I Timothy 2:8-15

August 16, 2009

Exordium: This passage is about how we worship-an important subject since we do that every Lord’s Day- as well as in our homes. We want to get it right.

This part of the Word of God takes us back all the way to the beginning of things, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and judgments came upon them.  These are judgments we live with every day.

But in worship we reverse these curses and actually turn them into blessings.  Let me show you what I mean. Since the curses were separate and different for the man and the woman, we must turn them into blessings separately. In this section of First Timothy, the men come first.

Explication: Everything in this chapter so far has been addressed to men and women. There we find the comprehensive scope of prayer in worship, as well as its basis in the suffering and atoning death of our Lord. There we also discovered the sharp focus of our praying – that all might be reached with the knowledge of the truth. But here God is speaking to us men through his servant Paul.

  1. MEN REVERSING THE CURSE OF ADAM THROUGH WORSHIP

It is given to us in Genesis 3 through Adam. “Cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil you shall eat of it. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you. And you shall eat the fruit of the field in the sweat of your brow.”

Can you imagine the grief and disappointment in the heart of God when He pronounced this judgment against His own son? “But the second Adam reverses this curse for us.”  (A.W. Pink)

Our Lord took the thorns and thistles upon His own head, and wove them into a crown for our salvation.  The curse Adam wore, Christ wore as a crown in His suffering.

He took the sweat of the face from toil and bore it within himself until it oozed out of his pores as great drops of blood.  It was the heavy perspiration of great suffering and great love.

He took the sword of life that had kept Adam and Eve out of Eden and with it He opened His own side on the cross so that blood and water might pour out for our salvation.

He took the dust of death predicted and promised to Adam and tasted it himself, but death could not hold Him and He reversed it by rising victorious over the grave.

He knew the curse on men and felt it with us and turned it into our salvation and our hope.

So, we who follow Adam and Christ are better off after Christ turned the curse around than we were before Adam sinned.

  • Before the fall Adam dwelt in an earthly paradise. But we have been made to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.
  • Before the fall we possessed a natural life, but now all of us in Christ have been made partakers of the divine life.
  • Before the fall Adam was of an innocent nature, but in Christ we have been made righteous in the eyes of God.

Adam was made the Lord of Eden; we have been made the heirs of all things. Adam was merely a creature of God, but we are members of Christ’s body.

HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO MEN?

The curse still applies as we work to provide for our families. Yes, it is a struggle, and there is sweat on our face. But, we embrace the struggle in the strength of Christ and turn it into a blessing. Just as Samson did when he gave the riddle “Out of the eater came forth something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

Every Sunday, as we rest and worship, we are reversing the curse. We are resting. Then our work does not define or describe us.

Here Paul tells us that we are to lift up holy hands in prayer everywhere.  That is the picture from the ancient Christian monuments of men praying with their hands stretched toward heaven with eagerness as if they were waiting on tiptoe for the answer to come.

If Christ had not turned the curse into a blessing, our eyes and heads would be downward at our computer, or the field or the surgery we were doing. But now we lift our heads upward in daily work, because all that we do we do as unto Him. But now we look up as if reaching up for our destiny.

We do this with hands that been cleansed with the blood of Christ. And whatever we do with those hands, we do in the name and for the glory of Christ. (Colossians 3:17)

We do not pray with anger. Christ has taught us that anger does not produce the work of God and that it will interfere with our prayers. We empty our hearts of anger as we prepare for worship so that our praying is with a pure and undefiled heart.  One person’s anger can affect the praying of the whole body assembled in worship.

We are not angry with our leaders, our family members, our bosses. We dissolve our anger with forgiveness and replace it with love.

Our prayers rise out of our confidence in Christ’s power. We believe when we pray that He can do what we ask of Him.  We know that the second Adam has opened the way to pray and has Himself taught us to pray in His Word. Likewise He has given us His own Spirit to abide in us and pray through us in accordance with His will and purpose.  So there is an eagerness, a fervency in our praying.

  1. THE WOMEN

Eve also received a judgment from the Lord. “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception. In your pain shall you bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and He shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Here in I Timothy 2:15, Paul, by the Spirit, gives great comfort to the women in the Church. He does not mean that woman receives salvation by bearing children, but her doing this is part of God’s plan of salvation for the people of God. He turns their curse into a blessing, saying your childbearing will lead toward your salvation.

By child -bearing he doesn’t mean only motherhood, but nurturing, teaching, and developing the children and the youth of the flock. This is the role that God has fitted you for.  It is uniquely yours.

You alone carry the antidote for the disaster of the fall. Yes, there will be pain and pregnancies will increase. But that will serve to remind you of the pride you exerted through Eve when you usurped Adam’s leadership and the tendency you have to be overly trusting and therefore easily deceived. By bearing and caring for children others will see you in a new light, as a generous, self-sacrificing, creative person who is offering hope for the future to the whole race.

I know a woman who fully expected to give her life in the carrying and the delivery of her baby. And when the baby was born and whisked away to another part of the ward, she stopped them and said, bring that baby back here. I want to see him before I die.   What a hero she is in her families’ eyes.

Included in this great promise, wrapped in a curse, is the promise that out of woman the Redeemer will come forth and save His people from their sins.(Genesis 3:15) So much did Eve receive this promise that she named her third son, “the appointed one,” Seth, indicating that she thought he was to be the Saviour who is coming.  Though the curse was still ringing in her ears, she turned it into a blessing.  Inside every curse, there is a hope and a promise if you will let Christ re-do it for you.

Her pain was mitigated by the hope that giving birth is leading to salvation. And for the single women, who gives herself to the nurturing and loving of other peoples’ children, the curse becomes through her labors the salvation of many.

So, what is a woman to do? If you are married, submit to childbearing, knowing that God honors that if it proceeds from faith and love. That is embracing the curse and drawing blessing out of it.  That’s what David did when Shimei cursed him and threw stones at him while he was king.  He responded “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing.” (2 Samuel 16:11)

And to every woman present, cherish the role that God has given you of being the bearers, nurturers, shapers, and influencers of life in this world. That is turning the curse of pain and pregnancy into the blessing of bringing forth children of the covenant.

In this section Paul calls for certain attitudes for women in worship. I touch on them briefly.

  • Modesty in dress and manner so as not to call attention in worship to anyone or anything except the Lord who is present with His people. You can still be modern and modest at the same time.  A woman’s dress is the mirror of her mind. Somewhere we have forgotten the purpose and meaning of the blush:  It is the sign which nature hangs out to show that purity and honor dwell here.
  • Let your adorning be your good works-these are the children and youth who rise up and call you blessed.
  • Let your emphasis be on learning in worship, receiving because that is reversing the route that Eve took and transgressed.  This is the natural role God has designed for the feminine sex.
  • Let your attitude be one of great joy in being a woman, the pinnacle of God’s creation, the height of his creative power, the cherry on top of the sundae!
  • Seek humility in worship. Prepare your heart this way, and study godliness as the chief aim of your life, preparing your heart with that garment as you come to the worship service.

Paul gives us a quartet of virtues to be put on with humility:

  • Faith, as you jacket
  • Love, as your scarf
  • Holiness, as your dress
  • Self-control, as your cosmetics

On the way to worship and even on the outskirts of “the Presence”, the devil will try to destroy these qualities. But turn his temptations into motivations to cling to them fervently. We call it embracing the struggle.

All these will show in your countenance which is what you want people to see. Let them see your life and attitudes displayed in your face. Take great care of your face, because it tells the story of your heart – getting dressed for worship.

You will have reversed the pain and suffering in childbirth and childrearing -through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.