Sin. Sin is at your door right now. As the Lord said to Cain when his offering did not please him and Cain was becoming angry, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7
Our Pastor recently reminded us of this verse in our Sunday school class. He encouraged us to be more intentional in our prayers for others and to ask them what sin is crouching at their door so we can help pray against it. This thought has stuck with me.
Right now Satan desires my marriage. As I prepare to leave for another country this coming Saturday, Satan would like nothing more than to drive a wedge between my husband and me. To have us say bitter goodbyes as we harbor resentment in our hearts toward each other. These ill feelings could continue to stew while we are apart and affect how we minister to others and care for our children. Boom, the enemy wins.
I type this as I sit poolside at a hotel watching my husband and boys swim. I have felt the attacks coming one by one all day. From not receiving a compliment after working extra hard to look nice (petty I know), to no help with packing and hauling luggage for our overnight stay and now to the immodest women opposite him in the hot tub. Our enemy can sure hit where it hurts.
I find myself at a moment of decision, more accurately a pivotal moment in a battle. I have been here many times before and I'm guessing you ladies have as well. These little digs add up until we feel we have every right to be hurt and angry. A confrontation feels imminent. My inconsiderate and insensitive husband needs to be held accountable for his actions... right?
That could be my battle plan and I have chosen that route many times. The Sin at my door I welcomed in and allowed him to have his way in my heart and to direct my hurtful words and actions. I thought I knew better than God and wanted fleshly retribution for my hurt feelings.
Praise God that he has lordship over my heart and has patiently been training me over the years that I have been his. Training me for real battle and how to identify the true and only Enemy that I have. This is the Enemy I need to battle against, the Sin at my door, Satan himself. I am beginning to better understand verses like Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
So I fight. With the Word of God in my hand, I look at Jesus. I remind myself of who he is and what he has done for me. I look at verses like Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And Colossians 3:13, Mark 11:25, and Ephesians 4:32. Finally, Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
As I read these verses and fix my eyes on Jesus, his powerful words fight for me. They heal my heart and at the same time kick the Devil in the teeth and order him away from my doorstep. Thanksgiving floods me and my eternal perspective is set right again. Praise my mighty God!
Understand this trained (wise) response comes from walking with God and being in his Word for years. I have failed so many times before that it is embarrassing. This demonstrates why it is so important to remain in Christ and to work hard to have his Word implanted within you. How can you fight a powerful Enemy if you are not trained in using the right weapon?
Ladies, what sin is crouching at your door desiring to pounce on you? Be obedient to God’s command and “rule over it” in the name of Jesus. Don’t battle flesh; battle the real Enemy that is spiritual evil. It is attacking you in order to steal your attention from God’s good plans for your life. Be courageous and don’t allow this to happen. Allow God to train you for battle with his Word. It is the only way to be victorious. I enCOURAGE you to remain vigilant!
Now, Ladies, please excuse me. I have a swimsuit to put on and a husband to enjoy some time with.
“One-anothering” is a catchy phrase that I thought I had cleverly made up in my mind all by myself until I did an internet search just now to see what popped up. Apparently I am not the first to think of these words, there are books, Bible studies, articles and sermons on this very phrase. So even though I may not be as clever as I originally thought, I still love the term and what it means to the body of Christ.
What is one anothering? I want to answer this using God’s words; it will become clear very quickly:
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. – John 13:14
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. – John 13:34
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom… – Colossians 3:16
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, - Hebrews 10:24
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. – James 5:16
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11
Are you getting the picture? This is just a small sampling of what the Bible contains. One-anothering is us, as the body of Christ, being obedient and acting on God’s instructions on how to treat and care for other members of the body of Christ.
Jesus was faithful in giving us instruction on how to treat each other and being our perfect example in how to do this. Jesus taught, healed, loved, rebuked, washed the feet of and prayed for those he loved. We need to be busy doing these same things.
God has blessed each of us with special spiritual gifts in order to use them to continue to build up the Body. If you read the Bible it will be easy to see that there are to be no “loner” Christians in this world. We were made to be dependent on each other and to be united together for the glory of God (see Philippians 2:1-4)
We are responsible for each other and must be active in caring for each other in order for us to continue to “hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). Have you ever sat in a church service or Bible study and looked around at your brothers and sisters in Christ and thought, “I am accountable to God for these people.”? I’m hoping now you will, because you are.
God has ordained this beautiful interdependence within the body of Christ, allowing us each to use our God-given abilities to help each other. This is the means by which God has decided that his people be taken care of, by his people. Yes, it is a mighty calling indeed. This is one ministry that every believer needs to be active in.
I have the privilege of getting to do some serious one-anothering in Guatemala in just over a week. The language and geographical location may be different, but God’s commands stay true and perfect. I will be loving, encouraging, teaching, praying with and figuratively washing the feet of the body of Christ in Guatemala. This will be done in homes with dirt floors, schools with hungry children and churches with joyful brothers and sisters. I can’t wait.
We will also be doing much one-anothering within our own team. We will get continual opportunities to practice encouragement, submission, forgiving, and the act of bearing each other’s burdens and joys. This will be easy and enjoyable at times and at others terrifically difficult, but always done in love and with Christ in mind and heart.
Ladies, be found faithful in your ministry of one-anothering, enCOURAGE others in the body of Christ for the glory of God.
I believe every woman has a natural desire to be beautiful; a desire to be found attractive and pleasing to others. But what is beautiful? What makes someone truly beautiful? In order to know this we must turn to the book of ultimate standards, God’s word. We, as Christian women, can use no other source as our guide and measuring stick in this or any other area of our lives.
The Bible is full of wisdom, but does it really speak specifically to the physical beauty of women? Our loving God knows what concerns us and does not leave us to wonder how to live. I have not found a topic yet that is not covered in God’s word. So, yes there are scriptures that speak to this topic and quite directly.
Last week I discussed modesty and how we need to be aware of how we dress so that we are not selfishly trying to steal attention and glory away from God. Knowing that we need to be modest in our dress leads to questions of whether it is okay to beautify ourselves and should we work at being beautiful? Let’s revisit our scripture:
“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” - Timothy 2:9-10
Notice the words “women should adorn themselves”. It is certainly okay for women to adorn (to add to or enhance) themselves, but what they adorn themselves with is of utmost importance. This should not be with excessive hairstyling, jewelry or pricy clothing, but with good works. How do you put on good works?
Adornment is a verb, a word of action. Our faith is made known by what we do and how we live (see James 2:18, Matt. 7:20). You put on good works by doing good works; by spending yourself on what pleases God and blesses others in his name. When our lives produce fruit in keeping with the Spirit within us, those around us are able to witness an outward demonstration of internal beauty.
Adorning yourself with good works makes perfect sense. What is absolute, perfect beauty? God. God in perfect bodily form is Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19). Only when we have Jesus within us can we be beautiful; only when others see Christ evident and manifested in our lives can we be seen as beautiful. This needs to become your new definition of what human beauty is. Christ living within you and shining through you.
Peter apparently agreed with Paul. When speaking to women in 1 Peter 3:4 he says, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Who is this “hidden person of the heart”? This is your true self; the heart of who you are that has been redeemed and washed clean by the Savior. We are made into something new and beautiful when Christ chooses us to be his (Col. 3:12).
A “gentle and quiet spirit” comes from fully trusting in a God that is unmovable and unchanging, forever perfect and loving. A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit does not get ruffled or anxious because there is no fear of what is to come or what has been. This is a woman who has given herself completely over to the will of God and walks confidently in his grasp. She is kind, peaceful and even tempered. This is a beautiful woman and she is precious in the sight of God. There is no better prize than to be precious to God.
A beautiful woman entrusts herself to the Lord and not the world, God alone provides her unwavering standards. Worldly beauty will never satisfy; it is too temporary and fleeting. Godly beauty gets more profound, improves with time and it is promised to be “imperishable”!
So yes, Ladies, I enCOURAGE you to work at being beautiful to the best of your abilities. Understand God’s perfect plan to conform you to the likeness of his son. Only then can we experience true beauty as we reflect his.
We are to keep our eyes trained on the pure beauty of Jesus Christ and not on our own physical vanity. We need to delight and be fully satisfied “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” - Psalms 27:4.
I was recently talking with the group from our church that will soon be in Guatemala for a mission trip. I was discussing proper dress code while there. I informed them that we could not wear any inappropriate clothing: nothing too short, too low, too thin or too tight. I also asked them not to wear excessive jewelry or make-up.
After this meeting, I started thinking how strange it was that this issue of modesty needed to be addressed at all. As committed Christians, shouldn’t this be the norm for us every day? We will be representing Christ to others in Guatemala, yet aren’t we always representing Christ? What an eye opener for me in how I dress for Christ in my day to day life.
As Christian women do we need to be so concerned about how we dress? Is it really that important? Let’s check the Word:
“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10
The answer is yes, we need to dress ourselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control. Why? We need to remember our purpose here on Earth, why God continues to allow us to breathe. We were created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16) and all we do needs to be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes how we dress. We should dress in a way that pleases God and reflects his goodness.
Here are the hard questions to ask yourself: Do you dress for your own glory or for the glory of God? Does what you wear distract from the gospel purposes in your life? Does it distract others from the gospel purposes in their life (causing lust, envy, confusion, etc.)? If you dress to illicit attention or approval from others, you are what Carolyn Mahaney calls a “glory thief” in her book, True Beauty. We are stealing glory from God; we are desiring it more for ourselves than for him. These are strong words, but they hit the mark - I certainly do not want to be a glory thief!
So, what are the limits, just where is that line that we should not cross in how we dress? Ladies, don’t give me this. The rule is not to play with the line, but to stay away from it. I believe we women are very aware of what is acceptable and what is not. We know when we are wearing something that accentuates and draws attention to certain areas. I’m telling you (and me) to knock it off. If you stand in a mirror before leaving the house and feel sexy, time to change. Sexy stays home with your husband.
Listen carefully, the opposite of “modesty” is not “beautiful” or even “stylish”. The opposite of modesty is immodesty which is direct sin. If you don’t like modesty it means you prefer sin and that is living in opposition to God. Whoa, more tough stuff! Yep, sure is. God takes what we do with our bodies very seriously:
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Our bodies are not our own, they were bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. Our bodies are to be used to glorify God and not ourselves.
Beautiful modesty is in no way an oxymoron. You cannot be beautiful unless you are modest. You must possess a godly modesty that flows from your love of pleasing God through obedience to him in your outward appearance. Beauty is a radiance from the inside to the outside.
This begs the questions: how then should we adorn ourselves? How are we to be beautiful? Is it even okay to be beautiful? So glad you asked! Our gracious God does not leave us without help in this important area. One week from today, I will answer these very questions.
I enCOURAGE you to take this seriously. Train yourself and teach your daughters to be beautifully modest for the glory of God.