Women in the Church by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Series: The Attractive Christian Woman
Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Women in the church can either be a great blessing or they can do incredibly great damage. They can make the Gospel believable, or they can cause people to turn away from Christ.
Leslie Basham: It’s Tuesday, June 6, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Let’s join Nancy as she begins a new series called The Attractive Christian Woman.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to start a series today on what I think is one of the most important New Testament passages, perhaps one of the most important passages in all of God’s Word for us as women.
It’s one of those passages that speaks directly and specifically to us as women. As I’ve been studying these two verses, I’ve found just a wealth of not only information but material that is transforming my own heart, my life, and my thinking as I’ve been studying it.
In fact, even late last night I found the Lord really using this passage to challenge my own heart and to bring conviction and to show me areas that really need to change in my own walk with the Lord.
So I want to share with you some fresh thoughts that have been on my heart in relation to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. You may want to turn there if you have your Bible. We’re going to spend several sessions just looking at these two verses and unpacking what it has to say for us as women.
If we want to be counter-cultural women, these are the verses that tells us how to do it. I want to give you a context in this first session for this passage and show you where it fits and give you an overview. Then, in the next few sessions we’ll look at it a phrase at a time.
The context here in the book of First Timothy is that the apostle Paul is giving Timothy, who is pastor of the church in Ephesus, he is giving instructions for the church. Particularly in this segment he is talking about instructions for the church family when they come together for worship, the official assembly of the church.
Now, what he is going to say here applies outside the official assembly of the church as well. Specifically, he is talking about how men and women ought to behave at church; what they ought to do. And then when we leave church, we don’t want to leave these attitudes and behaviors behind.
He is saying when God’s people come together, it’s really important that they understand that there are some distinct instructions for men and for women. We are different. We have different roles and different functions in the Body of Christ. If we follow these distinct instructions for men and for women, then God will be glorified, our churches will prosper, and the gospel will go forth.
But if we neglect to be the women we are supposed to be in the church and if men fail to be the men they are supposed to be in the church, the cause of Christ will be damaged, and we will bring reproach on the name of Christ. So it’s very important that we understand and live out what it means for us to be women of God in the church.
First, in verse eight (and I am just going to touch on this), he talks to the men about what they ought to do and be like at church. He talks to the men about leading in prayer. He says in verse 8, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.”
This is not to say that women should not pray or that it’s okay for women to be angry or to quarrel. He is saying that when the church comes together for worship, for its official assembly, men (the word there is men as opposed to women, it is not like mankind in general, this is the males in the group), men are intended to be the ones who provide spiritual leadership. They are intended to be the leaders when the church meets for corporate worship.
He deals here with the actions or the behavior of the men and with their attitudes, as he is going to do in just a moment with the women. He says as far as actions and behavior are concerned, they should “lift up holy hands.”
That is talking about their behavior. They should be unpolluted and unstained by evil. Then he talks about their attitudes toward others. They should be “without anger or quarreling.”
Now, neither men nor women are to be angry or quarrelsome. But I think, perhaps, one of the reasons Paul mentions this here may be that men are more prone to be angry or quarrelsome. So he traces the area of their potential weakness, just as he is going to do in a moment with us as women.
He moves on in verses 9 and 10 to talk to women about (not their actions first this time). First he talks about their appearance, what they should wear. He talks to men about how they should pray, and he talks to women about how they should dress.
That is the first item he brings up on his agenda for women in church. He talks to women about their appearance or their attire, and then he talks to them about their attitudes, and then he talks to them about their actions.
We’re going to look at each of these in the next few days. He says that the way these women dress is a reflection of their heart and their character. If they have right attitudes, that will produce a right appearance. What I think he is saying is that you can’t separate the inward from the outward.
We say, ”God looks on the heart. That means the way I dress doesn’t matter.” No,because God looks on the heart. The way we dress does matter because the way we dress is intended to be a reflection of our hearts.
So Paul says, in 1 Timothy 2:9 and 10, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel,” that’s their appearance; now their attitudes, “with modesty and self-control.”
Now it goes back to touch on the specifics of the appearance. “Not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”
Women are to be clothed not only with modest or decent apparel and clothing, but also with good works. So he is making reference to their appearance, their attitudes and their actions. He is calling us as women to take our proper place in the church.
Let’s just look at that first sentence. “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” Let me read that in a few different translations because the Bibles that you have may translate it differently.
The NIV says that women should “dress modestly with decency and propriety.” Or, if you have a New American Standard, it says that women should “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly.”
The New King James that I often use says that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” Or if you are using the King James, the Authorized Version, it has an interesting phrase in here. It says that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety.”
Now, before we go into all the details of those words and phrases, I want to look at the bottom line at the end of this verse. The explanation, the motivation for all of this, Paul says, “This is what is proper [or suitable] for women who profess godliness.”
The NIV says this is what is “appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
What is he saying by all these phrases? He is saying that being this kind of woman in appearance, in attitudes, and in actions is how you prove that you are a child of God.
This is how you demonstrate your profession of faith. It is tragic to me how many people we have in our churches, men and women, who profess to be Christians but give no evidence. They don’t dress like Christians. They don’t have Christian attitudes, and they don’t act like Christians.
Paul says, “If you want people to believe your profession of faith, if you claim to be a Christian, then you better demonstrate it by having these things in place. This is the evidence of your true heart and your character. You can’t separate the two.”
Who you are and what you are will come out in the way that you look, the way that you act, and the attitudes that you demonstrate toward other people. Think about it in a sort of reverse way. Can you imagine Madonna dressing in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control?
I mean, can you imagine Madonna looking that way? No. Why not? Because she doesn’t profess godliness. She dresses in a way that is suitable, or appropriate, for what she believes. She dresses and conducts herself in a way that is consistent with her value system, with her belief system, with her profession.
In the same way, it should be equally unthinkable for a woman or a girl who claims to worship God not to wear respectable apparel and not to exhibit modesty and self-control.
If you claim to worship God, if you claim to be a Christian, then your appearance, your attitudes—the way you treat other people, the way you treat your husband and your children when they are getting on your nerves, your attitudes at work and at church, your actions—they need to support your claim to be a child of God.
I want to say that women in the church can be either a great blessing or they can do incredibly great damage. They can make the gospel believable, or they can cause people to turn away from Christ.
You see, these two verses matter for us as Christian women so that we will learn how to dress ourselves in respectable apparel and to be clothed in the attitudes of modesty and self-control and that our actions would be those of good works.
So, over these next few days, we are going to examine these two verses phrase by phrase and we are going to ask ourselves, “Do you measure up to this standard? Is this the kind of Christian woman you are? Does your life support your profession of faith? Is it consistent with what you say you believe?”