Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (NKJV)
(Update, long after this series was written, I put together a report on Modesty. Download it here)
I receive many questions that pertain to modesty; which clothes are appropriate for Christians and what does God have to say about it all? Recently, my local church has re-addressed this issue as well, so I decided that this would be a good time to do a short series on the subject. While the comments and thoughts will be mine, I decided not to “re-invent the wheel” on this, and reference the bullet points below that our church is using. My list is somewhat modified from the original (and will continued to be modified as I write the series). You can find an excellent lesson on the original list (Dr. John Barnett) at http://www.dtbm.org/message_detail.asp?fileid=749.
- Our Clothing Was Invented By God To Cover Our Bodies
- Our Clothing Is To Prevent Confusion
- Our Clothing Sends a Message
- Our Clothing Should Help Us Avoid Sin
- Our Clothing Shoul Not Be a Tool of Manipulation
- Our Clothing Is To Show Separation From The World
- Our Clothing Is To Reflect God’s Ownership Of Our Bodies
- Our Clothing Must Not Encourage Lust Of The Flesh
- Our Clothing Is To Demonstrate Humility
- Our Clothing Is To Prevent Causing Pictures That Feed Lust
We’ve learned that modesty is a necessary solution to the natural shame humans should feel about nakedness. We’ve also learned that clothing provides a way to avoid gender confusion which in turn leads to confusion about our God-given roles as men and women. We’ve learned that our clothing sends a message about our attitudes towards God and holiness; and that our clothing should attract righteousness to us, not immorality.
Modesty comes from a Godly heart, not a checklist.
Get the internal right, and the external will follow.
Let me re-emphasize that you won’t find any checklists or sets of rules in this series. There are no rules that a rebellious heart cannot violate, stretch or find loopholes in. The issue of modesty starts in the heart. When the heart is right, the external behaviors and choices will follow.
Our Clothing Should Not Be a Tool of Manipulation
Our clothing should not be used to manipulate people. How’s that, you say? A woman could use alluring and immodest clothes to get a male co-worker or employer to favor her in some way. A man might use clothing to give someone the impression that he is something or someone he is not, in order to get the desired outcome.
Manipulation of fellow humans for personal gain or desire, in all forms, is deceitful and dishonoring to God. Our clothing should never help us to manipulate others.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t dress to make a good impression; or dress appropriately for a certain occasion or circumstance. Yes, a suit and tie might be called for at a job interview, when you rarely ever wear one otherwise. That is just good manners and respect. But borrowing a $1500 suit one time to give the impression of wealth and status would surely be manipulative.
For females, it’s a little more cut and dried. If you wear certain clothes (or less clothes) in order to help you control and manipulate others, then you are dishonoring God. It’s no secret how idiotic and brain-numbed a man can become when a beautiful woman in provocative clothing turns on the charm. Ladies, to resort to using your body and your beauty to manipulate men, is a very sad and dishonorable way for a Christian woman to behave.
Your clothing should have no other purpose or intent other than that of glorifying God.
Our Clothing Is To Show Separation From The World
This is where we start hearing the cries of “judgmental!” and “prude!”. Our clothing should show that we are different from the world. This point is becoming even more intense and important given the ridiculously sexual and immodest trend that we see in today’s fashions.
We hear it most vocally from our kids, but I think we adults are just as guilty sometimes: we want to wear what is POPULAR and impressive. We want to fit in, be in style. Now remember, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any style of clothing, assuming it is modest. But there is something wrong with the attitude of wanting the latest fashions and styles in order to fit in and be accepted by the world.
This fashion dilemma betrays a very deep and real problem with the modern, western Christian… we want to look like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, have the same material goals as the world, enjoy the same things as the world, be accepted by the world… but yet claim to be “separated” from the world. In any other universe, that would be considered absurd; but it is common place with today’s Christian; and a big part of it has to do with clothing (followed closely by entertainment).
My son asked me, “Dad, how come you don’t like ‘such and such’ Christian band”? I replied, “well son, they dress exactly like every other rock band; the female lead singer prances around in great looking jeans and clingy blouse; the music is exactly like any other rock band… but they throw in some Christian words, most of which you have a hard time understanding.”
News flash… if it looks like duck,
walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…
guess what? It’s a duck.
But we live in a world today where you can look, walk and act like one thing, while claiming to be another. Christianity is no exception, especially when it comes to what we are wearing.
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.” (NKJV)
Our clothing does not have to be Amish (and I would say they are certainly nearer to the right idea than the typical church is, IF you had to choose one or the other). However, our clothing SHOULD show that we are not following the ways of the world. How? By showing that we don’t have to have the latest fashions and styles to impress people. By wearing clothing, ladies, that is modest and does not draw attention to your body.
The world uses clothing to say “look at me!”
Christians should wear clothes that say “look at God!”
Our Clothing Is To Reflect God’s Ownership Of Our Bodies
Along the same lines, our clothes should help in the overall statement that we belong to God; that we serve Him; and that all we do, including our dress, honors Him.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (NKJV)
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)
Our bodies our temples in which the Holy Spirit of God Himself dwells. If we were to ever really grasp the true meaning of that, it would drastically change our lives. We would surely not sin as much or take sin so lightly; and we most certainly would not clothe God’s temple in something shameful or immodest.
We are “living sacrifices” laying down our lives on a daily basis, a minute-by-minute basis and surrending to God’s will and God’s way. Our clothing should reflect this attitude. God owns us. Are you asking God, the owner of your body, what type of clothing He would like to have on His temple?
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Modesty is an issue of the heart and our attitude towards it reflects our attitude about holiness. Clothing today has become (like most material posessions) a way to make a statement about “SELF”. That was never God’s intention. Clothing has two main purposes: to cover the shame of our nakedness produced by our sin; and to honor God through our modesty and obedience.
As Christians we can’t have it both ways. We cannot serve two masters. We can’t walk and quack like ducks and claim to be eagles. It is most especially true with our young ones and our ladies, that we need to seriously reconsider how conformed we have become to the world’s standards concerning modesty and clothing.
Lord, Help us to understand that modesty is an issue of the heart. Help us to know and understand the reason why You have made clothing and modesty a part of a holy life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Does your clothing in any way allow you to manipulate those around you, either through a statement of “status” or through lust? Does your clothing keep you firmly associated with the world or make a statement for Godly modesty? Does your clothing make a statement about Who owns your body, and Who indwells it?
Application: Today, clothing has become mainly a “statement” of status, a way to allure, or an attempt to fit in. None of these reasons are what God had in mind. Clothing has two main purposes: to cover the shame of sin, and to glorify God. Those purposes are becoming lost in our collective conscience even while retaining them has become increasingly more important in this age of immodesty and materialism.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?