Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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What Is a True Woman?

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has an important question for you:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What does it mean to be a true woman?

Leslie: Nancy asked this at each of the True Woman conferences in 2010, along with a couple of follow-up questions:

Nancy: How can we become true women of God?

Leslie: And finally:

Nancy: What difference does it make? So what?

Leslie: Nancy explored these questions by turning to Titus chapter 2. It made an impact on those who attended the True Woman conference, like speaker Devi Titus.

Devi Titus: I felt that Nancy Leigh DeMoss probably did the finest exposition of that entire text in its context that I have heard anyone do.

Fern Nichols: Oh, Nancy, she was absolutely anointed.

Leslie: This is speaker Fern Nichols.

Fern: Paul’s thoughts to Titus, Holy Spirit thoughts of who a woman is in the sight of God and what God wants to do in and through her life. It was very riveting.

Leslie: This week we’ll hear that message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss here on Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy delivered this message on the opening night at each True Woman conference. As you listen, you’ll gain a better understanding of what it means to be the woman God wants you to be in your season of life.

Nancy: I want us tonight to look at a passage that's familiar to many of us. I'm going to take us to Titus 2, but I’m actually going to start in chapter 1. We want to answer three questions tonight from Titus 2.

Let me tell you what the questions are, and then we’ll walk through the passage. The first question is:

  • What does it mean to be a true woman?
  • What would you say? What does a true woman look like?

We're going to see a description of a true woman, a portrait, in this passage.

The second question we want to ask is:

  • How can we become true women of God?

We have heard the starting place tonight. You can't be God's true woman until you are God's. And what a great place to start. I want to pick up from there and say, “How can we become God's true women?”

And the third question we'll look at tonight is:

  • What difference does it make?
  • So what? About all of this, does it really matter?
  • Why does it matter that we would be God's true women?

Let me give you some context for this familiar passage in Titus 2. Sometimes we just jump right in the passage, and we don’t see the setting that helps us understand more about the passage we are looking at.

As you know, the apostle Paul is writing to Titus who is the pastor of the church on the Island of Crete. Crete was legendary in the ancient world for its immorality. There was a lot of false teaching, as we'll see in a moment, that had led to ungodly living because, as we have been reminded tonight, what you think has a direct connection to how you live. They had wrong thinking which led to wrong, wicked lifestyles.

If you will look at the last paragraph of chapter 1, beginning in verse 10, there is a description of the culture in which this church existed, the surrounding culture in which these believers were required to live as believers in Christ. So look at verse 10 of chapter 1.

The apostle Paul says,

There are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers. . . . They are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” (verses 10-12). 

And Paul was just quoting one of their own writers of the day. He said, “I don't have to tell you, listen to what your own people say: ‘They are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.’”

And then Paul adds his p.s. in verse 13: “This testimony is true." (laughter) There is no doubt about it.

Look at the end of verse 15:

Their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Now, does that description sound at all familiar? I look at that description, and I think, “I don't know a better way to describe the day in which we live.” The world in which we live and in which we are trying to survive and thrive and be conquerers through Christ, the day in which we live, we just saw a great description at the end of chapter 1.

So Paul is speaking to a pastor and to believers who are living in a decadent world. It’s easy for believers in an age like theirs, or like ours, to begin to get discouraged, to feel overwhelmed by the flood tide of wickedness.

  • How do you live in that kind of world?
  • How do you survive as a believer in Christ?
  • How do we maintain the purity of the body of Christ?
  • And beyond that, how do we penetrate the darkness and reach out to that kind of culture?

It's interesting to me the counsel Paul gives to those believers. What I think he would say to us today is not what we might have expected. For example, he doesn't say, as you might read in many books today, “Church, what you need to do is become more culturally relevant. You need to get more in tune with your culture. You need to be a little bit more like it so they can identify with you and be drawn to Christ.”

Paul doesn’t say, “You know, you really need to spruce up your strategy, your plans, your programs.” He doesn't talk about any of that.

Look at what he says in the very next verse, chapter 2, and this is where we are going to park for these last moments tonight, chapter 2, verse 1.

“But as for you . . .” What do you do in this kind of world? As for you, Pastor Titus, and as for you, believers who are listening to this word, this counsel, “teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

Sound doctrine? That's your answer for living in a world that is detestable, disobedient, defiled, their conscience is . . . that's your counsel? Sound doctrine?

Doctrine doesn't sound very exciting, does it? Some might be tempted to say, “I don't even know if that would be very effective. It sounds boring. It doesn't sound like something people are going to be interested in.”

And sadly, many so-called believers in our churches couldn’t care less about sound doctrine today, and that is one of our huge problems.

The word found there in our English language comes from a word in the Greek from which we get our word, hygiene. It's a word that means "healthy, sound, vital, hygienic." Hygiene really matters in the physical realm, and it really matters in the spiritual realm. Hygienic, sound doctrine or teaching.

I just want to suggest here, as a starting place about what is a true woman, what does she look like, that a true woman is tethered to the Word of God. Her life is anchored to truth, the truth that we find in God's Word. It's the Word of God, it's the truth that determines and governs her thinking, her behavior, her attitudes, her emotions. It's all grounded in the Word of Godsound doctrine.

So, how do we transform or impact a wicked culture like that in Crete? There's a tendency to think what we really need are new or better laws to address these issues. We need new structures, new systems, new social programs. We need to overhaul the judicial system, the schools, the government, the economy. We need a different President. We need a different Congress. We need a different something.

But Paul insists that what the world really needs, what the world most needs is Christians who actually live out what they claim to believe, the things that accord with sound doctrine, Christians who are godly, and wise and kind and known for good works, and who have ordered family relationships.

You see, ladies, the world will never be convinced by our arguments about the reality of God or about moral issues: abortion, same-sex marriage. It's not our arguments that are going to persuade the world. The world is going to be persuaded as they see the reality of the gospel lived out in our lives and our relationships. That's why there's such a desperate need in the church today to teach sound doctrine and to teach its implications, the "so-what" of sound doctrine.

And so Paul addresses this in the book of Titus and virtually in all of his other Epistles in the New Testament: What is it and then what does it look like in life? Sound doctrine has practical applications for each gender, each season of life, each social position. It has implications for you whether you are 14 or 94 or somewhere in-between, whether you are married, or single, have children or not, whether you work in the home, out of the home, both. Whatever your season, your station, your situation in life, sound doctrine has implications for you. That's what Paul talks about in Titus.

Now, it begins in verse 2 by saying, as he's addressing these different seasons of life,

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Paul says this is what sound doctrine produces or looks like in older men.

Now, I don't see many men here tonight, and even if there were, I'm not called to preach to men. God called me to speak to women. So I'm going to move past that verse and let Brother Crawford and Brother Bob Lepine and others preach that verse when you get to your church on Sunday.

I want to pick up with verses 3-5, where Paul then turns to: What does sound doctrine look like to women? What does it mean to be a true woman? What does a true woman look like? He starts with older women, and then he moves to younger women. So let me read verses 3-5.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not 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.

Now, let me tell you, tonight I’m going to give you as quick of a bird's eye view as I can of this passage. I’m just going to skim the surface of it, but I’ll tell you, in the resource center we have a CD series where I spent weeks talking through verse by verse, word by word, phrase by phrase, through this passage. That’s available. It's called God's Beautiful Design for Women. If you want to go deeper in the study of what it means to be a true woman of God, let me encourage you to looking at that resource.

Now first, Paul addresses the character or the lifestyle of a true woman. What does a true woman look like? Well, here’s what her character looks like, and then he’s going to look at her calling. But first, her character: What does her lifestyle look like?

It says in verse 3, that she is "reverent in behavior." I like one of the translations that says she is "to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy."

Women, if you are a child of God, the Scripture calls you a saint, a set-apart one, a holy one. We are to exhibit behavior that is fitting for those who are saints, for those who are holy. She’s reverent in behavior.

You say, “Well, what does that look like? You always talk in hushed tones? What does reverent mean?” Well, reverent in behavior affects the way that we talk and the way that we walk.

He goes on to say, “reverent in behavior, not slanderers, or slaves to much wine.” Why? Because those things, slander and substance abuse, are not fitting for those who are holy.

“Not slanderers.” That has to do with our tongue and not just the words we say, but at the heart of that is how we treat others. What is our heart attitude toward them? That comes out in the way we talk to and about them. So we are not to be slanderers.

Then he says, “Older women, you are not to be slaves to much wine.”

I remember when I first started studying this passage, I’m thinking, “Paul only mentions three things about older women: reverent in behavior, and slanderers, and much wine. Why did he pick that one? Were all the older women getting drunk in Crete, or what is the issue?” 

It's easy for those of us who are not addicted to much wine to just kind of move past this and say, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me.”

I think the principle here is a lot broader than alcohol addiction. What he's talking about here represents a spirit or a mindset of indulgence, self-indulgence.

As we get older, it's easy to think, “I've paid my dues; I've worked hard; I deserve a break today. I'm going to just do what makes me feel good.”

Paul says, “No. That's not what the gospel looks like on an older woman.” Paul is talking here about a temperate life. We are not to use substances as an escape from emotional pain. We are not to live for self or pleasure or for fulfilling our senses. We are to live for Christ, for God, and that involves a temperate lifestyle. So we see the character of a true woman.

And then we see the calling or the mission of a true woman. In verse 3, it says she is to “teach what is good, and so train the young women.”

Now, just an observation here, and that is that character comes before calling. Life comes before ministry. We can't teach othersmoms, grandmoms, disciplers, older women in the churchwe cannot teach others what we are not living ourselves, what we have not learned ourselves.

I think that’s one of the reasons that there are so few older women in the church today mentoring the younger women because we know in our heart of hearts that we aren't practicing a lifestyle that is befitting of the gospel, so we don't have anything to share with them.

So Paul says, “Get something to share with them. Get a lifestyle that is worthy of being followed, worthy of being emulated so that you can fulfill your calling.”

I got an email from a woman not too long ago who said,

I'm entering the empty-nest phase and my role as a full-time, stay-at-home mom is no longer needed. That was my life's dream, and I’ve lived it, and now it's over. Now what? I'm questioning who I am and why I'm here. I feel so lost, so confused.

I've been asking God to give me direction and to show me what I can be doing in this next part of my life. I need to know it can be exciting because right now it feels like a big mess, lonely and depressing.

Well, Titus 2 gives you, if you happen to feel that way, some of you entering that empty-nest phase of life, it gives you the direction, the mission, and the purpose that you've been looking for.

As older women, they have been walking with God, living exemplary lives. They have faithfully raised and trained their own children. Now Paul says they are to teach and train other women who are in the childbearing, child-rearing years or season.

And how do you that training? You do it by your life, and you do it by intentional connecting with those younger women to help teach them, to help train them in the ways of God.

Paul says, “Older women, this is not a time, a season in your life to retire, to take it easy, to indulge yourself.”

Ladies, we need to keep our heads in the game. Those younger women need us to be intentional about living lives that make them thirsty for Jesus, and calling them to follow Christ, and showing them what the gospel looks like in their lives, as we demonstrate it in our own lives.

I want to remind us that this kind of teaching and training ministry does not by and large happen from the pulpit. That’s not to say that we don't need men and pastors teaching us, but as women, our ministry to other women doesn't mostly happen one to many.

People come up to me and say, “I would like to teach the Word like you do.” I hope you love the Word. I hope you’re teaching it to others, but I'm going to tell you where this kind of mentoring and discipleship takes place: It is life to life. It's in the context of the laboratory of life as you do life with other women, and they see your life, and they ask you to pray for them, and you encourage them, and you point them to the Scripture, and you take them to God's throne of grace. It's life to life.

There could be more of this kind of mentoring and discipling taking place in your kitchen, at your dining room table, or as you sort laundry together, as you walk together, literally, walking partners perhaps, than may take place in a formal classroom setting.

The implications of sound doctrine . . . We need to be passing on to the next generation how they live out the gospel. We communicate that to them, incarnate that truth out of our lives and then call them to live that truth.

A lot of women get to that older woman season of life, and all of us to some extent get there and think, “I've blown it. My life isn’t exemplary.”

Can I tell you, you can even teach out of your failures if you get to the cross, and you learn how to get God's mercy and grace for your failures?

I got an email just recently from a woman who said,

I'm 79 years old, and I’ve realized how self-centered my life has been and how many times I missed the opportunity to serve my Lord and be the example I should have been. Hearing what a true woman should be has pierced my heart. I have failed so miserably.

However, your message on the radio spoke to my heart and made me realize that as weak as I am right now, I’m battling some illnesses, as an older woman I need to encourage and be an example and shine the light of Christ in any way I can to the four generations in my family and to friends and acquaintances.

Ladies, some of you have been taking, taking, taking, taking for years. You've been sitting in one Bible study after another. You've been through every class Precept has to offer. You’ve been through every year of Bible Study Fellowship. You’ve been through every course that there is, or whatever it is you that do in your church. You've had it all; you’ve heard it all.

Could I just say, “Great!” Now you need to take what you have heard, what you have received and you need to plant it like a seed in the hearts of the women around you. You need to become a giver. If you've had truth poured in to you, you need to turn around and give it out, pour it out, invest in the lives of the women around you, particularly in the women of the next generation.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been calling women to a deep fulfilling life. It’s a picture presented to us in the book of Titus. Nancy’s been showing you how to live out these important words in 2010.

Nancy delivered that message at the True Woman Conference earlier this year. She asked three questions to begin that talk: What is a true woman? How do you become a true woman? And what difference does it make? Tomorrow we’ll hear Nancy tackle that second question, so I hope you’ll be back with us.

You can also get a copy of that message from the conference on CD or DVD. For details, visit

We’re deeply thankful for all the ministry that took place at the three True Woman conferences. We’re still getting feedback from women who left the conference deeply changed. Homes and churches are different than they were before the conference. Women are spreading the message, turning True Woman into a movement, not just a conference. We’re excited about this moment, but at the same time, we’re sobered.

Nancy, I’ve heard you sharing about mixed emotions as we near December 2010.

Nancy: That’s really true. On the one hand, I’d have to say that this past year may have been the most fruitful one in the history of our ministry. We’ve seen so many, many lives transformed and women catching the burden for biblical womanhood and true revival.

On the other hand, my heart is really heavy because, in the midst of this great fruitful season, we’re facing the greatest financial challenge that we have experienced since the beginning of Revive Our Hearts nearly ten years ago. Let me explain that a bit.

Over the past several months, our listeners have been giving at about the same level as last year, and I am so thankful for that, especially in this current economy. At the same time, we’ve seen a decrease in several other sources of income. The bottom line is that our income has not been sufficient to cover the ongoing expenses of our various radio, Internet, conference, and resource ministries, and that’s forcing us to face some really tough decisions.

It’s become clear that we can’t continue on all of our radio stations, so which ones do we discontinue, and what outreaches do we pull back on? And, at the same time, how do we sustain and fuel the momentum that’s been generated by the True Woman conferences?

I’m so grateful for one particular group of ministry partners who share our burden to reach women around the world. They have stepped up to the plate at this difficult time and pledged to give $300,00 toward our year-end financial needs. They’re challenging other Revive Our Hearts’ supporters to join them in meeting those needs.

So, between now and December 31, they will match each gift we receive up to $300,000. Fulfilling this challenge will go a long way toward meeting the current needs of Revive Our Hearts, but the overall need is even greater than that. So, will you help us to meet and greatly exceed this wonderful matching challenge?

Your donation at this time will make a big difference in the lives of women in 2011 and beyond.

Leslie: Take advantage of this matching challenge by calling 1-800-569-5959, or donate at

Today, Nancy addressed the question: What is a true woman? But there’s a problem when trying to respond.

Nancy: Christ is calling us to live a life that is impossible for us to live. We can’t do it.

Leslie: Find out why there’s still hope in becoming a true woman, tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.