- Gal. 3:28
- I Cor. 12:7, 11 - every believer is gifted
- Acts 18:24 - Priscilla and Aquilla
- I Cor. 11:5 - they pray and prophesy
- I Tim 3 - deaconness - a role of under-sheparding
- Rom. 16:1-2 - one who rules & leads many people
Christianity has done more to liberate women than anything else in history. Women became educated and liberated by the church. No other world religion does this i.e. moslem, hindu, animism, taoism. Christ Himself elevated women, respected them, appeared to first to Mary, commended Mary with "why this waste". So what is a Spiritual Woman?
The Importance of Our Mind (Phil. 4:8)
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of how we think. There's God's wisdom and ours.
In our wisdom - the world's view:
- We always think we are the center of the universe and we reason out from ourselves
- Always for our own benefit
- We always think from a value system that reflects the temporal-temporary, passing things
In God's wisdom:
His thinking is always how He can give-(zoe) life, love, meaning, rulership - all eternal qualities
- God always looks at everything from the eternal viewpoint
- God's evaluation of us and things is based on what's of real value, of lasting importance what's character building and eternally effective for reaching more and more people.
You can see that God's views are the opposite of ours - we need to rethink our value system e.g. is God's way to resolve our vying for greatness.
- John 13 - Serving
- John 3:16 - is God's way to resolve our sin problem
- I Cor. 1 & 2 - Paul says the Cross of Christ has forever nullified the wisdom of mankind.
We call the cross foolishness but, in fact, it is the brilliant, unthinkable way God chose to bridge the separation, the alienation between us and God (I Cor. 2:6-7). The most wonderful part of God's wisdom other than our salvation is that He has made it possible for us as believers to think as He does (I Cor. 2:6-16).
(Rom. 12:1) - But first the problem: The World View
J.B. Phillips "Don't let the world pour you into its mold" that's what the "plastic" society of the 60's meant, then the hippies made their own mold. Let me trace your life in the world system.
- As a 3 year old - cartoons: violence, greed
- By 5th grade - sexuality is bantered about like a fun "activity" on TV, magazines, and in school
- School years up to 10th grade: peers take over, they demand conformity in dress, values, actions or you are ostrasized. Kids are very cruel and their values are always anti-Biblical, total depravity and teachers don't teach "values".
- High School - this is the worst peer-pressure. It is all pervasive: there's the "in" group, the "scumbags", the "dopers", the "jocks", the "eggheads (geeks)".
There is a total regimen of clothes and behavior demanded in each group. This engenders a fierce desire to climb the social ladder to your group no matter what it takes. Kids forsake parents and Christ and His values in order to be accepted by their peers. Not only this - the school curriculum is:
- Relativism - anything goes, no absolutes
- Materialism - they are taught success is money
- Power and Prestige - we can be somebody and we are the center of the universe, climb the ladder of success over others' bodies - get to the top no matter how you do it
- Sports - winning is the thing - at all costs, not fun, not good health. "Kill" the other team - competion is the goal of life
- Humanism - we can solve all our problems - we are the center of the universe, no God, we are the gods of heaven and earth (Camus, Sartre) don't impose religious taboos on our freedom
- In College - atheism, under the banner of "secular humanism" is the religion of every area of learning. God, Creations, absolute values are anachronisms to be intellectually done away with forever.
- Music is cultic. It's sexual message is total promiscuity. The "new wave" states clearly their message - the opposite of God's values, despair, violence, Sado-Mas.
- Movies, books, magazines - all hawk thin religion of hedonism, success, money, things, recreation. All geared to make us feel good, look good, do things to forget troubles - anesthetize against God.
- As adults - at work, in neighborhoods, the whole emphasis is on success, money, good looks, thin body, many things, expensive vacations for fun, ways to recreate and lots of sex - all kinds with many partners.
How do we keep from being conformed to this godless society? How do we "keep from being poured into its mold" - which is the exact opposite of God's wisdom (Rom. 12:1)?
The first step is to give ourselves over to God completely and totally - give our bodies, our mind, will, and emotions, our whole life - sacrifice it to God. The words a "living and holy sacrifice" refer to the Old Testament sacrifice of being placed on the altar and being burned up, there was nothing left. When you give yourself totally and completely up to God a s a sacrifice you don't get off the altar and take back your life and run it selfishly again, you leave it there on the altar to be transformed by Him into a fragrance of Christ, acceptable to God.
This may sound frightening to you, but it is not. It's like coming home; God created you, He knows you the best, He's your loving Father, He protects you, cares for you, guides you, provides for you, gives you love, fills you with joy, deep contentment, peace, and a renewed zest for life with clear thinking, true values and goals that are fun to attain and fulfilling.
What is totally frightening is to be subjected to the World System and it's values, its like a Roman gladiatorial arena, it tears you to pieces, you run in circles to escape being hurt, to win over someone else, you exhaust your strength competing for a fleeting moment of recognition, which is snatched away by someone else smarter and stronger. Sexual exploitation is a vicious game of one-up-man-ship which is very destructive physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Getting rich and buying things turns bitter as soon as you get there - rich people are miserably unhappy and unfulfilled. Escapism is rampant to avoid thinking about the emptiness of all your frenzied activity-alcohol, drugs, sex, work, recreation. You do all those things in a frenzied fragmented way that leaves you exhausted and even more empty. There's no direction to life - even if you attain status with power and education, you climb the corporate ladder to shat? Being replaced by someone younger, smarter, prettier, and you are forgotten, pushed aside, rejected, stomped on. For what purpose? To make the corporation grow - to benefit some illusory top management (who are nearly always crooks, i.e. Wall Street). In a word, the World System eats you up! It's designed by Satan to do so, to keep you so busy and fragmented and on the merry-go-round. Why? So you won't have time to think about God - about who you really are, why you are here at all, where you are going, about eternity, and lasting values. Doesn't that picture really frighten you? It should! That's so much worse in every way than giving yourself up to God and His good plans for your life.
How can we not be conformed to the world practically speaking? How can we develop resistance? Should we just drop out of society? Drop out of school? Quit work? (I.e. monk on a pole for 30 years, he was unstained by the world. This is just on more example of mankind's warped way of thinking.) Christ expressly forbade us to leave the world, we are to reach the world. So did Paul tell us to be "all things to all people in order to reach them for Christ". We are to aggressively take on the world.
We have to hear what's being said and understand. Then we have to refute it powerfully and persuasively with gentleness. We have to do this in every area of our lives as we live in the world system. We must be thinking believers, when we understand and can refute the world's wisdom that makes us strong and persuasive (e.g. Paul, Jeremiah, Isaiah).
Let's examine a few areas of our lives as practical examples.
- What if you feel unloved? "No one loves me, I don't have a man and no one here in the Body is loving me right, I don't feel loved".
- World's wisdom - we react by thinking "I must find someone who does love me" so we go out looking and end u with someone who makes us feel good, not someone who is good or food for us. Or "I'll tell those girls they aren't loving me right, there's something wrong with them".
- Transformed Mind - has a different response: "when and how have I been failing to give my love effectively? These relationships in my life, I must not be building into them properly"; a servant with a transformed mind understands that we feel love when we give love, "The Mind of Christ".
- What about knowing God's Will? To the un-transformed mind (young believer or carnal Christian) God's will is vague and nebulous, can't be understood.
- The Un-Transformed Mind - This person is confused, trying to find the Will of God, may become fatalistic and say "I believe God is in control of my life, so the decisions I make are, in fact, God's will". This completely denies free will (Eph. 3) "don't be foolish, understand what the will of the Lord is." Others take a thoughtless attitude "God doesn't really care what I do" (Matt. 6).
- The Transformed Mind - Paul says we are able to "discern all things". In most areas we can look in the Bible - all too obvious what God's will is in the Bible. This is possible because a mature Christian is acclimated to the Will of God, she knows the Word and sees from His point of vies. It becomes easy to know God's will and walk in it.
- In the area of helping other people by example.
- The Un-transformed Mind - when someone comes with problems the response is "I don't know what to say" or the advice and counsel is given without understanding the nature of mankind is and Gods solution to the problem.
- The Transformed Mind - knows God's Solutions and how to bring healing. They are effectual in helping others grow and solve areas of immaturity, e.g. daughter comes in at 7:00 a.m. Why doesn't the mother deal with the problem? Embarrassed, pride, hurt but also not biblically able to deal with daughter, so ignores problem. This is not love-all she's saying to her daughter is "you'll get no help from me".
I hope you get the picture that you have to choose to be thinking out of one framework or the other as a believer. A nonbeliever has to think like the world.
To become mature spiritual women we need resistance to the world system, not getting conformed, ability to analyze and refute, i.e. encounter, understand, and refute.
The crucial importance of our mental focus can not be overemphasized (Rom. 8:1-8; Col. 3:3; Phil. 4:8). (Prov. 23:7) "As a man/or woman thinks in hie/her heart so is he/she" It all begins in the mind - actions. EXAMPLE: Mental stew: old tennis shoe, will it be good?
Is it so hard then to understand that if we fill our minds with filth or selfish desires, prideful thoughts, or lusts of all kinds that will flavor very much our attitudes and our actions. We can't always escape the world's input; selfish, lustful and prideful, but we can turn it around because we understand it. We can refute it, it poses no threat to us. We need positive input on a regular basis. Means of Growth: Word, prayer, fellowship, ministry, Holy Spirit. Give the Holy Spirit content as He transforms our mind, (Heb. 5:14) "not accustomed to the Word of righteousness." Our minds are like amazing computer terminals, fill yours with the Word for the Holy Spirit to use.
There needs to be an element of control over our thinking. Many Bible passages illustrate but the best in (II Cor. 10:3-5) "every thought captive to Christ" (Jas 1:14-15) "lust leads us in to sin," reject, judge them, pray, turn over to Christ. As we do this we will begin to see bad patterns of thinking and acting be replaced. As we do this (pray, etc.) the Holy Spirit begins to replace the bad pattern with His perspective, the wisdom of God. You need a deep understanding of Grace and your Forgiveness, lots of Patience and Time for the HS to transform your mind.
(Heb. 5:14) "senses not trained through practice to discern good and evil." In Phil. 2 - use this word for the benefit of others - this keeps it fresh and real in our own hearts. E.g. Marriage - To have transformed minds we must see God's view of a healthy marriage. These are the things to have before you get married. You need to understand and experience Body Life in the church. We root this theoretically and theologically in the New Testament. I.e. marriage is not the fundamental unit that God has designed - it is not the foundational structure that God is giving to work within. Rather, the foundational most redemptive structure God has made is the Church. God plans to redeem all things through the church (Eph. 1-4). When we get to (Eph. 5) Paul talks about marriage relationship but even here he founds our marriage on the understanding of our submission to one another in the Body of Christ.
Let me repeat the most basic fundamental structure God has placed here on earth is the church not marriage. Stated another way: the health of your marriage is dependent on your healthy relationships in the Body, not vice-versa! This is not understood in western churches. This is why an understanding and experience of Body Life is imperative for a healthy marriage - a couple that has learned to give and receive from the Body is miles ahead as far as their marriage goes. Because of your backgrounds you just don't believe this. You may even be living in a ministry house and be learning to relate in the Body. But then you get married, and we just don't see you any more. This is not because you are working on your marriage, it's because you don't believe that the health of your marriage depends upon your taking your life from the Body of Christ not each other. Actually your spiritual life goes downhill. The sad thing about this is 5 years (or less) down the road you'll be miserable in your marriage wondering why.
- So you need to have a healthy understanding of Body Life - both giving and receiving .
- Listen to counsel from mature members of the Body. In the heat of passion objectivity is out the window. So listen to those who are mature and get tips from them for after marriage.
- In the area of Marriage - Philip Yancey "In America a consumer mentality tends to infiltrate relationships as well as commerce. Some people treat marriage partners like automobiles; every few years it's time to upgrade to a new model". Marriage - a committed lifetime relationship is just not understood nor believed in the western world today. To have a transformed mind we must see God's view of a healthy marriage.
- Leave your parents - cleave to one another and you become one flesh, completing one another.
- God created marriage and it is reflected in the foundational structure of the church i.e. in (Eph. 1-4) Paul shows that God plans to work within the structure of the church to redeem the world - to love, to save, to mature, to discipline, to teach, on and on. In (Eph. 5) Paul defines marriage and the role of each member: the male and female. But even in this context Paul bases the marriage on the understanding of our relationships in the
- BOC - "submitting to one another in love"
- Submitting to Christ as the head is cf to our submitting to our husbands.
- The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves us - unconditionally, sacrificially with an unlimited amount of love, never withdrawn, never conditional.
That's why it is so important before marriage that you understand and experience Body Life in the church, it is the basic structure through which God is working. Stated another way: the health and understanding of your marriage is dependent on your healthy relationships in the B.O.C. - not vice versa.
- As you learn to give and receive from one another
- As you minister together in the BOC
- As you listen to and accept the counsel of older mature believers
- As your love relationship with Christ deepens you are getting prepared to experience and build a great Christian marriage, one that will last. A marriage that will express the BOC in a small unit, you, your husband, your children, and all who enter your frame of reference. AND you will not become tribal, removing yourself from BOC, becoming self-sufficient and autonomous.
Remember the health of your marriage depends upon your taking your life from Christ and the BOC, not each other. If you focus entirely on each other you will be disappointed, start fighting, spiritual life will go downhill fast.
The Result: try to salvage marriage by getting a new house, having a baby, getting more things, going more places, working outside the home. 3-5 years down the road you'll be miserable and wondering why. You will be prime candidates for having an affair and then divorce, or misery living together.