From Modest Clothing Bible Study by Ray and Elaine Powell
Your appearance is important! The things you wear convey a message about whom you are and the things for which you stand. The people around you cannot see your heart. Therefore, they must read your outward actions and appearance instead. Just as a sad expression indicates an inward unhappiness, so your appearance and clothing are indications of your inner thoughts, attitudes, values, and feelings. Your outward appearance and clothing are an expression of your character. Your appearance reveals to others your commitments and beliefs. Your appearance reveals what you are!
Proverbs 7:10, “And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart” (NASB).
Her attire identified her as a harlot. What kind of person does your attire identify you to be? Does it identify you as a holy person? Does your appearance send a clear message that you are a Christian, or are people left wondering?
As Christians, when we make any decision, our foremost consideration should be, “What does Scripture say about this?” Look for commands, whether positive or negative, that provide guidance. Do any examples apply to the situation? What principles within Scripture bear upon the decision? In determining your appearance, including what you wear, the styles you choose, and your manner of grooming, it is of prime importance that you bring yourself before the mirror of the Word of God, rather than the mirror of the world, and take a careful look. As an introduction to what Scripture says about appearance, review the following selected verses. Through your appearance, whom are you attempting to please? Yourself? Your peers? The Lord?
Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (NASB).
2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (NASB).
Will the decisions you make regarding your appearance enhance or detract from your effect upon those around you as salt and light?
Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lamp stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (NASB).
When people observe your appearance, is their impression one of holiness?
1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY" (NASB).
2 Peter 3:11 “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (NASB).
Does your emphasis on appearance indicate a love for the world?
1 John 2:15-17, “ Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (NASB).
Have you allowed your appearance to be stained by the world?
James 1:27, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (NASB).
Does your appearance suggest a friendship with the world?
James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (NASB).
When you meet someone, are they first attracted to your outward adornment or your inward radiance?
1 Peter 3:3-4, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of Gold of great price" (KJV).
1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart'” (NASB).
Does your appearance reflect an attitude of reverence?
Titus 2:3, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good” (NASB).
Could your appearance in any way cause someone to stumble?
Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" (NASB).
2 Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (NASB).
Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (NASB).
What kind of example does your appearance set for others, both in the world and in the body of Christ?
1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (NASB).
Is your appearance unisex?
Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” (NASB).
Does your appearance reflect a proud spirit?
Isaiah 3:16-26, “Moreover, the LORD said, 'Because the daughters of Zion are proud, And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, And go along with mincing steps, And tinkle the bangles on their feet, Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.' In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans, and veils. Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction; Instead of a belt, a rope; Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp; Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth; And branding instead of beauty. Your men will fall by the sword, And your mighty ones in battle. And her gates will lament and mourn; And deserted she will sit on the ground" (NASB).
Does your appearance represent an attitude of sacrifice or one of indulgence?
Romans 12:1-2, “I urge you therefore, 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (NASB).
Does your appearance show restraint?
1 Timothy 2:9, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness” (NASB).
Is your focus on the visible things, the material stuff in this life? Are you laying up treasures for yourself in your closets? Is your closet stuffed full of clothes, shoes, and accessories?
Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (NASB).
Our generation is not the only one that has struggled with the issue of appearance. Throughout history, the dress of nations has often displayed some form of immodesty or extravagance. We live in an ever-changing world when it comes to the clothing styles that society adopts at any given time. The world seems to have no fixed standard by which to govern its apparel. But is this true for the Christian, the child of God, the one who is striving to live a life of holiness before a holy and eternal God? Is our apparel governed solely by the ever-changing winds of the world? Or, are we governed by the higher and unchangeable standard of God’s Word?
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