Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Woman's Influence in the Church

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: 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.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, May 16.

When listeners visit ReviveOurHearts.com, one of the terms they search for most often is modesty—for good reason. Nancy has taught on the importance of modest clothing, and as summer approaches, it might be a good topic for you to search at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today we’re going to focus on how to develop a modest heart. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: 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 have found just a wealth of not only information but material that is transforming my own heart, my life, my thinking as I have 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 just some fresh thoughts that have been on my heart in relation to 1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 9 and 10. You may want to turn there if you have your Bible. We are 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, this is the verse that tells us how to do it. Now, I want to give you a context in this first session for this passage and show you where it fits and give you kind of an overview. Then we'll look, in the next few sessions, at it a phrase at a time.

The context here in the Book of 1 Timothy is that the apostle Paul is giving Timothy who is pastor of the church in Ephesus, instructions for the church. And 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 applies here outside the official assembly of the church as well. Specifically, he is talking here 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.

But he is saying that when God's people come together, it is 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. And if we follow these distinctive 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 is very important that we understand and live out what it means for us to be women of God in the church.

Now first in verse 8 (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."

Now this is not to say that women should not pray or it is okay for women to be angry or to quarrel. But he is saying 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.

And 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. It should be unpolluted and unstained by evil. And then he talks about their attitudes toward others. It should be without anger or quarreling.

Now, neither men nor women are to be angry or quarrelsome. But I think one of the reasons perhaps Paul mentions this here is maybe that men are more prone to be angry or quarrelsome. And so he addresses 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 this time, their actions first—first he talks about their appearance. What they should wear. He talks to men about how they should pray and 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 are 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. And if they have right attitudes, that will produce a right appearance. But what I think he is saying is, "You can't separate the inward from the outward."

We say that "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, let's read these two verses, 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 with not only 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.

Now, he goes on in verses 11-15 to say a lot more things to women that are very important for the way that we function in the body of Christ, but for this series, we’re just going to look at verses 9 and 10.

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 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 [we’re going to talk about what that means] and with sobriety."

Now before we go into all the details of those words and phrases, I want us to look at the bottom line. At the end of this verse is 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."

Or the New American Standard, "This is proper for women making a claim to godliness."

Now what is he saying by all these phrases? He is saying that being this kind of woman in appearance, in attitudes, and in actions, this is how you prove that you are a child of God.

This is how you demonstrate your profession of faith and 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.

And Paul says, "If you want people to believe your profession of faith, if you claim to be godly, if you claim to be a worshipper of God, 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, 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. You see, these two verses matter for us as Christian women—that we would learn how to dress ourselves in respectable apparel and be clothed in the attitudes of modesty and self-control, and that our actions would be those of good works.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back for the second half of today’s teaching.

She’s in a series called, The Beauty of a Modest Heart. As summer approaches, you may want to listen to another series from Nancy called, Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? It will help you evaluate your wardrobe as we enter another summer season. For details on that series, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, let’s return to Nancy, looking at 1 Timothy 2, verses 9 and 10.

Nancy: The Scripture tells us "that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works."

And we said that it's so important that our appearance and our attitudes and our actions confirm and affirm our profession of faith.

Ladies, it is not enough to claim to be a Christian. There are millions and millions of people in this country who claim to be Christians and whose names are on the role of some church membership. But they are no more Christians than the "man in the moon." They don't have a relationship with Christ and the evidence is in their appearance, in their attitudes and in their actions.

Listen, your appearance and your actions and your attitudes will never make you a Christian. They cannot earn you salvation. You can't say, "I am a good Christian because I dress like a good Christian, I act like a good Christian, and I have good Christian attitudes." That won't make you a Christian. But if you are a Christian, you absolutely will have appearance, attitudes, and actions that confirm your profession of faith.

I believe that many, many women who call themselves Christians today need to let the Holy Spirit search and examine their hearts with passages like this one where Paul says, "If you profess to be godly, if you profess to be a woman of God, here is the evidence. How does your life measure up?"

Now I want us to look today at the first part and that is the appearance of the Christian woman. The woman who professes to be a Christian, he says that these "women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel."

The New International, if you are using that version says that they should "dress modestly." The New American Standard says they should "adorn themselves with proper clothing." The New King James says they should "adorn themselves in modest apparel." Similar words. I am using the English Standard Version which says "that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel."

Now, as we jump phrase by phrase and word by word into these two verses, I want us to have a little Greek lesson. Although my heritage is Greek, I’ll tell you, I have never studied Greek officially. I have never been to seminary. But there are some wonderful reference tools that are available today that help you to go back into the original languages in which the Scripture was written and to see more of what these words mean.

So we are going to take five words in verse 9, three of them today and then the other two in the next couple of sessions. I want us to learn more about what these words mean. The first word is the word that is translated adorn. "Women should adorn themselves." That is the word kosmeo. Now there is a similar word, that's the word respectable. "Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel." The word respectable is translated from the Greek word kosmios; kosmeo, which means "adorn" and kosmios, which means "respectable."

Now when I say those Greek words kosmeo and kosmios, what English word does that make you think of? Cosmetics and the word cosmetics: makeup, putting on our face, that comes from these two Greek words, kosmeo "to adorn" and kosmios, "respectable."

Let's look at those words. The word adorn, kosmeo, is a word that means "to put in proper order." It's used of decorating a house, of arranging furniture, of trimming oil lamps in the New Testament culture, "to put in proper order, to arrange, to decorate, it means to make ready."

And the apostle Paul is saying here that when a woman comes to church, when she goes to be with the people of God, that she needs to arrange herself appropriately to join God's people as they worship.

And by the way, let me say that a lot of the insights that I am sharing this week from 1 Timothy chapter 2 have come to me through John MacArthur's Commentary on the Book of 1 Timothy. It has been very helpful along with some other resources.

The apostle Paul is saying here that when we are with the people of God, when we come together particularly for public worship, we should make sure that we arrange ourselves appropriately in terms of our outward appearance.

Now the outward appearance isn't the only important part of our preparation. We need to make sure our hearts are prepared above all. But an important part of our outward preparation is the wearing of what he calls "proper clothing or respectable apparel."

Now that word apparel is the word katastole. It is a word that speaks of loose-draped garments. And without belaboring the point here, I think it goes along with the concept of what is modest dress, that's dress that is not form-fitting or tight-fitting on us as women. This is a word that speaks of something that is loosely-fitted.

But he is talking here not only about the clothing but also about our whole look and our demeanor.

  • When we come to corporate worship as women, we are to come ready to face the Lord and ready to face the Lord as He’s in His people.
  • We are not to be slovenly.
  • We’re not to be in disarray.
  • We are not to be exhibitionists.
  • We are not to be extreme.
  • We are not to be in any way, in terms of our wardrobe or our dress, in any way that is unbecoming of us as believers.

Now, we are to be in respectable apparel, to adorn ourselves in respectable apparel. That's the word kosmios. And it's a word that means "orderly or decent." Our clothing is to be orderly and decent. John MacArthur says that word is the opposite of chaos—not chaotic, but orderly and decent. When I think of chaotic dress, chaotic women, there’s a certain image that comes to my mind in terms of a woman’s hair and her clothing, and I just think of some women who just didn’t get put together.

And Paul says we are not to be extreme. He is going to go on and talk about that. We are not to be obsessed with our clothing, and yet we are to be dressed in a way that is arranged. It's put together. It's thought through. It's not just thrown together. It's arranged; it's orderly; it's decent; it's modest.

Now again, he is talking not only of dress but also of our attitude, our demeanor, the way we carry ourselves and then of our inner spiritual life. But always that inner spiritual life will express itself outwardly. He is talking about what kind of woman a Christian woman should be—inwardly or spiritually but also outwardly reflected in the way that she looks.

I just want to remind us that modesty and clothing issues are first and foremost heart issues. If a woman has an orderly and decent and well-arranged and appropriate heart, then her outward appearance will show that.

And let me say, by the way, not just her outward appearance but her environment. And I was really convicted of this about midnight last night. As I looked around at my study and I thought, "Chaotic would be the word to describe what this looks like right now. This is not well-ordered. This is not decent." And it was a concern to me as I was reading this passage.

And God is not saying here that we are to be perfectionists; that we are to be obsessive about having everything perfectly neat, but that our lives should be characterized generally as being orderly and arranged. John MacArthur says,

Proper adornment on the outside [the way we dress, the outside of our environment, the way we keep our homes] reflects a properly adorned heart, a heart that is well-ordered.

So when you go to be with the people of God, when you go to church, are you prepared? Are you appropriately attired? Have you arranged yourself in a way that reflects well on the Lord? Have you given thought to your physical appearance, to make sure that it is appropriate for church?

We have talked in the past on Revive Our Hearts about how women in the church can be a real source of seduction and temptation to men. And I've heard this expressed so many times in different ways from men who say, "Look, it's one thing to go out in the world, you expect women to be immodestly dressed there, but to come to church and to have to wrestle with your thought life as a man!" Oh, ladies, the apostle Paul says, "When you come to church make sure you've been arranged, ordered, in respectable clothing, modest clothing."

So let me ask you:

  • Is your inner life well-ordered?
  • Do you have a well-ordered heart?
  • How about your emotions? Are you one of these people who lives on an emotional roller coaster?

Now if you are a woman the answer is, sometimes, yes. And I've been a little bit of one myself this week. But I've been challenged as I studied this passage to ask the Lord to give me well-ordered emotions.

And God says, "If you have a well-ordered heart, if you are adorned with respectable, well-ordered apparel, that will be a reflection of a heart that is well-ordered." I want to have a mind that is well-ordered, to be thinking thoughts God's way and to have all my thoughts brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

One of the things God has been speaking to me about recently is the need for greater mental discipline in the way that I study and in the way that I work. I am highly distractible and email doesn't help. So I find myself just, when I am in my study hour, just going back again and again and again to check my email. I find that my thoughts become just garbled and jumbled and erratic and distracted.

Well, no one would know but me and the Lord, but it’s not a sign of a well-ordered heart. So I am saying, "Lord, order my heart; arrange my heart." In my schedule, in my use of time, I need be filled with the Spirit and grounded in the Word of God so that my heart and my emotions and my mind will be well-ordered. Then it will be reflected in my outward appearance, my hair, my makeup, my clothing styles, my environment, my home, my workspace will reflect the beauty of a well-ordered heart.

Does yours? Let's ask the Lord to give us well-ordered hearts that are reflected in a well-ordered and decent and appropriate appearance.

Leslie: The Book of 1 Timothy provides helpful counsel for women, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been taking us into that passage. Through the series you’ll be challenged to surrender everything to the Lord, including your thoughts, your schedule, and your wardrobe. The series is called, The Beauty of a Modest Heart.

To help you follow up on this series, we’d like to send you a study booklet that will take you through the steps of evaluating your attitude and wardrobe. It’s called The Look. As you engage in this study, you’ll take a modesty quiz; you’ll consider several biblical passages on modesty, and you’ll be encouraged to seek God about ways to display the beauty of modesty in your life.

We’ll send you The Look when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Nancy’s here to tell you why your gift means so much right now.

Nancy: A lot of us look forward to summer activities. It’s a great time to enjoy God’s world and spend time outdoors. It’s a meaningful time for families to be together and to make some special memories.

But you know what people don’t do during the summer as often as other times of the year? They don’t contribute to Revive Our Hearts. That’s why we often see the giving decline during June, July, and August. But our bills still have to be paid during those months. We’re anticipating this need and preparing to close the books on our fiscal year which ends May 31st. That’s why we’re asking God to provide income totaling $350,000 or more this month.

I’m so thankful for every listener who’s given already, including many new contributors who have been helping us meet a special matching challenge. As we’ve been sharing with you, some friends of the ministry are matching the gift of each new supporter this month up to a challenge amount of $60,000. We’re trusting the Lord not only to provide that amount, but to far exceed it from listeners who have never before supported this ministry. So would you partner with us during this important season?

Give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Make sure to ask for the booklet Leslie’s been telling you about called, The Look. It’s our way of saying, “Thanks for your gift.” Again, that number is 1-800-569-5959, or if you’d rather give your gift online, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: What comes to mind when you hear the word modesty? If the idea isn’t very attractive to you, get a new picture by listening tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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