it on my heart, too.
In the New Testament, you’ll frequently read where Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you.” Some of your translations say, “Verily, verily I say to you.” If He says it once, it’s important, it’s true, and you better take heed of it. But if He says it twice, “Truly, truly; verily, verily,” that means, “Stop and pay particular attention to this.” Pastor Voddie just said, “Verily,” and I’m about to say, “Verily; truly, truly.”
I want us to look at the same passage and just from some different angles and ask God to work this passage into our hearts through the course of the weekend. If you don’t get enough of it tonight, Susan Hunt is going to be doing a breakout session on the same text tomorrow: Titus 2 Ministry in the Context of the Local Church. So that’s where I believe the Lord has us focusing because He has a word for us here.
I want us to take just a step backward and look at the context, the culture in which Titus ministered, described in chapter 1. Actually, you can find it through the whole book. I’m trying to do tonight what it took me nine weeks to do on Revive Our Hearts radio and walking through some of these sections from the book of Titus. We called that series, God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1-5. It’s available on CDs or MP3 in the resource center if you want to just walk word by word, phrase by phrase through lots of these rich truths.
Tonight we’re putting it in a more concise fashion. We’re taking a look at this whole concept of biblical womanhood in the context of the local church, and I want us to see the background, the culture in which Titus was ministering as a pastor.
If you’re in chapter 1, look at verse 10—book of Titus, chapter 1, verse 10. “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers.”
Look at verse 11: “They are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own . . .” I think it’s clever, in a human sense, of Paul to quote one of their own writers, philosophers. “He said it; I’m not saying it.” Paul said, “This man said it.” “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” (verse 12). And then, as if there were any doubt, Paul says, verse 13: “This testimony is true.” There’s no doubt about it.
This is the description of the culture in which Titus was ministering: People who were “always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.” Look at verse 15: “Their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Verse 16: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They’re detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
Now, does any of that sound familiar? Could that not be a description of our culture, of this day and age? What is God’s provision, what is God’s solution for any culture, for any day and age that is fallen and reprobate and rebellious and walking contrary to God as this culture was? It is the gospel. That’s God’s answer. Christ is God’s answer.
So God’s provision for this kind of culture is Christ. It’s the gospel. But the question is: How does that gospel get into the culture? How does the light penetrate the darkness? How do we reach that kind of culture?
Well, God has shown us His means, and we’ve heard that preached so powerfully by our brother, Pastor Voddie. God has raised up the church, His people, those who are redeemed who live in that dark world where people are insubordinate, empty talkers, deceivers, liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. That’s the world where we live, and God has placed us here to take the gospel through our lives into that world and to make an impact by our lives that have been changed, transformed by the gospel.
You saw on the screen just a moment ago the power of a changed life. You saw standing here before you just a few moments ago in this pastor a changed life. What changed his life? It was the gospel. What changed Stacy’s life? What’s changing the lives of those women there in Newport, Arkansas? It’s the gospel that’s making the difference in their lives, and their lives are becoming light in the darkness of this world.
So in chapter 1, as we’ve just seen, Paul talks to those who are the spiritual leaders in the church, the men to whom is given the responsibility of providing spiritual leadership in the local church. Paul says two things essentially about those men.
First, they are to live lives that are above reproach. They are not to be as the world is: arrogant, quick-tempered, drunkard or violent or greedy for gain. That’s not the way they are to live. Instead, their lives are to be in a marked contrast to the spirit and the behavior of the world.
Secondly, they are to be not only above reproach, but they are to be able to teach others sound doctrine, the truths of God’s Word, the truth of the gospel that changes lives.
So they are to live it out themselves; they are to incarnate the truth; they are to model it, and then they are to teach it to others, and to rebuke and correct those who teach anything contrary to sound doctrine.
That’s chapter 1. That’s the spiritual leaders, the men, the elders, the pastors in our churches.
Now we come to chapter 2 where Pastor Voddie started with us just a few moments ago. It’s talking about all believers, and you see essentially the same message: Our lives are to be above reproach. We’re to be different than the world. Not because we just purpose to be different, but because we are different, because we have been transformed, transfigured from the inside out by the power of the gospel. So our lives are to be distinctive. They are to stand out. They are to be different, a stark contrast to the lives of unbelievers.
The gospel is supposed to make a difference in our lives. Now, sadly, that is often not the case.
I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a group of women in this area who’ve been praying for this conference earnestly for a long time. They wrote to share with me their concern. They’re women from a particular church in this area, and they wrote to share their concern about the spiritual condition as they’ve observed it in this part of the country that is often known as “the Bible belt.” In fact, Chattanooga might be considered “the buckle of the Bible belt.”
Here’s what they said—I’ve condensed it a bit, but essentially:
There’s a church on just about every corner. [True?] Most everyone who lives here attends church and would say they are saved, but they continue to live like the world. Most people have a mindset that church attendance and participation in religious programs is the way to serve God. There is little preaching about sin, the judgment of God, or the need for repentance. People prefer feel-good messages that make them secure in their sin instead of teaching that they cannot love God and the world. There’s no fear of God. They have a false sense of security that they are following God because they go to church. Most are asleep to their true spiritual condition. [And they said,] We need a great awakening.
Now, I tell you, it’s not just in the Bible belt that we need that great awakening. It’s all across this country. We need a great transformation of the gospel really taking hold of people’s lives and changing us. (applause)
So Paul says in Titus chapter 2, following the end of chapter 1 where he’s just described this very fallen, reprobate, dark condition of the culture, “What are we to do?” He says to this young pastor Titus, chapter 2, verse 1: “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
That doesn’t sound like very much of a solution by today’s standards, but it’s God’s solution. He says to the pastor, the man of God, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
How do you transform a wicked culture like Crete, like the one in which we live? There’s a tendency to think, “If we could just have new laws or better laws, new structures and systems . . . if we could just overhaul the judicial system, the schools, the government, the economy . . . if we could just have a different president, a different Congress, more social programs . . .” We’ve been saying these things for a very long time.
Paul insists that what the world really needs in order to see that culture transformed is Christians who actually live what they claim to believe, Christians who, wonder of wonders, live like Christians, like Christ, who live in the ways that accord with sound doctrine, Christians who are godly, wives who do good works motivated by love for Christ. They’re kind. They have ordered family relationships. That’s why Paul says to this pastor, “You need to teach to the believers sound doctrine and its implications.”
I call that teaching not only the “What?” but the “So what?” What do you believe—sound doctrine; and so what? What difference does that make in our lives?
Ladies, the world is never going to be convinced by our arguments about the existence of God, about moral issues, about abortion, about same-sex marriage. I don’t think those are arguments we’re going to win in the secular world because they’ve never bowed the knee to the authority of the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But I’ll tell you what is persuasive, and that is the reality of the gospel lived out in our lives and relationships.
So what does sound doctrine look like in flesh and blood? What does it look like in life?
Paul goes on to say in chapter 2 of Titus that doctrine, sound, healthy doctrine, and that’s what the word sound means. It’s the Greek word from which we get our word “hygiene.” It’s clean, healthy, wholesome, constructive doctrine, the gospel of Christ. It has practical applications for each gender, for each demographic, each season of life, each age group, each social position. Paul starts, as we saw a few moments ago, with older men and women.
So he says in verse 2: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women, likewise . . .” I think part of the implication of the word “likewise” there is: “Older women, notice all those things that were just said about the character of older men, likewise, you have those. “Likewise, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the younger women” (verses 3-4).
Now some of you are wondering, as you’ve been listening tonight, “How do you know if you’re an older woman?” (laughter) They say older is always fifteen years older than you are. I am one of these people—you probably don’t know anybody else like this—but ever since I was a very little girl, I’ve had this goal in life to be a godly, old lady. I just have this image in my head of what a godly, old lady looks like, and I have found now as I’m in my fifties that the getting old part comes easier than the getting godly part. (laughter)
I can remember saying to someone, “At what point do you say on your driver’s license that your hair color is no longer brown?” They looked at me and they said, “You say it now.” (laughter)
Older women—I think in the context here, if you put other cross-references together, Paul is talking specifically to women who are past childbearing age; they have raised their children; women in their fifties and sixties and older. But let me say this: Every woman in this room is an older woman to someone, and all of us are to be aspiring to be this description. So you need to know what the description is so you know what your goal is, so you know what the template is of a true woman as we see it in this passage.
We see the life and the legacy of this older woman. Her life is, as we saw in chapter 1 with the elders and the spiritual leaders, her life also is to be above reproach. We need to hold our lives up to this pattern and aspire to this picture.
“She’s reverent in behavior” (verse 3). Now, when we see that word reverent, some of us may think, like, European cathedrals where people talk with hushed tones. The word reverent actually just has to do with “living in a way that is appropriate for people who believe sacred things.” In fact, one translation translates that phrase this way: “The older women are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy.”
We have been called “saints” if we are in Christ, holy ones, set apart ones, and we are to live in a way that is consistent with what God has done in and to us, making us holy through Christ our Lord.
So Paul says they are to be reverent in behavior, and then the question: What does that look like? Well, he goes on to describe just a couple of features among many that could have been said. “Reverent in behavior, that is not slanderers and not slaves to much wine” (verse 3).
So we see that having this reverent heart for God, this fear of the Lord, this living consistent with our profession affects the way that we talk. It affects our relationships with other people. It affects our habits. It affects everything about us because to be a slanderer or to be a slave to much wine, to be addicted to substances controlling our bodies, these things are not fitting for those who are holy. They are not reverent in behavior. So our tongue, the way we treat others, the way we talk to and about others . . .
And then “not slaves to much wine.” When I started teaching through this passage some time ago, I spent a lot of time pondering why Paul picked that particular characteristic to focus on with older women. There are a lot of things we could say about that, but let me just say I think he’s talking here not just about the specific issue of wine, though I do think he’s addressing that, but I think there’s a broader principle here, and that illustrates things that could come under a broader umbrella—not just alcohol addiction, but the whole concept of living for pleasure, of dulling emotional pain with substance abuse, the whole issue of indulgence, having an indulgent mindset.
I find that as I’m getting older, perhaps you can relate, it’s easy to think, “I’ve paid my dues. I deserve a break today. I’m going to do what makes me feel good. I’ve spent years denying my flesh. I think I want to indulge my flesh.” Now, I wouldn’t say those words, but I often live that way.
Paul says, “No! You are called to live in a way that is reverent in behavior which means, among other things, a temperate lifestyle, letting Christ and His cross rule in your life, saying ‘No’ to flesh and ‘Yes’ to Christ.”
So the gospel, the grace of God is supposed to make us distinctive in everything—in who we are, in our attitudes, in our behavior, in our talk, in our habits. As we heard one of the women from the Newport Prison there say, “He is changing everything about me.”
That’s what Paul says is to be true of these older women. That’s their life. Now, what is their legacy?
They are to “teach what is good, and so train the young women” (verses 3-4).
Now, by the way, let me just point out that we can’t teach others what we haven’t learned ourselves, and we’re not going to be very effective at communicating with others what they have not seen illustrated in our lives. I think, by the way, that’s one reason we have so little life-to-life, older women to younger women mentoring going on in the context of our church communities because so many of us as older women have to say, “My life doesn’t measure up to the Word of God.” We can’t say as Paul did, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
We need to be willing to teach out of our failures and to be open and honest, transparent about ways where we have not followed Christ, but out of repentant, broken lives that say, “I am in pursuit of Christ with all my heart.” We need to have this legacy of taking these younger women under our wing, life to life, incarnating truth and saying, “I want to share my life with you as Christ and His gospel has been changing my life. I want to be a conduit of His grace, His gospel into your life.” It’s spiritual mothering, really.
I received an email not too long ago from a woman who I believe is here tonight. She told us she was planning to be at this conference. She said something that I’ve heard many women say in different ways. Some of you can relate to this. She said,
I’m entering the empty-nest phase, and my role as full-time, stay-at-home mom is no longer needed. That was my life’s dream, and I’ve lived it, and it’s over. Now what? I’m questioning who I am and why I’m here. I feel so lost, so confused. I’ve been asking God to give me direction and show me what I can be doing in this next part of my life. I need to know it can be exciting because right now it feels like a big mess, lonely and depressing.
Well, I have news for that sister and for anyone else here who may have had those thoughts. How many of you are in the empty-next stage or close to it? A lot of hands. Okay. I can tell you: You’ve come to the place in God’s Word where you find out your direction. You find out your mission. You find out your calling. It’s unmistakable. This will give you a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning and keep going. You will not be able to live a chronically depressed life if you discern and receive and embrace and live out God’s calling for you in this season of your life, which is to pass the baton of faith on to the next generation for the glory of God.
So here Paul is talking to older women who have faithfully raised and trained their own children—not to say they’ve done it perfectly, not even to say that their children are necessarily walking with the Lord—but these are women who have learned on the journey of life some valuable lessons that they need to be sharing with young women, not just about parenting but about lots of areas of life, about the implications of sound doctrine. What it looks like.
So now they need to be speaking into the lives of these younger women who are in their childbearing and childrearing years and season of life. This teaching takes place in the context of community, life to life, showing from one life to another how to live out the gospel.
Now, let me just pause here and say, some of you in this room have been taking, taking, taking for years, decades, going from one Bible study to the next. Praise the Lord for all these Bible studies that are available for women today, and I’m glad you’ve had a heart to get grounded in the Word, and I hope you never lose that. I hope you never stop studying God’s Word. But let me say this: It’s time for some of you to get off your seat in that class and get up and start passing those truths on to other women around you. (applause)
I want to tell you this, too: It’s not just the Kay Arthurs and the Beth Moores and the Ann Lotts and the Nancy Leigh DeMosses who are supposed to be teaching the younger women. I have that calling, but you have the same calling—to teach what is good and so train the young women. If you’ve had truth poured into you, you need to be now pouring that truth, turning around and pouring it out into the lives of others.
Paul says, “By this time,” Hebrews 5 and 6 there, “you should be teachers, but you still have need of someone to feed you the basic elementary milk of God’s Word” (see Hebrews 5:11-14).
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having a diet of milk if you’re a baby, but there’s something wrong if you’ve been a Christian for 10 years or 15 years or 25 years or 50 years, and you’re still sucking on a bottle. You need to be eating meat, eating strong food, and learning how to teach others, learning how to feed and nurture others with the Word of God.
Now what are those older women to teach the younger women? We have the curriculum spelled out for us here—seven qualities.
Titus chapter 2, verse 3:
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands (verses 3-5).
Now you talk about politically incorrect; you talk about counter-cultural. There you have it. That’s radical. That is swimming against the flow of the culture. That’s swimming upstream. If you’re going to be God’s woman today, you’ve got to be like a salmon, swimming upstream.
It is God’s way, and the Scripture says, “Teach what is good.” This is good. This is beautiful. This is desirable. This is how God created life to work. The women who have thrown this off, who have rejected God’s wisdom and God’s counsel, they’re the ones whose lives are falling apart. They’re miserable. They’re depressed. They can’t handle life because they have rejected the truth of God’s Word.
Now, I’m not saying if you live according to God’s Word, your life will be one pleasant garden path walk all the time. There is hardship. There are afflictions, but there is grace as you are walking in what is good.
Now, there are a few things that stand out to me about this list. First is what’s not on it. If you were going to disciple a younger woman, help her become spiritually mature and fruitful, to live a life pleasing to God, what are the major subjects that you would think are important to deal with? If we were to make a list, if we weren’t looking at this passage, and we were to just make a list, I think we would have prayer on that list. I think we’d put Bible reading, personal devotional life, witnessing.
Those are all crucial for every believer. But it’s interesting to me that not one of those things appears on this list of the musts that older women must pass on to younger women. This is the Gen Ed curriculum. These are the basic foundational courses.
Neither do you find career on here. Neither do you find doing ministry on here, and other good things that are not on this list.
I think we need to focus on what is on this list, and one of the things you notice is the priority that God places on the home. Four of these seven qualities relate specifically to marriage and family. There’s the assumption that young women will be wives and mothers. “Teach the young women to love their husbands and children.”
Now we know from 1 Corinthians 7 and other passages that God has called and gifted some women to be able to stay single for the purpose of serving Him in a more concentrated way. I believe I have that calling of God on my own life. I’m thankful for that gift, but I will say I believe biblically that is the exception not the norm. God’s norm for most women is that they will be wives and mothers at some season of their life, and for those women who are wives and mothers, this is the first and primary sphere where they live out what the gospel looks like—in the context of marriage and family.
I can’t tell you how often I have women come up to me—women who are wives, who have young children still in the home—they say, “I just want to do ministry. I just want to have a ministry. I just believe God is calling me to a teaching ministry. How did you get into this?”
First of all, anybody who wants this calling, James says don’t choose this calling unless God puts it on you because the accountability is much stricter. But I say to them: You don’t realize that God has placed you in the ministry of His calling for your life. Look at your husband, look at your children, look around you where God has placed you in this season of life. Single women who are out in the marketplace and whatever your season of life, look at where God has placed you and say, “That is where God wants me to live out the gospel to show the world what it looks like.” This is the list that flows out of believing sound doctrine.
I want to challenge you and say you may know your Bible forward and backward, but if you do not love your husband and children (those of you who are wives and moms), if you’re not self-controlled, if you’re not morally pure, if you don’t manage your home well, if you’re not kind, if you’re not submissive to your own husband, something is wrong. You can’t claim to be godly and not live a life that is consistent with the gospel.
Then I see in this list the priority of love. We are called to reflect the love of God to those God has placed around us. Love their husbands, love their children. Ladies, you can’t claim to love God if you don’t love your husband, if you don’t love your children. It’s one thing for the people who work with you or the people in your church to think of you as a sweet, loving, kind, gracious woman, but what if I ask your family? That’s a starting place, the testing place for true love, within the four walls of our own homes, and if it doesn’t work there, it’s not real.
You say, “How can I love that man? How can I love those kids?”
I’m glad you asked. This passage says you can learn; you can be trained; you can be taught. These things don’t come naturally, and that’s why God has put in place this wonderful process of mentoring and discipleship, and life-to-life investment to help us in these areas. We’ll see in just a moment, too, that God also gives us a supernatural means of enabling to live this way.
Throughout the book of Titus we see how the lives of believers are to be a sharp, marked contrast to the lives of those who are not followers of Christ. Our lives are supposed to stand out from the rest of the culture, to be counter-cultural.
So this culture is characterized by things like violence, promiscuity, greed, lying, pride, gluttony, drunkenness, rebellion, anger, hatred. You’re not going to look online on the news tonight because we’re going to have that media fast, but when you get back online, just check out the headlines. I just described what you’re going to read. That’s what this world is like.
The world is supposed to be able to look at those who claim the name of Christ, to look at us and see something that is a whole different kingdom, a whole different mindset, a whole different way of thinking and living, a way that is characterized by love, gentleness, purity, self-control, truthfulness, submissiveness, well-ordered family relationships.
Now, let me just walk us quickly through these five verses of Titus chapter 2 and show you that contrast just in stark relief here. What we’re seeing in this passage is plain, what redeemed believers look like as they reflect the gospel. I just want us to reflect with each of these characteristics what an unredeemed life would look like, and ask yourself which of these characteristics would be true of you.
We see in chapter 1 that there’s a commitment to sound doctrine as the basis for living. That’s the redeemed way of thinking. What’s the unredeemed way of living? They minimize the importance of doctrine. It doesn’t matter, and they live their lives based on beliefs that are not sound, that are not true.
Verses 2 and 3 tell us that in God’s redeemed community, in the kingdom of Christ, older believers are to model godliness, spiritual maturity. They are to be intentional about passing on the baton of faith and investing in the next generation, mentoring, discipling. That’s God’s kingdom way of living and thinking. It’s counter-cultural because how does the world view older people? Older people are free to do what they want to do, pursue their own pleasures, retire, live their own life. They’ve paid their dues. The should spend their lives in an RV traveling, seeing the U.S.A., hobbies, take it easy. Isn’t that the mindset in our culture? “You deserve a break today.”
So that’s what people aspire to—retiring. That’s nothing to aspire to. What we need to aspire to is having lives that are worthy of the gospel of Christ, that these younger women can look at us and say, “Help me know the Christ who has changed your life.” That’s something worth living for.
Verse 3 tells us that older women are reverent in behavior. That’s the implication of the gospel in the older woman’s life. How does the unredeemed older woman live? Her life is secular, not reverent, secular, coarse, vulgar. I’m going to remember what Pastor Voddie told us tonight, “You hear her before you see her.” (laughter) Oh me. It’s true of some of us, isn’t it? There are some of us living like unredeemed people.
Look at verse 3: They are “not slanderers.” They speak truth. They speak words that build up. What do unredeemed women look like? They have loose lips. They wound others with their words.
Redeemed women are not slaves to much wine, but unredeemed women are self-indulgent, have addictive behavior, substance abuse. They live for their pleasure, for their senses, medicating emotional pain because they don’t have the gospel. He sent His Word and healed them. That’s how a redeemed person lives.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t any physical conditions we have that require certain kinds of medication, but I think the Christian culture has become far too dependent on crutches, on aids that we look to before we look to the Word of God and the gospel of Christ to bring healing to our emotions.
Look at verse 4: Younger women are to “love their husbands,” to value marriage, the permanence of the marriage covenant, but the unredeemed heart will resent husbands, dishonor, neglect, perhaps leave them. This is where we get a divorce culture. A culture that is not transformed by the gospel will have disposable marriages.
Redeemed women love their children. That’s what the gospel does. That’s how it changes them. They value motherhood. They see the value of having children, but in the unredeemed culture, women are discouraged from having children or for sure having too many of them.
I remember talking to a woman in her, probably late 30s at the time. She’s serving the Lord in a ministry. She’s married, but as she opened up her heart, she expressed that she was terrified at the thought of having children because she’s bought in so many ways into the lies of this culture and in that way, the gospel had not yet transformed her thinking. Unredeemed thinking is going to let others raise children and will spoil or abuse the children if the gospel has not transformed our lives.
Self-controlled—redeemed women are self-controlled. That’s a word that appears at least five times in the epistle to Titus. The elders are to be self-controlled; the older men are to be self-controlled; the younger women are to be self-controlled; the younger men are to be self-controlled, and all believers, according to chapter 2, verse 12, are to be self-controlled.
It’s the word sophron—s-o-p-h-r-o-n, in the Greek, and it means “to have a sound or saved mind.” A sophron state of mind is what enables us to curb our natural fleshly desires, and it will result in the ability to practice self-control in every area of our lives—with our tongue, with our habits, sexually—in every area. If we have that controlled, self-control, controlled by the Spirit of God, that saved, sound mind, it will affect everything about the way that we live.
The unregenerate mind, the unredeemed mind is out of control. It has no self-control. So that affects spending habits, the tongue, use of time, attitudes, lashing out in anger. That is not a sophron mind.
The redeemed woman will be pure. We see that in verse 5—pure in heart, pure in her mind, her thought life, pure sexually, pure in her choices. The unregenerate, unredeemed mind, the mind that has not been transformed by the gospel is going to be immodest, permissive, promiscuous on every front.
Working at home—that’s a characteristic of a redeemed woman whose life has been shaped by the gospel, but what is the world’s way of looking at home? The world devalues home-making. Hospitality today is almost a thing of the past, and our homes are in a state of chaos. We’re pulling women out of their homes. We elevate work outside the home above work in the home. We convinced women, our culture has, that they cannot survive financially if they do not have a career outside the home.
Now, I’m not by this making an absolute statement about women earning any income outside the home. There are a lot of different situations represented here, and this isn’t the time or the place to really delve into that, but I am talking about a saved way of looking at home, making a home for the glory of God and to reflect the hospitable, gracious, inviting heart of Christ.
The redeemed woman will be kind, others-centered. The unredeemed woman, the woman whose life has not been shaped by the gospel will be self-centered, each man for himself.
The redeemed woman is going to have a submissive heart attitude, particularly in relationships where there is God-ordained authority—in her marriage, etc. Whereas the mindset of the world, the unredeemed, ungospelized mindset is to be resistant to authority, controlling, competing, and rebellious.
Now the question is, as we look at that text and we compare it to the world’s standards, how well does my life reflect the gospel and the grace of God? How well does my life reflect what it looks like to be a redeemed woman who’s been transformed by the gospel?
I have to tell you that coming up to events like this, I often go through very intense personal battle, a battle with my own flesh, my desires. My heart is surrendered to the Lord. People write me, and they say, “Thank you so much for living a surrendered life in serving the Lord,” and I think, “If only they knew the things I wrestle with and the areas where I watch my own failures as I’m getting ready to speak about what it looks like to live a redeemed life.”
Even as I’ve been meditating afresh on this text, I can think about times within this past week, really the last 24 hours, where I have had anything but a sophron state of mind, where my state of mind was out of control, giving way to rogue thoughts, rogue emotions, out of control, believing lies, and reacting in ways that were emotionally out of control, not being kind. I had to ask forgiveness this week on a couple of occasions for saying things that were . . . I just spit them out, and God convicted me. “That was not kind. That was hurtful. I’m not living as a redeemed woman. I’m not living as a true woman of God.”
So I understand the battle. That’s why we have to ask ourselves, and I ask myself: So what? How much does it matter? Does it really matter? Why do women need to learn and practice these things? What’s at stake? So what if we don’t live this way? If I just blurt out things I’m thinking without thinking about what I’m saying, does it really make a huge difference?
Well, Titus 2 says it makes a huge difference. As it talks about what the gospel looks like on people in different seasons of life, it follows that description with three purpose clauses.
The first is found in verse 5: “So that the word of God may not be reviled.”
The second one is found in verse 8: “So that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
And verse 10, the third purpose clause: “So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”
Listen, women are into jewelry, into adornment, but Peter says, “Don’t let your adorning be the outward adorning. Let it be the inward adorning of the heart” (see 1 Peter 3:3-4).
Our lives are to beautify the doctrine of Christ, to make it believable, to make it attractive to the lost world. There is so much more at stake here than my life or yours. There’s the ripple effect of our lives that goes so much further than most of us realize and the impact that has on those around us, on our children, on the unbelieving world. If we do not live lives that demonstrate and adorn the gospel of Christ, Christianity, the Bible will be treated with contempt, with disrespect, disbelief. And is that not what we are seeing in our day?
We have to stop pointing the finger out there at the White House and point it at our house. Stop pointing the finger at Hollywood, and point it at our own hearts and say, “What is it with the church? What is it—more specifically—with us as the women of God who claim to be followers of Christ but the world sees no difference?” They don’t see anything that draws them irresistibly to Christ.
One 19th century German philosopher said, “Show me your redeemed life, and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.”
That’s what this world needs. That’s the mission of this ministry, to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
Now, I just want to say, before we wrap up tonight, that there is a problem, and we have to address it because otherwise some of you firstborn—I know, I am one—women are going to leave here, and you are going to just, like, break your neck trying to live this godly life. I’ve got to tell you, the problem is you can’t live this life. You can’t do it. I can’t do it. We do not have the power to live what we just read. Left to ourselves, we will be everything in that unregenerate, unredeemed column.
Here’s where Titus 2, verse 11 comes in, and I am so glad for this message: “For the grace of God has appeared.” Thank God for grace, the divine power of God within me that gives me the desire and the power to live a life that is pleasing to Him. (applause) “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Oh to be saved from myself. Thank You, God, for grace, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live [sophron, sound saved minds] upright and godly lives in the present age” (verses 11-12).
It goes on to talk about our “great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (verses14). Who does the purifying? Christ does. He came to save us not just to get us a ticket to heaven but to keep saving us from ourselves, from all lawlessness, from our unredeemed self and flesh. He came to redeem us to be a people for His own possession.
So there’s the enabling. There’s the power. Not human willpower, not human effort, but the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit that changes our lives.
Then, for those of us who find ourselves, as I often do, getting weary in the battle, thinking, “I’m not sure I want to keep pressing into all of this sanctification, redeemed life stuff.” I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but I’m just telling you, sometimes I just get weary of the battle. That’s where Paul gives us an expectation and a hope.
Go back to verse 13: “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
It will be worth it all, and that’s why we have this call, not to live for today, not for this present age. We’re to live in this present age, but we don’t live for this present age. We live for that day as true biblical women with that goal to make the gospel, the doctrine, the cross of Christ adorned, attractive to this world.
I’m going to read you two letters because I want you to see the impact of a true woman on women and on men.
I want to read to you a letter that Holly Elliff, who’s a dear friend of mine that some of you have heard on the Revive Our Hearts broadcast, received from a woman who heard her on the broadcast. I want you to just pay attention because this is the kind of impact your life can have. She said,
Dear Mrs. Elliff,
I had to write a note to tell you how much you’ve influenced my life for godliness through your advice on Revive Our Hearts. I’ve only recently come under sound doctrine, and I’ve struggled to learn how to live out godliness in the ordinary paths of life. When I first heard you on the broadcast, my soul was so famished for help that your calm seasoned comments brought me out of a dark, deep place.
What helped me was my sense that your knowledge wasn’t theoretical. It sounded like the words of someone who learned it in the trenches—married, raising a family, cooking meal after meal, raising each child, and glorifying the Lord in it. You can’t imagine what it has meant to me to have a godly example as a role model to follow after.
Your friendship and counsel have really helped establish a godly framework in my thinking. Thank you for giving warm words of godly counsel and advice, for standing on the Lord’s commands to us instead of compromising. You cannot know how that has made a real impact on a life and soul so marred and scarred by sin and without any godly women to turn to for help.
Thank you for helping to pull a despairing sister out of the muck and mire of sin. I’m sure when you were changing diapers or listening to the same story again, you would not have known those were the very things that would make your advice so weighty and true for me a single woman.
When you speak, it’s from the point of view of someone who’s lived it, who’s raised a family and had to work out the Scripture in close quarters. The Lord’s Word has molded you so that broken life is sending out such riches and such wine.
See what made the impact here? Not the big glorious platform ministry, but a real redeemed life. She closed by saying,
Please let older women know [which is what I’m doing tonight] that the most valuable thing they can do is to develop in righteousness, not the career or the beautiful home. It is the life of righteousness that alone can help redeem broken lives.
I never thought I would come to value God’s way above the world’s or actually see how beautiful holiness is, but I have, and I thank you for being part of the Lord’s way of revealing Himself to me and revealing to me His loveliness and the beauty of living a godly life.
That’s what this message is all about: Discovering God’s plan for your life and reflecting that beauty to others.
Now, I want to share one more letter with you. Most of the letters we get are from women. This one came from a man, and it is one of the most special letters we’ve ever received at Revive Our Hearts. Let me read it to you, and I think it just speaks for itself.
Dear Miss DeMoss,
I’m writing to thank you for you have given me two very important things that I have never possessed as far back as I can remember. I’m 26 years old, and have come to the Lord in the last couple of years. The Lord is doing some wonderful things in my life, and I hope to serve Him some day full time.
Before I began listening to your program (I know it’s a women’s program, but I enjoy listening to you for reasons I will explain), I had little to no trust for women and very little understanding of what a true woman of God was. On both my mother and my father’s side of the family, my grandparents had all been divorced and remarried, some more than once. My grandmother on my father’s side used her alimony to open up two topless clubs in the 70s. My mother met my father in one of his mother’s clubs, and eventually they married. They divorced after this, and my mother was married and divorced two more times in the years that followed.
When my sisters and I were children, my mother worked two jobs full time to support us. I realized the great responsibility she had as a single mother. I realized how much she loved and still loves us, but she didn’t know the Lord, and because of that, it was hard on us all. When we were six and eight years old, the only time we got to spend with our mother was when she was home from work, but she was worn out and could only sleep. My sisters and I would play in and around her bed when she was home. We could have played anywhere else in the two-bedroom apartment, or even outside, but I realize now that we played in Mom’s bedroom when she was home because it was our only way to be close to her, the only time to be with her.
Later she married, and instead of staying at home or just working one job, my mother used the spare time she had to go to college. Everyone in the family was proud of her, but it left little time for us. Maybe when her schooling was finished, we would have more time with her, but this was not to be either. After graduating from college, my mom began to climb the corporate ladder, working 60, 70, sometimes 80 hours a week to get ahead in life, just keeping up with the Joneses.
I’ve grown up since those days. I’ve learned a great deal the hard way. The relationships I’ve had since my teens with various women have never once been healthy. It was one bad relationship after another that made me decide at an early age to forego all relationships with women, and that attitude only brought greater mistrust and deeper pain into my life.
Even after coming to the Lord, I made the decision not to ever be married. I would tell myself that I was giving that up to serve the Lord, that all I needed was Him, but in truth, it was because of the great mistrust I had for women.
I began listening to your program because of a testimony you had on a couple of years ago. I don’t remember the woman’s name. She was an orphan and was badly mistreated, but clung in her youth to the word that God loved her, and she overcame the trials of her life. As I listened in the following days, I realized your program was for women, so I decided to listen to you anyway. I was curious as to what you were saying that was supposed to be just for Christian women.
Now you have to understand that I had heard, read, and knew what the Word of God said to and about women and their roles in the church and the family, but I had never heard a woman say it. To be honest, the more I listened, the more astounded I became at the things you were saying in the 21st century. “Does Miss DeMoss know what year it is?” ( laughter) I’m laughing now, but let me tell you what else I heard.
Listening to you speak, I began to hear the cry of a true woman who sought to glorify God in her life. As I listened to you speak on topics like holiness and righteous living, a tiny little seed began to run through that rock-solid belief that women could not be trusted and would only hurt me if I allowed myself to be taken in by one. Today that seed is busted wide open, and now that it is exposed, I can deal with the things in my life that created those misguided notions. You have given me the ability to trust again.
Since listening to you I have begun writing to my mother again. I hadn’t written to her in more than two years. She actually writes me back quite frequently, and as I build that relationship with her, I’m giving her verses to read in an attempt to be some kind of a witness to her.
You have also given me an example of what kind of woman I should be looking for when it comes my time to marry in the years ahead.
You have provoked me to become a better man because I know that I will never be married to a woman with a spirit like yours unless I have a like heart to do the will of my Father.
You have given me all these things. They were things that only a woman can give a man, things that a mother should inspire in her son. Because of this, I thought it an appropriate gesture to tell you these things and to wish you a happy Mother’s Day.
In my heart you will always be one of my mothers in the Lord. I will continue to listen to Revive Our Hearts now and someday in the future maybe I will have a wife who will listen with me.
P.S. By my address, it should be obvious that I am in prison. Please pray for my continued victory in the Lord and future ministry, whatever that may be. I’ll be getting out in only a few more years now.
Can you imagine what might happen, with just the women in this room, if we began to live out the picture, that portrait in Titus 2, the life and the legacy of a redeemed woman who lives out what the gospel looks like?
- What would our homes be like?
- How might the men around us be inspired to seek after Christ, to pursue Him, not because we pushed them to be spiritual leaders, but as we live those humble, obedient, Christ-reflecting lives, lifting up their hands, praying for them, encouraging them, being their cheerleaders as they take steps in godliness, what might spark in their hearts?
- What might God spark in the hearts of these young women, these teenage gals, the little girls and boys represented in our families, the next generation?
- Would others begin to say, “I want to know that Christ? I want the gospel to change my life the way it’s changed your life.”
- Might we not even see in our day that great awakening and that revival, holiness, and righteousness which so many of us have been praying and seeking the Lord?
Oh Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for ministering to our hearts, for washing us with it. I pray that over these next hours and days and beyond this conference that You would do a fresh work of grace in our hearts. Give us that desire, that motivation to be Your true woman, to know that it really does matter that we live lives that glorify You. I pray it for Jesus’ sake and in His name, amen.
Let me ask you to do one more thing before Keith and Kristyn come to close us tonight. I want to ask you to pull out of your tote bag something that looks like this: the white hanky. It has a phrase on it that I want us to remember throughout this weekend. You need to keep this, in fact we got an email recently from a woman who said, “I’m bringing my white hanky with me to Chattanooga.” Everywhere I go now I meet women who have these hankies. They pull them out of their Bibles. What does it say? Read it to me. (Audience responds: “Yes, Lord.”) Yes, Lord.
Now what’s the sign? If you wave a white flag, what does that mean? (Audience responds: “Surrender”)
Surrender. And what is God calling us to do as true women? To say, “Yes, Lord. Whatever You say, I believe, I agree, I surrender to it.” Some of you think, “She has lost her mind. What have I gotten myself into?” (laughter)
You, too, can be a woman who says, “Yes, Lord.” I want to encourage you throughout this weekend, any time the Lord is speaking to your heart, as we’re worshiping Him, you want to affirm the gospel, you want to affirm the truth, you want to say, “Yes, Lord,” or you want to say, “I need to repent, Yes, Lord,” as God is speaking to you, would you just keep this handy and feel free just to put it up there in the air and say, “Yes, Lord.”
Now listen, it doesn’t do any good to wave the hanky if your heart is saying, “No.” (laughter) Okay? It’s just a symbol, and let me say this: Some of you are thinking, “You’re getting real carried away here. I don’t want to be one of those “chars-matics.” You guys are getting crazy here.” (laughter) You don’t have to wave your hanky, okay? What I hope is that your heart will say, “Yes, Lord,” and maybe you’ll want to wave your hanky to say, “Yes, Lord,” at the same time.
Keith and Kristyn, come close us, if you would.
All Scripture was taken from the English Standard Version.
Announcer: The message you just heard was presented at Revive Our Hearts’ True Woman ’10 conference in Chattanooga. You can hear any of the messages delivered there and more by visiting www.truewoman.com. There you’ll find even more ways to connect from books and resources for yourself, your friends, or your life group to on-demand multi-media to ongoing conversations you can be a part of.
True Woman ‘10 is a ministry of Revive Our Hearts, helping you become God’s true woman.