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God's High Calling for Women, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
May 6, 2024 4:00 am

God's High Calling for Women, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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It's a very delicate balance for a Godly woman to know when she is properly dressed, to demonstrate the grace and the beauty of womanhood, to show her love for her own husband and submission to him, and yet to avoid being the center of attraction that causes people's thoughts to turn away from God to those things which are shameful. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. The role of women has gone through quite a change in the past 50 years or so. Think about business, academia, and the government. Once it was the rarest of women who rose to prominence. Today, women frequently rise to the top of those fields, and more regularly still, girls are told they need to be more than just wives and moms.

The question is, how positive have those changes been for women? Consider that today as John MacArthur turns your attention to the Bible's clear, encouraging, and yes, even liberating counsel for women. With Mother's Day approaching, he's launching a look at God's high calling for women. Well, John, as we kick off this study, let me ask, what challenges does a Godly woman face today? What makes being a woman of God difficult in 2024?

I would say just about everything. God's design for women is under massive assault, and it has been for decades and decades. Women are basically pushed by this culture.

In every avenue that it has access to, they're pushed, and they're pushed away from God's design, and therefore, they're pushed away from true fulfillment. All the stereotypes that abound relating to women's roles take them in the opposite direction that the Word of God would lead them. God has a plan for women that is fulfilling, that is energizing, that is thrilling, that is blessed, that is satisfying. Everything a woman should want and could want is bound up in the fulfillment of God's plan, but you have to know the plan. So we're going to help you with that. The new series is titled God's High Calling for Women, coming right out of 1 Timothy 2.

Obviously, you're aware of it. Pressure on today's women is intense to take control of her environment, assert herself, look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, compete with men for responsibilities at home, at work, at church, and lost everywhere in the fray is God's own design, and consequently, satisfaction is missing. God's High Calling for Women explores the unique role that women fulfill in the church and describes what God prizes in a woman and what a woman finds real satisfaction in, a role husbands should support and be willing to work to preserve. These will hardly be politically correct messages, as you can tell, but they will be biblical.

Don't miss a single broadcast. That's right, friend. Whether you're a mother or looking toward marriage or a committed single, God's Word has a better plan for you than what the world touts. See how to embrace that design. And here's John with his study, God's High Calling for Women. For now, I'd invite you to open your Bible to 1 Timothy 2, 9 through 15. I want to read that text so you'll have it in your mind, so you listen carefully as I read beginning at verse 9. In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel with godly fear and self-control, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothing, but which becometh women professing godliness with good works.

Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence, for Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being greatly deceived was in the transgression.

Nevertheless, she shall be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control. Now obviously, this portion of Scripture has to do with the woman's role in the church. And we're going to be looking at it in detail because it is, as we find so commonly in Scripture, a revelation of the most marvelous comprehensiveness. The Spirit of God, using that economy of words that only God can use, uses very few terms to express vast amounts of truth in a comprehensive manner.

Because of that, we need to give careful attention to all that is said in the passage. And when it is complete, we will have a consummate statement on God's design for women in the church. The dialogue and debate and even conflict that goes on over the issue of the role of women in the church has reached massive proportions. Feminism rises out of sinful perversion, and yet in spite of its origin, it has found its way into the culture of our society in almost every area, and even lately into the church. And the church for years committed to certain standards of behavior for men and women is systematically and rather progressively throwing aside all of its former doctrines in favor of newer ones.

I am amazed at how many evangelical churches, schools, and even seminaries are fast jettisoning things that they have for all their lifelong held to be biblical truths. Now frankly, I could take a lot of time demonstrating how far-reaching the feminist movement is. I could quote all kinds of people and we could look at all kinds of incidents. We could go into the schools and seminaries and the books and the things that are indicating to us that the capitulation is wholesale in many areas of the church. But we're all aware of that.

I really don't think that would serve any purpose to go over all of that data and it would take up a lot of our time. So in view of the fact that we all know about the march of feminism, we all know about the capitulation that is going on, it seems to me most needful to simply look at the Word of God. And having understood what the Word of God says, we then have the wherewithal to deal with any error that we might face. And frankly, no passage is more direct, more helpful, more comprehensive than the one before us today. And I believe you're going to see very clearly and concisely what the Word of God has to say about the role of women. We will also tie in related passages which are necessary because Scripture interprets Scripture.

And when we're done, it will be only a question of whether or not we desire to respond positively to God's Word or join those who are rebelling against it. Now in looking at our passage, I want you to note there are six features in regard to the role of women in the church that the apostle deals with. Their appearance, their attitude, their testimony, their role, their design, and their contribution.

Each of these opens up a whole area of thought and understanding to us. And I want you to remember the context so that you understand the setting of this. The letter is written from the apostle Paul to his protégé, his son in the faith, his dear friend and co-laborer Timothy. Paul has concluded his three missionary journeys. He has just been released from his first imprisonment in Rome.

He is now a free man. The book of Acts is completed. And as he moves out of prison, he meets Timothy in the city of Ephesus. Apparently word has reached him that things in Ephesus are not as they ought to be. And Ephesus and the church there was close to his heart. He had spent three years of his ministry there. He had poured his soul into that church. He had said about that ministry that he had not failed in Ephesus to declare all the counsel of God. He had warned them night and day for three years that error would come from the outside and evil would rise from the inside.

And sure enough, his worst fears had come to pass. The church had entered into doctrinal error. The church had entered into ungodly living and many things were wrong in that church.

Most significantly of all, the leadership had been corrupted doctrinally and morally. The church then had pastors and elders and those who were the official deacons of the church who needed to be replaced with godly people. Now there were many problems in that church.

One of them related to the place of women. Obviously if the church was entering into areas of false doctrine, obviously if it was ungodly in its behavior, this would impact the women in the church as well as the men. And since usually there are more women in a church than there are men, this could have indicated a great proliferation of problems.

Things were not right in that church and it impacted the women. There is a reminder in chapter 5, verse 6 for example, that some women were living in pleasure and were really dead while they were alive. Some women then had abandoned purity perhaps.

Some had desired to live only for pleasure. We find further in the passage in verse 11 that some younger widows had made vows and promises to Christ which they could not keep, but in their lust were in danger of great violation of those promises and thus to bring upon themselves in verse 12 condemnation for being unfaithful to their original pledge. We find in verse 13 that some of them had become idle, wandering around from house to house.

They were tail bearers, busybodies saying things that ought not to be said. Verse 15, some of them had already turned aside after Satan. In his second epistle to Timothy, chapter 3, verse 6, he notes there were silly women who were laden with lusts who were easily led astray by those teaching lies.

Now back to chapter 2. In this passage, we learn that not only were women having problems with purity and not only were they turning aside to Satan, breaking pledges they had made to Christ, being led around by their own diverse lusts, but here there were some of these women who were acting indecently, that is to say bringing these improprieties, impurities, and immoralities into the worship of the church. And under the pretense of coming to worship God were flaunting themselves and desecrating that worship by the dress and demeanor that betrayed an evil intent rather than a heart of worship. Now it is important in the church that worship be central.

Is that not so? We're committed to that here and we have studied much about worship. So in the list of priorities as Paul sets these things down for Timothy, this comes near the top. In chapter 2 when he began the discussion of matters in the church, he began with the issue of evangelistic praying, didn't he? Calling for the church to pray for the salvation of all men because God wants all men to be saved. And that was the most important issue for Paul to deal with because the church at Ephesus had developed an exclusive doctrine of redemption that said only a few elite Jews who keep the law can be saved, or a few elite Gentiles who can rise to the level of mystical knowledge can be saved and it's not for everybody.

And this exclusive mentality had literally cut the cord to world evangelization. And so he dealt initially with the need to realize that God wants all men to be saved. The second subject that is in his mind is the subject of worship. And the worship was being polluted by women who saw it as a way to flaunt their wealth, to demonstrate their beauty, to put on a sexually attractive demonstration to men that would draw their focus away from the living God to things not fitting, certainly not fitting in a worship environment. And so it is the worship issue that is dealt with and that takes Paul right into the whole matter of the role of a woman within the context of the Christian faith.

Now remember that in the matter of evangelistic praying he spoke to the men in verse 8 and said that the men are to do the praying publicly and they are to do so not only with holy hands, that is with a clean life, but without anger and dissension, that is with a pure heart. So the life and the heart of men were the issue in verse 8 and now the life and the heart of women become the issue in verse 9. Since clothing is an issue of some importance with the fairer sex, Paul begins with a discussion of their appearance and that is the first point that I want you to see. He discusses their appearance and without question in my mind he is revealing a problem in the church at Ephesus and not only there but no doubt their problems were symptomatic of problems in the church everywhere. So he says in verse 9, let's look at it. In like manner also that women adorn themselves, literally the Greek says, in adorning apparel. And then skipping down to the end of the verse, he gets very specific, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.

Now you really cannot have a problem understanding what he says. It's very, very simple and very clear. But I want you to understand the intent of it in full so I want you to look at it in detail. First of all, the phrase in like manner takes us back to verse 8 where he said, I will that men behave in this way, in like manner women in this way. In like manner introduces a new subject but a related one. It is a new dimension of the total subject of how men and women conduct themselves in the worship in the assembly of the believers.

The word like manner transitions within a broad subject matter to another emphasis. For example, in chapter 3 he begins to talk about the bishop or elder or pastor. Then in verse 8 he says, in like manner the deacon. In verse 11, in like manner the women. And there what he's doing is within the context of those who are officially recognized as servants of the church, he transitions from elders to deacons to what we know as deaconesses. So the little word in like manner, which is one word in the Greek, is the transition within a large subject to another dimension of that discussion.

So he is moving then from the general attitude of men in worship to the general attitude and demeanor of women. Now go back to the beginning of verse 8 and you will notice the verb I will. This is bulimai, this is the will of intent. This is the will of purpose. This is the will of determination. This is the will of command.

This is not thelo, the will of a wish, the will of emotion. This is I command. It carries apostolic intent. It carries divine authority. He is commanding that men pray and that women adorn themselves in a proper way. Now then, after stating the intent is to command, we get an idea that this is serious business.

And what is it specifically that he is after? That women also, the also being there to indicate men are to behave in this way and also women in this, they are to adorn themselves. Now let me just talk about the word adorn. The word adorn is cosmeo.

We get the word cosmetic from it. It has to do with how a woman prepares herself. It means basically to arrange, to put in order, to make ready. And he is saying a woman is to make herself ready.

I want to start with that very simple thought. When a woman comes to worship, there is a preparation involved. A woman should prepare herself for worship. She should make herself ready. That is assumed.

That is a given. And when they prepare themselves, it should be in adorning apparel. And here is another form of the word cosmeo from the same root.

This is an adjective, cosmeo, and it simply carries the same idea. She is to prepare herself with the proper preparation. She is to adorn herself with the proper adornment.

The word cosmeo, the adjective for it, means orderly, becomingly, properly, well-ordered, well-arranged. So a woman then is to come to worship properly arranged. That is to say that there is some preparation for worship, obviously. Now the word that is translated in the King James by the term apparel is really a bigger term than that. It means not only clothing, but is used in many places to mean demeanor or attitude or action.

It can be the deportment of a woman. The idea then is, here is a total preparation. When a woman comes to worship, she is to be totally prepared.

She is to be adorned from the inside out. And one demonstration of that is in the proper kind of apparel. Now Paul does not just leave with that general exhortation, but he gets very specific at the end of verse 9.

Let's look at it. He says, just in case you might miss what I'm talking about, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Now here the apostle hits at some very specific styles of extravagance that corrupted the worship of the church at Ephesus and perhaps other churches as well.

It is very straightforward and very practical, and it needs our attention and understanding. Now Paul, let me say this, is not saying that women ought to come to church tacky or slovenly or sloppy or indifferent. He is not saying that. He is not saying that they should not be nicely dressed.

He is just finished saying that they ought to come with a right preparation which assumes they would be properly dressed. In a way that is becoming both to the grace and beauty of a woman and to the purpose and intent of worshiping God. But as the tendency of men was to perhaps dissent and quarrel and maybe carry a grudge and maybe dirty their hands in the things of life and come with their sins, the tendency of a woman might be to be preoccupied with her outward adornment so that she would abuse the worship service. Now let me give you a little idea of what the culture was like and where these things might come from. There was a man by the name of Juvenal who lived about 60 to 140 AD. He was a poet and he has written many things that we have found and so we get a little characterization of that time in the Roman Empire by reading his writing.

In one document that has been found he wrote this. There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do. Nothing that she deems shameful. And when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification.

So numerous are the tears and stories piled one another on her head that she pays no attention to her own husband." Now Juvenal gives us a little insight into women who were preoccupied with their appearance. And certainly we would agree today that our culture is preoccupied with that. Our culture has the cult of worshiping the human anatomy and worshiping fashion and worshiping hairdos.

I mean, it's just...it's our culture. And if the church today falls influence to that system, why should we expect anything different in the early church? It's always the world system that endeavors to encroach on the church and tragically the church sooner or later seems to welcome that encroachment. There were women in the church in that time whose life was frankly centered on their appearance as there are women today in the church who have that same mentality. They come to church with the intent of making an elaborate display of their clothing and their hairdo. In Philo's description of a prostitute, which is quite interesting in his writing called The Sacrifices of Cain and Abel, he writes this, A prostitute is often described as having hair dressed in elaborate braids, her eyes with pencil lines, her eyebrows smothered in paint, and her expensive clothes embroidered lavishly with flowers and bracelets and necklaces of gold and jewels hanging all over her. Now in that particular culture then, the woman of the world, the woman who wanted to flaunt her wealth and flaunt her beauty and call attention to herself and attract everybody's interest and sexually allure someone was the woman who was overdressed, over made up, and over painted in every sense.

Now this was the woman of the world. This marked out the prostitute or the garish, gaudy, lavish kind of person. And what the Apostle Paul is saying, that cannot come into a worship service without being an overt statement, folks, I'm not here to worship God, I'm here to attract your attention.

That's his intent. So you can see the tension that is existing in the Ephesian congregation that is concerning Paul and Timothy, and that is the fact that here is the church sitting in the middle of the corrupt world, endeavoring to be a testimony of godliness to everyone around it, and if the church catches the disease of the world, then it brings reproach on Christ and it destroys its own testimony. To have the women in the church who are supposed to be the epitome of godliness appear like prostitutes or gaudy, showy women trying to call attention to themselves, or to have them come with the intent of alluring other men and making them discontent with their own wife, or even worse, to allure them into a sexual relationship, would be to blaspheme the intent of the church, certainly when it comes together to worship the living and holy God. So the point in all of this is that the world of that day and the world of this day has always had a preoccupation with the adornment of women. And there are always women who want to put themselves on display. And it's a very delicate balance and a very fine line for a godly woman to know when she is properly dressed, to demonstrate the grace and the beauty of womanhood, to show her love for her own husband and submission to him, and yet to avoid being the center of attraction that causes people's thoughts to turn away from God to those things which are shameful. Now you have to understand also that in that particular time, there was great poverty among the masses of people, and a wealthy person could put on a demonstration that was really hard to match. In fact, for example, a very costly dress worn by a very wealthy woman would cost up to 7,000 denarii.

Now a denarius is one day's pay for a common laborer. So 7,000 days pay for one of those dresses. And she would come flowing into church in one of these very expensive garments and the whole focus of worship would turn to her. And everything would be lost. And the women would feel second class and the men would take a look at their wife and look at her.

Why couldn't I have married a rich one, you know? It just did not contribute to worship. And then there were those women, frankly, who had their intent set on alluring men. And so they would come dressed in clothing that was not modest, clothing that demonstrated sensuality, passion, lust, desire, that was intended to allure and attract.

And thus, with those lustful purposes, did they betray and desecrate the spirit of worship. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. The study he began today is titled God's High Calling for Women. And you know, these are great lessons for moms and daughters to listen to together. They can also help husbands encourage their wives and daughters to embrace God's best plans for them. And again, the title of John's study, God's High Calling for Women, available to download when you get in touch today. Just go to our website, gty.org.

God's High Calling for Women contains four lessons. You can download the MP3s and the transcripts free of charge. And in addition, you can browse and download any of John's sermons.

That's over 3,600 messages. And all of that and more is available for free at gty.org. And just a reminder, we're able to provide those free resources and produce broadcasts like the one you heard today, and send out free books and other teaching materials by mail every month, and much more that we do because of faithful friends like you who are being nourished by John's Bible teaching, and you want others to benefit as well. So thank you for praying for us and for standing with us financially. Of course, we want you to support your church first, but if you'd like to express your support for Grace To You, you can mail your tax-deductible gift to Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. Or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Be back tomorrow when John shows you how the way you dress can speak volumes about your attitude toward God. John is continuing his series called God's High Calling for Women. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-06 05:54:51 / 2024-05-06 06:04:51 / 10

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