I was taught something early on in ministry, and that is to love the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Similarly, Paul writes in Ephesians that the only offensive weapon within the armor of God is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The Bible is a sharp sword that is living, active, strong enough to pierce soul and spirit, and strong enough to discern the thoughts and intentions of the deepest part of our hearts. I picture a sword that is so sharp that it cannot even be sheathed in any scabbard, for the scabbard would be cut as well. I was also taught that one does not use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as a personal weapon against someone.
1. What are some ways that a person might use the Word of God in an incorrect manner?
While the Bible does talk about utilizing truth for rebuking, instruction, and direction, we must never void grace, mercy, and long-suffering with those who are trying to conform to living a holy, righteous, God-honoring life. If you are reading this lesson and are looking to use the content within this lesson to cut someone, specifically a woman, please close this book and take a moment with the Lord. If you have an antagonistic spirit within your heart and you are looking to argue about the following lesson, again this might not be the lesson for you. Sin makes living a life for Jesus difficult enough, we do not need to be God’s people who are swinging the Bible around like a katana. I pray that you know my heart as I write this. In the most humble and grace-filled way, we are going to have to look to Scripture to find the truth. If you feel cut, attacked, or called out, I pray you take that feeling to the feet of the One who can show you the truth, Christ our Lord.
2. Do you have a woman in your life who you would deem as a role model who reflected Christ? Why would you select her?
As the church, the Bride of Christ, we struggle with many things. From the moment the church was formed, the church has been in a culture war within itself, and with the surrounding influences of the world. The church we see in Acts chapter 2, located in Jerusalem, has many similarities and many differences to the church found in Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, or Rome. As history proceeded the church seen during the Crusades, the church that came out of the Protestant Reformation, the first church that started with the Pilgrims in our country, to even The River Church today all fought the battle of culture. One common issue was the contextualizing of the culture around it. Paul and Peter had tension over pork. Sadly, the church gets so caught up with arguing over methodologies, we are blind that horrible influences take root inside the church. Paul tells Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Unfortunately, gender roles are one of those areas that are being diluted and attacked by the culture of our world, and that sin is seeping into the church and wreaking havoc on God’s people.
3. Why is it so easy for the church to fall into the snare of all the issues Paul states in 2 Timothy 4:3-4?
4. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “woman’s role?”
For us to get into the proper way of understanding the role of women we have to build on a few truths.
Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
I hope you see the difference in God’s choice of wording for creating humanity. For the rest of Creation, God spoke and said, “Let there be.” For the creation of humanity, God said, “Let us make.” The beauty of the intentionality of God is on display with every person who has ever lived. God does not make mistakes. To be human is to be an image-bearer of God. God created you exactly how you are meant to be. Sadly, sin has destroyed this foundational truth. To be human means we can only be one of two genders, male or female. To refuse this truth means we are looking at God’s Word and saying it is a lie. When we look at God’s Word and say it is a lie, we are saying He is a liar. When we say the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, the Bringer of Life is a liar, we undo the very essence of any relationship we can have with the Lord.
5. How should we treat the special creation that is the image of God? How does sin cause us to treat others?
Sin brings separation. The devil loves when people, especially the church, are not united under the authority of God. Our issues in the world stem from our inability to view people from the lens that God sees us. Sin causes us to focus on our self, our needs, our wants, our desires, and our opinions. That sin causes us to hurt people. Hurt towards women is not always the abuse from a male. Women hurt women in the same way that men hurt men. Sin causes hurt. When we live in sin we are unable to hold to the truth that we are all created equally in God’s image and likeness.
From this point on we are going to have a fork in the road. You will either look at Scripture and say, “Yes, I agree,” or you will look at the following points and want to combat them with the idea of “what about.” At the center of this fork is our view on the word “equality.” This is where our kingdom of self-living will collide with the Word of God centrality of the Kingdom of God.
Last week we discussed Galatians 3:28 that says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If we determine that this verse is discussing equality, we run into a massive theological problem. This verse is talking less about equality and more about unity. I am hard pressed to find any verse that discusses the “equality” of men and women. Daniel Akin has noted, “Of course the mere absence of a word is not determinative. The word Trinity is nowhere in the Bible, but the doctrine clearly is. As to equality, it is an appropriate term to describe the fact that men and women share equal value, dignity, and responsibility before God. However, in Western culture equality has also been an important political term, signifying equal rights; and rights are a dubious category in biblical thought. The New Testament church is not portrayed as an egalitarian community in the political sense, but a well-functioning family in the kinship sense.”
6. Why do we fight so hard for “equal” in our society? Why do we not strive for unity in our families and our churches?
Equality in terms of our being created in the likeness of God exists inside of Scripture, but it is in step with the understanding that males and females have different roles. We cannot turn equality into the goal we are striving for. The church, more specifically our families, needs to strive for unity within the Body of Christ, not equality.
Genesis 2:18-25 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Males and females have different roles within the family. We use Adam and Eve as our base study because, outside of Jesus, they are the only two humans to walk on this Earth, and for a time not experience the destruction that sin brought into this world. God’s designs are perfect.
7. What did God see that was not good? Why was Eve specifically created?
The biggest hurdle we face here is in the term “helper.” Helper does not entail inferiority. Daniel Akin also pointed out, “God’s creation of Eve as a helper suitable to or corresponding to Adam implies a differentiation of role, which places man in the role of initiator or leader, and the female in the role of supporting, assisting, and adapting to his need.” Sin causes us to look inwardly and only focus on our wants, needs, desires, and outcomes. However, God did not purposely design the women to be a helper with just housework in mind. Within the marriage, both men and women are meant to be the ambassadors of Christ and are motivated by His love (2 Corinthians chapter 5). A husband is meant to lead his wife closer to Jesus, not motivated by authority but motivated by the love of Christ to see his wife reconciled to Jesus. Likewise, a wife is given the role to help her husband to be reconciled to Jesus, only motivated by the same love of our Savior. Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the helper” (John 15:26) with no sense of snide or cynicism. He said it because Jesus knew the monumental importance the role of a helper has on a person’s life.
To truly be a helper as God designed, then a wife must be obedient to the Word of God.
Ephesians 5:22-23 adds, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
8. Thinking back to the analogy of God’s Word being the sharpest sword ever created, then why are these verses so sharp?
Submission is not meant to be a “dirty word.” Nor is it meant to be used as an authoritarian term used to keep a person in line. Submission must be viewed not just as the duty of wives alone but as an essential part of a Christian lifestyle. Jesus submitted to His parents, paid taxes, and submitted to the will of the Father. Jesus modeled submission, and He was a man. We cannot pluck Ephesians 5:22-23 out of thin air without knowing the context of Ephesians 5:21, which says, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” A wife’s submission to her husband is “fitting to the Lord” (Colossians 3:18) and moreover demonstrates a reverence for Christ, rather than a chauvinistic political system.
We cannot fix issues in our family if we do not align ourselves with a proper understanding and application to the Bible. There are many nuances about the roles a woman can have within the household, and God willing I have another opportunity to dive into God’s Word and write another lesson. There are two closing questions: one for men and one for women.
9. Men - How are you ensuring that the truth found in the Bible is properly applied in your marriage? How are you helping your wife conform to the person Jesus instructs her to be?
10. Women - How are you embracing your God-given role? What areas of sin do you need to repent of to walk in step with God’s Word?