Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 31

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says your lifestyle shows what you believe.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: People shouldn’t have a hard time looking at us and knowing whether or not we’re Christians. It should be really obvious. Now, they might not love it. They might not respect it. But they should see it. And when they see it, it’s not our beauty. It’s not our purity. It’s the goodness and the lovingkindness of God they see.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Monday, March 20, 2017.

Happy first day of spring! After the winter, we’re hoping beautiful things will blossom and bloom in gardens everywhere. And we’re also hoping the same thing will happen in our hearts.

Nancy’s been in the series, “God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5.” In this passage, we read about a radical word, and Nancy will tell us what it is.

Nancy: Let’s pray together as we start today’s session.

Lord, how we thank You for the beauty and the wonder and the power of Your Word, and for the joy of soaking in it and studying it and meditating on it. And as we’re in this very precious passage that speaks to women of all eras, all generations, all cultures, I pray that You’d open our eyes, our ears, our hearts to receive what You have for us today.

Give us a love, a heart, a passion for purity. May we be pure, holy as You are holy. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Now, as we’re looking at Titus 2, I want to keep stepping back a little bit so we don’t miss the forest for the trees because we’re spending a lot of time on each of these individual words. So let me read the passage, Titus 2, parts of verses 3–5. And I want to just give us, again, a brief overview before we step into this one little word we’re going to focus on today.

Titus 2, beginning in verse 3:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior. They’re not to be 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.

Everything we’ve just read there, and much of what you read in the New Testament is so incredibly counter-cultural to the way the world thinks, the way the world lives. This is a swimming-upstream lifestyle. If you promote and proclaim and live this kind of life, you’re probably not going to be elected to anything today. You’re not necessarily going to be popular because you’re going against the stream of what the world considers the right way.

So we read in other parts of Titus about the opposite kind of lifestyle, about how people use their tongues to destroy and to defile, about how there’s insubordination, how there’s false doctrine. People are not self-controlled. And, as Paul said in chapter 1, the Cretans, one of their own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” to which Paul said simply, “This testimony is true” (vv. 12–13).

This is the way people lived. There’s no self-control. It’s just the opposite of what we just read about in this paragraph. So into this culture, into this world that is bent on living a way that is not God’s way, Paul calls believers, and believing women in particular here, to live lifestyles that radically are different than the lifestyle of the world.

No, it’s not politically correct. No, it’s not comfortable. No, it doesn’t fit our culture. But it didn’t fit the culture in Paul’s era either. These are qualities that are to characterize Christian women, and they stand in stark contrast to what is characteristics of the unbelieving world.

So we’re looking today at this word: pure. “Older women teach the young women to be pure.” That is not in. That is not popular. Who wants to be pure today? People aren’t looking for books on that.

Just think of the news you’ve seen in the past twenty-four or forty-eight hours. Think about how women conduct themselves, how women dress, how women act with men. Think about the immorality, the sensuality, the sexuality, the perversion in so many ways. And you’re going, “Women, be pure? That sounds so outdated, outmoded.”

As I’ve been doing interviews recently for this Adorned book, a number of interviewers of other programs have interviewed me about the book. One question has come up a number of times with different interviewers. They’ve pointed out how out-of-step with the world these qualities are, and they say something like:

  • Do you expect people to buy this today?
  • Doesn’t this seem odd?
  • Doesn’t this seem strange today?

And the answer is, “Of course it does.” It does today, and it did in Paul’s world. And we’ll see that in just a moment.

As I think about this matter of purity, I’m reminded of an email I got last week from an older woman who was expressing her deep frustration. She’d heard me talk about this on one of these interviews, and she sent an email to say she’s got three grown children, and their mates have all rejected the lifestyle that Paul’s talking about here.

So here’s a Christian woman, a Christian mom. She said, “I was raised in a different era. I was taught differently. But now these grown kids and their families, they see it totally differently.”

They’re disdainful of her and of anyone who believes this way. Purity? They scoff at that. And as a result, this woman is heartbroken because she says her children will not allow her to have any contact with her grandchildren because they don’t want her to infect them with this way of thinking.

So this is hard stuff. Here are family relationships being broken because one woman, an older woman says, “I’ve got to do it God’s way.”

But as you’re listening to this series, I hope you’ll be hearing some things that will help give you some handles on how we can pass to the next generation a love for truth, a love for purity, a love for these truths that are so counter-cultural.

One of the things I love about this passage is that it was written to believers who lived in a culture that was, in many respects, just like ours. In fact, in some ways, it was worse because they didn’t have the restraining influence of the Christian ethic that at least in times past we’ve had in our culture.

So you look at the description of the first-century world, it was anything but pure. He says in chapter 1, verse 15, he describes these people as “defiled and unbelieving.” He says “their minds and their consciences are defiled.”

Verse 16: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

In chapter 3, verse 3, he says, they are “slaves to various passions and pleasures.” They are addicted to sex. They’re sexually immoral, out-of-bounds, not staying within the bounds of God’s good gift of sex.

So Paul understood this. He lived in a world where this was rampant, and it’s no less true today. In our era, we are bombarded with impurity, language, images, humor, commercials, movies, music, award ceremonies, and so much that is lewd, coarse, and profane. We see perversion of every kind being celebrated. So many of our leaders in various fields, role models, heroes, cultural icons flaunt exactly the opposite of that which is pure.

In the context of a culture where the most base, fleshly instincts were unrestrained and where promiscuity was mainstream, Paul says, lest we should become Pharisaical or judgmental of those who live in this kind of lifestyle,

We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, but, [I love this verse] when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us (Titus 3:3–4).

He washed us. He transformed us. That’s the power of the gospel. It’s beautiful. It adorns. The goodness of God, the loving kindness of God our Savior, when it appeared, we couldn’t be the same people we used to be. I want to tell you, when that goodness and that loving kindness of God our Savior appears to the people in your world, in my world, through us, it will save many of them. It will wash them. It will change their lives.

That’s why it’s so important that those of us who call ourselves Christians, who truly have been regenerated by the power of Christ, who have been set free from our sin, why it’s so important that those of us who have been rescued from that life, that we should be different. That’s why it’s so wrong for us to fit into the mold of the world when we’ve been saved from that. We’ve been rescued from that.

The difference should be obvious to everyone. People shouldn’t have a hard time looking at us and knowing whether or not we’re Christians. It should be really obvious. Now, they might not love it. They might not respect it. But they should see it. And when they see it, it’s not our beauty. It’s not our purity. It’s the goodness and the loving kindness of God our Savior.

So this unbelieving world in which we live is characterized by impurity, the opposite of what we’re going to talk about today and in the next session. Followers of Christ are supposed to be pure.

Titus 2:14:

Christ 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.

Chapter 1, verses 6 and 7, Paul says believers are to be “above reproach.”

I was reading the book of Daniel this past week, and the people hated Daniel. They wanted to get rid of him. They didn’t like his influence. They couldn’t find anything to throw at him. No ammunition, except as it related to his prayer life, and that’s because he prayed too much. What a testimony—above reproach.

Titus chapter 2, verse 12: We are to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.”

The grace of God does that in us.

So in a raunch culture, with girls gone wild, Christian women—that’s us—we’re to stand out by being pure. This is our calling. This is our joy. And far from being restrictive, this is a way that brings true satisfaction, pleasure, and freedom.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to talk about what it means to be pure. What does it look like for us in 2017?

But let me step in and let you know how you can learn more about the beauty of purity. Nancy writes about it in her new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. This book will walk you through Titus 2:1–5, just like this teaching series.

We want to send you a copy of Adorned, and we’ll get yours in the mail when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. The number is 1–800–569–5959. You can also visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Let’s get back to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and the way purity puts the beauty of the gospel on display.

Nancy: Now, you know that there are two aspects of purity in our lives as Christians.

First of all, there’s that positional purity. That’s what took place in our lives at the moment we were born again. We were regenerated. We were declared righteous and pure positionally by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ—justification. That’s our initial salvation. God sees us, not as we were, but now as being in Christ. We have been saved. And that positional purity is true of every believer.

That’s why throughout the New Testament they are called saints. It’s not because they always act saintly. It’s because they have been made, declared righteous by God through what Jesus Christ has done in taking our place and our death for our sin—declared righteous, pure before God. We are positionally pure.

But then there is practical purity. This is what theologians more often call sanctification. This doesn’t just happen once for all. It’s a lifetime process of becoming practically pure, of living out that which God has already declared positionally to be true of us.

This is the part, the practical purity, is the part that requires training. “Older women train younger women to be pure.”

You can’t train someone to become a Christian. That happens by the grace of God through faith. It’s a work that God does in our hearts, drawing us to Himself, and He saves us. Not by works that we have done—works of righteousness. You can’t make someone else a Christian. God’s Spirit does that within us. He declares us to be just and righteous before Him because of Jesus Christ.

But older women can disciple younger women, and we can disciple one another in the process of becoming personally pure, practically pure, being sanctified.

Now, I want us to look at an Old Testament passage that I think is a wonderful picture of practical purity. You find it in the book of Psalms. Psalm 101 is a psalm of David, and in my Bible it’s titled: I Will Walk with Integrity. He says:

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless.

Now, as I read through this psalm, just pick up the words that describe a heart that is pure, or a heart that is blameless. There are a number of different synonyms used.

“I will ponder.” I will mediate on it. I will dwell on the way that is blameless.

Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. [Or some of your translations say, “anything that is wicked or vile.” I will not set before my eyes any of that.]

I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

Now, as you read this passage, we need to remind ourselves that David had the best of intentions when he made this his prayer to the Lord. This reflected his heart for most of his life, but at various points throughout the course of David’s life, he made a number of incremental compromises and did not always live up to the commitment to have a pure heart that he expresses in this passage. He did not always live up to the standard that he established for himself.

And that just says to us that to be pure requires constant vigilance. You can never let down your guard. I don’t care how old you are, how mature you are in Christ, how long you’ve walked with the Lord—you never get to the point where you don’t need the grace of God to protect and safeguard your heart and keep you from sin. If you think you’ve come to the place where you’re past any kind of sin, then you have made yourself vulnerable to that and other types of sins.

But as we read this, it is an expression of David’s heart that did characterize most of his life. And it raises some questions that help us make this personal.

As you read this passage, have you set your heart to be blameless, to be above reproach, to live a life that is spotless, immaculate through and through, to be pure in your heart, your walk and your talk?

Are you determined, have you set your heart, have you resolved to be pure, not only in public, but also in private? “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.”

Anybody can be spiritual sitting in this room today where we’re recording Revive Our Hearts. And nobody is probably going to shriek or yell or cuss or act real selfish. Now, you may have thoughts that way, but you’re probably not going to express them. The real test of your purity is not what you do sitting in this room.

The test of your purity is who you are when you get home and how you treat your children, and how you treat your husband, and how you treat your parents and your roommate and people that you work with, and a boss that doesn’t always treat you like you’d like to be treated, and how you treat the people that work for you. Integrity of heart in the most intimate and private settings.

Does impurity bother you? Does it disturb you? That’s something I see in David here. He’s troubled; he’s disturbed when he sees impurity. Does it bother you when you see it in others, when you see it in our culture, when I read that list I did at the beginning of this session about the raunch culture that we live in? Or have you just gotten used to it? You’ve watched so much of the raunch on TV that it doesn’t even shake you up anymore.

This acceptance, this accommodation to evil—or have you said, “No, there’s a zero tolerance level in my life for sin”? That’s what David’s heart is here.

It’s not just does it bother you when you see it in others and in the culture, but maybe more importantly, does it bother you when you see it in yourself? And do you see it in yourself?

  • Do you have eyes that are wide open to everyone else’s sin, but too proud to see the defects in your own life?
  • Are you able to be entertained by that which is unholy, to laugh at it, to enjoy it?
  • What kind of tolerance level do you have for things that are impure?
  • Do you tolerate a little bit of it?
  • What kind of people do you gravitate toward?

We see David in this psalm saying, “I’m drawn to people who have pure hearts. That’s who I want to be around.” Are you drawn to people whose hearts are pure? Or are you drawn to those whose conversation and their lifestyle are coarse or off-color or perverse?

And, again, equally important, what kind of people gravitate towards you? Do coarse and perverse people feel comfortable telling their stories around you? And if so, you might want to ask, “Why?”

Now, I’m not saying that our lives should make ungodly people feel uncomfortable in the sense that they feel like we’re judging them or condemning them or criticizing them. We need to have hearts that are filled with compassion and mercy towards sinners. But do people sense that you’re comfortable with impurity?

Now, let me say that the goal in all of this—the goal of integrity and being blameless and being pure of heart—is not to make us look good. That’s self-righteousness. The goal is to make God look good. It’s to glorify God by reflecting the purity of Christ to our world.

It says in Hebrews 7:26, that Jesus is such a “priest, holy, innocent, and undefiled.”

When we are pure as He is pure, we reflect Christ, and we glorify God in our world. People who are pure, women who have pure hearts have an impact on a dark and unholy world. The impact of their lives is to expose the darkness and to draw others to the light of Christ.

I think of that passage in Philippians 2 that says, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning.” Why? “So that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world” (vv. 14–15).

“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine; let it shine; let it shine.”

Now, what’s the light? Is it my holiness? No! It’s the purity of Christ, the goodness of Christ who is holy and innocent and undefiled.

And let me say, there would be a specific impact the Scripture promises that will take place on husbands when their wives have pure lives.

First Peter 3 talks about how husbands who are unbelievers or are not walking with God “may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives—when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (vv. 1–2).

By the way, I came across yesterday a meaning in a Greek dictionary of that word "pure" that I have never noticed before. This dictionary said that word habnos originally meant “what awakens awe”—a-w-e—awe. I thought of 1 Peter 3 when I read that. This is what awakens awe in an unbelieving husband—when he sees a wife having pure behavior, attitudes, mindsets. Submissiveness is a part of that, and we’ll come to that later in this series.

And Christians being pure as Christ is pure will awaken awe in our dark world. The light will go on. Let there be light! What is the light? It’s the light of Christ living His pure and holy life through us.

And then the ultimate goal is that we would be a pure Bride for Christ. Christ loved the Church. "He gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:26–27).

His goal is to present the Church to Himself as a holy, pure Bride. That’s why we want to be pure. It’s not just our witness in the world, but our love for Christ, that we would be His pure Bride.

And as we are sanctified, as we are becoming pure, as older women are training younger women to be pure, the day will come—and here’s what we have to look forward to—when we will join that great multitude in heaven, according to Revelation 19, verse 6—that “great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.'”

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been offering a call to holiness.

Does your life reflect beauty to a needy world? Nancy wants to continually help you grow in displaying the beauty of the gospel. So she’s eager to get you a copy of her brand new book.

Nancy: This book Adorned that we’ve been talking about over these weeks, it goes deeper into all of the things we’re talking about in this series. There’s a chapter, in fact, on each of the themes, each of the words and phrases in these three verses in Titus. And this book provides an opportunity for you to soak in God’s words and in God’s ways.

Listen, we spend so much time soaking in the world’s thinking and in its ways. We’re bombarded with that. That’s why I think it’s helpful to have a resource like this that we can spend time in, we can soak in.

We can meditate on these passages until they become more of a way of life in us and to encourage us to think through how we can influence the women around us to love and to choose God’s way.

We’re making this book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, available for your gift when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you contact us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

And when you give a gift to support this ministry, you’re helping to get this message out to women around the world who need to know the goodness and the loving kindness of God our Savior.

Be sure and let us know when you make your gift that you’d like to have a copy of Adorned, and we’ll be glad to send that to you.

Leslie: Do small choices matter? Tomorrow, Nancy will show you that if you want to be living a life of purity, you need to pay attention to small choices. Join her next time for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to love holiness. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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