In the fourth session of this year's single women's discipleship group, we looked at the topic of sanctification. Our homework was to memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and to read the following materials:
- "Watch Your Language" by E. Bradley Beevers
We began by talking about the differences between justification and sanctification. Then we turned to Jerry Bridges' article to talk about why the process of progressive sanctification must rest on the gospel and not our own efforts. (If you haven't read it before, I highly recommend it you check it out. Thanks to Modern Reformation for posting it online.) As he writes, "We must always keep focused on the gospel because it is in the nature of sanctification that as we grow, we see more and more of our sinfulness. Instead of driving us to discouragement, though, this should drive us to the gospel. It is the gospel believed every day that is the only enduring motivation to pursue progressive sanctification even in those times when we don't seem to see progress."
From there, we progressed to "Watch Your Language." The premise of this article (from the Journal of Biblical Counseling) is how people use language to minimize responsibility for their behavior. In my opinion, the classic example of that is the politically-spun non-apology of "I'm sorry if I said something that offended you." There's nothing there of true repentance. The speaker is only belatedly sorry that you were offended. As Beevers writes:
Now let's tackle a slightly less obvious case: how people use language to minimize responsibility for their behavior. First, consider how the world speaks of obvious sins. We live in a society where excessive spending is common. Yet we rarely hear the word greed used to describe it. Such a lifestyle is merely "comfortable." Patterns of disobedience are "problems," not sins. Grumbling or complaining are "saying what I feel" or "being honest." Even in the church we sometimes call speaking evil of another "sharing" or "seeking counsel," rather than gossip or slander.
When you can describe the problem in biblical terms, it is so much easier to find and apply the biblical solutions. The goal of this article is not to institute the word police, but rather to help us understand how accurate words can help us accurately diagnosis sin, thereby leading us to the source of real change.
We concluded with looking at a chapter titled, "A Woman of Noble Character." It is a chapter that kicks off a study of the Proverbs 31 woman as seen through the eyes of single women. Verse 10 commends the noble character of a woman (ishshah in Hebrew) whose worth exceeds rare jewels. The King James Version says she is a "virtuous woman." The English Standard Version calls her "an excellent wife." The New International Version calls her "a wife of noble character." No matter how this Hebrew word for woman is translated (in the context of her wifely role or not), verse 30 says that a women who fears the Lord is to be commended. These and the qualities of all the verses in between are virtues for all Christian woman, no matter the season of life. Then we looked at how this chapter outlines noble character in a single woman's life: trust in God when your hopes are deferred; contentment while you are waiting; faithfulness to sow to the future even when you are in tears; graciousness when others receive what you would like; and humility to pray to be a blessing, rather than to receive a blessing.
I hope you are enjoying tagging along with d-group this year!