The Portrait of a Godly Woman - Set Apart
2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
As women of God, we are required to cleanse ourselves from that which is dishonourable in order to be a vessel for honourable use—set apart as holy and useful to our God.
But in what ways are we set apart and what does that mean for us?
John 17:15-18 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
A strong woman of God is someone who doesn’t lean on her own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), but places her trust in Jesus—with her actions following her faith.
Jesus’ prayer was not that we would be taken out of this world, because although we have been set apart, He wants to use us for His Kingdom, so His prayer was that we are kept from the evil one, that we are not corrupted by the world or ensnared in sin.
But how do we achieve this?
Jesus went on to pray that we would be sanctified by God’s truth, because His Word is truth! The Bible is our lifeline. It brings life to our flesh.
Proverbs 4:20-22 be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Our primary focus is, and should always be on Jesus Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). And in order to keep our focus on Him is by reading His Word, which renews our mind, and spending time in prayer. A great way to pray, especially when you don’t know how to pray, is by speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
The portrait of a godly woman is one who knows and studies God’s Word, is in constant prayer with the Lord and doesn’t allow her circumstances to overcome her — she relies on Jesus to carry her through, knowing that He is her Lord and Saviour — a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). This is very different to the world and how they react to things…but we have been called to be different—peculiar.
2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
Notice that we see again here that in order to be set apart, we need to keep away from anything that is unclean. We are called to be holy—pure.
We don’t need to concern ourselves with trying to work out how we’re going to be godly—it’s not something we ‘try’ to be, although it is a decision we make. Once we are born-again, we now have the Holy Spirit within us who gives us the ability to live a godly life. It is unattainable without Jesus. Jesus will do that work in us—our part is to be willing to let Him.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Our trustworthy source for knowing what is expected of a woman of God is the Bible. In it we will find answers to all our questions and concerns, even right down to explicit details of how the Lord wants His people to conduct themselves.
We are representing almighty God, so when we go out in public, we should always remember that as ambassadors for Christ, we need to ensure we are presenting ourselves in a way that is honouring to the Lord; not just in the actions we take, but also in how we look and the words we speak.
The Bible instructs godly women to present their bodies with modesty and discretion so as to keep themselves pure and not to be a stumbling block by causing temptation to others (Romans 14:13, Matthew 18:6-7).
1 Timothy 2:9-10 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly...
We even have specific direction in regards to controlling our tongue with the words we allow to come out of our mouth.
Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
1 Peter 3:10 Whoever desires to love life and see good days,let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit
Although our tongue is a small member of our body, it has the ability to cause devastating consequences—and we are called to control our mouth as part of being a godly woman.
Description of a godly wife
Proverbs 31:10-31 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates. We are all familiar with the well-known women in the Bible who did great exploits for the Lord, but what about the women that are rarely spoken of, the ladies we may never have even heard of?
In Acts, we read about a woman named Lydia.
Acts 16:13-15 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
This was a woman who had a strong reverence for the Lord. From what we know according to the Word, Lydia was a seller of purple (which could’ve been silks or dyes) – however verse 14 tells us that she worshiped God, so we know that Lydia was a woman who loved the Lord and His Word.
Then the next part of this verse is very interesting. It says ‘The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul’. So this one woman, who would’ve been one among many that day, was set apart by God and chosen because she had a heart for Him. And because she had a heart for Him, He opened her heart to pay attention to the things Paul was speaking and receive them. Paul of course was speaking about Jesus and Him crucified – so Lydia, being a lover of the truth, opened her heart to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
God had set her apart – He had called her according to His purpose. And on that specific day, He had the circumstances perfectly orchestrated so Lydia would be at the right place at the right time, in order to hear the gospel so she could be saved. Our heavenly Father loves us so dearly – He orders our steps and leads us in His ways. Our part of the relationship is to surrender our will to Him so He can use us for His glory. If we aren’t willing to allow Jesus to take control of the reigns, then He won’t force us, because we need to remember that God is a perfect gentleman who will not go against His Word and nor will He lie. Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Psalm 40:4 Blessedis that man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
God has paved the way for us—it’s up to us to walk in it.
1 John 2:2-6 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
It’s our decision how close we choose to walk with God. He leaves the choice up to us, however His desire is that we come closer. We can stay at a comfortable distance, or we can get out of our comfort zone and go closer to have a deeper relationship with our Creator.
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
When in the flesh, we all have a tendency to take matters into our own hands, control situations and do things our way. In order to do this, we fall back on three specific sins.
Manipulative, Divisive & Disobedient
Quite often women will use these devices when they are going against God’s plan for their lives, deciding to attempt to take on men’s roles. The Bible tells us what the responsibilities are of the man and the woman. They are not the same. We get ourselves into trouble when the man acts like a woman and the woman acts like a man. The woman is not capable of doing all of the jobs that the man can do. Many times when she rebels from God’s ways and tries to do things her own way, she has to fall back on using witchcraft to get the job done.
1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
So we’ve talked about what a godly woman looks like, and have seen an example through Lydia. Let’s now take a look at some more women from the Bible.
This time we’re going to briefly examine women who took matters into their own hands, with some disobeying God, seeing how this affected their lives, as well as the lives of others.
Women Who Took Matters Into Their Own Hands
In Genesis 3:1-6, Eve ignored God's words and was seduced by Satan and her senses; (looks and taste). She wanted to be wise and thought she would be like God – so her pride was struck and she went in the realm of wanting to exalt herself above God. Eve offered it to her husband, who also partook in sin.
In Genesis 16:1-4 we see that instead of waiting for God to fulfil His promise of giving Abram and Sarai a child, Sarai took matters into her own hands. She used a substitute wife by giving her servant to her husband.
In Genesis 21:9-10 Sarah couldn’t stand to see her servant’s son mocking, so she told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.
In Genesis 27:6-10 Rebekah interfered with traditions and convinced her younger son, Jacob, to pretend to be his older brother, Esau, in order to receive the blessing from his father.
In Genesis 30:1-12 Rachel, being barren yet jealous of her sister being able to bear children to their husband Jacob, did the same thing as Sarah and gave her servant to her husband in order to have a child. It resulted in a competition between the two sisters Rachel and Leah - giving their servants to Jacob in order to have more children.
In Genesis 39:7-12 Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph, a man who was not her husband, and tried to seduce him, even to the point of grabbing hold of him.
In Numbers 12:1-2 Miriam spoke out against her brother, Moses, and questioned his position.
In Judges 16:6-21 Delilah relentlessly nagged her husband Samson and persuaded him to tell her the secret to his strength so she could betray him for money.Samson had his hair cut off, was overpowered and imprisoned.
In 1 Samuel 1:4-7 Hannah was constantly provoked and mocked by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because she was unable to bear children.
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
A common problem women have, is that they are not content to be the weaker sex, and want to be equal with men and do everything that men do, and in alot of cases they enter into false gifts to be noticed and will often use what comes natural in the flesh to get it – manipulation.This is the Jezebel spirit which we see came through a literal woman called Jezebel. She was a false prophetess who killed God’s prophets.
The want of power or control is a destructive road.
Can women still be used mightily by God?
Definitely! The issue isn’t whether God can use women, but that women need to realise that God has a unique purpose set aside for men and women – and when a woman understands her role, she will have satisfaction when doing God’s will.
So what’s the point of showing all these weak-willed women? And why would God have them in the Bible?
Everything God has placed in the Bible is there for a reason, right? Even right down to the smallest detail, the whole counsel of God’s Word is complete and important. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This is God’s living Word! Let’s never underestimate that.
So when we read about these people from the Bible, we need to learn from them.
Firstly, we need to understand what our weaknesses in the flesh are so that we are aware of it when it rears its ugly head - and manipulation is one of the biggest for women.
Secondly, as we follow each of these women’s struggles,which were often painful and desperate circumstances, we can use these as examples to learn from them, seeing how one can react when in the flesh, as opposed to walking in the spirit.
So we know that all those women made wrong choices and some did not do things according to God’s plan. Does this mean then that God’s plan was ruined due to our failings? Never. God always accomplishes that which He sets out to do.
Isaiah 14:24 The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, soit shall stand.”
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevail.
So let’s look at how God’s plan prevailed with all those women who made wrong choices.
In Genesis 3:1-6, Eve ignored God's words, allowed pride to come in and ate the forbidden fruit.
However Romans 5:19 tells us that although because of the disobedience of one man we became sinners, God made a way for sinners to be reconciled to God and made righteous by sacrificing His only Son.
In Genesis 16:1-4 we see that Sarai didn’t wait for God to give her a child, and she gave her servant to her husband.
However Genesis 21:1-3 tells us that God’s plan, the one He had all along, was the one that was fully accomplished and blessed when He opened Sarah’s womb and she gave birth to a son called Isaac.
In Genesis 21:9-10 Sarah couldn’t stand to see her servant’s son mocking, so she told Abraham to send them away.
However Genesis 21:12-13 tells us that God said He would look after Hagar and her son, and told Abraham that He would make a nation of Ishmael because he was Abraham’s seed.
In Genesis 27:6-10 Rebekah convinced her younger son, Jacob, to pretend to be his older brother, Esau, in order to receive the blessing.
However Genesis 35:9-12 tells us that God chose Jacob, changing his name to Israel and blessing him with the promise He’d given to Abraham and Isaac, saying that nations and kings will proceed from him. Although God didn’t ask Rebekah to do what she did, He used the situation for His glory.
In Genesis 30:1-12 Rachel, being barren and jealous of her sister being able to bear children to their husband, gave her servant to her husband in order to have a child.
However Genesis chapters 30-50 tell us that of all the children that were born to Leah and the two servants, it was Rachel’s firstborn, Joseph,a child God gave to her, whose life was closely followed in the Bible, and who would be mightily used of God.
In Genesis 39:7-12, Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph and tried to seduce him.
However Genesis chapters 39-41 tells us that God’s power shone through Joseph as he fled the scene by literally running, and although Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph and he was unjustly imprisoned, God was with him and Joseph ended up becoming very powerful.
In Numbers 12:1-2 Miriam spoke out against her brother, Moses, and questioned his position.
However Numbers 12:4-15 tells us that God punished Miriam for her sin. She got leprosy and had to stay out of the camp for 7 days until it was gone.
In Judges 16:6-21 Delilah relentlessly nagged her husband Samson and persuaded him to tell her the secret to his strength so she could betray him for money. Samson had his hair cut off, was overpowered and imprisoned.
However Judges 16:28-30 tells us that God answered Samson’s prayer to take vengeance on his enemies by giving him supernatural strength one last time so he could crush the building on all his enemies who were in it.
1 Samuel 1:4-7 Hannah was constantly provoked and mocked by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because she was unable to bear children.
However 1 Samuel 1:11-20 tells us that unlike Sarah and Rachel, Hannah didn’t take matters into her own hands, although she was miserable due to her circumstance of being barren. And instead of working out her own plan, she cried out to the Lord in desperation and He heard her prayer, opened her womb and she gave birth to a son, Samuel.
We’ve gone through and seen how alot of women from the Bible allowed their flesh to take control and therefore resulted in using divisive tactics like manipulation (witchcraft) and disobedience in order to get what they wanted.
Now let’s have a look at some women in the Bible who walked in obedience to God.
WOMEN WHO WALKED IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD
Now we need to remember that although I just gave examples of women being disobedient and taking matters into their own hands, this does not mean that those same woman did not also have times of being obedient to the Lord. And the same goes for the women I’m about to show who were obedient to God, they too would’ve had times of being disobedient.
The Scriptures I’m about to read give a brief account of a woman named Joanna. Now due to the small amount of information given on her, many don’t really notice this woman of God, so we’re going to bring her out today.
Luke 8:1-3 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Luke 24:1-11 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
Going from the short account we read of Joanna, we see her a devoted disciple of the One to whom she owed so much. Joanna, along with Mary Magdalene and Susanna were among the “certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities” (8:2).
Whether Joanna had been demononised or suffered from some mental or physical disability we are not told. It is evident that this woman, restored to normal health by Christ, gave her life to Him. She is here seen as one of the travelling company who went before Christ and the twelve to arrange for their hospitable reception. Out of her own resources many expenses were met, and in this way she ministered unto Him of her substance. By “substance” we are to understand material possessions, such as money and property, and Joanna honoured the Lord with these. Having freely received His healing touch, she freely gave of herself and of her means for His welfare. Joanna was among the sorrow-stricken women who gathered at the tomb to linger in the presence of the dead. But to their amazement the tomb was empty, for the living Lord was no longer among the dead. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, became the first human messengers of the Resurrection. With all haste they went to the apostles and told them the good news.
What an honourable privilege these women were given to be the first ones to deliver the all-important message of Jesus’ resurrection. God chose women for this!
The next woman I’d like to bring your attention to is Anna. She is also spoken of in Luke, and though she is written of even less, we are still able to draw out some great insights from another strong godly woman.
Luke 2:36-38 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Scripture doesn’t tell us why Anna was known as a prophetess. It may be that her long departed husband had been a prophet, or because under divine inspiration she herself told future events, or spent her time celebrating the praises of God. To prophesy simply means to proclaim a divine message, and Anna was one to whom it was given to know events before and after, and one through whom God spoke to others. Anna must be included in that continuous line of prophets and prophetesses who had heralded the coming of the Messiah through succeeding generations. Through her godly life her mind had become saturated with Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent’s head. Waiting unceasingly for Christ she believed, along with Simeon, that Mary’s first-born Son was indeed the rod out of the stem of Jesse. Anna departed not from the temple, she served God with fastings and prayers, she gave thanks to the Lord, and she not only prayed and praised, but she went out to proclaim the glad tidings to those who had shared her hope and faith.
The women I’ve spoken of today each had their own story, with their own purpose from God. Some allowed God to use them mightily, while others chose to put their trust in themselves…which we see never worked out well.
As Christian women, we each have our own decision to make—to give ourselves to God completely in everything we do, or to do what we want to do with our lives.
Jesus tells His children that in order to be His disciple, we are to let go of our own passions and ambitions, and follow Him—which means sacrifice. Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Every day when we wake up, we make the choice as to how we will spend our day, whether we choose to give the day to the Lord and walk according to the spirit, or whether we take control over the day for ourselves and walk according to the flesh. It is a daily thing.
Alot of those women we heard of earlier were under the Old Covenant so they did not have what we have today – and that’s the Holy Spirit with us to lead and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). He gives us the ability to be able to live according to God’s Word and do God’s will, instead of our own.
But we have to be willing to let go of our own self-centredness; our passions, dreams and desires to allow God to come and do His will. And once we let go of our fleshly wants, we realise how insignificant they really were and how nothing compares to when you’re living in God’s will.
The Dangers of Shallow Living
Quote from Leslie Ludy:
‘The Bible says that a woman who builds her life around the pursuit of selfish pleasure is “dead while she lives” (1 Tim. 5:6). What an incredibly poignant challenge to our souls. I can’t help wondering how we as Christian women could impact this world for eternity if we were willing to come away from time-wasters, and pursue Jesus Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.’
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
I’d like to leave you with this edifying Scripture as a brilliant reminder as to who we are in Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
I encourage you all to remember that you have been set apart by God, and living for Him alone in every area of your life is the complete portrait of a Godly woman.
-- By Jenny Ayling