Gender & Order in Corporate Worship

Text: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

When the church comes together and we pray, how we pray is important. But what’s even more important is the condition of the hearts of those praying. We don’t believe in putting on a show or pretending to be something on Sundays that we haven’t been all week long. The best witness is a consistent witness – one that reflects the grace and the character of Christ, not only for a couple of hours on Sunday, but everyday of the week.

In our text today, Paul goes beyond prayer and teaches on what godly, gospel-centered lives look like in the context of the roles of men and women, in church and out of church.

A gospel-centered man will live a consistent testimony, in church and out.  (1 Timothy 2:8)

In the Old Testament, before the priests would enter the tabernacle, they would ceremonially wash their hands and feet, as an outward sign of inward repentance. And lifting up their freshly washed hands was a symbolic way to show that just as the outward has been washed clean, so was their hearts.

When Paul encourages men to “lift up holy hands”, he’s reminding the church not to live a double life. That’s what they were doing, those older men who should have known better. Arguing, being rude, abrasive, unkind, offensive, angry with each other. But when they came together on Sunday, they pretended everything was ok. They pretended to love others when they didn’t. They pretended to be in unity with the body of Christ when there was strife and contention between them.

Men, this is a sobering opportunity for us to take inventory of our heats. Ask yourself, do my kids experience more of my anger or more of my pleasure? Which does my wife see more: my frustration with life, or my joy in Christ?

We don’t ask this to be condemned. This is an opportunity to turn and repent, and watch God’s grace meet you in your weakness. God can take an angry, quarreling heart and turn it into a humble, sincere, loving heart – one that is slow to be offended and quick to forgive.

And then, when we come together on Sundays, our worship will be sincere and genuine. Our love for God will be evidenced by our love for one another. Our moment of worship on a Sunday will be consistent with our lives of worship through the week. And that honors and glorifies God.

A gospel-centered woman will be adorned with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

There were certain women in the Ephesian church who were being influenced by the false teachers (see 2 Timothy 3:6-7). As a result, some of these women began to assert themselves in places of influence in the church, dressing in ways that drew attention to their outward appearance so that they would look important. Among them, the widows became busybodies and the married women began rejecting the leadership of their husbands.

In all of this mess, Paul says… [9] likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel.

Modesty may be an old-fashioned word, but it’s one we need to bring back. Modesty is a spiritual virtue that consciously resists drawing attention to one’s outer appearance in order to highlight inner character and beauty. Therefore to be outwardly immodest would be to dress in such a way or to act in a way that would draw attention to the outward, to the physical body, either to socially impress or to sexually seduce.

This does not please God, and it does not serve other Christians when we attempt to draw undue attention to our bodies. Our identity and acceptance is in Christ, not in our physical appearance. The power of the gospel is best displayed – not by a decorated body, but by a transformed heart.

The world’s standards for beauty and modesty are not God’s standards. The devil wants to start early with our kids, drawing them away from God’s word, away from God’s beauty, and to tempt them to find identity in something else, to value what’s most expensive, to desire what is popular, to follow trends, to get attention.

Instead, let us cultivate inner beauty through godly character, through a humble demeanor, through a worshipful heart. These things do not fade, they don’t go out of style with the fashion trends, but they will last forever.

A godly woman does not clamor for authority. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Paul is still addressing these same women in the church who were trying to elbow their way into authority by siding with these false teachers and trying to instruct the men in the church. So, Paul is dealing with two issues: 1) He’s correcting these particular women who were causing confusion and being a poor witness in the Ephesian church, clamoring for authority. 2) He’s affirming complementarity – that men and women are equal in value before God, but they are different in function. Leading and teaching in the church is a function God reserved for men to step up and fill.

Paul instructs women to learn quietly and submissively in the church service. Now we know that Paul is not forbidding women to speak because in other places in the New Testament, he commends women to prophecy, to pray, and to sing. In this context, he is not only correcting the women who are following the false teachers, but also affirming complementarity for every Christian.

And to make his case, Paul doesn’t appeal to cultural norms. He appeals to creation. 1) God made Adam first, giving him authority over the garden, authority to name the animals, and even authority to name Eve. 2) Then, Paul points out that Eve was deceived by the serpent. Paul is not saying Adam is innocent. He’s saying they both sinned. Eve was deceived by the devil, and Adam willingly chose to eat the fruit his wife gave him.

Adding all of this us, we are to be reminded that God is glorified as we walk in our distinct roles as men and women, (in the home and in the church). Complementarity is a beautiful thing. We celebrate living out the distinct roles of men and women as God made us.

In fact, whether you are married or not, gender itself gives God glory when we see how God made us – we can celebrate our male and female differences.

When men walk as men – protecting, humbly serving, providing, caring, and leading – and when women walk as women – caring, nurturing, loving, supporting, intelligently submitting – it brings glory to God because His creation is being obedient to the purpose for which it was created, and the gospel is clearly seen in the reflection of those representing Christ and His church.

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