by Janelle Goodwin
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Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
- Proverbs 31:30a
Wow! Graduation day! I cannot believe that May 31, 1996 has actually arrived. I’ve worked so hard to be here. In a way, it’s scary to think that after this I’ll be leaving and going to college. I’m going to be on my own. It seems like it took forever to get to this point; but then again, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was graduating from kindergarten, what a day that was. I sure would not have wanted to be the teacher who had to put up with all of us. Being in a Christian school sure did not mean we were perfect angels! In fact, I believe I was the biggest brat of them all.
Then, in first grade, something special happened to me. I’ll never forget the day I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart. It was a special time, a time I’ll always remember. Everything was going great until, oh yeah: third grade, I forgot about that. It was not that good of a year. Something terrible happened – my parents got a divorce. It was awful. It devastated our family. Mom kept telling us that everything was going to be all right, that God would see us through. I did not believe her. I mean, how could He take care of us and still let something like this happen? It did not seem right. I did not trust God the way I should have. Boy, I was wrong and I’ve learned now that you should always trust God, because He’ll get you through anything, even moving.
The summer before going into the fifth grade, we moved to South Carolina. See, Mom’s parents live there and she thought they’d be able to help us out in our time of need. When we moved we had to start going to a public school. That was a change, which I was not expecting. It was terrible and it seemed like everything started going downhill from there. I had never heard such language before in my life, but before I could stop, I was doing it too. I did not care who heard me; I thought it was cool to lower my standards to be liked by others. I was a very rude and selfish person. I did not have respect for anyone, especially myself. It was an awful time, but it got worse: in the sixth grade, I started smoking, I hated it. All it did was hurt my lungs and make me cough, it was terrible. I only did it because everyone I hung around with did it. You can tell what kind of friends I chose. They are definitely not the crowd I’d choose now.
Well, my seventh, eighth and half of my ninth grade years did not get any better. The crowd I was associated with started experimenting with things. You know, things like: alcohol, drugs, and even sex. Well I was one of those people who thought in order for people to like you; you have to do what they are doing. So of course I followed the crowd, and believe me, it was not one of my better decisions. I tried alcohol. But I did not like it at all, the only reason I drank any more of it was because everyone else was. Then I tried drugs. I tried marijuana, it was even worse than smoking and drinking. Do you recognize a pattern here? I mean I just followed everyone no matter what. This is not a pattern I would want anyone to copy. One thing I’m very glad I never tried was sex. Mom had always told me that I had a very special gift and that I should save it for the person I married. I did not know then what it was that stopped me from ruining myself, but now I do, and I think God for stopping me.
When we moved to South Carolina, we did not go to church much. In fact, I think we had given up on God. Mom was invited by a friend to go to church. Mom went and really enjoyed it. She even wanted us to come back with her. We were kind of reluctant about going, once you get used to your Sundays being free, you do not want to mess up your routine.
Well, I went and I even listened to the preacher. Then I went to the youth group meetings. They had a program I had never heard of, called Word of Life. With what I was learning in Word of Life and from listening to the preacher, God started convicting my heart about the things that I was doing. It was like God had hit me over the head with a big stick. It was a miracle, I know. I started thinking: I knew I was saved, but I just did not understand how God could still care about me and love me even though I had done those horrible things. I was good friends with the preacher’s daughter, so I started telling her how I was feeling and how confused I was. She had her mom show me in the Bible where it says in John 5:24 that I have a promise from God, that I have everlasting life. I was so relieved because I knew God did not break His promises.
I knew then that I needed to change the way I was living, so I did with God’s help. I did not know any Christians at school and all my friends were ragging on me because I had changed. Believe me, it is not the easiest thing to do, but I had some teachers who brightened my spirit by telling me how they could see a change in my attitude. Even my grades had improved. That made things a little bit easier.
Going into the tenth grade I had it in my mind that I was going to live as a Christian no matter what other people said about me. Then, I basically stopped in my tracks because Satan attacked me again and again. I felt so defeated and needless to say, it was my worst year.
I chose to go to a different school in the eleventh grade. I thought this would be like a new beginning for me. I wanted everyone to see I was a Christian and I did not want to be afraid, so this time I did something different: I prayed the whole summer long that I’d do things according to God’s will. I went into school with a different attitude and to say the least, it was the best year of my life. I was very involved. I tried out for the softball team and made it. I was so excited. I just knew God had put me on the team so I could be a witness to others.
One day during sliding practice, something went wrong. When I slid, I heard an awful popping sound. I was scared, and they took me to the hospital. I had broken my leg, my foot, and my ankle; I had also dislocated my ankle. I was devastated. I did not know why God let this happen. Yet, I stayed close to God, remained hopeful, and my leg soon healed with His help.
That summer my youth group went to Word of Life Camp in Florida. I had a wonderful time. God laid it on my heart for me to go to the Bible Institute, but I was fighting with it because I had my life planned out. I was going to go to Bob Jones University after graduation and find my husband and have a life, but then I stopped and thought I had planned my life out, not God. So I have decided with the help of God to go to the Bible Institute to follow God and His will.
It was at this time in my life where God began to lay my foundation He wanted to build upon. He knew that in order for Him to be able to develop true Christian character He needed to have a solid foundation to work on. He began by teaching me the importance of “dying daily”. I gave up my will for God’s will. It was not my desire to go to the Bible Institute, but God’s desire. He had a bigger plan for my life; He could see the whole picture. It probably would have been fine for me to go ahead with the plans I had for my life, but they were not God’s plans. If I had followed my plans then I would not be able to receive the abundance of blessings in giving up my will and following God’s will. I died to my will and lived in God’s will.
Growing up in Greenville, SC, home of the prestigious Bob Jones University; made an impact on my life. Anywhere you went you could pick out the Bob Jones students. They all had a certain standard they had to adhere to in order to keep with the reputation the school brought to our town. Going to the mall or even Wal-Mart, you would see these students and know where they belonged. They had a peculiar presence about themselves, knowing their reputation and the high standards they held made me desire to have the same reputation. I wanted to be able to walk down the street, in the aisle of a store or be in a crowd and have the peculiar presence that I am a child of God.
The Bible says that when Satan comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard. God began to prompt my heart about the type of life I was living. Being involved with church I realized how much I had strayed from God. How my life did not represent who I was living for; God. In 1993 I went to a True Love Waits rally at a church. There I realized that my body was the temple of God and that God dwelled in clean temples. I dedicated my life and body to God that night. I committed myself to be pure until the day that I married my husband.
My parents made the rule that I was not allowed to date until I was sixteen. After I gave my life over to God to lead and guide me in His way; I made the choice not to date single with a guy. If I went on a date, it was with a group of people that I knew well and we went to a place that God would be pleased with us being there. At that time, I began to pray for the type of husband God would have me to marry. I prayed about the standards for my husband, my dating life, my marriage and for myself as a wife and mother, than once I knew what standards God had for me I wrote them down and prayed over them for years.
Be not conformed
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2) Here we learn that it is our reasonable service to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.
If we think about the sacrifice that Jesus laid down for us by dying on the cross, then we must be willing to live a life for Him. We need to lay down our desires in order to fulfill the will that God has for us. That is our sacrifice.
In order to fulfill His desires we need to be pure and blameless before each other. Some might think that this is too much to ask for, but God tells us that this is our reasonable service in order to be acceptable unto Him. After all, Jesus did not think that it was too much to ask to lay down His life for us.
Christmas time is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. At that time we think about Mary and how she was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus. Also at Christmas time is when we think of snow. I love seeing that perfect white blanket. I always think that it was so pure and clean looking. But I always hate how the snow looks after people start to get out in it.
One person will go out and make tracks in it, that was not so bad, but then since one person went out others decide to go out. Once every one gets out and makes tracks the snow gets mixed in with the dirt of the ground and it is no longer clean and pure looking, but dirty and corrupted.
That is exactly what happens to us. We are pure and innocent for as long as we stay that way; but then if we allow one person to once in to corrupt us, it will be easier to let other things come into our lives. Once we try something we think that was not so bad, nothing happened and we try it again and again until we are not able to control ourselves. God tells us to abstain from all appearances of evil.
Every decision we make regarding our bodies; needs to be made with the mind of Christ to portray purity in everything that we do. So how do we make sure that our bodies represent the purity that they need to represent? We have to make sure that our inward bodies are pure. Whatever is on the inside will shine through to the outside. We should place the importance on the inward appearance. It is most important for our hearts’, souls and minds to be pure, for the pure in heart will see God.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-23) We need to test everything to be sure that it is true to the Word of God. We need to accept that which is good. We need to keep away from anything that is evil. As we do these things God will make us pure and completely holy.
As we devote ourselves to Him, our soul, mind, heart and body will be blameless and faultless unto the Lord. God is the only one that can allow this to take place in our lives. When we have Him first all other things will fall into place.
1 Corinthians 3:16-19 tells us that if any man defiles the temple of God, He will destroy them. Many times we think of the temple (or house) of God as being the building where we have our church services. We think that it is very important that the house of God is kept clean and up to date with all of the latest features and technology. After all, God dwells there and we do not want Him to have a dirty place.
Well here the temples of God are the Christians. See God dwells in us too. If we care so much about how the church building looks; then we need to care about how the church people look too. Since we are the temple of God, if we defile His temple, then He will destroy us. God does not want us to be a part of the world; He wants us to be peculiar people. God wants us to be holy, for we are His temples.
1Corinthians 6:19-20 says that if the Holy Ghost is living in us, then out bodies are not our own and whatever we have is not ours, but it belongs to God. God bought us with the price of His own son Jesus Christ; therefore we need to glorify God through our bodies and spirits.
Being different seems to be the “in” thing now days. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing saying that it is just them, that they are different. Well, it is time that we as Christians start to be different.
We need to start being the peculiar people that God has called us to be. Our life should be lived as a life of no regrets. When it is our time in Heaven we do not want to stand before God worrying about what we have done in the past. We need to think about each decision we make and how it will affect us for the cause of Christ. We should not be ashamed of anything that we do in our life or to our bodies. But with all boldness present ourselves with all Godliness. We need to be consistently magnifying God in all that we do, say or think.
We have a choice, it is up to us, we can live fleshly or live for Christ, we are better off living for Christ. We must let our manner of life be so that it shines the gospel of Jesus Christ. Above all else we need to live in a way that brings honor to Christ for what He has done for us on the cross. For if we stand for God, striving together for the work of His gospel, then we will not be afraid of what the devil will do to us. We will allow the testimony of our salvation to shine through our lives when we choose to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior.
A peculiar person
We are not just talking about the way the body should look, but how we treat our bodies, and how we should conduct ourselves as ladies of virtue. The bible says to come out from among them and be ye separate. God says that if any man be in Christ that the old things are passed away and all things are become new.
The key that we want to explore here is what makes Christian ladies different from the women of the world. The biggest thing going on in this world today is sex. We use sex for everything – advertising, punishment, rewards and recreation. God created sex for privacy between husband and wife. Now days it is portrayed as something that is not meaningful as all. It has gotten to where young kids who do not understand what sex is are having it and the crime of sexual sins is out of control in this world. God did not design our bodies to be used in such a way. We are created beings of God and we are continuously abusing our bodies. We are going to explore the key that locks the door to our bodies. That is the key of purity.
Matthew 1:18-25 tells us the story of Mary and Joseph. Could you imagine what must be going through their minds? Think about it, after all, they were only engaged. Matthew 1:18 says “…when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was with child of the Holy Ghost.” "Before they come together" states that they had not had sexual intercourse yet. So, how could she be pregnant? Joseph must be thinking she was an unfaithful person. But no, the Bible says she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 1:19-23 explains just what was going through the mind of Joseph. Joseph, now her husband, did not want people to talk about her, so he was going to hide her away. While he was thinking about how cruel people were and what they might say about them, and where the best place would be to hide Mary. An angel of the Lord came to him. The angel told Joseph to take his wife and not be afraid because the child that is in her is of the Holy Ghost, no of man. The name of their son will be called Jesus, and He will be the savior of the world. In Matthew 1:24 and 25 we see that Joseph must have gotten a great peace over everything because he woke up from his sleep and did exactly what the angel told him he needed to do – he took his wife. This is the best part, he did not know her until she brought forth her first born son, and he called his name Jesus.
Why is this best part? Because this is what we are going to learn from Mary – she was a virgin. Even after Joseph and Mary were married and with child they did not know each other until Jesus was born. If Joseph and Mary had not waited Jesus would not have been a perfect sacrifice for our sins. If they can wait, so can we.
Sexual sin is not just having intercourse before marriage. There is so much sexual immortality in the world today that it has everyone confused of what is right and what is wrong. Sex was created for a husband and wife. It is for marriage only. Any type of sexual favor outside of the marriage bed is a sin. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is wrong. I became so strict about how I conducted my sexual purity that I did not kiss another man until I was engaged to my husband. I feel very passionate about kissing, after all a kiss is very important, it was the symbol Judas used to betray Jesus. Just as I did not want to give away a piece of my body to another man I did not want to give a piece of my heart. It was very important to me not to get in a relationship with a man that I did not see myself marrying. If he did not have the standards that I had been praying about I did not date him. Therefore, when I met Chad, I did not have to worry; I knew that he held every quality that I had been praying about. When I married Chad he married all of me, my heart, my soul and my body. All of it was his and he did not have to worry about sharing me with anyone else because I had not given myself or my heart to anyone besides him.
The Bible tells us to flee from fornication. The only way to flee from something is to abstain from it. We must run from sexual sins, no other sin affects the body the way that a sexual sin does. As Christians we have given our bodies to God for His use as a home to live in us. We are no longer our own bodies, for we were bought with the price of Jesus Christ. We must use our bodies to honor God and to give back to Him the glory He deserves.
Once we have made the decision to be who we need to be for God then we must remain faithful to Him in every area of our lives. I made the decision to keep myself pure; until I was married and to remain pure through my marriage. The world makes it seem like purity is not a big deal anymore and that the more experienced you are the better you are. I am here to tell you that that is not true. Remember as ladies of virtue our price is far above the price of rubies.
John 8:3-11 tells us the story of the lady caught in the act of adultery. So, what makes this lady a virtuous lady? The fact that Jesus forgave her of her sins and told her to go and not to sin anymore. Let us take a closer look at this scene. Here Jesus is teaching a group of people at the temple. Then the Pharisees bring to Jesus a lady who has been caught in the act of adultery. In front of all of these people they start to accuse her and they tell everyone what she has been doing. They want her to be stoned as punishment for what she has been doing. Then Jesus without saying a word bends down and begins writing in the sand. No one knows what He wrote. Then Jesus stands up to say, He that is without sin is the first one to cast a stone. Jesus bends down again and writes in the sand again. The accusers began to leave one by one until they were all gone. Then Jesus tells the woman to look up and asked her where her accusers were. She said that they do not accuse her anymore. Jesus said that He did not accuse her either, for her to leave and sin no more.
God does not have a sin scale anywhere. Sin is sin in the eyes of God. There is no sin that is greater than the other sin. Jesus told this woman not to sin anymore. That is what we need to do; once we have been forgiven of our sins we do not need to go back to it. God tells us to sin no more. So, if you are reading this and you are saying, but you do not know what I have done? I have already been unfaithful to my husband; either by premarital relations or adultery. Well, I have wonderful news for you too; God forgives and forgets. If you repent of these things God is faithful to forgive you, and never remember it again. But the key to forgiveness is not to do it again. We need to go and sin no more.
God tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-13 that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, which means that we cannot go to heaven living in a sinful life. God sent Jesus to make our way to heaven. Once we have chosen to live our lives for God then we must decide we are going to change from our ways.
In verse 12 it tells us that all of these sinful things are available to us. There is true temptation out in the world today, but as stated at the beginning of the book; it is not a sin until you fall into the temptation. It even says it here, “but all things are not expedient”, which means they can be here to tempt us, but we do not have to fall under their power. Our bodies were not created for fornication and adultery. They were created for the Lord. We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies.
The best thing in these scriptures is verse 11. It tells us here that some of us were involved with items listed. Some of us have been unfaithful to our husbands; by premarital sex or by extra marital sex, but we have been washed by the blood of the lamb, we have been sanctified and justified by the spirit of the Lord. WE have been set apart for God and He has accepted us. Because we have been saved and have asked forgiveness of these sins we have committed, than we can continue on the right path and know that one day we will inherit the kingdom of God.
Our body is very important to God. He has created each of us for a special reason. God desires for us to live a life so that we can be used for His service and His glory. We are His temples. Many people believe that you have to look a certain way and wear certain clothes in order to make it into heaven. God tells us that He looked at the intent of the heart. If you have truly repented of your sins and have a true desire to change to be who God created you to be, then He will give you the desires of your heart. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the inward appearance.
We need to live the way we are taught in the word of God to live, in order to live pleasing to God. Even if we feel we are already living the best way that we know how to live, than we need to try harder. It will never hurt us to get closer to God. Using the different tools that God provides us and through His word; we can learn how we are to live our lives so that they please God. With using Bible studies such as these, we know how to please God in our daily living. We know that the will of God is to sanctify our lives so that we are pure vessels used for His glory. It is the will of God of us to live more and more closely to that ideal lady of virtue God wants us to be.
So for the unmarried, show yourself as a pure vessel, save yourself for the one that God has for you to marry. As for the married, show yourself as a separate vessel and come out form among the people of the world and only have sexual relations with your husbands. The people of this world are ignorant of God and His ways and we do not need to fall into the same lustful passions as they do. We are a peculiar people and we should be proud to be different for the cause of Christ. God wants us to be holy and that includes the matters of sex.
There is a war going on inside of us. It is the battle against the good and the evil. It reminds me of the times on television when they have the little devil and angel trying to convince them of which way to go. Because of sin, we naturally love to do the evil things. Which are the opposite of what we are supposed to be doing? The spirit and our own desires are enemies of each other. They are constantly fighting against one another to win control over us. Out selfish desires will keep us from doing what we know is right.
But if the spirit guides us we will not obey these fleshly desires. If we obey God then the spirit has control over us. The spirit will tell us where to go and what to do. But if we give into our own desires; then we will produce evil results. Such as impure thoughts; eagerness for lustful pleasures; idolatry; hatred and fighting. When we are filled with these negative things we argue and cause trouble. Anyone living this sort of life will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In order for us to win this battle against the good and evil of the world we need to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the fiery darts of the devil. Satan is walking about as a roaring lion to seek whom he can devour. It is his job to steel, kill and destroy, but Jesus shed His blood to give us life abundantly. Remain pure in God and He will rise up His standards and will fight for us, all we have to do is protect our bodies with His word and He will keep us safe.
God has chosen the faithful people to be His special people. He wants us to be His very own. He wants us to know that He will always be there for us and He is faithful to hear us when we call on Him. As we stand before God we need to turn from our sins and sin not. We need to keep a short account of anything that we do wrong and ask for forgiveness. As we put our trust in God and follow after His ways, we will be able to offer the perfect sacrifices unto Him.
God blesses those who do not follow after the advice of evil men and who do not associate with ungodly people. He does not want us to walk, stand not sit with anyone that is not following His ways. Instead, God wants us to be happy, continuously thinking about His ways and words. He wants us to have a desire to know Him more and to follow after the things that5 He has taught us.
When we plant a tree, we want to make sure that it gets enough water and nutrient so that it will be able to grow and bear fruit. We need to make sure that we are planted in a place that we can receive the nutrients that we need in order to grow for God and produce the fruit that He has in our lives. As we grow stronger in the Lord we will not whither, but we will prosper. But, the sinner, they will waiver in their faith and they will follow the crowd. The Day of Judgment will not be a good day for them, for they will not stand among the Godly. God will watch over you and He will guide you as long as you seek after Him.
The Lord knows those people who are truly His. In 2 Timothy 2:19-22 it says that a person who calls himself a Christian must “depart form iniquity”. We must turn away from evil and stop doing the things that are wrong. We must change the way that we lives so that we can be vessels used for the glory of God. As we stay away from that which is evil and we make ourselves pure like a vessel of gold, we become special. Our life will be holy and pleasing to God and He will be able to use us for His highest purpose.
In order for us to be this type of person that will honor God we must turn away from our temptations. As we run from things that give us evil thoughts and stay close to the right things, we will change unto the person that God wants us to be. As a Lady of Virtue, we need to focus on doing the right thing and being faithful and loving.
This is just the beginning of my journey to become the best that I can be for God. As I continue to learn, God continues to mold me and make me into the Lady of Virtue He wants me to be. I have realized that there are times in my life that the standards I chose to make for myself have not always been the most popular among the crowd, but they have been the standards for my life that God wants me to have. I have not always been as faithful to God, but He always remains faithful to me. My heart’s desire is to live a life that represent true Godly living and to be a light in a darkened world to show others guidance as they take their Journey on Becoming a Lady of Virtue.
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