Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Reflecting the Beauty of Christ

Leslie Basham: Mary Kassian was talking to her son about physical attractiveness. He said as he got to know young women throughout the conversation . . .

Mary Kassian: . . . "some of them all of a sudden become much more attractive and some of the ones who may have been good looking become less attractive. And so by the time I leave, I have a way different evaluation of which women are the beautiful ones."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, April 24, 2015.

For the last couple of weeks, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been showing us ten elements of biblical womanhood from the book of Titus. They've written about these elements in their new workbook, True Woman 201: Interior Design. If you've missed any of the discussion, you can hear it or watch the videos at www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today they wrap up this series by looking at the beauty of Christ.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, for those who have been listening to this conversation we've been having, Mary, by the radio or podcast, they need to know we've also been doing a video shoot at the same time. And nobody can imagine, except us, all that we've been through to pull together this shoot. It's been days here of wardrobe issues, challenges, matching our clothes (we have very different styles), hair, and makeup and the set and . . .

Mary: I've brought mostly red clothes; you've brought mostly pink, so trying to put those two together.

Nancy: That did not work very well. So I'm saying: The next series we do should be called "Authentic Womanhood." We have no makeup. We wear the same outfit the whole time. What do you think?

Mary: Drink hot chocolate in front of the fireplace.

Nancy: Yes, right.

Mary: In house robes or something?

Nancy: Right, right, right.

Mary: We'll get just as many complaints, I'm sure.

Nancy: Probably. But it is amazing how we all want to be beautiful and the lengths that we will go to in order to make ourselves presentable, and we've experienced a little bit of that over these last days.

Mary: I think that God has wired us as women to have a desire for beauty. And that's not a bad thing. It perhaps can be misguided when it's all put on, external beauty.

Nancy: Sure.

Mary: But I think that part of our wiring is to love beauty.

Nancy: As we come to the end of this series, that's a really important word, because we want to see that the true woman displays the attractiveness of the gospel. In fact, Titus says, "She adorns the gospel."

We've been looking at this passage in Titus 2, and it gives us three "so that" clauses in these instructions to men and women and different demographics in the church. After talking about older women training younger women, it says, "So that the Word of God may not be reviled" (v. 5).

And then it says in verse 8, "So that an opponent may be put to shame having nothing evil to say about us."

And then in verse 10 I love, "So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." And that's the point.

Mary: That is the point: how we do life, how we do life day today, how we do life as a woman adorns the gospel of Jesus Christ

Nancy: It can make it beautiful.

Mary: It makes it beautiful, or it makes it ugly.

Nancy: Right.

Mary: It shows it to be unattractive.

Nancy: I mean, the gospel is beautiful.

Mary: Christ is beautiful.

Nancy: Christ is beautiful, but we affect how others view Christ and the gospel.

As we've looked at these different elements that we find in Titus 2, we've explored them, we've studied them, we've put them under the microscope, I think it's important to say at the close here that when you let the Grand Designer, God Himself, into your life, let Him have His way and begin to shape and reshape, that what He does, the work He does, first of all, it's functional.

It works. Life works better when you let it work according to the way it was designed to work. But it doesn't just work better.

Mary: No. It's also beautiful. I think that's something both you and I have come to appreciate over the years. I know that as a young believer, younger believer, as a younger woman, I always thought God's Word was right. I had a sense that it was true and that God was God and that I wasn't God. So I had a basic respect for God's Word.

But I know when I bumped up against passages like this about womanhood, I just had this sense, this emotional response to it that, "Yes, I'll do it. God's way is right." But it took many years before I actually came to really an appreciation of saying, "It's not only good and right. It's also beautiful."

Nancy: Yes, it is. I've been on much the same journey myself. Some of these passages, especially about womanhood that rub the culture the wrong way, they rub our own flesh the wrong way.

Mary: I've been rubbed the wrong way by some of these passages . . .

Nancy: . . . as we've worked through them. And yet, when you see how they bring freedom, how they bring blessing, how this is for our protection, you begin to see these ways of God really are beautiful. They're good. They're beautiful. As we embrace them, our lives become beautiful and become a beautiful reflection of God whose beauty we've been embracing.

Mary: And we adorn the gospel. That's an amazing phrase. I love that phrase. And there's another phrase here in this passage that kind of hints at that a little bit. In the last session we talked about older women teaching the younger women, to teach them good things. And actually, the word in there is good and beautiful things. There's an aspect of attractiveness about what we are transmitting to the next generation. So the idea of beauty is contained in there as well.

Nancy: So I think our presentation as older women . . . we talked about legacy in the last session. We want to be presenting to these younger women a vision of biblical womanhood that is winsome; it is compelling.

Sometimes I think they've rejected something that they've never seen how beautiful it really is.

Mary: Exactly. They've just rejected it because of this emotional response of really how we've been conditioned to think by culture that a woman who is amenable, a woman who has a soft disposition, that that's an ugly thing, or that's a weak woman. That's how we've been trained to think as women in this culture. But that's not truth according to God's Word.

Nancy: So the Scripture says that as we behold Christ in His beauty, we take on His likeness. We are transformed into that same image. We are changed from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3 says.

Then our lives reflect to those around us—to our families, in the work place, in the church—the beauty and the wonder of who Christ is, and they say, "I want to know Him! I want to be more like Him!"

Then together we will become this beautiful Bride for Christ.

Mary: Whose Bride we are.

Nancy: And speaking of beauty, there's a beautiful image in the Old Testament, Psalm 144. Let's talk about that for a moment. Psalm 144, verse 12, says:

May our sons and their youth be like plants full grown and our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace.

Now in first reading that seems a little strange. Why are sons supposed to be like plants? And why are daughters supposed to be like pillars for a palace?

Mary: It does seem a little strange, doesn't it? But the Word of God likens sons as being strong and growing and growing strong, but this image for women, for the daughters, is fascinating.

I don't know if you've ever been to Greece, but when I went to Greece, there's this porch that has been preserved from ancient Greece. The pillars of the porch are figures of women, marble cut, beautiful women dressed in these lovely flowing garments, and their hair braided, and on their heads there sits the top of the porch. So the weight of the porch is actually supported on their heads.

This is the kind of image I believe that David is referring to. This was popular at that time, and may our daughters grow up to be like that.

So that is a powerful image because this is not only an image of beauty, but it's also an image of strength. It's a foundational image. When women are living according to God's design, when we get this, and when we begin living it out in our lives, it's foundational. It's foundational for the structure of the home, and it's foundational for society. And not only do we beautify things as women, but we also give it strength and structure in terms of the family structure and the way God has designed things to be.

Nancy: Yes. There's a sense of stability that women can give to a culture, to their home, to their community by being women of God, by living out their God-created design.

We see the culture falling apart. We see so much brokenness and dysfunction. And we can just wring our hands in despair and say, "Oh, the country is going to "Hell in a hand basket" (is that the phrase)?

Mary: Yes. That is the phrase.

Nancy: Or we can say, "God, would You send a revival among women that would beautify our environment but would also create a sense of structure and foundation and support and stability." One godly woman in a home can be that pillar.

Mary: Yes. Exactly. It can make a difference.

I want to read this quote by the nineteenth century British pastor, John Angell James, and here's a portion of it. It's so powerful:

Every woman by her virtue or her vice, by her folly or her wisdom, by her levity or her dignity is adding something to our national elevation or degradation. A community is not likely to be overthrown where woman fulfills her mission, for by the power of her noble heart over the hearts of others, she will raise that community from its ruins and restore it again to prosperity and joy.

Nancy: That is an incredible thought!

Mary: Yes, that women who are living according to God's design.

Nancy: Well, it's the power of women who are and the power of women who aren't living according to God's design.

Mary: Yes, that's true. One way or the other, women are such powerful influencers, such powerful influencers. And, again, we return to that whole image of beauty. Are we making the gospel beautiful? Are we adorning the doctrine? Are we making it attractive to the outside world? Or are we not?

Nancy: And I've heard people say things like, "If I were going to decide whether or not to be a Christian by looking at that person who calls himself a Christian, I wouldn't be interested." And it makes me wonder: Do our lives create hunger and thirst among those who don't know Christ?

And among the next generation, to say, "I want that Christ."

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: We have so many statistics now about young people who are growing up in our Christian homes and churches, and then they're leaving the faith. I'm saying, "Have they not seen this compelling vision of beauty in God's people?"

Mary: I think of a woman who brought her husband to church . . . actually, it was at a baptism in my church a few weeks ago. A man got up and said that his wife had come to the Lord before he had, and that it was just the transformation in her life—and she didn't say a thing to him—but it was just the change, the radical change in her life that really drew him to Christ. It was the beauty that he saw coming to the surface as she began to be transformed into the image of Jesus that drew him to Christ.

So we see it in the negative way, but we also see it in the positive way where, when we shine that light of Christ and when we work out these ten elements in our lives, that it is attractive. And more and more, I think, as we see more family breakdown, more breakdown, more confusion in terms of gender and identity, more people wrestling with these things, more pornography, more evil all around us. The more we see that, the more, I think, that Christ's light will shine through us as we do life according to His design.

Nancy: And this is really where we started at in Titus 2. Paul is saying that in this context of this fallen culture in which they lived, Nero's Roman Empire, the persecution against believers, the rampant, flagrant immorality, the false doctrine, the false teaching, many false religions that were much more prominent than Christianity at the time. Paul was saying, "How do you survive?"

Mary: And thrive?

Nancy: "And thrive in this kind of world, and how do we draw people to Christ?" And what he comes back to again and again is that our lives, whether men or women, young or old, are supposed to look radically different than the rest of the world.

And if we're just fitting in, assimilating into the culture, just being, talking and acting and thinking and being like everyone else, the world's not interested in that kind of Christianity.

Mary: No.

Nancy: And that's when Paul says in Titus 2, that the Word of God will actually be—the word in our translation is reviled, but it's a word that means to be blasphemed. People will actually reject Christ and Christianity if they see us professing something that we don't live out.

I've got to stop and think, Is the way I just talked to that person, my attitude in this situation, the way I'm acting here, and us as Christian women as a whole, are we adorning the gospel of Christ? Are we causing other people to see what you often say, the jaw-dropping beauty of Christ? Or are we causing people to say, "No way am I interested in that. If that's Christianity, I'm not interested"?

Mary: I love this quote, too, that you pulled out by the nineteenth century German philosopher:

"Show me your redeemed life, and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer."

Nancy: Great quote! "Show me your redeemed life." Don't just tell me what you think, what you say you believe. Show it to me, and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer. That's what we want—people to believe in Christ.

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: Now, as we think about this whole thing of beauty, we're talking about beautifying the gospel, about being a radiant Bride of Christ for the world to be drawn to Him. But I think there's also this issue of, as women, this craving for beauty, this longing for beauty. There's kind of a push/pull because we say, "Cultivate the inner beauty that Peter talks about in 1 Peter chapter 3, a gentle and quiet spirit, but what about the external?" Is it wrong that we've spent time for this video series working on our hair. I've spent more time fixing my hair this week than . . .

Mary: Not clashing

Nancy: Help us think through this. Does outer beauty, external beauty, is it meaningless? Does it matter at all? Is it okay to think about it? How should we think about it?

Mary: Well, I always think that what we see in the physical realm points us to the spiritual realm. Scripture draws these parallels, and it talks in metaphors often.

So when it talks about being pure, it's talking about a bride keeping her dress pure. So that's something that in the natural realm a bride does. She's fussy about her dress. She wants to keep it spotless. She wants to look beautiful. She wants to present herself to her groom looking just as great as she can. And the Bible doesn't condemn that.

But it calls us higher than that. It calls us to the reality to which that physical reality points, to which that earthly temporary reality points. And that is to the Bride of Christ, and keeping ourselves spiritually pure and spotless so that we may be beautiful for our Savior.

So I think that when we get caught up on focusing on our earthly beauty, our focus is really in the wrong place. There's nothing wrong with dressing nicely or wanting to be neat about our appearance or be beautiful, but we can get all tied up in that and forget about the reality to which it points, and spend all our time on this type of beauty and neglect spending time on the other type of beauty.

Nancy: There's that interesting verse in Proverbs 11. It's very picturesque. It says, "Like a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman (a woman who's externally beautiful) but she has no discretion (v. 22 paraphrased).

And you have this picture of a pig. You can put beautiful jewelry on that pig and designer clothes and handbags and hats on that pig.

Mary: Externally, it can have everything it needs.

Nancy: But it's ludicrous because it's got the nature of a pig, and the first opportunity you give it, it's going back in the mud. And the writer of the proverbs is saying that, the wisdom here is, if you make everything beautiful on the outside but inside you've got the heart of a pig, it's foolish.

Mary: It is foolish.

Nancy: It doesn't make any sense. I think there's such a fixation and obsession today that the media, entertainment, the culture promotes for us just to . . . We as women, we're hard on women about physical beauty, I think.

Mary: We are.

Nancy: Especially for a lot of younger women today, this feeling that, "I can't compare."

Mary: "I don't measure up."

Nancy: "I've got to measure up."

Mary: I want to tell you just a quick story about that, just an illustration with regards to my own family. I raised three sons, and one time my son and I were talking. I was asking him about how he evaluated femininity and beauty and what he found attractive. Some of his friends were there, and we were discussing this in the kitchen.

And he said something very interesting. He said, "You know, I go into a room, and I glance around. My eyes pick up, it registers in my brain which women in the room are physically attractive. I don't even think about it. It just happens."

"But then," he said, "I spend some time in that room and those women begin to open their mouths, and they begin to speak. They begin to interact with one another, and based on that, some of them all of a sudden become much more attractive and some of the ones who may have been good looking become less attractive. And so by the time I leave, I have a way different evaluation of which women are the beautiful ones."

Nancy: Was he single when he said that to you?

Mary: Yes. Oh, yes.

Nancy: Now he's married.

Mary: Yes, he's married, and he found a beautiful one.

Nancy: Inside and out?

Mary: Inside and out.

Nancy: But I think anybody who . . . As you think about it, if what draws you, attracts you to a person for marriage, if it's supremely or primarily the external beauty, there are so many things that can change that.

Mary: That's right.

Nancy: A disfiguring accident can change it. If that doesn't happen, time, for sure, changes it.

And if that was the supreme attraction, and then you get into marriage and find that you're married to a shrew . . .

Mary: All of a sudden it's not very beautiful anymore.

Nancy: Right, that's right. And that's why I love seeing some of these older women who don't have star-type, celebrity-type beauty, but they're beautiful women. There's a spirit that is . . . they're joyful women. They're women of faith. They're lovers.

Mary: They're women who display these ten elements that we've been discussing over this whole series.

Nancy: Yes, right.

Mary: These ten elements of discernment and purity. Those things are beautiful.

Nancy: And Peter says it's an imperishable beauty.

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: That outward, physical, temporal beauty is fading. It doesn't last. And all you have to do, as you get older you realize . . . just look in the mirror. Those things change. But this beauty, the inner beauty of a gentle and a quiet spirit is imperishable.

In fact, Proverbs says that it grows greater and greater till the dawning of that day. There's an increasing beauty. Our outer person is decaying. These bodies are decaying. But the inner man, the inner woman, if it's the Spirit of Christ, is being renewed day by day. And that's why we don't need to fear the loss of physical beauty with aging if we've been growing in that beauty that's eternal.

Mary: Yes. And the Lord wants us to cultivate that and really to have our focus there, not on the physical beauty, but on the spiritual beauty, on the imperishable beauty. And I love that word, imperishable. It just never expires. No expiration date. It's just forever and ever.

Nancy: Right. It gets better and better.

Mary: Yes, it gets better and better.

Nancy: So as we think about these ten elements that we've looked at, I want to just walk through those real briefly, refresh our memories as to what they are, and then just remind each other that these things are not only true and right, but that they are good and beautiful.

So we started out with discernment.

Mary: Discernment—learning how to think correctly in every aspect according to sound doctrine and talked about that right thinking leads to right living. And oh how we need discernment in our culture. We have all these messages that are pushed in, these messages that tell us who we are and how we ought to behave a women.

And we need to be women of the Word, women of discernment, who use God's Word as the plumb line in our lives.

Nancy: And that discernment is a good and beautiful thing.

Mary: It is beautiful.

Nancy: It may not be in style in the world, but it is good and it is beautiful.

And then we talked about honor or reverence.

Mary: That word reverence just holds so much meaning and really is the lynch pin, the pivot point of a lot of these things. What we think of Christ . . . if we make much of Christ, less of ourselves, and more of Christ we are going to live in a way that is beautiful. We are going to treat people well. We are going to speak well. We are going to have a lot of things fall into place in our lives simply when we have that awareness that Jesus is always there.

Nancy: And that reverence for Christ is a good and a beautiful thing.

We talked about family affection—loving husbands, loving children, especially your own—and esteeming God's family plan. And that's a good and a beautiful thing.

Mary: Yes, and a thing that's just as important for singles as for marrieds.

Nancy: Then the area of discipline. That was a hard one for me.

Mary: It was for me as well.

Nancy: Self-control.

Mary: Making those wise choices, those intentional choices, and being self-controlled and how that brings joy and that also . . .

Nancy: . . . is a good and beautiful thing. And then there was virtue, purity.

You don't hear that word virtue very often, maybe we need to hear it more.

Mary: And our world says that virtue is not that attractive.

Nancy: The world despises virtue. But those who despise virtue often are the ones who end up with the heartache and the pain, unattended consequences. So we need to remind each other that virtue is a good and a beautiful thing.

We also talked about responsibility.

Mary: Work priorities—deciding what sort of work takes emphasis at this age in my life, this stage in my life where I am, whether I have family, children, husband, how do I decide? And also, the priority of the home—just how important it is, and how we can use our home as a ministry base to teach others about our home, our heavenly Father's home, and what it means to be part of the family of God.

Nancy: And that's a good and beautiful thing.

And then we looked at benevolence or kindness, being kind, being charitable toward others. It's obvious that is a good and beautiful thing. It's in short supply. We need lots more of it.

Mary: We hardly need to say that. Everyone yearns for that.

But disposition, that's another one where the world gives us a lot of push back, where the Word of God tells us that a soft and amenable, submissive spirit in a woman is a womanly thing, and it's a good and beautiful thing.

Nancy: And then we talked in the last session about legacy, spiritually mothering younger women, teaching those who are coming up behind us. That is a good and beautiful thing.

It is so needed, not just to take in these things that we've been talking about and becoming a beautiful woman ourselves, but to become interested in helping that next generation follow in those steps.

There's a beautiful passage. I keep using that word beautiful—it's a beautiful word—but in Revelation chapter 19, and I think this is just a great way to end this study. Here you have the vision of what's going on in heaven and the great consummation of all things. Scripture begins with a wedding in a garden.

Mary: And that's how it ends, too.

Nancy: Yes. It ends with a wedding in a garden. In Revelation 19, we get just a glimpse of that beginning in verse 6. Let me just read that, and then I want us to pray for those who have been joining us in this study. This is the apostle John speaking:

"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a 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"—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints (vv. 6–8).

As I read that, Mary, I'm spellbound by that vision of what is yet to come.

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: The consummation of all of God's great redemptive plan and the part that we as women can have in shining a spotlight on that story, on the Bride part of that story, and saying there is something far better yet to come, and our lives can create hunger and thirst and credibility for that great story.

Mary: And adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Nancy: Oh Lord, how we pray that that might be so. Thank You for the beauty of Your ways, for the beauty of Christ, for the beauty of the gospel. And, Lord, make it real in us. Make it real through us. And as we behold Your beauty, behold Your glory, may we be transfigured into that same image, and then may others see and say, "I want to know that Savior." And may our lives create a hunger and an anticipation for that wedding yet to come. May we as Your women be a picture of the beauty of that Bride, and may all of it point to Jesus, our great, amazing, incredible Bridegroom. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Mary: Amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have been reviewing some of what we've heard over the last ten programs, and they'll be right back.

They write about all these topics in their brand new Bible study, True Woman 201: Interior Design.

For the last couple of weeks, we've told you we'd send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Well, today's the final day we'll be making that offer, so let us hear from you at 1–800–569–5959 and say you'd like the workbook, or visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

And there at the website, you can hear any of the programs you missed in the series or see the full discussions on video. Again, it's at www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

So, do you ever feel like you're not very good at serving other women? Well, on Monday Nancy will show you how you can work through your weaknesses to invest in others. Now here's Nancy with a final thought.

Nancy: Well, we've come to the end of this series on the ten elements of true womanhood. The Titus curriculum outlines the things that make women truly beautiful. A woman who cultivates the elements of godly womanhood adorns the gospel. Her life makes the story believable.

Mary, it's been a joy for us to do this series together.

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: To do the study, the work, the preparation, the writing, and now this radio and video series, and our prayer is that, as you've walked through this passage with us, you've fallen more in love with Jesus, more in love with His picture, His portrait of biblical womanhood, and that you will not only take it in, but that you'll live it out and be involved with us in passing on that baton of faith and beautiful biblical womanhood to the next generation and all for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Thanks so much for being a part of this study with us.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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