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true woman 101 divine designan eight-week study on biblical womanhood
By Mary A. Kassian Nancy Leigh DeMoss
MOODY PUBLISHERSCopyright © 2012 Mary A. Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWEEK ONE/DAY 1
Most of us have learned (the hard way?!) that you need to follow the manufacturer's instructions, if you want to put things together right. Recently I (Mary) bought and assembled a large wall unit for my husband's office. It was packaged in about a dozen boxes and contained hundreds of pieces of hardware.
I followed the directions step-by-step. Each piece had a specific purpose that became apparent as the unit came together. The process was complex and took several hours. I made some mistakes, and had to go back and pore over the pattern a few times, but I finally got it put together right. And it looks beautiful!
I'm so glad the manufacturer of that wall unit included instructions. The designer of a product is the one who knows that product best. The manufacturer is the one who knows why and how it's made, how to put it together, and how it's supposed to work.
The same principle applies to our lives. Our Creator knows us best. He's the one who knows how and why He created us male and female. As the Designer, He knows the proper way to order and fit together our lives and relationships—according to their intended design.
Jesus was once confronted with a question about male-female relationships. The Pharisees wanted to discuss cultural customs and practices about divorce, and have Jesus endorse one of two popular views (Matt. 19:3-9). But Jesus took the discussion to an entirely different level.
Jesus indicated that in order to get their thinking right, they needed to look beyond all their cultural customs and social conventions, as well as the distortions that had been introduced by sin. They couldn't hope to get things right by arguing over personal opinions of a list of human "dos" and "don'ts."
In order to think and behave correctly, they needed to understand God's original and highest intention for man and woman. And to do this, they needed to look back to creation—to God's pattern—to understand the intent of His original design.
It isn't possible to understand the Bible's teaching on men and women without first understanding God's purpose in creating them. So that's where we're going to start. We're going to lay the foundation of True Womanhood by going back to the first few chapters of Genesis. We'll have a look at what God had in mind, and what things were like between man and woman in the paradise of Eden, before sin marred our relationships.
As you walk through this week's lessons, try to do what Jesus challenged the Pharisees to do. First, look beyond the customs, social conventions, and distortions of male and female of which you are no doubt painfully aware. Second, remember that God's original design for male and female is good. In fact, God's assessment is that it's better than good ... it's very good (Gen. 1:31)!
Regardless of what you may have been told by our culture, regardless of the pain you may have experienced due to the brokenness and twisting of sin, His plan for womanhood—and His plan for you—is beautiful and it is good!
As we look into the Designer's manual together, we think you'll see just how important your womanhood is, and how much gender really does matter!
As obvious as it may be that it's important to follow the designer's directions when it comes to assembling shelves, it's a point so many women (and men) miss when it comes to "assembling" their lives and relationships. The fact is, any time we rail to consult the Designer and follow the directions He has provided, we're going to end up with a mess!
Perhaps you relate—you've tried to build your life and relationships on your own, without the guidance of your Designer, and the result is chaos. Maybe it's time for you to go back and pore over the pattern to find out what your womanhood is all about.
The good news is that Jesus Christ can change you, rearrange the pieces of your life, and put things together the way He intended, so your life can become a thing of beauty and usefulness!
WEEK ONE/DAY 2
Have you ever found yourself pausing as you were on the verge of doing something really important? Last summer, I (Mary) sewed a dress for my son's wedding. I had checked all the measurements, made all the necessary adjustments, and carefully pinned the pattern pieces to the material. picked up my scissors and positioned the sharp blades along the first cut line. But then, just before shearing the costly fabric, I took a deep breath and momentarily paused.
It's not that I was uncertain. I knew I had gotten everything right. It's just that I knew that my next action was significant in the pursuit of my goal— and the feeling caught my attention. I imagine it's a bit like the moment before a surgeon makes the first incision, or an artist lays hammer and chisel to an exquisite piece of marble, or a gemologist cuts the first facet of a weighty diamond.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we see the Creator reflectively pause before His final and greatest creative act—the language introducing this act ("Let us make man in our image") indicates an upcoming deliberative action with forethought. There was no question in God's mind about what He was going to do. No. He had settled on His plan long before the foundation of the world. It was already in motion. At His word, the galaxies and planets, the sun and moon had all been formed and aligned. The earth had ripened with life: the ground had sprouted vegetation; the sky, sea, and land now teemed with every sort of living creature.
Everything was in place. Everything was ready. It all led up to this moment —and, as we will see, this moment pointed to another moment far off in time but eternally present in the mind of God. THE moment. The significance of what God was about to do was deeper and more profound than even the angels could fathom. He was about to make man—and to make him male and female.
Genesis 1:26-27 describes God's "reflective moment."
Read the verses in the margin and fill in the blanks of the diagram below.
Who do you think the dialogue in Genesis 1:26 was between?
To whom does "us" and "our" refer? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
The discussion about creating man and woman took place among members of the Godhead. It may have been among all three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But at the very least, it involved the Father and His Son, as Scripture draws parallels between that relationship and the relationship of the man and the woman (see 1 Con 11:3). We'll talk more about that later, but for now, just think about this: When God created male and female, He had the dynamic of His own relationship in mind.
The Lord created the two sexes to reflect something about God. He patterned the male-female relationship ("them") after the "us/our" relationship that exists within God. He designed the two sexes to put God on display.
Why do you think God created two different sexes, and not just one? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
displaying His image
I (Nancy) have several photos of friends and family displayed on a wall outside of my study. On one occasion, I hosted Mary and several other women in my home for dinner. While I was showing my guests around the house, Mary pointed to a photo and asked, "Is this your father?" I affirmed that it was—but she and I both knew that what we were looking at was actually an image of my father, and not my father himself.
Just as the photo of my dad provides a snapshot of what he looked like, so mankind provides a glimpse of what God is like. Humans were the only creatures that God created "in His image" and "after His likeness."
The word "cloud" contains words closely associated with the concept of "image" and "likeness." Cross out the three words that do not belong:
compare model correlate mirror hide reflect imitate picture display represent copy shadow emulate resemble conceal disregard
What are some ways you can think of that humans resemble/reflect the image of God? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Being created in God's image includes the ability to think and make moral choices. It means that we share in God's nature. Humans have personality; they have the capacity for creativity, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, and justice.
Scripture also indicates that being made in the image of God gives man capacity for spiritual fellowship with Him. What's more, it allows man to have dominion over the work of God's hands—to govern creation as God's representative.
How does the truth that mankind is created in the image of God speak to the chronic feelings of inferiority and worthlessness that many women experience? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
The photo of my dad in my hallway puts my dad on display for everyone who comes into my house to see. Likewise, God want us to put Him on display, so that everyone who looks at us sees the beauty of His image. It's a profound honor and responsibility to bear the image of God.
Read Isaiah 43:6-7 in your Bible. For what purpose does God say He created "sons" and "daughters"? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Scripture teaches that womanhood isn't about prettying ourselves up and putting ourselves on display. Our purpose in life is to put God on display—to reflect His glory in ways we as women were uniquely created to do.
Do you feel that your womanhood displays God's glory? Explain why of why not. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
* Close today's lesson by praying and asking the Lord to deepen your understanding of what it means to display His glory as a woman.
Yesterday, we learned that male and female were created in the image of God, to reflect the glory of God. We were each designed to be "image-bearers"—to display the likeness of our Creator.
The responsibility to reflect God's image, however, wasn't just given to us as individuals. Mankind was created as male and female—in relationship—to display something about the divine relationship that exists within the triune God. Our relationships were created to tell the incredible story of God.
Describe some ways in which you think a male-female relationship could put God on display. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Would you say that most male female relationships today are doing a good job of displaying the glory of God? Why or why not? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
We can't fully understand what the image of God is all about, but two things are clear. First, being created in His image gives us enormous dignity, privilege, and responsibility. He has crowned us with honor and glory and given us authority over the earth.
It's a breathtaking charge to go about the business of daily life and all the while reflect the image of the Almighty. And that leads to the second thing: What a mess we've made of this awesome dignity!—especially in male-female relationships.
The image of God in man has been badly marred, sometimes even beyond recognition. It begs for redemption. Transformation. A type of re-creation. And stunningly enough, before sin ever entered the world, God gave us a picture of His redemptive plan, in the creation of man as male and female.
God knew from the beginning that sin would distort and destroy the male-female relationship. Amazingly, He patterned the first couple's relationship to correspond with the amazing relationship that would one day counter all of the horrible, tragic consequences of sin.
The chart below maps out some corresponding relationships. The arrows represent the headship structure established by God in His Word. Refer to the verses on page 24 to fill in the boxes under the arrows.
Did you write "Christ" in the first box? God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of the church, and the husband is the head of his wife.
There's a clear and corresponding pattern evident in all three relationships. For the moment, don't get distracted thinking about what this all means, how it works out in marriage, or its implication for male-female relationships in general. We'll explore some of those questions later. For now, we just want you to see the pattern and note the biblical parallel between these three relationships.
We want you to grasp that God created male and female and instituted marriage for a specific reason. That reason was revealed and can only be understood in and through Jesus Christ. God created male and female to tell the incredible story of Christ.
Reread Ephesians 5:30-32 in the margin of the previous page. Circle the words "mystery" and "profound." What is the profound mystery? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
the mystery revealed
My (Mary's) youngest son, Jonathan, is studying English literature and history at a university in Canada. Jonathan could tell you that good stories often use a literary device called foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a technique in which an event is hinted at before it happens.
Think back to the last movie you watched. How did the story line forecast the outcome? If it was a good story, it undoubtedly contained subtle hints about how it would end. Even if you were surprised at the ending, you could go back and rewatch the movie and clearly see the hints and clues that pointed toward the ending.
Before time began, before male and female were ever created, God had a splendid plan that He kept a mystery. Throughout the Old Testament, that plan was foreshadowed but hidden from plain view (1 Cor. 2:7; Col. 1:26). It wasn't until Christ died that the mystery of God's eternal purpose—and the ultimate purpose of manhood, womanhood, and marriage—became clear.
Paul connects the dots for us and reveals the stunning beauty of this mystery in the book of Ephesians. In chapter 3 he explains that God's eternal, mysterious plan finally came to light through the work of Jesus Christ (v. 9-10). Then, in chapter 5, he ties the mystery of Christ loving the church to the earthly picture of male-female sexuality and marriage.
According to Scripture, the relationship between a husband and wife is powerfully linked to the story of Christ and His church-bride (see Eph. 5:25-33). God created male and female to foreshadow and testify about THAT amazing relationship and event. That's one of the main reasons why He made us male and female and why He created marriage.
In the opening chapter of his epistle to the Romans, Paul addresses sexual relationships and conduct. In that context, he explains what God wanted to "make plain" through creation—including the apex of His creation, male and female.
Read Romans 1:19-20 in the margin. What two invisible things did God want to display through His creation?
1. ______________________________________________________________ 2. ______________________________________________________________
God's eternal power and His divine nature find their ultimate expression in Christ. Together, male and female (gender) testify to the character of God and portray the greater reality of Christ and the church. This spiritual truth is so magnificent that God chose to put it on prominent display throughout the entire world. He stamped the trailer for His story on every human being who has ever lived.
Men were created to reflect the strength, love, and self-sacrifice of Christ. Women were created to reflect the responsiveness, grace, and beauty of the bride He redeemed. And marriage was created to reflect the covenant union of Christ and His bride.
Scripture is emphatic that the story line of male and female (and male-female relationships) has little to do with us, and much to do with God. Your womanhood is ultimately not about you. It's about displaying the glory of God and His powerful redemptive plan.
If gender was created to tell the story of God, how important is it that we understand a biblical perspective on womanhood? Put an "X" on the gradient to indicate how important it is:
* Can you think of any examples of how your life and relationships as a woman have—or have not—displayed the image of God and His redemptive story?
Excerpted from true woman 101 divine design by Mary A. Kassian Nancy Leigh DeMoss Copyright © 2012 by Mary A. Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Excerpted by permission of MOODY PUBLISHERS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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