Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Building Your Life on Sound Doctrine

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Wouldn't it be fun to have a talented designer come into your home and give it an extreme makeover? You might want to get rid of that ugly, threadbare sofa and those mismatched drapes and give the walls a fresh coat of paint, update the décor and create a coordinated, new look from top to bottom!

Well, home renovation is a great illustration for what happens when we let the Lord do a work in our lives.

Leslie Basham: This is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: He wants to do a radical renovation of your heart, and if you'll let Him, He'll give you an extreme makeover—a brand-new interior design!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, April 13, 2015. A few years ago, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian released the Bible study True Woman 101: Divine Design. Groups in churches and homes began going through this study, and the leaders said, "This is helpful. Please come out with a next installment!"

Today we're excited to let you know that the follow-up is now available. You can get True Woman 201: Interior Design for yourself or a group. This study takes us through Titus chapter 2, which is packed with meaning for us as women. We're about to hear a conversation between Nancy and Mary about chapter 1 of this study—all about sound doctrine.

Nancy: Mary, I've never been through childbirth. You have three sons. I have no biological children, but I feel like we've just been through a different kind of childbirth with this book. In fact, I've come to call it "the eternal book" because we've been working on it for two years!

Mary Kassian: It's been way overdue! It's been like being pregnant for a long, long time! Two years.

Nancy: It's great to see this come to be and to look at what God has given birth to—the second in a two-part series on biblical womanhood. So 101 released a few years ago, and it starts with the Genesis record.

Mary: It talks about Genesis, Creation, the Fall, why we were created, how manhood and womanhood were destroyed by the Fall.

Nancy: That's our Divine Design (the subtitle of True Woman 101).

Mary: And then 201 talks about Interior Design. So we flip over to the New Testament, to the book of Titus, and it talks about how redeemed womanhood ought to look in the life of a believer.

Nancy: So let's turn to Titus 2. We're going to spend quite a bit of time camped in that passage. That's where we have this portrait of a counter-cultural woman, and a curriculum for training and developing women who look like Jesus, women who are godly, biblical women.

So let's start by reading the first paragraph of Titus chapter 2, and then we'll talk about a little of the context for this whole series. Why don't you read, beginning in verse 1. . .

Mary:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Nancy: Wow, that's kind of a mouthful. It's an apostle Paul sentence that goes on and on, and lots of phrases in there, but so much rich meat. I don't know about you, but for me, as I've been working on this study now for the past couple of years, it's really penetrated my own heart.

It's been like a mirror to show me things in my life that aren't like Jesus, things that God wants to mature and change, and areas where I need to be sanctified. So this is a journey we've been on together, through the elements you see in Titus 2 here.

Mary: It is a journey, and we've picked out ten elements that are evident in the passage that pertain to godly, biblical womanhood.

Nancy: And that concept of elements goes back to the idea of interior design. I'm not much of a designer at all.

Mary: Your house looks beautiful!

Nancy: I can't take any credit for that, though. I rely on people like you who are good at it. You know that when you're doing a design (like you came in and spruced up this set yesterday), there are certain elements that have to be part of every interior design.

Mary: There are elements that are common, even though we have different styles. And I think that pertains well to our theme of interior design and how the Lord changes us from the inside, out. And the elements that we see here in Titus may look different in different women's lives . . .

Nancy: . . . and in different seasons of our lives . . .

Mary: . . . and depending on your personality, may look a little bit different. Yet they are common to who we are as women and what God wants to do in our hearts from the inside, out.

Nancy: So we're going to unpack those elements over the next ten sessions. Why don't you just list off for us what they are, and we'll give a preview of what's to come.

Mary: We're going to start with:

  • discernment (that's the first one)
  • honor
  • affection
  • discipline
  • virtue
  • responsibility
  • benevolence
  • disposition
  • legacy
  • beauty

Each one of those little phrases that we read is just so packed with meaning.

As we studied this, we saw that we could almost do . . . well, we did! . . . a whole set of lessons on each one of those phrases.

Nancy: And they apply to women in every season of life, married, single, younger, older. There are going to be practical applications for all of us as we look as each of these ten elements. Before we jump into the first element of discernment, let's just step back for a moment and look at some context of the book of Titus.

Titus was a pastor on the island of Crete. He may have been led to the Lord by the apostle Paul. We don't know that for sure, but they were friends, they'd been coworkers in ministry. So Paul writes to this pastor and says, "There are some things that you need to know as a church, as a pastor, in how to address living in the culture in which you live." So, tell us a little bit about that background in Crete.

Mary: It's important to understand that because it helps us see that our culture has some of the very same pressures as this particular culture in Crete. Crete was an island, and it was a major trade route, so it was very metropolitan there. The Romans had gone in and built all sorts of colosseums and places for entertainment, for arts and culture.

Crete was renowned, a bustling place. There was a lot of ethnic diversity. There were some Jews living there, but it wasn't just Jewish; there were a lot of Greeks and Romans.

Nancy: It was also bustling with immorality, some unsavory things.

Mary: To "Cretanize" was proverbial in the ancient world for being dishonest. There was a lot of dishonesty; there were ethical problems—not just immorality, but ethical problems in the culture, in the community. A lot of people would fabricate stories just to get ahead, to get what they wanted.

Nancy: And then the backdrop of the whole culture—this is in the Roman empire. Nero is the emperor at the moment. The church is being persecuted. It's about to get worse, so Paul has this sense of urgency as he writes to these believers. There are pressures from without, and there are pressures from within because there are some false teachers who are twisting Scripture.

They are playing with people's minds and emotions and getting them to believe things that aren't true. Paul puts all this together and he says, "Look, how can the church survive in this era—much less thrive? And not only that, but how can the church be a light in a dark culture and in a dark world?"

I listen to this and I think, Could anything be more relevant for our era?

Mary: I think we have so many of the same pressures. We have pressures from without—the immorality, the questionable morals being pushed, the questionable teaching and ethics. There was false teaching that actually came from within the church.

Sadly, we see that also, that some of the teaching that is coming up through the church community is not always sound; it's not in line with sound doctrine.

Nancy: And we're going to talk about the importance of that today. We have the rising of persecution. There is a lot of that in other parts of the world, but some of that is starting to come to the West, to America, as well. We need to learn what it looks like to be God's people in that dark world, in that dark place and how to reflect the beauty of Christ, to take that gospel to a world that is not interested in Christ.

Paul says, "Here's how you do that in such a time as this." In the first chapter he says, "The church needs biblically qualified leaders: people who are examples to the flock; they know how to teach correct doctrine; they know how to correct false doctrine."

Then he comes to chapter 2, and he deals with the church body.

Mary: What's interesting in chapter 2 is that he doesn't just give these general instructions, that "here are some important things for all Christians." He breaks it down into specific groups. So, you have him speaking to women, and then you have him speaking to men, and then not just to women and to men, but to older women, younger women, older men, younger men.

And so he gives these instructions that are really sex-specific and also age-specific.

Nancy: And why do you think the sex-specific instructions—men and women?

Mary: That's an interesting question, because some of the issues that he covers in this text (for instance, purity, holiness, kindness, self-control), you're thinking, Men need that as well. But men and women are different, and I think that there's a difference in these lists because of the way that God created us as male and female.

So we have some particular tendencies when it comes to how we behave, or how we sin even (our sin-specific tendencies). Paul addresses this sex-specifically, and in addressing these things such as purity, he doesn't mean only women need to pure. Men need to be pure as well, but there's a particular emphasis and importance for women, and we're going to unpack that and talk about that through our series.

Nancy: Okay, let's jump into the first one—the element of discernment. Paul says to Timothy, "Teach what accords with sound doctrine" (v. 1) I think as soon as we hear that word, "doctrine," some women think, Boooring! I'm not interested in doctrine. Let's just love one another.

Mary: Some women want to turn and run the other way. They think of old stodgy professors with thick glasses, talking about things that aren't very relevant. But doctrine is so relevant!

Nancy: And it's transformational. It determines the way that we live. The way that we think determines the way that we live.

Mary: And whether you admit it or not, everybody has a doctrine. It may not be the doctrine that's according to the Word of God, but doctrine is simply what we believe—what we believe about life, what we believe about God and how we live that out.

So doctrine is incredibly important.

Nancy: So Paul doesn't just say, "Teach doctrine;" he says, "Teach sound doctrine." What does that mean?

Mary: That word "sound" is very meaningful, because it actually means "healthy." So something that's healthy, it's accurate; it's in line with the Word of God; it doesn't have impurities in it; it doesn't have germs or bugs that are going to make you unhealthy. It's going to be good for you, and it's going to be good for you according to what God says is good for you.

Nancy: And that is the plumb line. That's what helps us know, "Is this sound? Is this teaching I'm reading in this book I found in the Christian bookstore or on Amazon, or is this movie I'm watching that's supposed to be a Christian movie (there are a lot of those that have been coming out), or is this teaching I'm hearing by this person who is a famous speaker and does lots of conferences and gets tons of people in their crowds, is what they're saying "sound doctrine?" How do we know?

It's not, "What do I think," or what I hear on Revive Our Hearts.

Mary: Or how I feel about it . . .

Nancy: . . . or what has been passed down to me. It's, "Hold up this Book [Bible] and say, 'Does it line up with this? Is it plumb with this Word?'" And that's really critical to having discernment.

Mary: It is so critical, and that's what discernment is all about—going and evaluating what you are hearing and deciding, "Is this indeed in line with the Word of God?"

Nancy: And having discernment, biblical discernment that's based on the Word of God, doesn't just happen. We don't get it by having a stack of Christian books on our night stand or having lots of Bibles around our house. We have to be intentional about it. I love that verse in Hebrews 5 that talks about having our senses trained to discern right from wrong, good from evil.

It takes training; it takes practice. It takes intentionality. It takes being students of God's Word to say, "Does this line up with Scripture?"

Mary: I think it is something that we need to cultivate in our lives. It is so important for women to cultivate discernment in their lives because we're faced with so many different choices and so much different information, even regarding womanhood. We see it even in the church.

We have Choice A, Choice B, Choice C, and which is the one that lines up? Or if I'm facing a decision in my life: "Should I pursue higher education in this career, should I go for that career, should I marry this person?"—making those decisions. Even the small daily decisions: "How do I spend my time? Do I watch this? Do I invest in that?"

There are such a multitude of decisions for which we need discernment.

Nancy: And we're defining discernment as the ability to have right thinking. It's not just because I read this on some blog, it's not just because this person I follow has this way of thinking (including people who love and read our books, who go to our conferences). We're not the plumb line; we're not the standard. Everything we say needs to be evaluated: Does this line up with God's Word?

And if we don't have that kind of right thinking and discernment, we're going to be vulnerable to all kinds of winds of doctrine, foolish ways of thinking, foolish choices. We've both had people come to us whose lives are shipwrecked; they're chaotic; they're a mess. They have made foolish choice after foolish choice—maybe for generations now.

Now the unintended consequences have come home to roost, and they come to us, or to a counselor, or to a pastor and say, "Can you fix this?"

We're going, "Look, we can pray for you. We can love you. We can counsel you. There's help in God's Word." But how much better would it have been to have made those choices back decades ago based on God's Word rather than what you thought was right.

That verse in Proverbs 14 that says: "There's a way that seems right to a man . . ." It feels good. It makes sense. It sounds good. Everybody says it. ". . . but the ends there of are the ways of death" (v. 12).  And that's what happens: emotional death, spiritual death, and sometimes even physical death, when we don't have right thinking that's based on the Word of God.

Mary: And it's so sad to watch. You and I have both seen girlfriends making bad decisions, making poor decisions.

Nancy: We've done it ourselves!

Mary: We've done it ourselves. But to watch that process of one poor decision and another poor decision and another poor decision, and then going off-track and making decisions, really, that have such severe repercussions . . . for generations to come.

Nancy: So, the way that we think—our discernment, having right doctrine, sound doctrine at the root of our lives—determines the way that we live. The way that we live reveals what we really believe. I can say I believe in God's Word; it's inerrant; it's inspired; it's authoritative. But if my lifestyle is one of worry or lack of self-control or lack of purity or lack of submission, then I really don't believe what I say I believe.

The way I live, the way I respond to life's circumstances, the choices I make, reveal what I really think. That's why it is so important that we adjust our thinking and align it to be consistent with the Scripture.

Mary: And the Scripture is important to dictate our behavior, as well to align our thinking that way, and that filters out into behavior. Right thinking leads to right living. So if we're not thinking in the right way, we can usually see that that trickles down into poor decisions and into our living.

Our lifestyle choices aren't correct if we aren't thinking correctly.

Nancy: I've heard you teach quite a bit on a passage from 2 Timothy 3 that talks about women who are not discerning. Give us just a thumbnail sketch of what that kind of woman is, and how that lack of discernment impacts her life.

Mary: Well, the weak-willed woman (that's a whole mouthful, but that's actually the term that Scripture uses) . . . Scripture says we ought not to be weak-willed women; we ought to be women of discernment. Being weak-willed and always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (never able to discern truth) is a characteristic of a woman who lacks that strength of character (see vv.6–7).

Often the woman who is so enmeshed in sin and loaded down with sin isn't able to discern what God would have for her.

Nancy: And the picture there is that she's actually taken captive; taken captive by people who will prey on her, by wrong ways of thinking. She becomes a prisoner. She thinks she's free, because she can do what she wants, think how she wants, just live this free life. But she's really not free. She's really a slave, and that's where we end up if we don't have clear thinking, sound doctrine, biblical discernment.

Mary: Scripture says, "Enslaved to all sorts of passions and desires" that she does not control. They control her. And she's burdened with sin. She's "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth."

It's a sad indictment of what happens when we do not work at discernment and do not work at following the Word of God. This concerns me so much for women, because they may say, "Well, I'm a discerning woman; I go to church. I read my Bible."

But then, that woman may go and she may turn on the television and she may be watching something that's really unsound, when it comes to thinking and doctrine. I see women that always or often shrug that off and say, "That doesn't affect me. I'm strong enough. I know what is right; I know what's wrong. It's not going to have an impact on my life."

Nancy: "It's just entertainment."

Mary: I think often a lack of discernment stems from this pride in our lives, where we think we know enough and we're not going to be impacted by evil, and so we allow it into our lives. We allow wrong thoughts, wrong television shows or books that we read.

We allow those things into our lives and then, bit by bit, they impact our thinking.

Nancy: I don't know, in many cases, that we're really even thinking about what we're imbibing, what we're taking in.

Mary: Lack of thinking, right?

Nancy: It's in the air we breathe; it's in the culture around us. We just kind of take it in and go with the flow, and as a result, we're taking in things that are leading us to wrong and foolish ways of thinking.

Mary: And when we look at it, every failure in our lives, every sin in our lives, every moral failure, every time we have an attitude problem, it all stems back to wrong thinking.

Nancy: Which is why we need to say, "What is it that I'm not thinking right about?" We're wanting people to heal the surface issues of our lives, many times, but we're not willing to go back and do the hard work of going down to the foundations and asking, "What am I believing that has led to this? Why am I having to have a boyfriend all the time? Why am I having to fulfill these illicit passions? What am I seeking? What am I thinking that is leading me to this?"

We tend to just look at the surface and the symptoms.

Mary: Or, "Why am I losing my temper with my child all the time? Why am I angry? Why am I snippy with my husband constantly?" Taking a look at those. And it's not just the behavior. Usually, when we dig down there is some faulty thinking: an attitude of entitlement; an attitude of "I know better," perhaps pride, lack of humility. It's wrong thinking that leads to wrong behavior.

Nancy: That humility is so important in cultivating discernment—having a teachable spirit, being willing to put my thinking and my life under the microscope, and even to have other people . . . We've done this for each other at times. We've had some conversations this week where I've said to you, "This is something I struggle with in my responses, in my life," and you're speaking into that.

We're actually part of a group of women who do that for each other. Sometimes when one of us is just not thinking soundly (and the opposite of that is kind of insane), when we're not thinking right and our emotions are controlling our lives rather than the Word of God, we say to each other, "Have you thought about this?" or "Is your thinking wrong in this way?" But it takes humility to be willing to have someone in your face having those kinds of conversations with you.

Mary: Or just bringing up the Word of God. I find that when a sister challenges me with Scripture—or anyone for that matter (particularly someone who knows the stuff and the issues in my life)—and brings Scripture to bear on it, it makes such a difference.

Nancy: So in cultivating discernment for ourselves, and in helping one another cultivate discernment . . . because that's a project for us, as a body of believers. Women, we need each other. This is the older and the younger women that we're going to be looking at over these weeks in this study.

As we learn discernment for ourselves, as we as older women help younger women to have discernment, the starting place is, get into this Book.

Mary: The Word of God.

Nancy: Learn how to study it, read it, think about it. And I'll tell you what, if we're filling our minds and our hearts and our time with the world's entertainment and shows and books and movies (even things that there may not be something wrong with), but we don't have time for the Word of God . . . We've got time for Facebook, but don't have time for this Book.

And I've found this true in my life a lot of times, I'm going to start to think in the ways that everybody on Facebook is thinking, and the comparison and issues of just wrong thinking. But if I live in this Book . . . that's why I want to have a well-used Bible.

And it requires daily input, intake, by myself, in a local church, in the context of the community of believers. It takes really putting our roots down deep into the soil of God's Word, if we want to be discerning women.

Mary: Again, right thinking leads to right living. So if we want to be women who display the beauty of the gospel, who show what God's ways and God Word are all about, then we need to be women who are in the Word of God . . . and not just reading about the Word of God.

That's another thing that we do. And that's a good thing to do, to listen to programs about Scripture or to read books about Scripture, but we need to open this Book for ourselves, and to read it for ourselves, and to become familiar with it and have its root deep in our hearts.

I know that often I've come up to a decision that I'm facing, and the Lord will bring to mind a Scripture that I've read, or there will be a sense that, "This is a little bit off; this isn't quite right." Then time demonstrates down the road that, indeed, it was God's Holy Spirit that was moving in my heart and giving me the sense, through what I had read in Scripture, which direction to go or something to resist or some idea that perhaps was just a little bit off.

Nancy: Yes, right. Developing discernment.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been showing us how to build our lives on sound doctrine, and they'll be right back. They've been basing that conversation on Titus chapter 2, which also serves as a basis for the brand-new Bible study, True Woman 201: Interior Design.

You hear a lot of competing ideas, all the time! Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been showing you how to build your life on the truth. We all need to learn how to do that. The new Bible study by Nancy and Mary will help you understand the truth of Scripture and live it out in our day.

That new Bible study is called True Woman 201. We'd like to send you a copy this week when you give to make Revive Our Hearts possible. Just donate any amount by calling 1–800–569–5959, and we'll say "thanks" by sending the workbook, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

And while you're going through this helpful workbook, would you ask yourself, Who else would benefit from this?And then take a small group of women through this study so they can build their lives on solid truth as well. Today's conversation was recorded on video, and you can see it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

I hope you'll watch for yourself, and then again with your group, as you go through the study. In Titus, women are told to be reverent. Does that mean they always have to speak in hushed tones and never have fun? Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian will talk about that tomorrow when they discuss chapter 2 of True Woman 201. Now, they're back to wrap up today's Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: I think it would be great, Mary, as we start this series, and women are going to be journeying with us over these next weeks, for us to just pray and ask our listeners to join with us in praying that God will give us this heart of discernment.

And so, Lord, we thank You for Your Word. It is beautiful; it is good; it is true; it is powerful; it is right; it is transformational! Thank You for the gift that it is. And thank You that You loved us enough to give us this book of Titus and to speak these words of instruction and of exhortation into our lives.

And now, as two women who would call ourselves older women, we want to live out these principles, and we want to be helpful to younger women in knowing how to live them out. We want to model these things, we want to teach these things . . . and we still need to be taught.

So teach us and help us teach others. And, Lord, help us all to develop and cultivate discernment. Help us to have lives and minds and thinking and hearts that are rooted and grounded in Your precious and true Word. And then may our lives reflect the beauty and the wonder of what You have revealed to us through Your Word. We pray it in Jesus' name, amen.

Mary: Amen!

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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