Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Lies Women Believe About Themselves

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth identifies some of the lies we’re tempted to believe. Have you ever heard this one?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: “My self-worth revolves around my husband’s love and attention.”

Leslie: Or how about this?

Nancy: “My self-worth revolves around having children and being a mother.”

Leslie: Or this one . . .

Nancy: “I can’t be happy with unfulfilled longings. God is not enough!”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Wednesday, February 21, 2018.

Nancy: As you’ve been hearing, all this week here at Revive Our Hearts we’re celebrating the official release of the updated, expanded, unabridged (what other words can I put next to it?), spankin’ new version of Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

I was just saying to the women here in our recording session, the subtitle of this book is the most important part of it. We want you to know about the lies—just some of the lies—there are lots more lies we believe. We’ve selected forty-five of those lies to go in this book.

Then, what we really want to do is point women to this Book, God’s Word, that will show us the truth that sets us free. The lies put us in bondage. The challenges and issues and struggles in our lives invariably go back to some lie that we’ve been believing.

We have chapters in this book about lies women believe about God, about themselves, about sin, priorities, sexuality (a whole new chapter on sexuality), marriage, children, emotions, circumstances.

Approximately one-third of this book is entirely new content. So it’s like a new book within the old book, and the old book has been greatly edited, revised, and updated. So we’re encouraging you this week to request your copy of the brand-new Lies Women Believe when you make a gift of any amount to help the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

You can do that by going to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com; you can donate there. There will be an opportunity to request a copy of the book as our way of saying “thank you” for your gift.

You can call us if you’re in a hurry. Call us at 1–800–569–5959. You can call that number and let them know that you want to make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, and then you’ll have an opportunity to request a copy of the brand-new Lies Women Believe.

It’s been so encouraging to me, over the last seventeen years since the original book came out, to read hundreds of stories of women whose lives have been impacted by it, and they’ve written to tell us about it.

One woman said,

I was first introduced to this book years ago while going through a very rough patch in my marriage. It showed me that if I wanted a Christ-centered marriage, I needed to be in a right relationship with Him first. In order to do that, I had to discover what I truly believed about God and not just what I said I believed.

There can be a big difference! What we say we believe about God isn’t necessarily what we really believe about God, and we need to examine that. She said,

You combat the lies we believe with the truth of God’s Word in such a straightforward and loving way.

The Lord has redeemed my marriage and is at the center of it. My husband and I will be celebrating twenty-three years of marriage next month. I am currently going through this book again with a woman I’m discipling.

And that’s, by the way, why we’re offering a study guide to go with this book, so you can go through it with somebody else and soak in it more deeply. There are questions to discuss—ways to take the truth deeper.

She said, “Thank you for writing this book which I will be referencing again and again.” I hope that will be true of many women who get this new Lies Women Believe.

This next testimony was sent to me by a pastor who at the time lived in Holland, Michigan—where some of you women are from. He shared this from a woman in his area. She wrote,

One day I was sitting in a restaurant drinking coffee and reading Lies Women Believe.

I was so deeply moved, I was shaking. I knew it was decision time. I quickly picked up my book, paid my bill, and headed for home. I called my pastor’s wife and asked her to pray with me to become a Christian!

It is so great to be free, to know that I’m forgiven. No more beating myself up over all the past pain in my life and trying to find a way to forgive myself and move on. Jesus did the forgiving for me! It feels so good to be able to say that and finally believe it!  

Lies women believe, and the truth that sets them free!

Another woman said,

I am so thankful for the chapter on “Lies Women Believe About Sin.” For many years I have had guilt. God has finally gotten through to me that Jesus paid what I owed, by His death, and that by my acceptance of His sacrifice in my place, I am free of the guilt!

There’s somebody in this room today who needs to hear that testimony. There’s somebody watching on the livestream today, somebody listening to this broadcast, who needs to hear this testimony.

It’s finally going to get through to you today that Jesus paid what you owed by His death. And by your acceptance of His sacrifice in your place, you can be free of all that guilt! This woman said,

Praise God! He is so good, so loving, so merciful, so longsuffering! He has finally gotten this wonderful truth into my heart.

And then I think of my sweet friend, Jackie Hill Perry. Some of you are familiar with her., She’s a Christian poet, writer, speaker. She’s written a book sharing her story that will be out later this year.

 She wrote to me recently and she said,

Coming out of the lesbian lifestyle, I had no idea what it meant to be a woman made in God’s image, let alone a woman made for God’s glory.

I was introduced to Lies Women Believe my first year in Christ and that book was used by God to anchor me in what He had to say about Himself in the Scriptures and also in how it related to how I should see myself. Over time, I was able to find joy in God and in who He had made me to be as a woman.

I love that!

That story could be told so many more times. That story can be told today—and in the days ahead—as women get into this resource that points them to the Word of God so they can find joy in God and joy in who He has made them (you!) to be as a woman.

Well, speaking about joy in God and who He made you to be, recently I’ve been reading—as I shared with you a day or so ago—in the book of Genesis. There’s a powerful story there that one of our producers pointed out to me as he apparently started through Genesis recently again, too. We were reading in about the same place.

It’s a story about two sisters who struggled to find joy in God and who He made them to be. It’s described in Genesis chapter 29, so let me encourage you, if you have your Bible, to turn there or scroll there. If you’re listening to this broadcast or watching the livestream, see if you can get hold of a Bible or your phone and get to Genesis chapter 29.

And I want to point first verse 17 of Genesis 29 that describes these two women from the perspective of their physical appearance. It says that, “Leah [who we find was the older of these two sisters] had weak eyes.”

I’m not sure exactly what that means. If you look at other translations, you still won’t be sure exactly what that means—but there was something about her that was not all that attractive to look at, and it had to do with her eyes. “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel [the younger sister] had a lovely figure and was beautiful” (Gen. 29:17 NIV).

Now, why in the world did God put that detail in His Holy Scripture? Because it matters! It’s an important part of this story. This is how these women saw themselves, and it’s how others saw them. It turned out to be an important part of the unfolding of God’s story in their lives.

Now, the girls’ father was a man named Laban. Laban’s nephew was a man named Jacob who was the son of Isaac—and if you can’t put all that together, that’s alright. But Jacob—here’s what you need to know—was head over heels in love with the younger of these two girls, with Rachel—the beautiful one.

So Jacob negotiated with Rachel’s father, Laban, and agreed to work for him for seven years in order to win his daughter’s hand in marriage. And then, finally—all these years, he’s laboring—the Scripture says the seven years seemed to fly by, because he was so much in love with this woman!

Finally comes this long-awaited wedding night, and lo and behold, Laban, the girls’ dad, pulls a fast one! Rather than giving Rachel to Jacob, as he had promised, he gives Jacob the plain, older sister!

So verse 25 of Genesis chapter 29 says, “And . . . in the morning, behold, it was Leah.” Oh, no! I mean, he doesn’t discover this until morning. I know it’s kind of hard to imagine, but take the Scripture’s word for it.

Laban pulls this trick. Jacob thinks he’s marrying Rachel, the beautiful younger sister, and instead he wakes up in the morning and discovers that he is now the husband of this older plain—maybe ugly (I don’t know)—sister. She wasn’t beautiful like her sister Rachel.

So when Jacob confronts his father-in-law, Laban says, “Oops, sorry. It’s not our custom to marry off the younger daughter before the older, but you can have Rachel to be your wife too, if you’ll commit to work for me for another seven years” (see vv 26–28). So, that’s exactly what happened!

So now we have these two sisters, Leah and Rachel: one is plain, physically speaking, the other is beautiful and desirable. Both end up married to Jacob, who is a schemer and a deceiver, much like their dad. And you see that throughout this text.                                                                                  

Then, verse 30 of chapter 29 says that, “[Jacob] loved . . . Rachel more than Leah.” I studied that word “loved” there as it’s used in the original language. It means that he had an affection for Rachel, he desired her, he treated her like a lover and a friend.

Jacob was partial toward Rachel—that’s the girl he loved in the first place. Now he’s married to both these women, but Scripture says he loved Rachel more than Leah. Now look, on the other hand, at the next verse, verse 31: “The Lord saw that Leah was hate.” That’s a word used in the Hebrew language of an enemy!

So Rachel, the favored wife, is loved. She’s the friend; she’s the one who has Jacob’s affection. But here’s the older sister, the other wife Leah, who is hated. She’s an enemy! Jacob has no affection for her.

There’s no secret about this. Rachel is the beautiful sister. She’s desired, and she’s loved by her husband, but Leah—the less attractive sister—is treated like an enemy by her husband. And the drama and the dysfunction that flowed out of all this were huge!

Now I want to read, for the next few moments here, a lengthy passage beginning in Genesis chapter 29, verse 31. I’m not going to do a lot of commenting on it as I read it. I just want you to see how this story unfolds and see the craziness that comes out of what’s already crazy in this story.

As you’re listening to this passage, I want you to be thinking: What were some of the lies that these two sisters believed? We’ll talk about them in just a few moments.

[So] when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me” (Gen. 29:31–33).

Names in the Scripture had meanings that people were thinking of when they named their children. So all these children these women are going to have before this story’s over, they all have names that mean something, that tell something about the lies these women believed. So Leah has a son named Reuben. She names him, “Now my husband will love me.”

She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi.

And she conceived again [a fourth time] and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” [She basically gave up!] Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing (vv. 33–35).

So here’s Leah, the unloved, plain wife. She gives Jacob four sons.

Now, chapter 30 of Genesis, verse 1:

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister.

If you could just put these women in modern-day circumstances, you can see all of what’s going on here.

Chapter 30, verses 1-2:

[Rachel] said to Jacob, “[This is your fault!] Give me children, or I[‘m gonna] die!”  Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel. [That’s sometimes what happens to men when we make demands on them they cannot possibly fulfill.] . . . he says, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” [“This is not my fault! God’s done this to us!”]

Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her” (vv. 1–3).

This is not something we do today—not something we should do today, for sure. But it was something that was done back in that culture. It wasn’t God’s way, but it was a way.

This is what Rachel says, “Here’s my servant. Go, be intimate with her, and she’ll bear a son”—like a surrogate mother, here—“on my behalf.”

So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.

Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” [Now, she didn’t really prevail; she hadn’t had a son yet—but she had through her servant.] So she called his name Naphtali.

When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children [she already had four, but she wasn’t having anymore], she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Then Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son (vv. 4–9).

In my family, when my mother tells convoluted stories like this, we call it a “hairdresser story,” (laughter) because it’s something that they heard at the hairdresser: “So-and-so’s brother’s mother’s uncle this or that . . .” This is a hairdresser story! Except it’s really true and God has it in here for a reason.

Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son and Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. [How do you keep all this straight?] And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.

In the days of wheat harvest Reuben [that’s the first-born son] went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, [there’s still striving, wrestling, going on between these sisters—these two wives] ”Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.”

But [Leah said to Rachel], “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?” (vv. 10–11, 14–15).

So you thought these women were content because they got all this settled, praise the Lord!

No, they’re not praising the Lord. They’re still wrestling this out, duking this out.

“Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “[If you’ll give me some of those] then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son's mandrakes.”

When Jacob came from the field in the evening [He had no idea all this had been going on all day; I bet he couldn’t wait to get home!], Leah went out to meet him and said, ”You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes.” [This is really great love, here!] So he lay with her that night.” And God listened to Leah . . . (vv. 15–17).

Isn’t this amazing? Even when we’re so messed up, so confused, so disoriented, so dysfunctional, so valuing the wrong thing, so striving over things that we don’t need to strive over, God hears our voice when we turn to Him! That’s grace!

“God listened to Leah and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar (v. 17).

A lot of bad theology here! And that’s one of the things we’re trying to correct in this book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. We believe a lot of things about God and our circumstances that aren’t true, and then we tell them to others like they are true! And they aren’t true.

Leah conceived again . . . she bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me [it’s what she’s wanting all along], because I have borne him six sons. So she called his name Zebulun. Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah (vv. 19–21).

So now there’s a total of six sons and a daughter that Leah has borne to Jacob (if I counted correctly) plus two by her servant and two by Rachel’s servant, but Rachel is still barren.

Then God remembered Rachel . . .

Now, God had never forgotten Rachel—but God finally says, “It’s time to do something about what these women have been striving about for all these years.”   

. . . and God listened to her and [God] opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And she called his name Joseph, saying [Do you think she’s content? She names him Joseph, saying], “May the Lord add to me another son!” (v. 22).

[Rachel:] “It’s not enough! What I have is not enough! God has just blessed me after all these years with a son . . . but I want another one!” And you see so much of a mirror, of many of the struggles we have as women, in this story.

It’s so complex, such emotional and relational struggle! The lies these women believed illustrate the lies many women believe. There’s Leah who believed that, “My self-worth revolves around my husband’s love and attention. And if I don’t get it from him, then I’m worthless.”

Then there’s Rachel, who believed, “My self-worth revolves around having children and being a mother. And if I don’t get that, then I’m worthless.” They both believed, “I can’t be happy with unfulfilled longings. God is not enough!”

And they both believed, “It’s okay to circumvent God’s plan and come up with my own,” as they gave their maids to Jacob as wives for the production of more offspring. It reminds you of the thing with Sarai and Hagar—Abraham’s wife and Hagar, her maid.

Well, in chapter 31 Jacob takes his four wives, his now eleven sons and daughter, and determines to leave Laban, whom he has now served for twenty years. He determines to return to the land from where he had fled years earlier, the land that God promised to give to the descendants of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac.

As this family leaves Laban’s territory, Rachel secretly steals her father, Laban’s, household idols, which reveals another lie. She’s believing, it seems, “I need false gods in my life; they will help me in some way.” We don’t know what she was thinking or why she did this, but apparently she felt a need for these household idols.

She was willing to sin, to steal, to lie in order to get them and keep them. Which leads me as I read this story to wonder, What are the false gods we cling to, thinking they will somehow do something for us?

Accounts like this in the Scripture are meant to help us see ourselves, to see our own hearts, and to show us the emptiness and the futility of looking to or leaning on anyone or anything in this world as the basis for our sense of our value, our security, or our well-being.

These passages help us to see what we’re believing that’s not true and to press us to the truth that will set us free.

One woman wrote and said to me,

Some girlfriends and I are reading through Lies Women Believe. The one lie we’ve all succumbed to is, “God isn’t really enough.” We’re all single women who long to be married, and we tend to think that God isn’t enough until we have a husband, or until we have that job, or until our health is perfect. [Or until what? You fill in the blanks.] This thinking has left us unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and just plain-old exhausted!

And I wonder if you may be just plain-old exhausted today—unsatisfied, unfulfilled, contending. Maybe you’re feeling this way with another woman—competing, comparing, discontented—because God isn’t enough for you. It’s a lie you’ve believed.

Ultimately, these stories—and others in Scripture—are intended to point us to Christ whose love and acceptance alone can make us secure and satisfy our deepest needs and longings.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, identifying some of the lies we’re tempted to believe about ourselves. She’ll be right back.

Nancy writes in-depth about today’s topic in the book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. This book has sold a million copies and has affected countless lives. But this is an updated and expanded version of the book.

Nancy revised and added about 30 percent new content, to reflect where we are in our world today. We’d like to send you this new version of Lies Women Believe when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

Call 1–800–569–5959 to donate, and ask for Lies Women Believe, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Nancy will tell us about lies women believe about circumstances, and of course, the truth about circumstances as well. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. Here’s Nancy to end our time in prayer.

Nancy: Oh Father, how I thank You for the power of the truth to set us free, and the power of Your Word, that points us to the lies we believe and the truth that can set us free.

I thank You for how You’ve used this very human, frail, imperfect resource—the Lies Women Believe book—over all these years to point women to Jesus and help them find freedom in Him.

I thank You now for this new updated, expanded version. It’s been a big project, it’s been a lot of work, but I’m so thrilled to think of how You want to use it in the days, the months, the years ahead to find “Leahs” and “Rachels”—women who are plain, women who are beautiful; women are who loved, women who are spurned; women who have children, women who don’t have children; women who feel the need for some idols in their lives; all of us at different places in our lives.

Would You find us, meet us, encounter us, point us to the truth that can set us free? And so, Lord, today we dedicate—we consecrate—this book to You for Your kingdom purposes. We pray that You will use it so that Your kingdom will come in many hearts and lives in the days ahead, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you to know the truth about yourself. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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