The real measure of a Christian lies on
the inside. Jesus repeatedly warned those who admired the hypocrites of
that day that it was “out of the heart” that one’s actions arise (Mt
12:34-35, 15:18-19). Later, our Lord confronted these men with the plainest and strongest
words of His ministry. “For you cleanse the
outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and
self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and
dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Mt
In every application we
make of God’s word we must first start with the heart.
Does it Matter What a
The subject of clothing is a
highly personal one and one that commonly provokes great emotion. Many
who claim to be Christians place this subject as off-limits to the Lord
and especially to those who teach His word. How many times have I heard
someone say: “It doesn’t matter what you wear, but what is inside your
heart is all that matters!” Is that really what the scriptures teach?
The scriptures plainly address
the relationship of our hearts to what we wear. “In like manner also,
that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with
shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold,
or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing
godliness) with good works" (1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV). What is the
condition of the heart described in this verse, and what is the kind of
dress that will follow?
Essential Elements in the
Heart of the Christian
Modest apparel is a product of
shamefacedness and sobriety, qualities that ought
to be in the heart of every Christian. The English word “shamefacedness”
is a good translation of the Greek word “aidos.” Greek lexicons define
this word as meaning “the idea of downcast eyes; a sense of shame or
honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect.” The
word “sobriety” indicates “soundness of mind, self-control.” In essence,
the Christian will not seek to draw the attention of others to
themselves through their clothing. They will not be trend setters,
seeking the latest fashions regardless of the message conveyed to others
by those fashions.
Consider the importance of
shame. Shame comes from previous instruction concerning right and wrong.
For shame to profit you, there are two things you must posses: proper
teaching and a good conscience. Someone has likened the conscience to an
alarm clock. If you heed its alarm and then act, then you will be
“awakened” and thus helped to fight sin. However, if you chose to ignore
it, by “going back to sleep,” or in others words, by continuing in your
sin, then you will, in time, no longer hear the alarm of your
conscience. Paul described the terrible consequences of those who reject
sound teaching as “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own
conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
Too Much Clothing or Too
Shame will keep a Christian
from seeking attention by distinctive displays involving “broided hair,
or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Timothy
It also will avoid attention by having too little clothing, which is a
great problem in our culture.
teach that public nakedness should always produce shame. When Christians
had given in to a practice of sin, God likened the shame that they
should have felt as being like the expected shame found in physical
nakedness. God described them as being: “wretched,
miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” He then urged them to “buy from Me
gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that
you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be
revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev
In the scriptures, nakedness is
insufficient clothing, not a complete absence of clothing. The priest,
while clothed, could still reveal his “nakedness” by not properly
covering from “the waist to the
thighs” (Ex 28:41-42). In the Garden of Eden, after the
first sin, Adam and Eve were still naked when they made the
equivalent of men’s swimming trunks (Gen 3:7, 10-11)! God
provided sufficient clothing when he had made them “tunics of skin”.
This tunic is defined in lexicons as being: "generally with sleeves,
coming down to the knees." If you want to be sure to avoid nakedness,
then this example ought to provide us a safe guide to follow.
You Clothes Convey a Message
The Old Testament describes the
“attire of a harlot” (Prov
7:10; Gen 38:13-15).
A woman can dress in such a way as to encourage men to pursue immorality
with her. Here is where many women fail to understand how their dress
can affect men. The scriptures give emphasis towards the woman
concerning her dress (1 Tim 2:9-10) and give emphasis towards the
man in how he looks at a woman and thinks (Mt 5:27-30). As
a rule, men are more susceptible to visual stimulation, and as a result,
the modern day pornographic industry has geared its primary attention to
men. Ladies, please do not judge your clothing on “how it looks to me,”
but also be open to teaching concerning how it affects others.
Clothing during Worship
It ought to go without saying
that men and women should always dress modestly in public settings and
especially when gathering together to worship God. In recent years, with
the advent of the “non-traditional” services, has come the philosophy of
“come as you are.” It is common in these gatherings to see an open
display of immodesty by those who claim to be Christians. I understand
that for the new Christian, and certainly for the visitor from the
community, that they may not yet have received the proper teaching to
guide their consciences. But when a gathering of Christians has become a
demonstration of a people that no longer “know how to blush,” then a
serious examination of hearts needs to take place (Jer
Should we then have a dress
code? When we have shamefacedness and sobriety in our hearts, along with
a willingness to talk with mature Christians about these things, then I
am sure our clothing will reflect it. When we come to worship with the
people of God with a heart of reverence and love, with a desire to
pursue holiness, then our clothing will reflect it (Heb
Be honest, what message does
your clothing reveal about your heart?
you like others to read this article?