Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Fruit appears when trees receive nutrients and grow. It comes from the inside out. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Trying to do good things apart from a true relationship with God is like gluing fruit onto a dead tree.

It’s Thursday, March 15th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

When you discover a new beauty tip, you like to share it don’t you? After today’s program, you’ll want to send a friend the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com because we’re about to hear how to cultivate beauty that won’t ever fade with age. Here’s Nancy in a series based on Proverbs 31 called The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you ever wonder what the virtuous woman looked like? Do you have a picture of her in your mind? I think if we think about it, we all probably have this image of a woman who is physically beautiful, and she may have been. But you know what? We don’t know.

In fact, we’re really talking here about not necessarily one particular woman, but a woman who personifies and embodies the combination of traits and character qualities of what it means to be a woman who walks with God.

I think that’s why there’s nothing in Proverbs 31 that tells us what this woman looks like. There’s nothing that describes her physical characteristics. We don’t know if she’s tall or short. We don’t know if she’s narrow or wide. We don’t know what she looked like. What she’s known for is an inner beauty that the world can’t give you, that you can’t picture on the front of a magazine.

So in all of this passage, Proverbs 31, that we’ve been studying over the past weeks, her physical appearance, the appearance of this virtuous woman, is never mentioned. Her attractiveness and her beauty come completely from her heart and her character.

So we come to verse 30 today, which does talk about the matter of beauty. But it doesn’t talk about it in the way that the world talks about beauty. Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceitful.”

I looked at that word deceitful this morning in one of my reference books, and some of the synonyms are: it’s a sham; it’s fraud; it’s worthless; it’s misleading. Charm by itself without godly character is a sham. It’s a fraud. It’s just a front. It’s a cover-up.

It reminds me of that verse in Proverbs that says, “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who is without discretion” (Proverbs 11:22). She’s a sham. She’s got physical charm, outward form of beauty, but it’s a fraud. It’s not the real thing.

Because she’s got the outward beauty, it’s like putting a piece of jewelry on a pig’s snout. It’s still a pig! And no matter what you do to a woman who’s outwardly beautiful, if inside she’s got the heart of a pig, then she’s not truly beautiful.

“Charm is deceitful,” the passage says, “and beauty is passing” (speaking of that external beauty). It doesn’t last. And if you’re over 40, you know that for sure.

I try in the morning, but by this time of the day I’m feeling disheveled. It passes. It doesn’t even last if you can get it first thing in the morning. You can’t make it last all day. I mean no matter how much hairspray and makeup, it passes. And it certainly passes with the passing of years. That’s outward beauty, external beauty.

“But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” There’s a contrast there. Do you see it? Charm, outward form, outward beauty. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but . . .” That’s the contrast. “But a woman who fears the Lord.”

That says to me that you can be a woman who has a reverential relationship with God and not necessarily have external beauty. So given the choice, which matters more to you? You say, “I want them both.” Well that’s what the world tells us. But you know, if you put the focus on getting the external beauty, you’re putting your investment in something that can’t last and something that in and of itself is not particularly meaningful.

Now God made beauty. There’s nothing sinful about being beautiful. And there’s nothing sinful as a woman about dressing yourself in a way that will be attractive to your husband. But keep in mind, if that’s where you keep your focus, you’re investing in something that doesn’t last.

And no matter how well you succeed at this external beauty thing, if you haven’t been working at the heart—the attitudes, the spirit, the character—you’re a loser. A woman who fears the Lord—now that woman, she has something that’s lasting, something that’s true, something that’s of great value. It won’t pass away.

I think this verse, the second part of this verse, is the key to this whole chapter. “A woman who fears the Lord.”

Do you remember, by the way, where the book of Proverbs began? We’re in the last chapter of Proverbs, chapter 31, but do you remember what Proverbs 1:7 tells us? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It’s the starting place.

Proverbs is the book about wisdom—how to live life wisely, how to look at all of life from God’s perspective, how to deal with every practical aspect of life in a wise way. Where does it start? With the fear of the Lord.

You want to know how to raise your children? You want to know how to love that difficult husband? You want to know how to order your priorities? Proverbs talks about them all. But where does it all start? With the fear of the Lord.

If you are not a woman who fears the Lord, then ultimately your efforts to be a godly woman are going to be like someone who takes a stick, puts it in the ground, and then takes fruit—say peaches—and sticks those peaches on that tree and says, “There. I have a peach tree.” You don’t have a peach tree. You have a stick in the ground with some peaches on it.

And some of us as Christian women are kind of like that stick in the ground with just some Christian behaviors stuck on. You see, if you don’t have a relationship with God that is a truly spiritual, vital, growing relationship; if your roots aren’t in your relationship with God and you don’t have the love of God and the reverence of God coursing through your veins, then the fruit that comes out is not going to be spiritual fruit.

Once you develop the fear of the Lord in your life, you’ll find it’s not so hard to bear fruit. It comes—well, I don’t want to say naturally; it comes supernaturally. The fruit will be there if you’re taking care of the roots in your relationship with God. Here’s a woman who fears the Lord.

Now does that mean she’s afraid of God? Well, in a sense we should be afraid of God. And some day on Revive Our Hearts I’d love to do a whole series on what it means to fear the Lord. But we know that according to the Proverbs, to fear the Lord means to have a reverential trust in God, to reverence God, not to take His name in vain, not to take Him lightly, but to have this reverence, this awe of God.

And with that comes a hatred of evil. A reverential trust with a hatred of evil. To love God is to hate all that God hates. So that’s what we mean by a woman who fears the Lord. This is a woman who lives in the constant, conscious awareness of God’s presence. She lives every moment of her life, every aspect of her life, with the consciousness that God is here, that the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good.

I think about how many things in my life would be different if I lived all the time in the fear of the Lord, the consciousness of His presence—how many things I wouldn’t say, places I wouldn’t go, things I wouldn’t do, things I wouldn’t eat if I were living and eating and walking and living in the conscious awareness of God’s presence.

If you want to become this woman of virtue, develop a sense of the fear of the Lord. Now you can’t develop that apart from spending time with God in His Word. His Word will help you to develop that reverence for Him, that awe for Him, that trust in Him and that hatred of evil. And then everything about your life will be ordered around that consciousness of God’s presence.

Physical charm, physical beauty—those things are an illusion. They’re fleeting. They’re momentary. They can lure, but they can’t last. The thing that lasts is a relationship with God. That’s got to be the number one focus and priority of your life and mine if we’re going to be the women that God made us to be.

Leslie Basham: Outward beauty always fades, no matter what the commercials say. But when you develop inward beauty, it will always last. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining that from Proverbs 31, and she’ll be right back with more teaching.

Imagine going up to a beauty counter in the mall. You expect to get a few makeup tips and then buy a lot of new products. Imagine that after getting the advice the worker gives you the product at no charge.

If you’ve never contacted ReviveOurHearts.com, that scenario is kind of like today’s program. You’ve gotten solid advice on developing true beauty. Now we want to give you a book that will help you grow deeper on the topic.

The book is called Becoming God's True Woman. Nancy wrote some chapters along with friends like Mary Kassian and Dorothy Patterson. Carolyn Mahaney has a very helpful chapter on developing true beauty. Reading this book is a great next step in applying what you heard today.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Charm is deceitful and beauty, [physical, outward beauty] is passing. [It doesn’t last.] But a woman who fears the Lord, [a godly woman] she shall be praised.”

The Scripture is saying here that this is a woman’s true beauty—to be godly. That’s what gives her life value and worth, and that’s what makes her attractive to God and to the right kinds of people. So the point here is let virtue be your primary objective, not physical beauty.

And that picks up on a theme that we read about in 1 Peter chapter 3 beginning in verse 3 where Peter says, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.” Peter says. “They trusted in God and accepted the authority of their husbands” (1 Peter 3:3–6, New Living).

Now, some of those verses kind of stick like a bone in your throat in today’s culture. But if we want to experience the joy and the fullness and the peace and the reward that God has made available for us as women, then we’re only going to find it by walking through life as women of God, women who have the scriptural, spiritual kind of true beauty.

And what is that beauty? It’s defined in this passage as a woman who has a gentle spirit, a quiet spirit, a woman who is holy, a woman who trusts God, and a woman who accepts the authority of her husband.

You say, “That would be miserable to live that way!” Well, I’ll tell you who’s really miserable. It’s the women that I hear from day after day after day who for years have done it the world’s way. They’ve had it their way. They’ve resisted God’s authority. They’ve resisted their husband’s authority. Now they’re divorced, maybe multiple times.

There are some in this room who have been through that hard pathway. I know you would say, “It’s not worth it to do it the world’s way.” Some of you have learned through hard, hard lessons, which you wish that younger women today could learn without having to go through the path that some of you have been.

You would say to younger women, “Fear the Lord. Do it His way. Yes it’s hard, but the rewards are great.”

Now there’s a passage in the Old Testament (Isaiah 3) that gives us a contrast, a different kind of woman. It’s a picture of women who focuses on external beauty rather than on the fear of the Lord. And I just want to read this passage to give us a contrast. We’ve seen the picture of the woman who fears the Lord and how she’s truly beautiful.

But in Isaiah chapter 3 beginning in verse 16, the Lord says, “The women of Zion are haughty” (NIV). They’re proud; they’re arrogant. That’s their heart attitude. Remember that invariably whatever is in your heart is what is going to come out in your external behavior and appearance. We’re going to deal with people outwardly. We’re going to look outwardly in ways that reflect our internal heart.

The woman who fears the Lord has a certain kind of demeanor and beauty about her. But this is now talking about a different kind of woman, women with haughty hearts. And the Scripture says, “They walk along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion. The Lord will make their scalps bald” (verses 16-17). 

What is he saying? Beauty of that external, worldly type is fading. It doesn’t last. And the Lord can take it away as quickly as you got it.

Verse 18, “In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.”

Does that sound kind of modern? Now it’s not saying that those things are wrong, but it’s talking about women who have the kind of heart that is preoccupied with the external. And the Scripture says if that’s your focus, that’s coming out of a haughty heart rather than a heart that fears the Lord, you are going to be a loser. God is going to snatch it away. It’s not going to last.

Verse 24 (I’m still in Isaiah 3), this is a very graphic passage. “Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.”

Now, I don’t think that’s talking about just the physical. I don’t think it’s saying that all ungodly women will one day go bald. That’s not the point. The point is if you have focused on the external and your external is influenced by a haughty or a proud heart, then one day all the things you thought were so beautiful and precious and worthwhile are going to be taken away from you. You’re going to have nothing to show for a lifetime of effort.

God will take it away, and in exchange you will be one of these women that I see so often today, women who look so hard. They look so worn. I’m thinking of women my age, mid-forties, who look like they’re in their fifties and sixties.

There’s nothing wrong with looking sixty-some or eighty when you’re sixty or seventy or eighty. But some women today just look worn, used, spent. The lines, the hardness in their eyes, the misery in their hearts—it’s a testimony that this passage is true.

Now I know that in the immediate context God is talking about the nation of Israel. And He goes on to say in Isaiah 3:25, “Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle.” And don’t we see today where we have men not being men, not being the warriors, the leaders that we need them to be?

Verse 26, “The gates of Zion will lament and mourn; destitute she will sit on the ground.”

So in the context here, it’s a picture of what’s going to happen to the nation of Israel. But isn’t it interesting that God chose women to personify the nation? I believe that women even more than men picture and reflect the spirit and the heart of a nation.

I hear so many women express to me what a concern and a frustration it is to them that men won’t be leaders. Men won’t be spiritual. Men won’t be men. And I’m not saying that these are not valid concerns. We ought to make this a matter of prayer rather than of criticism.

But I want to say that our nation is more reflected by the spirit and the attitudes and the values of women than it is by men. When a nation loses women who have domestic virtues and heart and a heart for the things that matter and a heart for the eternal, the men and the children lose that same heart.

And the worldliness and the secularism and the immorality that we’re seeing is so descriptive of our nation and so pervasive in this nation. I think they are a reflection of women who don’t fear the Lord.

Now I don’t mean to put all that responsibility on women. And men have to give account to the Lord for their own choices and for their own values. But, women, we do have a lot of responsibility and a lot for which we will answer to God.

In the very next chapter in the book of Isaiah we see God’s solution, God’s plan, and how He wants to deal with the sinfulness of a nation and the sinfulness of its women. In Isaiah 4 we read about God purifying and cleansing the women of Zion.

Verse 4: “The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion.” Aren’t you glad for mercy? Don’t you thank God that there’s grace through the blood of Jesus Christ? There’s cleansing. There’s forgiveness.

“The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the blood stains from Jerusalem by spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire” (NIV). 

Listen, women, revival is costly. Cleansing can be painful. It means repenting of our haughty, selfish ways and coming back to a humble heart that fears the Lord.

But then verse 5: “The Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night.”

What’s the smoke and what’s the fire? The Old Testament—it’s the presence of God. You want the presence of God over your home? You want the presence of God over your church? Some of you are so burdened for your homes, your churches, your communities as we ought to be. But how do we get that? By the women being willing to be cleansed and purified.

“Over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and a shade from the heat of the day and a refuge and a hiding place from the storm and the rain” (Isaiah 4:4–6, NIV).

Oh, women, as we’re willing to walk in the fear of the Lord, to be cleansed from our guilt, from our filth by the fire of God’s presence, then He will send to our homes, to our churches, to our communities and to this nation a new sense of His presence, His protection, and His glory.

Leslie Basham: Everything in life flows out of our relationship with God. Ultimately that’s what Proverbs 31 teaches women. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray.

When you hear helpful teaching like Nancy’s study of Proverbs 31, it’s easy to say, “Yes, I’m ready to live all of life for God’s glory.” Then the next morning comes. You’re tired. You’re busy. You’re bombarded by advertisements that tell you the exact opposite of what you’ve heard today.

That’s why I hope you’ll order the audio of Nancy’s teaching on Proverbs 31. The series is called The Counter-Cultural Woman. When you’re tempted to forget how important it is to serve others and focus on God, listening to Nancy will help you remember. There’s so much rich material in this series. You’ll get something new every time you review it.

Order The Counter-Cultural Woman as a ten CD set or order one MP3 CD with files ready to zip over to your iPod. To order call 1-800-569-5959, or order online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll hear about some women who have powerfully displayed Proverbs 31-type qualities. We’re giving listeners a chance to honor godly women in their lives, and you’ll be touched and inspired by these stories. Now let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, we confess that as women we have sinned against You by not fearing and reverencing You as we ought. And it’s hard for us to admit, but our sins, yes our sins, our haughty hearts and our unsanctified ways have had damaging influences in our homes and in our relationships, in our workplaces, in our communities and in our churches.

And so Lord we cry out to You and pray that You would cleanse away our filth, that You would wash our blood stains in the blood of Jesus Christ, that You would have mercy upon us, and that You would restore the fire and the cloud of Your presence over our hearts, over our homes, and over all of our relationships that Your glory may be seen as we are women who fear You. For Jesus’ sake I pray it, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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