And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
Dying to Live
One might wonder, “If Yahweh’s plan for women is so high and lofty, why do so many women despise it and fall short of His will?” The answer is revealed in the scripture above. The plan and desire of God for men and women involves dying to self. This is described as denying self and losing our life. It is compared to the image of one taking up a cross and following in the footsteps of Christ.
I don’t know anyone who has had death by crucifixion described to them who would say that it sounded pleasant or desirable. To follow the path Yahweh has for us, everyone must come to the same place to which Yahshua came. We must all look at the course set before us and count the cost. A true and accurate assessment of what Yahweh is calling us to will most likely lead us to the same confession as Christ, “Father, if there be any other way, please let this cup pass from me.”
We know that Yahshua followed up this plea with the words, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done.” This is not the case with the multitude of men and women. Even among the saints of God, it is a remnant who will choose the path the Father has for them when they see the suffering and self denial that it requires.
Of necessity, the saint must have a heavenly vision in order to choose to walk in Yahweh’s will for them on earth. We must see the joy set before us so that we too can despise the shame of our allotted path.
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yahshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A woman must see the joy set before her, a joy that is not of this present age, but of the age to come. A woman must so desire to hear the words of Christ, “Well done, good and faithful daughter, enter into the joy of your Lord”, that she will walk anywhere, and in any way, that He determines for her while on earth.
Not very many men or women have such a heavenly perspective. Most live their lives never perceiving anything but the natural world around them. Therefore, they want to receive joy, and happiness, and blessing now, and they seek to satisfy every human desire while they live here on earth. Much of the church sees Yahweh as a type of heavenly Santa Claus who exists to satisfy their every craving, to rescue them from every difficulty, to remove every hardship, and to make their way pleasant and enjoyable. Yet the invitation of Christ is “Come and suffer.”
I Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Reading this, you may think, “Is this really what I signed up for when I received Yahshua as my Savior and Lord?” Indeed, it is! Paul expressed it in this way:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
This does not mean that we have to walk around experiencing misery and heartache every moment. It does not mean we will not know profound joy at times, or that we will be robbed of peace in our lives. What is indicated is that a death must take place within our beings if we are to enter into the true life of Christ. Peter gives us this further insight.
I Peter 4:1-2
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
Our suffering comes about as we choose the will of God over the lusts of our own flesh. Certainly for a woman to willingly choose to submit herself to man requires a dying to the flesh. The flesh does not want to submit to anyone, not even to God. Many women have agonized over the will of God for them, and in the end they have chosen another course that would not require their flesh to die. Yet there is no other path that will lead to a release of the life of Christ within. The hard shell of the outer person must be broken open in order for the life of Christ within to be revealed.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
The message revealed throughout all of scripture is that when we seek to live according to the fallen nature of man, death will result. It is only in dying to self and the flesh that we enter into life. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).
Let us make this very practical. The scriptures reveal that woman was created for man, not man for woman (I Corinthians 11:9). The scriptures reveal that a woman should not teach a man, nor in any way seek to be an authority over man for this would be to usurp the position of man even as Satan tried to usurp authority that was not his (I Timothy 2:12). The scriptures state that a woman should not correct her husband even when he is being disobedient to the word of God (I Peter 3:1, 2). The scriptures reveal that it is the will of God for a woman to submit to her husband and to maintain a quiet and gentle spirit before man (I Peter 3:3-5, Titus 2:3-5). The scriptures even reveal that it is the will of Yahweh for a woman to treat her own husband as her lord (I Peter 3:6).
As an indication of how very difficult these things are for a woman to walk in, consider how many times you have heard a sermon, read a book or article, or had a conversation with someone, and the aim of the communication was to convince you that these scriptures do not mean what they say. To walk in any of these things requires a dying to self, and crucifixion is not pleasant. Because of this, most women simply prefer to deny what the scriptures state and to put a false interpretation upon them. Did you struggle within yourself as you read these things that are recorded in scripture? Did you think, “But you don’t know my husband, or my father?”
It is often the case when we see something difficult and unpleasant to the flesh revealed in scripture that we refuse to receive the clear meaning of the words. For example, we call Yahshua “Lord” all the time. We know what this implies. When we call Yahshua Lord we are saying that He is supreme over us. We are acknowledging that His will takes precedence over our will. We know our response to Him is to be one of obedience. Yahshua also indicated that this was the meaning of being called Lord.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Why then do many women read the following scripture and interpret it altogether differently?
I Peter 3:5-6
For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
I do not know how Peter could have expressed himself any plainer. Objections to the teaching of scripture relating to a woman’s calling really are not based upon the scriptures being hard to understand, for in fact they are very plain. The objections arise because the revealed will of God is difficult. In fact, it is murderous, for it requires a death to walk in His will, and that death is our own. It requires taking up our cross and losing our very life. How incredibly difficult it is. But if it were not difficult, why would Yahshua urge us to count the cost before we proclaim we will follow Him?
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all he possesses.”
Giving up all we possess is the cost of discipleship. Are we willing to lay down everything of our life and say, “Here I am Lord. My life is not my own. Use me as You desire?” Have we fully reckoned that when we proclaimed Yahshua to be our Lord that we were acknowledging that our life is not our own for we have been bought with a price? We no longer have any rights. We are bondservants, willing slaves, of Yahshua the Messiah.
Sadly, many saints have had their indoctrination into Christianity based upon something other than a total surrender to Yahshua. Many have had Christianity pitched to them like it was some enticing product that would satisfy every desire and bring them instant happiness. The presentation has been largely aimed at appealing to one’s selfishness when true discipleship does just the opposite.
How many times have you heard Christianity presented with the opening words, “God has a wonderful plan for your life?” Yes, the plan is wonderful in the end, but if discipleship and death to self is not mentioned, if the person is not cautioned to count the cost of their commitment, then they will find out soon enough that the plan of God does not seem so wonderful at all. In fact, they will discover that it requires a crucifixion and a willingness to lose one’s own life. Many will declare that such a wholesale surrender to the will of God is not what they signed up for, and they will begin to reinterpret the scriptures in such a way that death is not required.
Sadly, the whole organized, traditional church has so failed to count the cost of discipleship that there is now nearly universal denial of the true meaning of any scripture that would lead the saints to have to embrace a personal death. Women are taught that the writers of scripture were merely reflecting the patriarchal mindset of their society and that it is no longer necessary for woman to submit to man. Such concepts are regarded as outdated and unnecessary.
If one were to examine what is taught about women’s roles in the church today they would discover that no death is required. Women are taught that they are equal to men in every way. Women are taught that they can pastor churches, even though this violates the scriptural admonition that women are not to teach men nor to usurp authority over them. Women are taught that their households are a democracy and that all decisions should be made by both husband and wife and that it is wrong for a man to make a decision unless his wife is in agreement. This violates the very order of God who revealed, “that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:3).
In all of these things that the church teaches today, an accommodation has been made that releases the woman from the place of having to die to her own life. She is encouraged instead to protect her life and stand up for her rights. This alone should be evidence that this is not Yahweh’s way. His way is the way of humility and dying to self. He seeks to produce in us His own meek and gentle spirit, but due to Adam’s fateful choice we must all go through death to enter into life.
For both men and women, Yahweh requires this humility and death process. Man must acknowledge Christ as his head and this means that the man can have no head of his own. He must die to his own desires and will. He must take up his cross, dying to self, that the life of Christ might be released in him.
A woman is called to have man as her head. She does not have Christ directly as her head. Man stands in the position of head for woman. This goes back to the order of creation. Man was created for God, but woman was created for man. This is a difficult thing to get people in our generation to understand. It does not mean that women cannot enjoy a personal relationship with Christ. Indeed they can. It is quite arguable that there was no one around Yahshua that had a more intimate and rewarding relationship with Him than Mary Magdalene. She always chose the better portion, and the Lord said it would not be taken from her.
In Yahweh’s order of creation, however, He has set man to be the head of woman, and as we have seen in scripture, the godly woman will reverence her husband as her lord. In the law of God a woman was not permitted to walk out her relationship to God without considering her relationship to man first. For example, a woman could not make an oath to Yahweh, or bind herself to some type of commitment to Him unless her father or husband agreed. We find this expressed in the following scripture.
“If a man makes a vow to Yawheh, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Also if a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand. “But if her father should forbid her on the day he hears of it, none of her vows or her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand; and Yahweh will forgive her because her father had forbidden her. However, if she should marry while under her vows or the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day he hears it, then her vows shall stand and her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if on the day her husband hears of it, he forbids her, then he shall annul her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself; and Yahweh will forgive her. But the vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, everything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. However, if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an obligation with an oath, and her husband heard it, but said nothing to her and did not forbid her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband indeed annuls them on the day he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning the obligation of herself shall not stand; her husband has annulled them, and Yahweh will forgive her. Every vow and every binding oath to humble herself, her husband may confirm it or her husband may annul it. But if her husband indeed says nothing to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all her obligations which are on her; he has confirmed them, because he said nothing to her on the day he heard them. But if he indeed annuls them after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” These are the statutes which Yahweh commanded Moses, as between a man and his wife, and as between a father and his daughter, while she is in her youth in her father’s house.
Much can be gleaned from this passage, but lest some should say this is Old Testament and it does not apply to the saint today, let me first include Paul’s words on this subject.
I Corinthians 14:34
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.
Paul states that women are to subject themselves to men, just as the Law also states. The preceding passage from the book of Numbers is one of the scriptures in the Law to which the apostle refers. So let us examine what is said.
A man has God as his head. Therefore if a man makes an oath or a binding obligation to God he must keep it. There is none other who can annul it. Not even the High Priest had the authority to annul such an oath, for man relates directly to God and he needs no intermediary. In the New Testament we find this expressed in the phrase “Christ is the head of man.”
A woman, however, is under the authority of man. She was created for man and Yahweh has established that she should not violate her relationship to man as she relates to His own person. Therefore, she could not make an oath to Yahweh without considering the will of her father, if she were young and unmarried. Similarly she had to consider the will of her husband if she were married. If her father or husband heard the vow that she made to Yahweh and they were not pleased with the vow, they could forbid it and the vow would not stand.
In this an incredible thing is revealed. Because of man’s position as the head of woman, he could intervene in the relationship of the woman with God. Yahweh said that this was His will and His designated order for “these are the statutes which Yahweh commanded Moses” and which the apostle Paul declared to still be in effect.
Does it not require great humility for a woman to acknowledge these things today? In the day of Moses a woman had no alternative but to recognize these things. The very government of Israel declared these things to be true and they were enforced. Today, a woman has no such outward coercion. In fact, the society and governments of today declare just the opposite of the mind of Yahweh. It is widely declared today that a woman is independent of man. She is encouraged to usurp the authority of man.
A woman need not agree with the teachings of scripture today. She can cast off the authority of man and find the full support of the majority of Christian churches behind her while doing so. Acknowledging Yahweh’s design for woman is totally voluntary today. There is no coercion. Consequently, there are few women who do acknowledge what is plainly revealed in scripture.
This situation is of the Lord. He desires that we respond with humility and that we take up our cross of our own free will. He loves a cheerful giver, not one who is compelled. Paul gives us this insight.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
We began this chapter with the words of Yahshua where His true disciples are encouraged to take up their cross, deny themselves, give up their lives, and follow Him. This is of necessity something that arises from a willing heart. A person cannot be compelled to do these things. The Father wants a free will offering, not a mandatory offering.
In the Temple ordinances a person could bring a free will offering to the temple and present it to Yahweh. This is something that was not required, it arose as a spontaneous offering from the soul of a man or woman. The free will offering was mixed with incense and burned with fire and the fragrance of the offering arose as a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God. (See Leviticus chapter 2 for more information on this.)
A mandatory offering was one that was demanded and required by the Law. Because it did not arise of a free will, it did not hold the same pleasure to God. For this reason the mandatory offerings were not to be mixed with incense when they were burned. They did not bring pleasure to God.
In the same way, we are asked to present ourselves freely as an offering to God. This means we choose to be obedient to His revealed will for our lives even when it requires a death to our flesh. For a woman today to freely choose to conform herself to Yahweh’s revealed will for her requires such a free will offering. There is no government agency that would require this of her. There is rarely ever a church leader or teacher who would even proclaim to her the truth in this day. To follow after God’s will in these matters a woman must do so freely, but when she does her offering arises as a fragrant aroma in the nostrils of God.
It is Yahweh’s will that a woman who aspires to godliness today would adorn herself with a gentle and quiet spirit. It is His will that she reverence her husband, submitting to his will and treating him as her lord, even as Sarah did unto Abraham. It is Yahweh’s will that a woman quietly receive instruction from her husband and that she not correct her husband when he is disobedient to the word of God. Instead she is to entrust herself to the One who judges righteously and she is to allow Him to plead her case and deliver her in times of distress.
To live this way requires dying, but it brings forth life. The pride of the flesh wants to deny that these things are so. The flesh seeks another path and a multitude are walking this other path, but it is the way that ends in death. This false path seems right to many men and women, but there is nothing in it that pleases the Father. May we all have the grace to choose the narrow way that leads to life.
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