True Woman 201: Interior DesignThe Beauty of a Pure Life
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss asks you to consider a strange scene.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Imagine you're at a wedding. The ceremony has begun. The guests are seated in the church dressed in their finest attire. The groom is standing ready at the front, and he's wearing a formal black tux. Then the doors at the back swing open and the processional begins to play. And then after a few awkward minutes, the bride rushes in. She's holding a garden trowel. She's covered in dirt and mud.
What would you think? It would shock you, wouldn't it? Because a bride doesn't spoil her dress that way.
Leslie: This is the Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, April 17, 2015.
A pastor's wife named Esther wrote to Revive Our Hearts from Northern Ireland. She wanted the women in her church to connect with each other, so she invited women to study a workbook called True Woman 101: Divine Design. Fifty women signed up. She writes:
We had a wide range of ages and life situations—from twenty-somethings to seventy-somethings, single, married, widowed, recently separated, long-time divorced, young mothers, grandmothers, and empty nesters.
When these groups ended their study of God's design for them, they wanted to keep meeting. Esther writes:
I have been asked, "Is there a True Woman 201?"
Well, I have an answer: Yes! Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian have just released True Woman 201: Interior Design.
All this week they've been giving us a taste of this new material. Today, we'll look at chapter five.
As part of this study, they've been leading us through a passage in Titus, a book the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Crete. Chapter 2 of Titus gives us as women some very helpful instruction.
Nancy: Well, Mary, as we come to the halfway point of this study, the fifth element out of ten that we're looking at in the series, we come to another word that is, again, kind of antiquated. You don't hear it very often today. It's the word "virtue," and it builds on these others that we've been looking at: discernment, honor or reverence, affection, discipline or self-control, and now this word virtue.
Before we unpack what that is, (a true woman who is pure is the word in Titus chapter 2), I just want to remind us that everything that a woman is called to be here (a follower of Christ) is counter-cultural to the way the world is going.
Mary Kassian: Yes. And it was so counter-cultural also to the world at that time because in Crete, at that time, there was so much immorality—sexual immorality—and there was all types of evil.
Nancy: Paul describes that in Titus with some pretty graphic terminology. He says in chapter 1:
To the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both 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 (vv. 15–16).
And then in chapter 3 he says these people who don't know Christ are "slaves to various passions and pleasures" (v. 3)
Nancy: So you have the portrait of the world in his day, which is so similar to the world in our day.
Mary: Very similar.
Nancy: If you say that today, you're considered intolerant or unloving, but it's true. People who don't have Christ in them live for their flesh. They live for their fleshly passions. They're slaves to that.
And against that backdrop, Paul, in the book of Titus, calls us to a lifestyle as believers that is polar opposite.
Mary: It is polar opposite. And in our culture, as you said, virtue, that's almost a dirty word. That's almost a word that is, "Oh, who would want to be virtuous?" or "Virtue is bad." I saw, I believe it was last Christmas, where there was a t-shirt that said, "A little bit of naughty is nice." That naughty is actually the new nice, and unless you are naughty, or unless there is a little bit of impurity or there's a little bit of sexual looseness about you, then there's . . .
Nancy: . . . something wrong with you.
Mary: There's something wrong with you . . . terribly wrong with you.
Nancy: So, in the context of this culture back then, and now, that thinks that way, Paul says in a world that celebrates promiscuity and lack of restraint, when it comes to sexuality, we ourselves came out of that background.
We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . but when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us. [He washed us.] (Titus 3: 3–5).
Mary: Yes. And that's that whole picture of purity washing. We know what pure and impure means. We talk about it all the time. There are the soap commercials that the soap is oh so pure. And even in our eating, we talk about clean eating, where we're eating healthy, good food and not food that contains contaminates or carcinogens or food that's bad for us. So we have an understanding.
Nancy: That's popular, but not so popular when you talk about the heart or the soul.
Mary: No, not so popular when it comes to that. But that whole picture that Paul uses, that cleansing that Christ washes us, washes us sparkling clean and gets rid of all the dirt, gets rid of all the impurity, and actually presents us as His spotless bride. It's an amazing picture.
Nancy: And because we have been made pure in Christ, positionally pure in Him, washed by Him, Paul says then you should have practical purity. Your lives should look different. You should be different. You should care about not living in a way that is impure but living in a way that is consistent with a holy God who has saved us to be His saints.
Mary: I love that word that you used—positionally pure—because I think that's an important point, even as we're talking about purity today. We need to go back to remember that we are 100% clean and pure because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Nancy: We have been declared righteous.
Mary: We have been declared righteous, and it's through nothing that we have done. It's not based on my behavior. It's based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. So I need to understand that even if I have issues in my life, and even if I'm wrestling with impurity and impure thoughts, that I have been made clean, and my whole Christian life is going to be a process of living up to that position that I have in Jesus Christ.
Nancy: And that matters.
Mary: It does matter
Nancy: But you can't just say, "Okay, I've gotten saved, but I can continue living the way I have been, the way the world does." That's unthinkable in the New Testament context. In fact, you see some of these very stirring verses in the book of Titus about how the unbelieving world is characterized by impure lives, but followers of Christ are supposed to be pure. Why? Titus 2:14, "Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who were zealous for good works."
He saved us to be like Him, to be His pure possession, to be free from the slavery of lawlessness. And he says we're to be above reproach, and we're to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. And we are to live self-controlled (we talked about that in the last session) upright and godly lives.
So in this raunch culture—girls gone wild . . .
Mary: Girls gone wild. And it is a raunch culture. In fact, I think that, particularly for women, there's been such a shift in the last few decades where for women, virtue was cherished and virtue was prized.
Nancy: Even if it wasn't practiced.
Mary: Even if it wasn't practiced, it was still considered important fifty years ago. Now we have this entire shift that has happened in terms of the messages our young women are getting that virtue is something that is . . . you're embarrassed. You're embarrassed if you're a virgin or embarrassed if you haven't had this long string of sexual encounters. Virtue really has become the dirty word when it comes to our sexual conduct.
Nancy: So one way that Christian women make a difference in our world and make the gospel believable is by standing out, by being different—not in a self-righteous way because it's not our righteousness at all, but in the way of His righteousness. And the goal in all of this is not to make us look good, but it is to shine a spotlight on the purity of Christ and how good He is.
Mary: And that's what we do when we have purity in our lives. It's like we're a walking advertisement, a billboard just announcing how beautiful and how precious Jesus is and telling things about His character about His purity and His goodness and how wonderful that is.
Nancy: And that He really does change lives.
Nancy: He can take that which is impure, and He can make it pure. And we reflect the story about our being the Bride of Christ. We want to be a pure Bride for Christ. Paul talks about that quite a bit in the New Testament.
Ephesians chapter 5 is a real familiar passage, but it says,
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. [Why?] So that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (vv. 25–27).
So there's a connection between our purity and our being the Bride of Christ. We want to be a pure Bride for Him.
Mary: And I think it's significant that it's mentioned in the passage here for women that purity is important. Now, it's obviously important for everyone, purity and holiness is vitally important, but I think the bride part of the story . . . women can be brides. Women are brides.
And we know what bride-like behavior looks like. It's wanting to be dressed in that beautiful gown, keeping it pure, keeping it clean, and just wanting to present ourself as bride to the groom, spotless and looking as good as we can.
Nancy: So when women are pure in their relationship with Christ, in their lives and in their hearts, we tell that part of the gospel story.
Mary: We shine the light on that part of the gospel story, on how the Church feels and behaves toward her Savior, Christ Jesus, her promised Groom.
Nancy: And that purity, that practical purity, it's our positional purity being lived out in everyday life. We often think of it as relating to sexual purity, and we want to talk about that, but purity affects every area of our lives.
Mary: It does. Purity affects our speech. The word for slander actually is really interesting.
Nancy: We talked about slander earlier in the series.
Mary: We talked about slander. It's in this passage, and it's actually diabolous—malicious gossip, slander.
Mary: Diabolical. That type of behavior, behavior that is impure in our speech, like Satan, it's like the devil, diabolous. And yet pure behavior is like Jesus Christ. It's like our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it shows up in various areas, like our speech.
Nancy: Which is a reflection of what's in our hearts. So the impurity that we allow in our hearts ultimately is going to come out or be expressed . . .
Mary: In our mouths or in our thoughts, impure thoughts. It translates into impure actions at some point in time.
Nancy: And it's so commonly accepted today to express impurity on Facebook posts, on Twitter, in words that we say, language that we use, crassness, coarseness, profanity. I remember a Christian worker who was challenged about using profanity. He said, "Everybody uses a little bit of profanity," as if there's no big deal about it. And God's Word is calling us to say, "Yes, holiness is a big deal in every area of our lives."
Mary: And in our thought lives. It's so important in our thought life.
Nancy: Yes, right, because "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he."
Mary: I think a lot of women are getting tripped nowadays with thinking, Oh, it's not a big deal, or being curious about it. They are curious about things they hear or see or books that they hear about and get attracted to that and begin to explore it and get impure thoughts in their minds. And then that festers there and then comes up at the most inopportune times.
Nancy: A huge area for that is in romance novels.
Mary: It is.
Nancy: So many women are reading things that are really lurid, that are not just suggestive, but explicitly sexually immoral, and thinking, I just enjoy the good story line, or maybe it's an escape.
Mary: Or justifying it, saying, "This is really going to help me in my marriage." And yet, having those impure images, images that are really not God honoring, in their minds.
And also Internet sites . . . I think that pornography for women now is a massive problem.
Nancy: You used to think of it as more a men's issue.
Mary: Yes. You used to think of it as a man's issue, but more and more in ministry, I see women coming up and confessing that they are entrenched and enmeshed, really slaves to pornography.
Nancy: So, again, doing it the world's way leads to slavery. Doing it God's way sets us free.
Nancy: Now, I want us to focus for the time we have remaining here on this whole issue of sexual purity as it relates to virtue and holiness and God's standard. Now, immorality has always been around. It was around in Paul's day when he was writing to Titus. In fact, the Roman Empire was a very wicked, flagrantly wicked society.
But within our lifetime, there's been a real escalation of the acceptance of immorality and now the promoting and flaunting and "in-your-face" . . . You were saying to me the other day how many times you've had to just turn off a TV program recently because all of a sudden there in your face is something that five years ago you would never have seen.
Mary: You would never have seen. Yes.
Nancy: The new normal is, and we hear this even within the church, of couples living together, not married. And it's like you come from another planet if you have an issue with that.
Mary: Exactly. And they're even justifying it. I've had girls come up to me saying, "Well, I don't have an issue with purity. I don't cheat on my boyfriend." And in speaking with the young girl that I have in mind, she said, well, she's being monogamous. She's had the one boyfriend; now she has a new boyfriend, but she doesn't cheat on him, although they have been sleeping together and in some cases living together.
So that's the new normal in the church. And a lot of women in the church, a lot of couples in the church just see this as, "Well, what's the issue? What's the problem with it? Our standards are even higher than the world's because we're just being committed to one another, so what's the issue with that?" Or Christian couples that are engaged to be married and just see living together as another stage on their way to marriage. That's just so common.
Nancy: So, let's talk about that because I think it's not really understood why this matters. This is just like a leftover morality of another era. But we see God's principles on this matter as being timeless. We believe they are timeless. So how does sexual chastity and marital sex—because sex is beautiful in the context of marriage—how do those things both express the truth of the gospel? Why does it matter?
Mary: That is the key; it expresses the truth of the gospel. We are telling a story. We are bearing witness with the way we live, the way we behave. We are, in our behavior, to shine a light on the story.
Nancy: Tell the story.
Mary: The story of the gospel is the Savior that came to redeem His Bride. The Bride who keeps herself pure and holy for Him. The covenant relationship between the two, we read earlier in our session today from Ephesians 5, talking about the covenant, and the whole passage that is often, so often read in marriage ceremonies where the marriage between Christ and the Church is reflected there, the picture of it, the image of it is the relationship between a husband and a wife and the covenant relationship.
Nancy: I believe God actually created marriage for the purpose of telling that story.
Mary: Exactly. He created marriage for that purpose. So we either are faithful in telling that story, or we don't tell that story properly. And in that story, if there is no covenant, if Christ had not come and died, if there was no covenant relationship (a covenant, an agreement in the heavenly realm), there would be no union, there would be no coming together of Christ and the Church.
So that's the story we tell in the marriage, and that's the story we tell in our sexual relationships. We are to tell that story of Christ and the Church. So, if there is no covenant, there ought not to be a coming together, there ought not to be that physical union because if a woman has sex outside of that covenant of marriage, then she is really telling a lie about the gospel. She's not telling the story accurately. She is not glorifying God.
Nancy: Which leads to the question . . . I think so many today would hear that, but they don't really care.
Nancy: We were talking about this the other day, and you said it was just like an ah-ha moment.
Mary: I said, "Well, that's why reverence was the very first item in this whole list." It does matter. And God does matter. And what God says does matter. And it matters more than what I think or what I feel.
Nancy: We see that sex outside of marriage is not just a violation of God's standard, it is that, but, really, it's an assault on the picture of redemption, on the great salvation story.
And I think we need to say that if over a period of time we have somebody who calls himself a believer but does not care about purity, whether it's sexually or in other areas . . . We've been talking about this this week and saying, "Look, there are so many areas that we're discussing in this book where both of us would say, 'My life does not measure up to this.'" But it bothers us.
Mary: Yes. We want it to measure up. We want to be in a different space.
Nancy: Yes. We want it to measure up. But someone who says, "I want to live life the way I want to live, and I don't care," does not have reverence for God. And someone who has no reverence for God has no basis for assurance of salvation.
A person who's a child of God has been changed. They're a new creation. They have no desires, new appetites, new bents, new inclinations. And they, nor we, have arrived at where we ultimately want to be and will be in that.
Mary: Right, because Christ breaks the power of sin and gives us the ability to live a life of purity.
Nancy: Yes, and the desire
Mary: And the desire for more purity. Yes. And I've seen this in my own life. I've seen that my desire for purity has grown, or that my aversion for impurity has even grown. I once told my daughter-in-law that the Holy Spirit has absolutely wrecked movies for me. Things that I used to be able to watch and enjoy when I was twenty years old, now I have an aversion to them. When I see a story about a man and a woman, or infidelity, or adultery . . .
Nancy: . . . being celebrated
Mary: Yes, when I see it being celebrated, or that's such a beautiful love story, that just makes my stomach turn now.
Nancy: A part of that is that over the years . . . We've both lived long enough now to see those kinds of things wreck lives and be such heartbreaking situations, and we go, "That's not funny. That's not beautiful."
Mary: That is not funny. No. Time and time again, as Satan upholds it and the worlds upholds it as just this beautiful, beautiful thing that is so fulfilling and so joyful, and it's all about us, and that's just a lie.
We see it in Scripture here that purity is desirable. Purity is beautiful. Purity is really what will bring us joy. And that's a message that is so counter-cultural, to tell a young woman that your sexual chastity, you being sexually pure prior to marriage and even after marriage, sexual purity, coming together in sexual union with your husband and enjoying that union, but also being pure in that, that will bring you more joy and satisfaction than the ways of the world.
Nancy: Okay, and I think that's part of why the apostle Paul then in Ephesians 5 says,
Among you [that is among you believers] there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity because these are improper for God's holy people, or should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, for of this you can be sure no immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (vv. 1–5 paraphrase).
Mary: That is pretty powerful.
Nancy: Pretty clear, too.
Nancy: So what does this mean, "Not even a hint"? What does that look like in our world?
Mary: Well, I know what it doesn't look like. I've seen it when we've gotten together, when I've gotten together with some Christian girlfriends, or in a group, a mixed group, and there are off-colored jokes or some suggestive language, and I'm thinking, That's a hint. That's a hint. Or somebody tells something that's just a bit off and yet everybody's laughing at it. That's a hint of sexual immorality and impurity. That's laughing at and enjoying amused by something that God is not amused by.
Nancy: Which shows a lack of reverence for God. And it is an attack on the picture of redemption that we're supposed to be showing to the world. As we're talking about this, and you've talked about growing in sensitivity to what's pure, I fear for many today, because there hasn't been care and intentionality in this area, that there's less sensitivity. Maybe things that would have bothered them ten years ago, now it's no big deal.
Mary: Yes. And that is such a mark of our society right now because it is like we're being intentionally desensitized, that there's more and more and more explicit . . . You walk in a room and see on the television screen, which you would have been horrified at years ago, five years ago, four years ago, and now it's . . . oh, it's just common.
Nancy: And yet, as women who are doing this study with us, I think God is doing in many hearts what He's doing in ours, and that is giving a greater desire for greater purity to please the Lord, to reverence Him, to honor Him, to be lights in a dark world. And we're not talking about being prudish. We're not talking about being killjoys or dressing like they did a hundred years ago. We're talking about a wholesome, robust, vital, vibrant sort of holiness that starts in the heart and reflects the holiness of Christ.
Nancy: And yet I know, as we're having this conversation, there are women listening to us who, their hearts are just awash with regret.
Mary: Yes, so many.
Nancy: They're saying, "I'm blowing it. I've blown it right now. I'm in a relationship that I know is not holy. I'm involved in an activities that I know are not holy. Is there hope for me?"
Mary: Women who are so ashamed of their past or their present, who just seem to be enmeshed in it, can't get away from it
Nancy: And I think we want to leave the message that there is hope through repentance.
Nancy: God can't bless the sin of my past, but He can, and He will bless a broken and a contrite, a repentant heart. And God, He can't restore virginity when it's been given away, but He can restore purity.
Mary: Yes, and that is such a great message of hope.
Leslie: God will give you the power you need to make pure choices, and He'll also give the grace to forgive when we haven't made pure choices. Both of those truths give us a lot of hope.
Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss have been talking about purity today. And they'll be right back.
Nancy and Mary write about the importance of purity in their new workbook, True Woman 201: Interior Design. It's a ten-week Bible study for women based on Titus chapter 2. When God changes your heart from the inside out, you'll see the results in many practical ways. This study will take you through that process.
We'd like to send you a copy of this new workbook, True Woman 201. It's our gift to say "thanks" when you help make Revive Our Hearts possible with a gift of any size. We'll send one workbook per household with your donation during this series.
Ask for True Woman 201 when you call. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can donate online and get this workbook by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.
If you appreciated today's conversation, I hope you'll visit the Revive Our Hearts website and watch Nancy and Mary on video and share it with friends who could use it. Send a link to friends or post it to social media. To see today's conversation on video, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Well, the apostle Paul encourages women to be working at home. Does that mean women shouldn't work outside the home? What about a career or a paycheck? Nancy and Mary will be back Monday to address those questions.
Now they're back to wrap up today's program on purity.
Nancy: I want to ask as we close today, Mary, if you would pray for our sisters who are joining us in this study and just ask God to give a heart and a hunger, a longing, for purity, and that He will restore purity in many, many hearts.
Mary: Yes. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your Word, how it challenges us, how it quickens our spirit, how it convicts us, how it gives us direction in terms of how You want us to live and the way You want us to behave, decisions You want us to make.
Father, I pray for those women who have been listening who are saying, "I have just blown it, and I get a big 'F' in terms of a mark in this area of my life. I have just really messed up. I'm struggling with pornography. I'm struggling with sexual temptation. I have given in to sexual temptation." Or maybe women who are currently living with boyfriends and have never really understood why it is not something that is condoned by the Lord.
So, Father, I just pray that Your grace may wash over, that we may understand that the death of the Savior on the cross is big enough to cover every sin, and that when we come to You with open hands and in humility, You forgive us, You cleanse us, You wash us, and You restore us and make us pure.
May we have a greater heart for purity, all of us, that we may love it and see it as beautiful as You do. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.