Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: How can we know what’s really true? Mary Kassian says the answer to that question needs to involve the Word of God.

Mary Kassian: Does it line up with the Bible? If it contradicts what’s in the Bible, then it’s not true. Whenever you hear something—even it’s from a voice that you’re familiar with and a voice that you’ve heard before or a voice that is recognized in the Christian community—you have a responsibility to take that to the Word of God and to see if it lines up.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for August 9, 2019. 

Dannah Gresh: Nancy, what rich conversation we have had these last few days on Revive Our Hearts! I don’t even think that we should introduce our guest as a guest anymore. She’s been with us so long, and she’s so familiar to everyone. Mary Kassian, we are blessed. 

I’m changed. I’m feeling convicted. I’m feeling excited. I’m feeling equipped as we’ve looked at these seven habits of a spiritually strong woman.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: And, Mary, you’ve encouraged us in the process of also convicting us. What I love about these habits we’re talking about us is they’re foundational. They’re a way of life, and they’re things that we need to keep going back to and keep taking fresh stock of and assessing: “How am I doing in these areas?” They make such a difference!

You call them surprisingly simple habits of a spiritually strong woman. You want us to be the right kind of strong, and you’ve written this book to encourage that, and we’re just touching on the surface of some of these things. 

You’re getting the conversation going and getting us in the habit of reviewing, “How am I doing in these areas?” Because if we’re not making progress in these areas, we’re going to be backsliding.

Mary: We all want to be strong women. I want to be a strong woman, and I know that you are strong women, the right kind of strong. It doesn’t come easily. It comes by doing small things consistently over a long period of time.

Nancy: That is so good!

Dannah: It is a decision we decide, and if we don’t decide to do those small things, we slide back into something that’s not fruitful, that’s not authentic, that’s not real, that’s wimpy and weak, right? 

Mary: Yes.

Nancy: I think so many of the struggles that we face in our spiritual lives, in our relationships, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our churches, are because we’re letting these areas slide. We’re like these women that Paul talked about in 2 Timothy chapter 3. Let’s just go back to that passage, because you’ve made it come so alive! You’ve unpacked a lot of this for us.

He talks about avoiding people who lead us in the wrong direction.

Dannah: Every time you have read that on the program I’ve thought, Lord, don’t ever let me be one of those women.

Nancy: One of those weak women, spiritually. 

Dannah: Don’t let me be one of those weak women or one of those weak women who appears strong and has all kinds of ideas that lead people astray.

Nancy: Help us to know which kind of people and influences we need to avoid so that we don’t become spiritually weak women. So Paul says among these that we should avoid are those who, “creep into households [you’ve expanded on that word “creep.” We’ll come back to it in a second] and [they] capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:6–7).

So we looked first in this series at the importance of Catching the Creeps. That may be a person, but it may be a way of thinking or an ideology, a philosophy . . .

Mary: . . . an attitude . . .

Nancy: . . . that’s creeping in and doing damage. 

Dannah: Spending your time unwisely. All those little things. . .

Nancy: . . . that add up to big things.

Dannah: One day I found a snake under my living room sofa.

Mary: Oooh!

Nancy: Now, what made you think of that?

Dannah: Because it creeps. Somehow it crept into my house; I was unaware of it. I wasn’t vigilant. I had to have a pest inspector come and teach me how to shore up my home so that in the fall when it got cold, snakes didn’t come into my house!

Nancy: Wow! What a picture that is of the vigilance we need in our Christian life.

Mary: Catching the creeps, yes. That’s just the first habit. The second one is Mastering Your Mind. These women were captivated, they were captured. They had thought patterns that were negative and that were filled with ideas that were not truthful, ideas that didn’t come from the Word of God. And so, mastering their minds was another thing that they needed to do.

Nancy: You are what you think. 

Dannah: And then habit number three: Ditching the Baggage, because sometimes you can’t master your mind if you’re weighed by the baggage of your past, the baggage of your sin, the baggage of habits that are negative and sinful.

Mary: Yes, and just taking our sin to the foot of the cross and confessing and finding freedom there. What an amazing thing that we have the privilege of doing that. And as strong women, we do that on a constant basis.

Nancy: Think about these women in Ephesus; they were burdened with sins. And isn’t that true of so many women today? The amazing thing is, we don’t have to be. In Christ, we can get rid of that burden! We can get it off of us. What was the next habit?

Mary: Habit number four: Engage Your Emotions. Don’t deny your emotions, but don’t rely on them either. Don’t be led astray by your passions, but bring those under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 

Nancy: Then the last one we talked about . . . Dannah, you gave us a little quiz about that.

Dannah: Yes, our walk the talk quiz, habit number five: Walk the Talk. Let it be authentic, not hypocritical.

Mary: That’s right. Yes, take the Word and apply it to your life. Don’t be just a hearer of the Word, but be a doer.

Dannah: And habit number six is what we want to talk about today. So what is that habit, Mary?

Mary: Habit number six is: Stand Your Ground. We read here that these women were always learning but never able to arrive, and here’s the phrase: “at a knowledge of the truth.” I think truth is just one of those things that in our culture is up for grabs. Everybody has their own “truth.”

Nancy: It’s “your truth,” “my truth.”

Mary: I think of that question of Pontius Pilate when Christ stood in front of him and he said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) as though there were no truth. “Is there even truth?” It was a rhetorical question, basically, questioning if truth even existed.

Dannah: And that’s true in our culture, too. I think a lot of people are saying, “What is truth?” You know, truth is conformity to a standard or an original. I know that a pound is a pound because we have a measuring system, right?

Mary: A standard.

Dannah: I know that blue is blue because we have a color wheel. There’s a standard or an original. When it comes to this area of moral truth, we have a standard.

Mary: An original.

Nancy: It’s interesting that in Ephesus, which was where this church was that Paul was writing to, Timothy was the pastor, they had all kinds of philosophies and ideologies and religious thinking. That reminds me so much of some of the out-there things we have in our world today. What were some of the things they were wrestling with there?

Mary: Well, it was a Greek city, and Paul even pointed out in Acts that Greeks loved learning. They had this thing: they loved listening to philosophers, they loved listening to teachers. 

Nancy: A lot of podcasts. . .

Mary: A lot of podcasts. I mean, if they would have had social media back then it would have been ten times, because they just loved the process of learning and listening to new ideas. That was ingrained into who they were.

And in fact, in Ephesus, historically when we look back into the historical documents, we see that the women were also always learning. Here it says it in our passage. The men would gather in public squares, but the women had these massive, opulent homes with large parlors and they’d invite their friends, and they’d invite speakers in.

They had conferences! You know, Bible conferences, idea conferences, discussions, and they were always discussing new ideas.And there were certainly many influential ideas at the time the New Testament was written, at the time these women lived.

There was skepticism which basically said this whole idea: “I can’t know truth; we can’t know truth. My truth is my truth, your truth is yours, and we’re happy if we all live in our own truths.” That was the idea that came from this time.

Then there were the cynics, and the cynics were people who were skeptical of authority. They were cynical, saying that, “If someone in charge is telling me this, I can’t accept that because that comes from the power system. I’m not going to accept something that the people in power tell me.”

And then there were the Epicureans, “Let’s party today because tomorrow we die!”

Nancy: “Eat, drink and be merry.”

Mary: “Eat, drink and be merry,” that was that. And then, the Stoics who basically said, “I can control only what I can control, and I can’t control what I can’t control. I need to keep control of my emotions and not let that in.” So, all these ideas. . .

It’s interesting, because when we look into our culture . . .

Dannah: It sounds like they’re alive and well!

Mary: It sounds like these ideas are alive and well. These ideas were undoubtedly impacting these women that we read about here in 2 Timothy. These were the ideas on the street; these were ideas that they were discussing in their groups or in their lectures. These were ideas that were infiltrating, but they were new. They were the new ideas on the street.

Nancy: So they were always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth . . . never able to come to a conviction about what is truth and what you can stand on and what you can be sure of.

Mary: So much of Paul’s writings encourage us to stand on truth, that we can know truth, that we can stand on it know with certainty. And that’s not a popular thought even in our culture now. There are so many new ideas.

Dannah: What are some of today’s new ideas?

Mary: We see the new ideas out there on the street. You only need to open up your social media feed to see that there are a lot of new ideas out there. And in the Christian world, we’re enamored with these new ideas, with these new teachers, with new philosophies that are coming at us all the time.

Nancy: And some of them have huge numbers of followers; they sell a lot of books. 

Dannah: New York Times bestsellers. Everybody—Christians, non-Christians, agnostics—love some of the teaching that sounds a little bit Christian in some of these books.

Nancy: And some of it’s called Christian. I walked into a hair salon the other day, and a lady sitting at the check-in place was holding a book that I recognized. It’s out there claiming to be a Christian book. I won’t say the name, because as soon as we put that out, there’s going to be another one out there that’s really popular.

She said, “Everybody’s talking about this book! What do you think about it?” Well, I hadn’t read it yet, but I’ve read enough about it to know that it’s not coming from a place of sound doctrine. It feels good, lots of people love it, but it’s not biblical. And yet, here was even a non-Christian reading this supposedly Christian book and being deceived.

Mary: And Christians being impacted by it. You only need to open up, again, your social media feed to see Christians discussing these ideas. There’s a love of learning, a love of talking about ideas.

Dannah: And there is so much kindness in the way they discuss their ideas! (laughter)

Nancy: I think you are not speaking truth there!

Dannah: I think I was being sarcastic! I’m sorry. But, I mean, there is a watching of truth, a guarding of truth and discernment, but we cannot abandon the truth of kindness and respect of others when we have that dialogue, and that’s happening.

Nancy: And that’s a hard thing, because you want to stand firm for truth, but do it in a way that is not attacking the people who disagree. And the other option is just to say, “Oh, live and let live. If we’re going to be kind, then we can’t really correct what’s false.” And I think that is a wrong way of thinking as well. 

Dannah: It’s complicated!

Nancy: Because in every area—sexuality, morality, gender issues, the whole political sphere—there is truth and there is a biblical way of thinking about these things that God has revealed to us. We’re not helping anybody, we’re not loving anybody, if we don’t say, “The truth matters, words matter!”

Mary: There’s the verse: “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). And you need both. You need the compassion, the kindness, the humility . . . but without truth, where are we? All of the Word of God points us to: that there is a way, that there is a truth, and that truth is found in Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). 

And that was controversial at the time, and in a way it is still controversial, because people do not like that idea of an external standard for truth. They want to take a look at the teachings of the Bible and say, “Well, this one, hmmm, I’m not so sure. About this one, I’ll incorporate it into my value system.”

But the whole thought that truth is contained in the Word of God and that it does not change and that this Word of God speaks truth to us over the ages, I think is a very foreign concept to today’s listener.

Nancy: Okay, here’s what’s difficult. Many of these people are claiming to be teaching the Word of God, and people are buying it wholesale. I talked to a well-known Christian blogger a few years ago, and I said, “You’re familiar with Revive Our Hearts; you know what we’re doing, what we’re teaching. Is there any subject we haven’t covered enough that you think would be helpful to women?” 

And he said to me, “You need to teach on discernment.” 

And not just us, but it needs to be taught on. Discernment: how to discern truth from error, because the very nature of error sometimes is that it looks mighty close to the truth.

Mary: It does.

Nancy: That’s what makes it deceptive.

Mary: In the Garden, that’s how Satan got Eve to buy in. It wasn’t that what he said was totally untruthful. It was truth, but it just had a bent to it. It was just that little bit that took her off-course. It’s just that little bit if we’re off truth.

Dannah: And even the way he approached Eve and said, “Did God really say . . .?” I think that’s what some of these teachers are doing. They’re making us question. “Did God really say you can’t have sex before marriage?” “Did God really say . . .” 

Mary: “. . . marriage is between a man and a woman?”

Dannah: Yes. “Did God really say that male and female, the differences and distinctions in gender are important?” It’s just laying questions in our hearts and minds, and it’s distracting us from what He truly did say.

Nancy: And so much of what we’re taking in, it reminds me of the fruit there in Genesis chapter 3 where it says it was beautiful. It was a tree to be desired to make one wise.

Mary: It looked attractive.

Nancy: I’ve often said this, that obviously, if that piece of fruit had been rotten and crawling with worms, Eve would have never fallen for it.

Dannah: Well, and that takes us to the next chapter of 2 Timothy, where it says: 

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim. 4:3–4).

Nancy: That reminds me of two other passages. Let’s go back to the Word, here. Colossians chapter 2:8, Paul says: 

See to it that no one takes you captive [we saw that word in Timothy] by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 

Does it point to Christ? And then, Ephesians chapter 4:14–15, Paul says we’re not supposed to any longer be 

. . . children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him.

And when I read that, about being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, I think, Isn’t that the spirit of our age!? Just because it has a Christian label on it, or this person’s supposed to be a great Christian leader, that doesn’t mean it’s truth, that doesn’t mean it’s consistent with God’s Word. We have to learn to discern, “Is this really according to truth?”

Dannah: Well, one of the things is, if you have a computer, you have a stage and a platform. And, somehow in our world, you have credibility.

Nancy: And if you have a computer, you can be reading all that stuff.

Mary: Absolutely!

Nancy: You can be following it all. We follow people sometimes on social media or for their books or for their best-selling this or that. . .

Mary: We think because they’re popular, they must be right. Or because they’re popular, they must have something very profound to say.

Nancy: There’s no sin in being popular. But I go back to thinking about what Jesus said when He said, “Narrow is the way that leads to life and broad is the way that leads to destruction.” (see Matt. 7:13–14). So if everybody’s on that road, you may just want to stop and say, “Is this the right road?”

Dannah: Well, think about the word “popular.” When are we obsessed with popularity? When we’re children. We’re older children, we might be ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. 

Nancy: Adolescents.

Dannah: That Bible verse you just read, Nancy, says, “Grow up!” When you are tossed about like that, you’re acting like children. You’re not being mature. It’s time for us to mature! Mary, if habit number six is: She Stands Her Ground and she knows the truth . . . then how do we know truth? What are some ways that we can discern whether an author, a blogger, something on Twitter, is true or not?

Mary: Well, there are several ways that we can take a look at what that author is saying, what that author is teaching. I think the very first and most important standard is, “Does it line up with the Bible?” If it contradicts what’s in the Bible, then it’s not true. 

Nancy: Well, you have to know what’s in the Bible in order to know if it lines up with the Bible, right?

Mary: You have to know what’s in the Bible, and that’s where Paul told the Bereans, “You guys have got this right, because you’re taking what I’m saying and you’re comparing it to the Scriptures, making sure it lines up.” (see Acts 17:10–11). So Paul advised them that that’s a very good thing to do. . .

Whenever you hear something—even it’s from a voice that you’re familiar with and a voice that you’ve heard before or a voice that is recognized in the Christian community—even then, you have a responsibility to take that to the Word of God and to see if it lines up.

Nancy: But if you’re not in the Word for yourself, you won’t know. You will be led astray. You will be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. You can’t just take in, go by the most popular, or whatever, or the books and say, “I think this is biblical; I don’t think this is biblical.” If you’re not in the Word, you won’t know! 

And if you are in the Word, God’s Spirit is going to help you be able to discern. 

Dannah: I would caution a woman: if she hasn’t spent time reading her Bible, then don’t read those blogs. Don’t read those books, no matter whether they are biblical or not, if we’re not starting here in the Word. Your discernment is not going to be turned on for whatever you take in that day.

Mary: Why we need discernment, also, is because Satan is very good at using Scripture in the wrong way. Remember when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness? He came at Him with the Word of God. He tempted Him with the Word of God! It was the word of truth, but he was using it in the wrong way. 

He was contextualizing it, he was twisting it, he was tempting Jesus with the words of Scripture. He was misusing the Bible.

Dannah: I don’t mind saying, that’s good! That spoke to my heart right there. Mary, Nancy already touched on this, but you also say one of the ways we know truth is that it upholds the Person of Jesus Christ.

Mary: It does. Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, who Jesus was; that He was the only Son of God who came to earth to die a substitutionary death on our behalf so that we could come to Him and be forgiven of our sins and be made right with God; that He rose from the dead, that He’s coming back; that there is a hell and a judgment seat; that He is not just a God who is loving, He is also a God who is just and a God who is righteous.

Paul said, in Scripture, to his friends: if anyone comes to you and preaches another Jesus—basically a Jesus that looks different . . .

Dannah: He’s not a Savior.

Mary: Not a Savior, but a prophet or someone who just gives good advice, or someone who’s a loving friend all the time. (see 2 Cor. 11:3–4) I was actually listening to a popular secular newscaster on TV who began talking about Christianity and what it meant. I was listening to the man talking, and I was going, “That’s not what Christianity means!”

He basically said Jesus came to show acceptance and love, and when Christians don’t show acceptance and love, they’re not following Jesus. Well, Jesus did come to show acceptance and love, but there was a lot more to Jesus.

Dannah: Yes, He was very firm. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That’s pretty clear!

Mary: Yes, that is clear. So that’s one of the discernment elements, is how the teacher deals with the Bible and then how the teacher deals with the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Nancy: I think it’s also important to look at the fruit in their life. Are they growing in godliness? Are they like Jesus? Do they make you want to be like Jesus? Because if they’re using the Scripture—or their own teaching—to pull you into ways of living that are not biblical, or they’re justifying their own ungodly lifestyle, wow! Flags should go up. Watch out! This is not what you need!

Dannah: Yes. And, Mary, there are some other ways that we can grow in our understanding of how to identify truth, and how to discern when it’s not truth. You wrote about them in your book The Right Kind of Strong: Surprisingly Simple Habits of a Spiritually Strong Woman. 

Nancy, I think both of us feel this way. I would love for every woman listening to have this book! I think it’s one of the most important books that Mary has ever written. It’s a really important book for all women living in our culture today.

Nancy: It’s such a helpful, practical guide for the things that we’re dealing with. I know it’s spoken to me; it has spoken to you. We want to make it available to any of our listeners who make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

When you give to this ministry, you’re helping us help women become discerning and the right kind of strong. And when you make your donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this month, as our way of saying “thank you,” we’ll send you a copy of Mary’s book.

Be sure and ask for it when you make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Dannah: We have one more wonderful session in this series. We’re going to be looking at the last habit of the spiritually strong woman. And this one is kind of paradoxical. Maybe you’ve been listening all this time and thinking, I don’t feel strong. I feel weak! Mary’s going to tell us on the next program how that could actually be a good thing!

Nancy: It is. And, again, we come back to the right kind of strong, which actually sometimes means being weak—weak enough to acknowledge our need for Christ. I love that we’ve been talking about discernment and getting back to the Scripture, living in the Word of God.

Sometimes in this modern world, God’s ways seem ancient, old-fashioned, and outdated. And that’s how the world would have us think. But I’m so thankful for these ancient words of God—not our words, but His words—that have been preserved for us through centuries and centuries! They are faithful; they are true; they are steadfast; they endure forever. 

And these words are not only true, they are powerful! They’re intended to change us, to transform us, and to make us more and more like Jesus. So we thank Him for those ancient words!

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.

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

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