Adorned (week 2)
Last week, I invited you to join me (and the women from my church) as we work through a life-changing book by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. It’s not too late to dig in with us! Just start with last week’s study notes, the assignment, and the Adorned book!
For those of you who are joining us, I hope you’ve enjoyed your reading this week! The book opens with a beautiful wedding scene; if you’re interested, you can click on this link to pull up the video of Nancy and Robert’s wedding, it was incredible. Their hope was to clearly display the beauty of the gospel—and that’s exactly what they did.
Weddings are usually a bit of a lavish celebration and kind of “formal” but sometimes, there are those embarrassing unplanned moments that, at the time, make us want to run and hide, but stand out years later as something we can laugh about!
Did any of you have any of those embarrassing moments on your wedding day?
If you did, I’d love to read about it if you’ll leave a comment below!
Nancy’s description of her special day is filled with tender illustrations of the work of the gospel. Her wedding was one of the most moving that I’ve ever witnessed, and I shared a little of that celebration on this post. Nancy was glowing, a beautiful bride prepared for the man who adores her. Her description of that new marital love is an illustration of how the love of Christ affects us.
- Love Has a Beautifying Effect
Nancy describes how her bridegroom’s love affected her and created within her a greater capacity to love others (Adorned pages 17–18) and to illustrate how God’s devoted love for us has a beautifying effect that others notice. She states:
“Our calling is to make His love and His truth visible, believable, and beautiful to skeptical observers.”
As we grow in His love, we will adorn His gospel. How do we do that? How is His truth made believable by our lives? That’s what this study prepares us to do. As we receive the love of Christ, it should provide credible evidence for the reality of the gospel.
But sadly, the criticism that is most often hurled at the church is that “The Church is FULL of hypocrites!” And, sadly, I would have to agree with that.
It is, sadly, way full of hypocrites . . . but that’s not how it should be. A true Christ-follower should be sincere, a person of integrity, authenticity, and transparency.
Why is the Church so full of hypocrites?
I think it’s a combination of things:
- Some “church members” do not truly belong to Christ, they’ve never received new life from Him, and don’t have the capacity to walk in the GRACE that we talked about last week that provides the strengthening ability to obey God.
- Some “church members” are brand new babies, still struggling to discover how to walk out the truth that they are being taught.
- Some “church members” are in a state of rebellion, they are indulging the flesh and have grown cold toward God, they’ve decided the “Christian life” is too hard to live and their hearts are hard toward God or they’re spiritually asleep and they need a wake-up call.
- Some “church members” just don’t know. They haven’t been given “SOUND Doctrine.” They don’t know what God expects of them, they don’t have any idea of how to live it out.
- Some “church members” have been given sound doctrine, but are trying to live the Christian life solo . . . we weren’t made to live as “lone ranger Christians.” We were made to function in community, in a family of believers, in a healthy church environment where iron-sharpening-iron friends come alongside, life-to-life encouraging and holding one another accountable.
The next time someone tells you they won’t ever go to church because it’s so full of hypocrites, I hope you’ll let them know that the fact that the church is full of hypocrites just proves the desperate need everyone has for the Savior, and the need for believers to be in a church that teaches sound doctrine.
- Adorning the Gospel isn’t a Solo Activity
We can’t do this alone—we need older women and friends who are truth-speakers in our lives. Two of the women in the wedding picture at the top of this post have been my “truth-speakers” for almost twenty years, all of these women are dear, encouraging, iron-sharpening-iron friends who hold me accountable and have under-girded me in prayer for more than a decade.
We need friends like that. We need women in our life who will love us well.
“The biblical model of older women living out the gospel and training younger women to do the same is vital for all of us to thrive.” (Adorned p. 20)
Woman to woman.
Older to younger.
Day to day.
Life to life.
This is God’s good and beautiful plan.
“When the older women and younger women support each other in living out God’s transforming love, the entire body of Christ grows more beautiful.” (Nancy)
This is why we need women in our lives, but not just a band of friends; Scripture makes it clear that we need a church body surrounding us and investing in us . . . and also giving us an opportunity to invest in others: Hebrews 10:23–25.
How do we fulfill this? What does it look like to stir one another up to “love and good deeds”?
The Scripture passage that Adorned takes us through, Titus 2:3–5, provides the template for fulfilling the command that we find in Hebrews 10. But, before we start building those relationships, we need a solid foundation. We need to build on something called: “sound doctrine.”
Belief Impacts Behavior
Last week, I told you that Paul and Titus were on a missionary journey together and when they reached the island of Crete, Paul left Titus there to carry on the ministry. Paul sent this letter to Titus to aid him in ministering to the churches on this island. The churches are newly established, they are small and disorganized. The believers are immature and are in danger of being influenced by false teachers.
These young Christians were in grave danger and they may not have even realized it. They were surrounded by false teaching, corrupt and unbiblical thinking, and it was influencing their beliefs and their conduct. That is why Paul stresses, more than once, to teach “sound doctrine.”
For some reason the term “doctrine” has developed a negative connotation in recent years. In the book, Nancy describes an example of this as she tells about the time that I was in a doctor’s office waiting room with my dad, when a friendly older gentleman asked me about the Christian book I was reading. He let me know that he was just a “country preacher.” He told me about his church and how they don’t believe in preaching any doctrine – they just “love Jesus.”
Even that preacher had a negative view of the term “doctrine!”
But whether you use the term or not, you live by your “doctrine” when you make any decision in life. We all have a basic belief system that affects how we operate, the choices we make, and even our lifestyle and activities all proceed from our beliefs. As Christian women it is extremely important that our beliefs are based on truth—and the way that we can analyze our beliefs, evaluate them to see if they line up with “truth,” is through comparing our thoughts, ideas and opinions with Scripture.
We don’t need the doctrine of the world, the doctrine of our culture, we need Sound doctrine.
Sound doctrine is radically transformational. I hope you marked up your book a lot, as you read the sections in chapter two on sound doctrine. I believe this is the most important chapter in the book! Your behavior reveals the true “doctrine” of your heart. Everyone has a doctrine, or belief system, that they live by; that motivates them, shapes the decisions they make, develops their view of God and the world around them. Whether you’re an atheist, Buddhist, or a secular humanist—you live by your doctrine.
Nancy described our friend Holly’s doctrine. As a young woman, she believed that: “God shields a believer from overwhelming challenges or difficulty.” Many people begin their Christian walk with a belief system life this.
There is a lot of “Name it, Claim it” confusion going on in the church today . . . believers get disappointed when God doesn’t come through like they thought He would . . . or they get shamed into thinking they just didn’t have enough faith. There’s a lot of “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil” doctrine out there that people mistake for “sound doctrine.” People’s lives can be wrecked by following false teaching, so it’s important for us to understand what Scripture is teaching.
What is Scripture meaning when it mentions “sound doctrine?”
Let’s break down those words:
Sound: ὑγιαίνω [hugiaino /hoog·ee·ah·ee·no/] hugiaino
A form of this word is used nine times in the pastoral epistles, and five of those are in this book. From this word, we derive the English word hygienic. When this word is used in reference to a person’s physical condition it would mean: healthy and wholesome. In relationship to instruction or teaching, the word can be understood as meaning: pure, uncorrupted, accurate, whole, firm, righteous, imparting healing.
Sound doctrine is used in the New Testament to describe those whose opinions are free from mixture of error. Those who teach “unsound doctrine” or who pass on false teaching are all around us; false teaching is in our social media newsfeed, in the music we listen to, the people we talk to, but we are warned to be discerning: (I Timothy 6:3–4; II Timothy 4:3–4)
Doctrine: (Greek: διδασκαλίᾳ [did-as-kal-ee’-ah] didaskalia):
Doctrine simply means: teaching, instruction. Sound Doctrine will protect and preserve spiritual health.
We are warned to “keep a close watch.” In other words, it’s easy to drift, to allow wrong thinking to invade our hearts and influence our choices. We must make a diligent effort to hold ourselves in the truth when there are so many corrupting influences—even within the church there is a tendency to water down the truth, to compromise when it comes to “hard” or difficult teachings. (I Timothy 4:1, 16)
Now, I know that most of you may not be interested in the definitions or nuances of the Greek language, and you may be wondering—what does any of this have to do with my life?
Sound doctrine or teaching is always the basis for sound behavior or actions.
“Sound doctrine is the ground we stand on as we build our lives.” (Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth)
We’d only been married a little over a year when I found out that I was pregnant. We were thrilled and excited. I started picking up baby stuff: a little lavender dress (I was hopeful for a girl), a frilly diaper bag, and a few small items. I was a young woman who loved God, loved His Word, but I was not grounded in sound doctrine. It was in the early morning hours, before daylight, on a Saturday morning when I was hit hard with cramping and began bleeding. I wasn’t sure what was happening at first, but pretty soon it became evident that I was losing this baby.
My initial reaction was to cry out to God.
But my “unsound doctrine” took over and I started thinking that if I had “faith” for this baby, the miscarriage would stop. I started “claiming” this baby’s life . . . you know the old “Name it, Claim it” teaching that says you can have whatever you want if you “Claim it in Jesus’ Name!” As soon as I started speaking that, though, God graciously and very clearly spoke to my heart through HIS WORD.
The phrase “The Lord takes life and the Lord makes alive . . .” came clearly to mind.
God so firmly, yet tenderly, reminded me, “I am the only God; there are no others. I am the one who takes life and gives it again” (Deut. 32:39).
This phrase is also found in a prayer that an Old Testament woman was lifting to God. Hannah was a woman who longed for a child, and after many years of asking God, He gave her a son. In her prayer of thanksgiving for that son (1 Sam 2), she states (by inspiration of the Spirit of God):
“The Lord kills and the Lord makes alive . . .”
Those Scriptures, that I’d read maybe a hundred times throughout my life, immediately came to mind and I knew it was God’s Spirit impressing on me and reminding me that He is the One who creates, who gives life, and He is the One who has the authority to take life . . . in His time and for His purposes.
HE IS GOD, AND I AM NOT!
It was a much needed theology lesson for me . . . one that was filled with sorrow and pain, but a lesson I needed to understand . . . God is good, no matter what, and He has purpose in what He allows. He is the God who is so wise, loving, and powerful, that He can take the most impossible looking situation and work a miracle, but also take what is the darkest day, the most painful event . . . and BRING REDEMPTION from that!
Some of you have experienced that, you’ve seen God bring redemption and good works out of painful losses . . . and you now have a greater understanding of Him and His ways, but for those that don’t know God’s Word, who don’t function with sound doctrine as their guide, painful losses can lead to things like: depression, wrong choices, addictions, even suicide.
Scripture is our final authority – if we are to live as God intends for us to live, it will be by lining up our lives under Scripture’s Truths. By living out sound doctrine. Studying Scripture is what produces sound, healthy, true doctrine.
Sound doctrine explains why we are here, what sin is, why Jesus came, why He died and rose again and what it means to follow Him now.
“Sound, healthy doctrine produces healthy believers.” (Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth)
Please note: Sound doctrine is more than an accumulation of Scriptural head knowledge (that can lead to pride). Sound doctrine includes instruction in walking in humility, extending grace and kindness, cultivating the fruit of the spirit and how to flesh that out!
“Doctrine that produces self-righteous, critical, contentious, dry-eyed defenders of truth is not truly sound—because sound doctrine is not only true and right; it is also beautiful and good.”
“Our ultimate purpose is to make much of God. We do that as we experience, enjoy, and reflect the loveliness of Christ, making Him known to a world that is starved for true beauty.” (Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth)
The lost world, our families, our children, those we work with, students at school and those we hang out with . . . they need to see tangible evidence of the reality of God. As we live out the sound doctrine of the Word of God, applying His truth to our lives in practical ways moment by moment . . . Christ will be seen and known through us!
THAT is living out your purpose! We are to be living as a beautiful “mirror reflection of Christ.”
Assignment: I’ve included a portion of Scripture for you to read each day that I think will be helpful for you as we study the “Adorned” book. Before starting to read through the Scriptures, I encourage you to pray and ask God to speak to you and lead as you study His Word.
Monday: Read Romans 12:1–2 and consider how this instruction prepares you to obey what you read in Romans 13:12–14. Start reading Adorned Chapter 3–4.
Tuesday: Read Ephesians Chapter 1, and as you read, consider what is being described. What do verses 4–5 say about God’s heart for you? Read verse 7 aloud and then turn it into a prayer of thanksgiving for these specific things that Jesus did for you. What is God’s desire for you that verses 16–20 describe? Continue reading Adorned.
Wednesday: Read Ephesians Chapter 2, and as you read, consider what God has done for you. Why did He take us from death to life? See how verses 4–7 answer this. What works did God require for you to do in order to have eternal life? Verse 8–9 answer this. What does verse 10 tell you about what God has planned for you? When did He come up with that plan for your life? Continue reading Adorned.
Thursday: Read Galatians 5:13–26 and answer these questions: How does verse 13 explain how we’re to use our “freedom”? What is the answer in v.16 for getting victory over the temptation to gratify ourselves sinfully? Paul lists works of the flesh that are descriptive of those who live for themselves, not under the control of the Spirit (see vv. 19–21), and he is warning us to not indulge ourselves in these ways, because these are NOT characteristics of Christ followers. How are we to live according to verses 22–24? How do these characteristics develop in our lives?
Friday: Read Colossians 3 prayerfully, asking God how He wants to apply this chapter to your life. What instruction is in verse 2 and how can you do this in a practical way? Make a list of instructions that you find in this chapter and ask God for the grace to obey these specific instructions. Review what you’ve read this week and consider how believers, because of the grace of God, can live in contrast to those who don’t know Christ. Continue reading Adorned.
Through the week: Read Adorned (pages 51–88) and be sure to do the “Making it Personal” questions at the end of each chapter.
Memorize Titus 2:11–14 (it’s actually only one long sentence) by writing it on a note card and putting it in a handy place, or putting it on a note on your phone that you can refer to throughout the day. This is rich truth to pour into our hearts!
If you hung with me through the entire post, I’m thinking you’re one incredible student! Hope you’ll join us as we continue our study of Titus 2:3–5 and the Adorned book!