Professing Godliness, Practicing Good Works

1 Timothy 2:9-15

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,

10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.

12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

  1. Introduction – I live and work—and have for my entire adult life—in an environment in which my coworkers are seeking to live after the pattern of godliness presented in the scriptures. No, none of us are doing that perfectly, but it is our goal, desire and aim. So we seek to treat each other as equals and the guys as brothers and the women as sisters. Just as outlined in scripture. So we live and work in a little sheltered onclave. So, sexual harassment or mistreatment due to gender is not something I’ve ever had to work around. Thankfully, it’s not my world.

    I’ll add to that, I don’t have to hear explicit stories, dirty jokes or foul language in my work place. It’s not my world. And I’m grateful that it’s not my world. But I’m certainly not naive. I know that what I experience as my normal is totally not the norm. Though I wish it were.

    The #metoo movement that’s been happening this month is shameful. It reminds us that, though we live in a relatively equal society that’s made huge strides in increasing the dignity and value of women, we still have a long way to go. Yes, we’re light-years ahead many other cultures and societies. But I’ll be the first to say, I don’t want my daughter’s to ever have to #metoo.

    But you know, my wife most certainly could write it. She attended a UC school. She works in a corporate environment. She regularly comes home with stories that remind me that things are not as they should be. People have done and said things to her that would absolutely be classified sexual harassment. Unfortunately, in her environment, like many others, most of the innuendo gets laughed or shrugged off. The areas of inequality or inequity are seen as normal. And as she’s shared with me, it’s not just from men to women.

    Whether it is things my wife has shared with me, or the things I’ve heard from others, or read in the news … these sort of things bring two things to my mind.

    1. First they remind me that we live in a world that is as it is because of sin. It’s broken.
    2. Second, they make me look forward, in hope, to the world that will be, when Christ returns and established His kingdom. His kingdom that will be ushered in in righteousness and true justice.
  2. All that has been in the news the last month makes a passage like the one before us all the more challenging. We’re right in the middle of what is considered by many to be one of the most challenging passages in the New Testament. It’s challenging because it seems out of step with the ‘progressive’ culture we live in in the 21st century west, and because there are some in our culture that see passages like this as the reason we have the inequities, indignities and mistreatment of women that we do.
    1. As I shared two weeks ago, when we come to a challenging passage like this we need to remember first, two things
      1. First our assumptions or our approach.
        1. Four presuppositions in approaching hard passages.
          1. I think the Bible is good and therefore any disagreement I have with it is probably an area of misunderstanding or misuse
          2. I think the Bible is mostly good, but there are places that it’s overly influenced by it’s native, historical cultural context and therefore can’t be trusted
          3. I think the Bible is just an example of an ancient understanding and it’s mostly not helpful for our day.
          4. I think the Bible is wrong and it’s teachings are dangerous. We’ve progressed far beyond any need for it.
        2. As I shared in our previous study in this passage, I come to every passage from the mindset that the Bible is good, and God’s message is intended for our ultimate good.
          1. Our culture doesn’t like passages like this because they think that teachings like what seems to be taught here bolster male dominated, hierarchical structures that bring inequity and indignity to women.
            1. And if we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that there have been some—whether out of ignorance, or malintent—that have misinterpreted, misunderstood and misapplied passages such as these, so as to continue mistreatment of women. That’s wrong!
            2. But the mistreatment of women, or the inequities and indignities that women have suffered, is not because of the Bible or it’s teachings. Such inequity and indignity is the result of the fall and of sin.
              1. Therefore, if the Bible contains the Gospel (the good news that God is doing away with sin), then it contains a message that deals with the inequities and indignities in the right way.
                1. If that’s true, then we should see evidence of that in cultures where the Bible has gained a foothold.
                  1. And, if we’re honest, we would have to say that that’s been true. Women are the freest and have the most equity, dignity and opportunity in places where the Bible has had influence.
                  2. Yes, there are still people in our culture who intentionally or ignorantly misinterpret, misunderstand and misapply the teachings of the Bible to continue to mistreat and subjugate women, but that’s because of their bad hearts and not because the Bible is bad. Bad (or stupid) people will always use good things in a bad way.  

                  3. Point 1 — Nothing good can come from a bad heart. 

        3. So in coming to a difficult passage like this we need to (first) remember our assumptions, and…
      2. Second the context…
        1. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 ~ These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;
          15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God
          , which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 
          1. The exhortations Here in 1 Timothy are for Timothy, as the Pastor of the Ephesian Church, to establish proper conduct within God’s house, the Church.
            1. Chapter 1 therefore dealt with the place of proper preaching (sound doctrine) with in the Church.
            2. Chapter 2 then opened with the priority of proper prayer within the Church.
            3. Chapter 2 moved from there to the proper conduct of men within the church (Godly lives within the church, and outside)
            4. And now we move to the proper conduct of women. And specifically that “which is proper for women professing godliness” (v. 10) and within the public church setting.
              1. So, if you are desiring to be woman who has godly conduct, this is for you. Which brings us to an important point, as Christians (men or women)…  

                1. Point 2 — We seek to please God more than ourselves or our society. 

                  1. At least, that should be our aim.
                  2. Pleasing God is often in conflict with my flesh and this world. Have you noticed?
  3. 1 Timothy 2:8-10 ~ I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;
    9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
    10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 
    1. In like manner
      1. Paul first dealt with men, in verse 8 (check out my last message online). In the same manner, he now turns to women.
    2. Women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation
      1. If I take you back for a moment to the opening words of 1 Timothy, you’ll see, and we can deduce, that Paul, when he and Timothy visited the Ephesian church in 63 AD, found a church that needed to be reordered. Therefore Timothy was left there, to establish order.
        1. That being the case, I think it’s safe to assume that Paul’s exhortations thus far are likely in response to some of the things he observed in the Ephesian church.
          1. There were some who were not teaching sound doctrine, therefore the exhortations toward sound doctrine in chapter 1
          2. There was an issue regarding public prayer, thus Paul gave exhortations concerning prayer in the open of chapter 2
          3. There were men who’s church life differed from their public life, thus the exhortation of chapter 2:8.
          4. And apparently there was a problem with the way in which the women of the Ephesian church conducted themselves, especially as it related to public prayer and worship (i.e. when the church is gathered corporately). Therefore Paul writes…
            1. I desire that women be …
              1. Modest
              2. Proper
              3. Moderate
      2. The things listed here beg the question…
        1. Is there anything at all today that is valued in our culture as modest, proper or moderate as decorum goes?
          1. We live in a culture that says “anything goes” and it seems that the only thing out of bounds in American culture in 2017, is to say or propose that anything is out of bounds.
            1. As the old song from the 90’s said, “I’m free to do what I want any old time … And I’m free to be who I choose … To get my booze any old time.” So “don’t be afraid of your freedom” and don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do.
            2. That’s our culture. And our culture is 100% focused on the external. That’s all it really cares about. But… 

      3. Point 3 — Godly women are more concerned about inward beauty than outward. 

        1. Or they should be. Especially when we appear before God in public worship.
        2. This is not to say that Godly women are not concerned at all about outward beauty.
          1. Gals, godliness does not equal ugliness (you don’t need to be dogly to be godly.)
          2. Holiness does not equal homeliness.
          3. I think my wife is a righteous babe. But she doesn’t need to show of her babe-ness for you. I’m all for her showing me (that’s why she has an unlimited Victoria Secret Budget). You can see her righteousness. She saves the Babe-ness for me. If she was showing her Babe-ness off to you, I’d rightly be a bit bothered.
          4. So this isn’t saying that you can’t be beautiful and godly. They’re not mutually exclusive.
        3. It is to say that you should spend as much (if not more) energy, assets and time on inward, spiritual beauty, than you do on outward, physical beauty.
          1. If you spend more time, energy and money putting together the outfit, hairdo, makeup and physic, than you do in prayer and contemplation, there may be a problem.
          2. If you’re more concerned about applying makeup than you are about applying Scripture, it will show.
        4. Now the immediate objection to this passage will be, “This was spoken by Paul out of a repressive 1st century culture. He’s just mirroring the harsh, male dominated culture of the day.”
          1. Not so fast! Historians studying the 1st century Ephesian culture to which Paul was writing, tell us that Ephesus was a city in which women were highly exalted and revered. This was the culture out of which the legendary race of female warriors called the Amazonscome from (Amazon Women are not ladies really good at shopping online). This was the city dominated by the goddess Diana or Artemis.
            1. The public worship of Ephesus was controlled and directed by priestesses. And that public worship had nothing to do with inward beauty. Modesty, propriety and moderation were unknown in the temples of Ephesus.
              1. What then is Paul calling for in the public gathering of the followers of Jesus?
                1. Paul was advocating a difference among the Christians. To the same church he previously wrote…
                  1. Ephesians 4:17-19 ~ This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
                    18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
                    19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness
                  2. Ephesians 5:8-10 ~ For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
                    9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
                    10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord
              2. So…
                1. Women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation…
                2. Godly women should be more concerned about inward beauty than outward. So Paul writes…
    3. Not with with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
      1. There were then, and are now culturally accepted norms for women. And those things were (and are now) out of step with what is proper for women professing godliness.
        1. This is something that individual Christian women may need to prayerfully consider.
          1. Culturally accepted norms for women today include… a casual crassness about sex and sexuality. An “it’s all about me” mindset. An “I don’t need a man” mindset. A man bashing harshness.
        2. There are some places that require a different decorum than that which is acceptable in the common places of society. And gathering with the church should be one of those places.
          1. Illustration — Several years ago my wife and I were flown to Ireland to be apart of a wedding I was leading. The wedding was at a beautiful castle in Ireland called Ashford Castle. One evening the bride and groom invited us to dinner at a very well to do restaurant in the Castle. When we got to the door myself and the groom were pulled aside and informed that we could not be seated with out a coat. Neither of us had a coat. So they kindly gave us a loaner from the coat room.

            We couldn’t walk through the dinning room without a blazer. My favorite part about it was that as soon as we got to our chairs the host helped us take our coats off and place them over the backs of our chair.

            There was an acceptable decor and decorum. 

            1. And when we, the people of God, gather before God, we should understand that there is an adorning which is “proper for [men and] women professing godliness.” What adorning should you be more concerned about?
              1. Adorningwith good works.”
    4. Alright, lets kick it up a notch…
  4. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 ~ Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
    12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 
    1. BAM! That’s bound to make some waves. And it certainly has. Lets break it down.
    2. Let a woman learn.
      1. The Babylonian Talmud (Jewish civil and ceremonial law) indicates that women gathering for the reading of the law (in synagogue) could listen, but they weren’t there to learn.
        1. Within the church, women professing godliness with good works are to learn, right alongside men!
          1. Ladies, you should seek to learn and know God’s word. And for most of you that’s exactly what you do! 

          2. Point 4 — Godly women are learners of God’s word and ways with men. 

            1. And that doesn’t cause any problem really… it’s the next bit that’s a bit of a problem. And more than just a bit of a problem.
    3. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission 
      1. The two “S” words… Silence and Submission. And in the silence you can almost hear the blood boil.
        1. When we come before God’s word as learners together (men and women), we realize that the creator God has a created order, and our response to this revelation of God’s created order shows clearly that thiscreated order is contrary to our fallen nature and state.
        2. One of the good works that adorns the women of God’s church is that they willingly subject themselves to that which they learn of God’s created order in His word. And as they have learned from his word, they set themselves under the ordered structured that He has ordained within the family and the church.
          1. Let me first acknowledge the difficulty of this in our flesh. Our fallen nature does not like the teaching of God’s word.
          2. Secondly, we who believe the Bible to be the word of God and believe God to be good, need to presuppose that God’s word is for our good.
            1. So He’s telling us this because He knows that this is for our good. Can you accept that?
              1. Can you accept that the philosophy our culture is pressing upon us every single day, just might lead to more devastation and bondage than the philosophy of God in the Scriptures? (look at the outcomes … what has been the outcome of our cultural philosophy over the last 60 years? “Wisdom is justified by her children)
        3. So this quietness and submission ordained by God is a good adorning work that women professing godliness should put on to beautify themselves. REALY???
          1. 1 Peter 3:1-5 ~ Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
            2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
            3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—
            4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
            5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves
            , being submissive to their own husbands, 
            1. So this submission is a beautifying characteristic of a godly women.
              1. Godly men should not be quarrelsome and harsh.
              2. Godly women should adorned inwardly over outwardly.
      2. Well lets make it even more difficult…
    4. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence
      1. Now, I don’t have a ton of time to get into it, but if you take the time to parse this out—taking into consideration the teachings of 1 Timothy and other teachings from Paul in his other writings—it becomes very clear that what Paul is not saying is that women never teach, and never even teach men. But what Paul is clearly saying is that the office within the church of teaching and having authority (i.e. the office of an elder or teaching pastor), is an office that only men are ordained to.
        1. Therefore, it is our position at Cross Connection Church that every area of ministry is open for women (as to men), except that of an overseeing elder or pastor.
          1. And when this passage is read in context with the next section (chapter 3) this will be even more clearly emphasized.

      2. Point 5 — Godly women yield to God’s ordained order as a act of worship and good works. 

        1. Ephesians 5:22 ~ Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
        2. Colossians 3:23 ~ And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 
      3. Now the objection to this is that Paul is only saying this because of the 1st century, male dominated culture in which he lived.
        1. But notice what Paul writes next…
  5. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 ~ For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 
    14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 
    1. Paul, in writing on this is not appealing to culture, he is rather appealing to creation.
      1. And this is the pattern in the scriptures. Jesus did it in the gospels, Paul does it in the Epistles.
      2. This exhortation isn’t culturally motivated is the order of creation.
    2. Why is this the order in the home and in the church? Because this is the order in creation.
      1. And then maybe the hardest verse in all the Bible…
  6. 1 Timothy 2:15 ~ Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. 
    1. What on earth does this mean?
      1. If you read the top 25 commentaries on this passage you’ll probably get 50 different ideas on it’s meaning. There are however two most common views.
        1. Interpretation 1 — This is a reference to the first prophetic promise of the Bible, found in Genesis 3:15, wherein God proclaimed that salvation would come through the seed of a woman. That Christ, the Savior, would come into the world, born of a woman. Therefore, without women, no salvation.
        2. Interpretation 2 — Women are not called by God, in His created order, to be overseeing pastors or elders, preaching in the church. But this desire is satisfied—there is a kind of salvation or satisfaction of this desire—through childbearing and motherhood.
          1. Which of course our culture has an even harder time with because motherhood has been significantly diminished in 21st century progressive western culture. Children are seen as a burden and motherhood a detriment to a women’s potential.
      2. Honestly, I don’t know for certain. This is a difficult verse and I’d love Paul’s personal commentary on it. Unfortunately we don’t have that yet. But I will add this.
        1. There is one thing in God’s created order that only a man should do, that is oversee and teach/preach within God’s church. And in God’s created order, there is one thing that only women can do … something that a man will never even be able to contemplate doing … childbearing.
          1. It’s a high honor to bear a child (I think I culture needs to be reminded of this), just as it’s a high honor to oversee and pastor a church.
            1. And just think, at least you don’t have to receive the pushback I’ll no doubt now get, having preached this message.