Foundations of the True Woman Manifesto (continued)Are You Wearing Fig Leaves?
Leslie Basham: Why are so many relationships marked by conflict? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss:
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The problem is not men or what they’ve done to women or women or what they’ve done to men. The problem is sin and what it has done to all of us.
Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, March 12.
Dr. John Piper: I have read it more than once and regard it as a faithful, clear, true, wise, indeed magnificent document. What an amazing thing it would be if hundreds of thousands of women in America signed on with their heart to the True Woman Manifesto.
Leslie: A couple of days later, those 6,000 women were given a chance to affirm this document and add their names to it. You can do the same thing. Get your copy at ReviveOurHearts.com, and add your name online.
This week Nancy is helping us understand the True Woman Manifesto better. Here she is.
Nancy: If you’ve ever built a house, or if you’ve ever lived in a house, you know the importance of having a solid foundation. If you don’t get the foundation right, the structure is going to be off. It’s going to be unstable; it’s going to be vulnerable. The foundation is not something you see or brag about or take pictures of, but it’s really, really important.
As we look at this True Woman Manifesto, we’re taking time in this first part of the series to look at several foundational statements of belief. We’ve looked at the first two foundational statements, belief statements, of the True Woman Manifesto.
The first one:
We believe that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the creator of life and that all created things exist for His pleasure and to bring Him glory.
Then the second foundational statement:
We believe that the creation of humanity as male and female was a purposeful and magnificent part of God’s wise plan and that men and women were designed to reflect the image of God in complementary and distinct ways.
We we’ve talked about the created design of God. It’s holy; it’s good; it’s blessed. God’s design is that men and women are equal in personhood, in value, and in dignity; that there is to be mutual respect and honor and consideration; intimacy in marriage. This is all part of God’s created design for men and women. It’s good; it’s magnificent; it’s pure.
But what we have today, as you look around us, is so far from that beautiful picture. How did we get from that beautiful, awesome, magnificent design of Genesis 1 and 2 to what we see between men and women with deviant gender and sexuality issues today, some of which are unspeakable?
Well, this is where we come to the third foundational statement of the True Woman Manifesto. Let me read it to you, and then we’ll unpack it. We believe that sin—have to talk about sin because sin enters the picture here and messes everything up.
We believe that sin has separated every human being from God and has made us incapable of reflecting His image as we were created to do. Our only hope of restoration and salvation is found in repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ who lived a sinless life, died in our place, and was raised from the dead.
Now, let’s go back to Genesis chapter 2 and 3 to give us some context for that statement.
Genesis 2 and 3—we talked about Genesis 1 in the last session, how God created male and female in His image. He looked at what He had made, and He said, “It’s very good.” Now, we’re not going to walk through the whole of these two chapters, but let me just pick out some selected verses that give you an overview of what happened.
Genesis 2, beginning in verse 16: “The Lord God commanded the man”—you say, “What right does God have to do that?” He created us, thank you. He’s the Sovereign Lord.
The Lord commanded the man saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die" (verses 16-17).
God says, “Here are some things you may do; here’s one thing you may not do.” There’s a law laid down, and this law is in man’s best interests. God gave this restriction for the blessing of man, for his protection, so that he could enjoy intimacy with God and with his wife, for his joy, for the fulfillment of his created purpose.
So we have the creation of man; we have God giving the parameters within which man, who’s been designed and created by God, is to function. Then we come to chapter 3, and we see the woman first, followed by the man, signing her declaration of independence. She and her husband rejected God’s right to lay down the law, rejected God’s authority. They broke His law.
Genesis 3, verse 6: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food . . ." Which tree? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And what had God said about that tree? “Don’t eat from it.”
“When she saw that the tree was good for food”—knowing that God had said, “No matter what it looks like, don’t eat it”—“and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise . . .” You see temptation working here?
“Don’t eat that.”
“But it looks so good. It’s so desirable. I can’t be happy if I don’t have that piece of . . . whatever.”
“She took of its fruit and ate.”—It’s called sin. It’s called rebellion. It’s called, “I’ll have it my way.”—“And she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (verse 6).
So now we have a fallen woman and a fallen man living together as husband and wife in the garden.
Now the consequences, some of them, were immediate. For example, we see in verse 7 that what had been God consciousness on their part was replaced now with guilt and shame.
Verse 7: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”
So what did they do when faced with this guilt and this shame, this realization that something has changed, something is wrong? They did the same two things that we are prone to do when we sin. First, they attempted to remedy the situation on their own apart from God.
Verse 7: “They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin cloths.”
“We’ll come up with a solution. We’ll fix this. We’ll improve the situation. We will save ourselves,” says the human manifesto. They attempted to remedy the situation on their own.
And, number two, they hid.
Vere 8: “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD among the trees of the garden.”
So here we have fear as this couple is exposed. Their intimacy with God is broken. They’re not standing out in the open before God, naked and unashamed. They’re hiding behind the bushes from God, clothed, wrapped up in these homemade clothes that they’ve put together from fig leaves. They’re hiding; they’re exposed; the intimacy has been broken. They’re separated from God.
And what they cannot see, but we learn as the Scripture unfolds, is that the image of God in which they had been created is now marred. The image of God, the reflection of God, the representation they were made to be of God has been distorted. The blessing we read about in Genesis 1 is replaced with a curse. Men and women who were created to live forever . . . now death enters the world.
But in the next verse, verse 9, we see the amazing mercy and grace of God. “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’" God says, "Adam, come out of your hiding place. You don’t have to hide. Yes, you’ve sinned, and yes, there will be consequences"—and we’ll see that—"and, yes, you need a Savior."
But the fact that God called to the man and said, ‘Where are you?’, is that not an awesome expression of God’s mercy and grace? He could have wiped them out without another word. He said, “In the day you sin, you will die.”
God is a redeeming God. He initiates reconciliation, and there we have the first hint of the first point of the gospel. He’s a God who initiates reconciliation and redemption.
In this passage we also see the holiness and the justice of God. We see that sin has consequences, and we see the unfolding of a punishment for the serpent, for the woman, and for the man.
It’s interesting—and we don’t have time to unpack this here—but there’s a difference between the punishment that the woman receives and the penalty that the man receives. I think if you study it out, you can see that the differing punishments they received speak to their distinct God-created design, mission, calling, and functions. The sphere in which they were created to serve the Lord is the sphere in which they were distinctly impacted by sin as a woman and as a man.
The woman, who was taken from her husband’s own body—hence a relational creature in a different way than the man was—she would struggle as a wife and as a mother. Look at verse 16 of chapter 3:
To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Now, without exegeting that passage—we’ve done that in other series—you see that the woman experiences pain in child bearing and relational dysfunction as a result of her sin. The man, who was made from the dust from the ground, would struggle in his role as a provider. Verse 17:
And to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (verses 17-19).
Now, sin has devastating effects on every aspect of God’s creation, and you see that both the man and the woman were to experience pain as a consequence of sin. The world, the devil, our flesh tell us, “Have it your way, you’ll be happy.” That’s what Eve thought. It was desirable; it was pleasant. It was something that she needed to make her wise. She thought it would make her happy, but instead it brought pain.
Sin always, ultimately, brings pain. Remember that every time you have a baby. This is the consequence of sin. Now, having babies isn’t the consequence of sin, but the pain that goes with it. Remember that when you have to wrest a living out of the ground. It’s hard work. When life is hard; when relational dysfunctions become the norm, remember: This is the consequence of sin.
But nowhere are the devastating effects of sin more evident than the relationship between male and female. In Genesis 3, we have the seed planted—that is sin—out of which has grown up a disastrous and devastating harvest. The relationship between men and women was created to function in complementarity, to respect and honor and enjoy and communicate with and love one another, as takes place within the Trinity itself. Now we have them at odds with each other, at war with each other.
Remember that the next time you have an argument with your husband. This is the result of sin.
Remember, too, that your husband is not the enemy. Men are not the problem, ladies—and if I were speaking to men, which I don’t do, I would say: “Men, women are not the problem.”
What is the problem? The problem is not men or what they’ve done to women or women or what they’ve done to men. The problem is sin and what it has done to all of us. It’s not just your husband’s sin or the sin of men, it’s our sin as women. It’s your sin as a wife. If you are a married woman, you are a sinner married to a sinner. If you are a married man listening to this program, you are a sinner married to a sinner. If you are a single woman, you are a sinner living in a world of sinful men and women.
Sin takes the beauty and the grandeur out of God’s creation and makes it ugly and twisted. So don’t be blaming the men in your life for what they have done, heinous as it may have been in some cases, and I know I’m talking to some women who have been greatly wronged by men, and probably the other way around could be said as well; so don’t put the blame there. Remember, we are fallen creatures living out of a distorted, marred image of God.
Sin has separated every human from God, and it has made us incapable of reflecting His image as we were created to do. So where’s the hope? The only hope for sin, the only hope for healing from sin’s consequences in our own lives and in our relationships as men and women is in the gospel, the gospel of Christ.
I want to look at Genesis 3 for these remaining moments to show you some hints of the gospel of Christ in these very early chapters of the Bible.
We saw the mercy of God in initiating reconciliation with Adam and Eve, but we also see God’s mercy and grace pictured in two others ways in this passage. What we really have is the first proclamation of the gospel in the Old Testament. It’s a proclamation that will continue to unfold throughout the Old Testament and find its fulfillment in the New Testament.
But look at verse 15, where God speaks in Genesis chapter 3 to the serpent who is embodying Satan. He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise heel.” There is predicted here conflict between the serpent and his seed and the woman and her seed. And who is the seed of the woman? Jesus Christ.
The fulfillment of this prophecy took place at the cross where the serpent bruised the heel of the woman’s seed, but Christ, the seed of the woman, dealt a fatal blow to the head of the serpent. Praise God? Amen!
That’s a picture of the gospel of the grace of God there in verse 15. Then look at verse 21. Here we see God’s provision to cover the shame and the nakedness of Adam and Eve.
Remember, they had already tried to solve their problem and cover up their own nakedness with fig leaves. That’s a picture of their own efforts to make themselves righteous, to make themselves acceptable, presentable to God. Like, “We’ve got to hide. We can’t talk to God. We’ve sinned; we’re ashamed; we’re embarrassed.”
We have no alternative but to hide until God comes and draws us out of our hiding place, but we can’t clothe ourselves and stand before God. Our own righteousnesses, all that we could come up with to regain God’s pleasure and favor and relationship and intimacy with Him, would only be as filthy rags or, could I say, cheap fig leaves. They cannot suffice to cover up the shame and the guilt of our nakedness spiritually.
So what do we see in verse 21? “The Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” What a precious verse. That God, the holy God and Creator and Sovereign of the universe whose law had been spurned, who had been rebelled against by His creatures, that He would call them out of their hiding place and even in the same conversation where He metes out to them the consequences of their sin that His justice requires, that He would tenderly make for the man and his wife garments of skins and clothe them. Oh, amazing grace.
And how did He come up with those clothes? Well, innocent animals had to be slain. There had to be a sacrifice to make clothes to cover their nakedness. In this covering God gives us a picture of the sacrifice that one day God would make of His own Son, Jesus Christ who would take our sin, our shame on Himself, who would be slain as the substitute for our sin so that we could be clothed in His righteousness.
Listen, if you’re trying to clothe yourself spiritually; if you’re trying to deal with the shame, the guilt, the separation from God, the broken intimacy, the broken relationships, the dysfunctional relationships; trying to deal with the consequences of your sin, the fall, the curse; if you’re trying to deal with it by coming up with your own righteousness, give up now. You’ll never do it.
That’s why this portion of the True Woman Manifesto says,
Our only hope of restoration and salvation is found in repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ who lived a sinless life, died in our place, and was raised from the dead.
We cannot possibly solve our gender problems or any other problems caused by sin with our own efforts, but only through Christ. Through Christ, the image of God which has been broken and distorted by sin can be restored, and through Christ we can experience healing in the relationship between men and women.
He’s a redeeming God who by means of the shed blood of Christ at Calvary has pardoned guilty sinners, who will one day abolish sin completely. Praise God! He will reverse the curse that sin brought to this earth and to all men and women. By His grace, God will restore those that He has redeemed to a position even more splendid than that which Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden. There will be a new heaven, a new earth more glorious than the one that was ruined by sin.
That’s the good news! That’s the gospel.
So what do you do?
- Come out from your hiding place.
- Repent of your sin, acknowledge your sin.
- Trust in Christ.
- And He will save you. He will clothe you in His righteousness.
Thank You, Lord, for giving us this precious picture of how You took the sinful, fallen man and woman, estranged from you, estranged from each other, You pulled them out of their hiding place, called them out, called them by name. You initiated reconciliation, and You made for them garments of skin and clothed them.
Thank You for that picture of Christ who became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
I pray for someone listening today who has been struggling and striving to deal with the effects of sin, to deal with its consequences through their own efforts and deeds. Oh, God, may we forever put away those fig leaves and forsake trying to clothe ourselves and our own righteousness, but may we take upon us the righteousness of Christ that You have provided there at the cross and be clothed and freed from our sin and restored to that place of right relationship with You through Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, amen.
(Nancy continues with this theme tomorrow on: "The Seeds of Our Extinction.")
Leslie: I love solid teaching like that. We’ve seen how conflicts between men and women can be traced back to a story we read in Genesis. Nancy Leigh DeMoss took us on that journey. The teaching is part of a series called Foundations of the True Woman Manifesto. You can order the CD at ReviveOurHearts.com.
What is the True Woman Manifesto? It’s a carefully crafted document built on a biblical foundation. We’ve been analyzing this foundation during our current series. The Manifesto also includes some practical applications, showing you how to live as a true woman today. Nancy, I can’t wait to hear how you’ll cover the other parts of the manifesto later this year.
Nancy: I’m excited to tackle those other sections of the Manifesto as well, and during each of these teaching series, you’ll want to have a copy of the True Woman Manifesto for yourself. You can download the entire document as a PDF by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.
Then I want to encourage you to order a pack of pamphlet-sized copies of the Manifesto so that you can share this important teaching with women in your church or others in your sphere of influence. Just contact us at ReviveOurHearts.com.
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Now, what happens when men stop being men and women stop being women? The consequences are huge. We’ll take a sobering look Monday on Revive Our Hearts.
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