For the past few weeks we have been discussing the controversial topic (in Christian circles) of the role of women in society. The basis for those discussions is several passages in the Bible that have laid the foundation, down through the ages, for the church’s view of what God Himself thinks about the role of women, and what He wants to communicate to us about the subject today. We came to the conclusion that the Bible teaches conclusively that God created women to bear children in the context of families while being “workers at home,” i.e. homemakers.
What is the reaction when Christians in 2020 hear that conclusion? The temptation for those in the 21st century who have never heard what the Bible teaches, specifically, is to have, with varying degrees of intensity, a negative response. Here are some possible reactions Christian women feel in their hearts:
- “I can’t do that! I want to have a career! Maybe one child, later, after I’m established.
- “I can’t handle children. I don’t have it in me to be a mother with kids hanging all over me!”
- “That’s not a law that all women be homemakers. Some are more qualified than others. God wouldn’t impose His will on us. He is a gentleman.”
- “Why do I have to stay home? Am I my husband’s slave, staying home and doing all the dirty work?”
- “I don’t want to waste my education. There are no challenges in the daily drudgery of being a housewife.”
These ideas, so unquestioned in the world, while not generally and actively taught by the church, have nevertheless been absorbed and unconsciously adopted by it, in direct contradiction to Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This means that the church, by its silence, has given its de facto endorsement to the world’s teaching about women, and that silence has allowed feminism to creep in until the church is now greatly influenced by it. In most churches, those who disagree are now a curious, frowned-upon anachronism.
What does it mean that the Bible is “God’s word?” Do we really believe it? Do we really believe that if God Himself, in all His glory, were standing before us, personally telling us Himself exactly the same thing the Bible says He thinks, that we would then believe it and be eager to do it? Look back over those objections above and picture yourself saying those things to the all-powerful, all-glorious, all-loving Heavenly Father standing before you.
You can’t imagine yourself saying those things to Him, personally, in private, can you? But that is exactly what those of Jesus’ day did when faced with Jesus in the flesh, and, believe it or not, we still do the same today. We really don’t believe, in our hearts, God is actually speaking those words in the Bible directly to us.
However, when we do realize those words in the Bible are just that—words of life spoken directly from God to us personally—God initiates a series of events that causes us, willingly and eagerly, to obey those words.
Surprisingly, it does not include making the law of God a punch list of things to do to enable us to “obey God.” As a matter of fact, just as with all God’s commands, to do so is a guaranteed prescription for self righteousness and arrogance (if you see yourself as a success in your obedience), or for depression, guilt, shame and death (if you see yourself as a failure).
So, what is that “series of events” God is using that unlocks the response God seeks in us when we attempt to follow His vision in His law He has spoken so clearly to us?
It is like all the other spiritual insights God gives His children as He gradually, over a lifetime, brings them to spiritual maturity, i.e., sanctifies them: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely;…He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24).
When He is ready to take you another step down the road of the sanctification process He has you on that will ultimately conform you to the image of Christ, there are three steps in the “series of events” that God will lead you through (though you may not be aware of them as you take them).
1. A recognition of sin of which you have previously not been aware. Oh, you may have been aware of the incidents, but they have always been “His/her fault,” or “I was misunderstood,” or “Oh, we all do that.” Anything to not be wrong, i.e., not be a real, live sinner in specific instances, rather than be just a theological one, which all true Christians are perfectly happy to be.
You may have even known, deep in your heart, that what you have done or are doing (or have not done and aren’t consistently doing) is “not good,” and you are going to change, yes you are, but it’s going too far to say that is actual sin against God!
One day, when it is your time for another step down the sanctification road, God says—either through another, as He did with David through Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:7), or directly, in your own heart—“You are the man! Yes, it is your fault; no excuses; no back doors; no escape hatches. You are the sinner here!”
When God opens your eyes, you now can see clearly for the first time. Others may have sinned too. Maybe even first! In conflicts there is always plenty of sin to go around. But it makes no difference. What you did is your only concern; it isn’t our job to fix someone else. The only sin you can do anything about is your own, and you now see that clearly. Then you will invariably say as David did: “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51;3, 4).
This is the first step in the series of events God invariably uses as He takes you down the sanctification road—seeing, acknowledging and even embracing the truth God speaks to you in Romans 3:10-12: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
When you can say—really believing it with all your heart and not just because you know it is the right thing to say—“that describes me perfectly,” you are moving down your personal sanctification road! Next week we will look at God’s second stage in that three-fold series of events that describe your trip.