Angry Men & Immodest Women Transformed by the Gospel
Amidst the mess in Ephesus, the men were not functioning as spiritual leaders, passionately and prayerfully leading out, and the women were using the local church gatherings as immodest fashion shows to flaunt their wealth and bodies. For obvious reasons, these issues were distracting and disrupting the life of the church from matters of central importance. Paul calls angry men and immodest women alike to be transformed by the gospel.
2,000 years ago the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to his friend, traveling companion and partner-in-mission, Timothy. Today, we call this ancient letter First Timothy. This letter is one of three letters (along with 2 Timothy and Titus) that, together, are referred to as the Pastoral Epistles as they all deal with matters related to the local church. The reason that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy is that the church(es) in Ephesus were in a bit of a mess. In fact, it seems they were wandering from the gospel of Jesus Christ and, instead, following their own personal preferences and self-made ideas about God, which Paul refers to as “myths and genealogies, which promote speculations”. (1:4) In other words, they were getting biblically creative and speculative, rather than remaining biblically faithful. Paul loves the church in Ephesus, as he spent three years there helping to plant it, and it is breaking his heart to hear they are wandering from the truth of the gospel. For this reason, Paul is sending Timothy to address these issues and help re-align the church. Today we’re going to see that, amidst the mess in Ephesus, the men were not functioning as spiritual leaders, passionately and prayerfully leading out, and the women were using the local church gatherings as immodest fashion shows to flaunt their wealth and bodies. For obvious reasons, these issues were distracting and disrupting the life of the church from matters of central importance.
Context: Keep in mind Paul just finished unpacking the gospel of Jesus Christ (see vs3-6). We are opposed to God in our sin. God is opposed to us in his holiness, yet still desires to save us. Therefore, he sent a mediator, Jesus Christ, fully man to identify w/ us, live a perfect life and die our death, in our place. Yet, was also fully God, b/c while our debt is so great that we alone owe it, only God can pay it. Jesus is an utterly unique mediator, the God-Man, who offers forgiveness and reconciliation to all who embrace him by faith. John Stott “Divine love, triumphed over divine wrath, by divine self-sacrifice” (For more: catch sermon last wk)
This gospel news should have widespread implications in the lives of those that trust and treasure Jesus. Changes view of ourselves, our lives, others in our lives and ourGod. Changes way we forgive, extend grace, and exercise patience. Changes the way we view suffering, hardship, frustration, disappointment and despair. Changes ultimatelocation of our hope, joy, and love. Changes everything. As these truths get pressed into the fabric of our being the result is what the Bible calls that holiness.
God’s purpose in calling us to holiness is not to make us less human, but more. To become who we really are. Christians aren’t accepted by God thru good works. Rather, we do good works based on our acceptance. We don’t live for acceptance from God, we live our lives from our acceptance by God, in Jesus. Means we have to do the hard work of thinking through the implications of the gospel in our daily lives. So, today, we’re going to look at two of those implications of the gospel, one for men, one for ladies.
But, first, three requests/disclaimers:
FIRST, work hard to apply message to own heart and life and not assume you are sufficiently mature.
SECOND, avoid applying this message to someone else seated nearby. Let the Lord work on your heart – and theirs.
THIRD, while topics are specifically addressed to men/women, clearly there is crossover application.
#1 HOLY, PASSIONATE, PRAYERFUL MEN. 2:8
2:8 “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling…”
First: Men should pray. Paul is not saying, women shouldn’t pray. They should (1Cor11:5,13). But, specifically, he is saying that the men should. Why? Don’t know what’s going on: Men not praying? Angry praying? Just angry? Combination. What Paul is saying, in principle, is that men should lead out. Men should be the spiritual pace-setters, that being primarily exemplified by prayer. Paul Miller helpfully says, “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.”Men, in particular, are guilty of the strongest forms of self-sufficiency. Now, importantly, this doesn’t mean the ladies are off the hook, but here Paul is speaking directly to the men. The number one complaint from un/married women is that their husband/potential husband is not taking spiritual initiative/leadership. This wasn’t birthed in the feminist movement. This goes back to Garden where Adam stood by apathetic and indifferent while wife being deceived by Satan. Men: Am I leading out? Am I giving up on any area of life? Is my life more reflective of 1st Adam or 2nd?
Second: Men should pray with holy hands.
“Holy hands” refers to OT practice of being ritually clean, pure, repentant before approaching God. The standard posture of prayer in Judaism is standing, arms raised with palms turned upward.
Ps 63:4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
Ps 134:2 Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! (cf Neh 8:6, Ex 9:29; 17:11-12)
La 3:41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven…
It was an outward sign for inward reality » Raising hands expression of dependence andfaith of heart
Many positions of prayer mentioned in Bible: standing, sitting, kneeling, face to ground, bowing, clapping. The emphasis here is not primarily on the posture of prayer, but onposture of heart and life, that is “holy”. To be “holy” is to be set apart. To be holy is to say, through word and deed, “My life belongs to my God. I live for Him. I want to be like Him. I am all in…The living God determines both the posture and passion of my life.”
Q: What is Paul getting at? Men, do not play games with your faith. It is not a game. Don’t fake it. Don’t compartmentalize it.Guys, in particular, are really good at this. Know answersbut have little passion. Go thru all the motions but have little sincerity. Someone might object and say, “But you can raise your hands and still be a faker.” Yes, yes you can. But, can you cross your arms and passionately praise your king? Maybe, but its hard and not very convincing. Others ask, “What do I do with my doubt and questions?” Humbly ask them. Humbly study them. Know this, Christianity can withstand our scrutiny. You’re not going to be the final straw that collapses Christianity. So, Paul is not mandating raising of hands, per se, but sincere, passionate raising of our hearts – You decide how to express that.
Third: Men should pray with holy hands without anger or quarreling. Next Paul zooms-in on one aspect of holiness – without anger and quarreling » 2 biggest issues for men: lust and anger. Let’s talk about anger for a minute. Anger is often a more serious problem than we often give it credit for. What is anger? “A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility.” Why do we get angry? We tend to get angry when we can’t have what we want. All anger tends to stem from belief that we should be treated a certain way and we’re not. Now this gets comples: Range from being cut off in traffic (ridiculous) to being personally slandered (somewhat understandable) to suffering chronic illness (incredibly complex).
Not all anger is wrong. In fact, closer we get to Christ = angrier we will get at real evil. Yet,sinless anger is very rare. Even Jesus sinless life we see very little. That should make us very suspicious of our anger. Inevitably, someone will say what about Eph 4:26 = every angry persons life verse…“Be angry” You have to finish it though. It reads:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil”
In other words verse 26a we are told to have sinless anger and in 26b we are told it is to be short-lived. In other words, short-lived, sinless-anger. Those are pretty heavy restrictions.
Eph 4:31-32: “Let ALL bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Why such heavy restrictions? Why so many warnings against allowing anger to remain in your life? Because it is one of the most dangerous and destructive forms of pride and arrogance. In most cases, take it all the way down, based in belief that we’re God and desire to control life and people.
- Want to control others by making them feel bad, stupid or incompetent so we getangry.
- Want to control others so we let them have it so they know crossed boundaries of oursovereignty
- Want control others so let them know how displeased we are by their actions that ≠align w/ our wishes.
- Want to control situations and circumstances so get angry to self-protect and manipulate.
- Want to control God so we get angry with him when life doesn’t go as we please or prefer.
Most anger is sinful expression of our desire to be God over life and others, rather than letting God be God. Anger comes in many forms and has a tendency to disguise itself:
- May come out with harsh and harmful words.
- May smolder within and come out as cold, distant silence.
- May drizzle out through continual stream of criticism, cynicism and correction.
7 ways to sever the root of anger in your life:
#1 Reflect on the fact that you have sinned against God more than anyone can/will sinagainst you. If God has forgiven you for your sin, in Jesus, how could you not forgive others? How could you be angry w/ them when God is no longer with you – despite all you’ve done against him? When tempted to anger the Christians first thought must be, “But God has forgiven me for much worse…” That is why the Bible treats unforgiveness as such a major issue. Lack of forgiveness reveals you don’t actually graps what God has done for you in Jesus – and that is a salvation issue.
#2 Consider that anger and bitterness is an open invitation for the devil to gain a foothold in your life. Eph 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. How? Primary way is that it damages and destroys your relationships little-by-little and eventually you are completely isolated in a little world that you created, where you’re always right ans your sin is always justified.
#3 Keep short accounts with your anger by confessing and asking forgiveness immediately. Don’t brush it under the rug. Even though it might seem like all is good, there are likely things growing under rug you’re not aware of. By confessing and asking for forgiveness immediately it will give you less time to figure out how to justify yourself.
#4 Consider where your anger will lead. What good will actually come of it? Learn from past. In the moment it seems so right and justified, but never brings anything helpful or healthy. Ever.
#5 Consider why you feel need to take matters into your own hands instead of entrusting them to Gods. Anger almost always boils down to not believing God is who he says he is or will do what he says he will do.
#6 Believe that God can change you. Often, when it comes to sins of the flesh, we can be so closely identified with them that we begin to think, “That’s just the way I am.” If you’re in Christ, no its not. You are not your anger. Jesus has more for you than that.
#7 Entrust the final verdict to our good God who knows and sees all things. It makes a difference to know that no sin will go unpunished. The sins of Christians committed against us have all been dealt with on the cross. All other sin will dealt w/ on day of judgment. If believe Christ will come in final and inescapable judgment then you don’t need to be anyone’s judge right now.
#2 GODLY, MODEST, SELF-CONTROLLED WOMEN. 2:9-10
2:9-10 “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.”
So, what’s going on here? It seems the ladies were dressing immodestly, preoccupied w/ appearance, neglecting more important things. This is going to be tricky. The benefit of preaching verse-by-verse is that forced to deal with every topic that comes up. The downside of preaching verse-by-verse is that you are forced to deal with every topic that comes up. My goal here is care for you, serve you as your pastor, as husband and as fatherof two young daughters.
Important: Paul recognizes that women are beautiful and that they should increase andexhibit their beauty. There is no biblical warrant for women to neglect their appearance, conceal beauty or wear burlap sacks or burkas. The question, rather, is how they should go about doing that.
First: What is at the heart of modesty?
Any biblical discussion of topic has to start with the heart, not the hemline. Modest dress is the fruit of a modest heart. That means, ladies, that your wardrobe is a public statement of the condition of your heart, especially when it comes to modesty and self-control. What is modesty? Self-control?
Modesty: Quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in estimation of one’s abilities. Therefore, when it comes to how we dress, it means the avoidance of clothing or adornment that is extravagant, revealing or sexually enticing. Immodesty is much more than wearing short skirt or dress, but an expression of arrogance. Immodesty reveals the absence of humility through the act of drawing undue attention to yourself by how you dress. A modest heart always precedes a modest dress. i.e. Modesty is humility on display that is anchored in a desire to glorify God and serve others.
Self-control then is the ability to to do that, to act with restrain or moderation for the purpose of purity.
“How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts with the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to show her love and devotion to her husband and his goodness to her? Is it reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it call attention to herself, and flaunt her wealth and beauty? Or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually?” MacArthur, 80-81
Further questions ladies:
- What statement do your clothes make about the condition of your heart?
- What does your closet reveal about your convictions?
- Is your shopping informed and governed by modesty and self-control? “Do you take God to the Gap?”
- In dressing this morning, whose attention do you desire and whose approval do you crave?
Second: What does modesty look like?
The issue is not braided hair, gold, pearls but the statement they were trying to make by wearing them. What was that?
#1 Flaunt their wealth, so causing jealousy and envy. “costly attire”
#2 Flaunt their bodies, so causing lust and inappropriate associations (Eph: temple prostitutes of Diana)
This is not a general prohibition against any woman enhancing her appearance. You can be fashionable, trendy and creative yet still modest and self-controlled. (ex. Pr 31 woman dressed colorfully; Esther went through 12 mo’s of beauty treatments; in Revelation the Church appears as one “adorned” as a bride; many wives throughout the Bible are described as “beautiful”)
So, what is Paul saying then? He is saying that the flaunting of wealth and flaunthing of body are inappropriate at any time, particularly when church gathers for worship. This means that, ladies, you have to do the hard work of discerning, “What statement is my appearance making? Is my dress modest and self-control? Who inspires wardrobe? What do my clothes say about my God? Am I being a distraction or drawing undue attention to myself? Am I identifying w/ sinful, cultural values?”
Within DCC, don’t have many flaunting wealth. We don’t have a lot of that. If there’s a danger, its the other. This is so challenging to address. So much room for misunderstanding. Hope you hear my heart here. Hope you consider and submit to Scripture knowing the goodness of God. Hope you know that God tells us things like this not to harm us, but to help us. Not to steal joy, but instill it. So, just a few pastoral remarks:
First, on behalf of the men, thank you ladies that dress modestly. This includes the overwhelming majority of you. Thank you.
Second, experience tells me that those who dress immodestly do so ignorantly, not knowing any different. In most cases, young ladies are ignorant of the war with lust that men daily confront. Often ignorant of effect bodies can have on eyes/hearts of men. Often Ignorant that men are visually stimulated. Therefore, to persuade you ladies, I asked the men of the church for testimonies on this topic. Want you to hear from men in our midst. These men are to be commended for pursuit of purity. Please think these areunusual testimonies. I did not somehow identify all of the perverts in the church. These testimonies are from normal guys striving for purity.
Q: What is it like on a daily basis to live in a city that encourages and promotes immodesty?
“It is literally a struggle each day.…I feel bombarded by ads, the internet, movies, as well as women of Seattle that are constantly pointing at the one thing I am trying to avoid….It’s been so much of a challenge that it has lead to even “hiding” certain female friends on Facebook for this same reason. Particularly in Seattle, the home of the Yoga tights as pants, it can be very very distracting and it cause me to subjectify the woman into a thought process that is demoralizing and more like an object than a person. It’s not something I am proud of and something I constantly pray about.”
“It sucks. Bad. The hypersexualized culture that we live in amplifies, idolizes, celebrates, and rejoices in the very thing that Christ calls us to flee from. It’s like being chased around all the time by lies that promise good things but leave us completely empty.
“It is incredibly hard. You have to be constantly on guard and always protecting your eyes. If you desire to be a man of integrity and honor Christ and women then you must pour a tremendous amount of effort into it. It is exhausting. You feel like you are swimming up stream and the culture pushes back really hard.
Q: What happens inside of you when you notice an immodestly dressed woman?
“Usually my stomach drops. I feel unsafe and insecure. It feels like my heart is being threatened. It is the most enticing offense and I go into battle mode. The temptation to objectify, sexualize, and captivate my lustful imagination is irresistible but for the power of Christ at work in me.
“You instantly avert your eyes or head in the opposite direction. Sometimes you freeze up because it catches you off guard and you don’t know how to respond. It totally distracts you and you might need to spend 30 minutes trying to get your mind off of it.
Q: What is it like to talk to a woman who is dressed immodestly?
“I try to avoid it entirely. Entirely. With so many other lustful temptations up in my grill through the media and on the street, I make it a primary aim to avoid personal interactions with women who it would seem are seeking to publicize their body to draw attention.”
“I have to fight…there is no way that I will be really listening to any conversation taking place because of the conflicting conversation taking place within my heart and mind. I am extremely uncomfortable with this and try to avoid it.”
“It’s a minefield. If I look away from her during the conversation, I seem distant and uninterested. To get around that, I can hold eye contact to avoid looking down at the rest of her. But if I do that too much, then I seem too intense or even creepy. In the end, I have to pay constant attention to managing my eyes and where they’re pointing. Interacting with immodestly dressed women is a ton of work! I just avoid it a lot of the time.
Q: If you could say anything to the women of our church on this topic, what would it be?
“Just re-assurance you can be as cute and attractive as you want to be without resorting to dressing in a way that is immodest. It will really allow a man to see you as a beautiful women, both inside and out, instead of just a superficial attraction that is only skin deep.
“Don’t buy into the lie that attractiveness is measured by what you wear and what you reveal. The guy you want to attract (and you want to marry) will find your love for Jesus 100 times more attractive than anything else. Paradoxically, If you’re dressed immodestly, the guy you ultimately want to attract (Jesus Loving, God fearing, etc.) will often avoid a conversation with you because He’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to struggle.
Q: What would you like to say to the women who do dress modestly?
“Thank you. Thank you for trusting Jesus and your identity in Him. Thank you for resisting the temptation to settle for and seek after the leering affirmation of lustful idiots. Thank you for modeling what modesty practically looks like for our daughters. Thank you for helping me to feel safe and secure. Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you and make friends with you without having my fists clenched in a war zone.”
“Thank you! It’s refreshing and helps allow me to get to know you for you and no other reason. It makes being a brother and sister in Christ something desirable without worry of sinful thoughts.
“Thank you. Thank you for being a walking example of a woman who is trusting Jesus. Thank you for not giving your fellow brothers an opportunity for the flesh. Thank you for being an example to other women of what is truly attractive.”
Ladies, this is not only about you. It’s also about the men. In your modesty, you serve them. My hope is Jesus Christ would raise godly women here, motivated by grace, who dress modestly for glory of God. Yet, also, at the very same time, where those who do not yet follow Jesus are still immature in their walk are able to dress immodestly and warmly welcomed, not self-righteously judged. Clearly, there are deeper issues that must be addressed in the heart and life of these women, prior to addressing their wardrobe. Their shouldn’t be a hint of self-righteounsess among us.
Paul’s emphasis, in fact, it not on what not to wear, but what to wear, vs10, “but rather with what is proper for a women who profess godliness – w/ good works.” In other words, there are two kinds of feminine beauty: beauty of body and beauty of character. John Stott “church should be a veritable beauty parlor b/c it encourages its women to adorn themselves with good deeds.” This isn’t salvation by works, but a salvation that works. This is an observable lifestyle of serving others. Good works of service and sacrifice arenecessary response to the service and sacrifice of God in Jesus.
- What is most noticeable about you – clothing or your character?
- What does your closet reveal about your character?
- Married: Ask husband what’s attracts him? He is who you want to attract. Be as immodest as you want @home!
- Do you warmly interact with those who are immodestly dress or do pass self-righteous judgment on them?
- Is there a friend that you need to speak with, graciously, kindly, humbly on this topic but have avoided it?
Q: What motivates Paul to write this? Why is Paul so concerned? Why should you and I be concerned? Please do not make the mistake that Paul is not some of conservative, woman-hater that is trying to subjugate women. No. Not at all. Rather, as we saw in the beginning, its because of the gospel. The gospel is the reason that led Paul to express concerns to men and women. For Paul, and for us, all topics proceed from and are related to the gospel.
MEN: Holy, passionate, prayerful, Jesus-following men who lead out and commend the gospel.
WOMEN: Godly, modest, self-controlled, Jesus-following women who commend the gospel.
These type of men and women do not want to distract from or reflect poorly on the gospel. That’s their concern. They want their good and gracious God to look as good as He is. They want their attitude and appearance to commend and demonstrate allegiance tosavior, substitute, mediator. They don’t want their to be any contradiction between faith and every day practice. They want to authenticate the reality of the transforming effect of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the every day – even in how they handle their anger and in how they dress.
MEN: Only when you see that Jesus is in ultimate control will you be able to give up the mirage of your control that underlies your anger.
MEN: Only when you see that Jesus will ultimately make all things right as he sees fit will you be able be released from your anger-driven desire to make all things right as you see fit.
MEN: Only when you see how much Jesus has forgiven your sin against him will you be able to freely forgive others for their sin against you.
LADIES: Only when you see that you have the attention of the living God, by what he has done for you will you be able to give up trying to get attention of others, by what you do for them.
LADIES: Only when you see your ultimate value and worth are in Christ will you stop trying to find your worth and value in your appearance.
LADIES: Only when you see that you have acceptance of the only one who ultimately matters will you be freed from attempting to gain acceptance of others by how you dress.
If we allow the gospel to make us these kind of people, we will become a counter-cultural, compelling people. God will get his glory and we will get our joy. We will be part of building a great city through the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God – even through what we do with our anger and what we do with our dress.