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Sunday, May 15, 2016 am                                                    Others 2016 Index

 

OTHERS 17
SINS OF SOCIETY (1)
DOES IT MATTER WHAT I WEAR?

 

As we continue our study of the Christian and others, for the next few lessons I want to address some sins of society and how they affect us as Christians.  How do these relate to others?  It is related to our influence.  As we let our lights shine it is going to be reflected in our appearance, where we go and what we do.   Quite often, our refusal to participate in certain activities can send a message to our friends and associates.   And the Bible says so.  1 Peter 4:3-5 speaks of this.

Today we want to begin by addressing what the Bible says about what we wear.

Immodesty is a big problem in our society.   We live in a climate that is warm to hot most of the year, and typically, as the temperatures increase, clothing seems to decrease.  But it is also a climate where there is very little shame.  We don’t know how to blush anymore.  We see immodesty on television, on billboards and other forms of advertising everywhere.  We are also living in a place where vanity is on display.  People don’t hesitate to show off as much skin as possible, whether it be an absolute lack of clothing, see-through clothing (proudly displaying their undergarments), skin-tight clothing, or clothing that is designed to provoke lustful thoughts (clothing lines that barely cover the unpresentable parts), and clothing with filthy or suggestive images and slogans on it, etc.  Furthermore, the attitude is such that many dare you to say something about it.  But the attitude a society has toward a subject does NOT affect what the Bible teaches on it.  And what we are interested in is what the Bible teaches.

This is a challenging subject because the Bible doesn’t have a specific dress code (how short, how tight, how much cleavage, how much thigh or midriff, should men wear shirts, etc.).   But, as with many subjects, as we reach maturity (our intent in these studies), we learn to apply principles from God’s word.  That applies to what we wear.

NOTE: The question of what a Christian should wear is very personal and emotional.  It might involve decisions to participate in certain activities and where you go.  It is a decision that is affected by peer pressure and affects our youth at a critical time in their lives.   That is why I ask us to honestly examine the principles of scripture and apply them to this subject.  At the end of this lesson, we are going to present a series of questions to consider as we consider what we wear.

 I.                     The Bible and nakedness

a.       Nakedness is the lack of clothing.  It is exposure of private parts of the body.   When the Bible speaks of nakedness, usually it is in call to modesty. 

b.       The Garden of Eden – Gen. 2:25 tells us that when God created Adam and Eve, that they were both naked and not ashamed.  But after Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis3), we are told they knew they were naked and things changed.   As a result, they sowed fig leaves as coverings (minimally covering parts of their body).  But when the LORD appeared, in vs. 10-11.  Then in 3:21 – God made tunics of skin to cover what was inadequate.   This shows that one can be clothed and still be naked (immodest).

c.        Exodus 20:25-26 – priests were to be careful not to expose their nakedness.  As a result, altars were not to be built with steps.     Later in Exodus 28:42, as instructions were given concerning priestly garments they were told their trousers should reach form the waist to the thighs to cover their nakedness.

d.       Prov. 7:10 – the attire of a harlot, Genesis 38:13-15 – Tamar dressed as a harlot, etc.  This tells us that clothing can reveal things about our character.

e.       Nakedness was associated with shame or humiliation – Revelation 3:18 – Laodicea, was poor, naked and blind – exposed!  Gen. 9:22-23 – Ham saw the nakedness of his father Noah and was cursed as a result of it.  Isaiah 47:3 speaking of future Babylon, they nakedness would be uncovered and their shame seen.

f.         The point of such examples, is to note there is something to be said about one covering themselves, and to do so, so that they manifest modesty. 

 II.                   The Bible and modesty

a.       What you wear IS a reflection of who you are!  That is manifest in the emphasis on fashions. If you don’t think what you wear is important, why does the fashion industry spend billions to make you think it does?   Typically, the way one dresses is an indication of attitude (worldly, sexual, athletic, etc.)  – there’s casual and formal dress.   You can tell the religion of some by what they wear. 

b.       Matthew 6:33 – seek first the kingdom of God.  What is your priority?  Who are you trying to please?   We need to factor this in every decision we make.  Remember how we have noted, that sometimes we need to set aside our personal preferences and consider what God tells us to do.  Are we will to “observe all things commanded” (Matt. 28:19-20) even if it means changing what we wear?

c.        1 Timothy 2:9-10, a passage that uses several words for us to consider when we think about what we wear.

                                                   i.      Adorn – (κοσμέω, kosmeō) the word from which we get our English word, cosmetics, and cosmos (meaning orderly).
What one wears, including that which one wears to make themselves attractive.   L&N (79.12) describes it as, “to cause something to be beautiful.”  NOTE: There is nothing wrong with one making themselves attractive!

                                                 ii.      Modest – becoming or proper.  (Proper clothing – NASB, respectable - ESV)  Well-ordered and being appropriate. 

                                                iii.      Propriety – the idea of one who is self-conscious. (Modesty – NASB, Shamefacedness – KJV).  This is one who is aware of how others are watching them.  There is no desire to be an embarrassment to others.

                                                iv.      Moderation – behaving in a sensible manner.  (Discreetly – NASB, sobriety – KJV, self-control – ESV).  In this word I see one who is not seeking to draw undue attention to themselves.  This is one alert in making choices.  We’ve seen the outfits that are so outrageous, when one enters the room – everyone looks, and usually it is NOT for good reasons. 

                                                  v.      Proper – that which is fitting or right, suitable.

                                                vi.      Professing godliness – godliness is the quality of one seeking to be pleasing to God.  IN all that we do, that is our goal.  So we need to ask, “How am I representing God in what I am doing (or wearing)?”

                                              vii.      NOTE: MODESTY is about all these words.  While our concern is typically the lack of clothing, it can also be too much clothing (too flashy, showing off) which is actually what Paul described in this text.   

d.       Modesty is about humility – 1 Pet. 3:3-6.  This is a passage that describes how we seek to be attractive. 
“Let it be the hidden person of the heart” - your heart is what you want to display.  That is where you will find one who is truly for you. 
NOTE: When I say humility here, do not mistake that with feeling worthless or low self-esteem.  Often times, clothing and appearance is seeking attention.

e.       Titus 2:3-5 – older women teaching younger women to be –  discreet (based upon the same word as moderation in 1 Tim. 2:9), chaste (not chased) which means pure, etc.   Again, we find the character of a woman which will manifest itself in their apparel as in other aspects of their lives.
NOTE: Older ladies, take care of it when you see you younger ladies or babes in Christ wearing something questionable.  Remember older women are teaching younger women.   But do so diplomatically.  Don’t put men in an uncomfortable position to have to address this.

f.         The problem of lust – it is no accident that the Bible devotes more to what women wear than men.   It’s not as much about the woman as the man.   It is no secret that men are more visually stimulated.  They are more prone to lust of the eyes.  That is why Jesus warned in Matthew 5:27-30 for one to look at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in the heart (we’re back to the heart again).  That is why much of the pornographic industry is directed toward men. 
TRUTHFULLY, most women know this!   And it often influences what they wear – good or bad!
God has intended for ONE man to enjoy the body of ONE woman, and the opposite. 
1 Corinthians 7:1-5 is clear about this. 
So was Solomon in Proverbs 5:15-20 where you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
And let us be reminded, that this marriage is for life!  Romans 7:1-3, cf. Matt. 19:9, etc.
As women (and men), we ought to present ourselves as belonging to that one – both before and during marriage! 
Don’t be party to the lust of others.

g.       As Christians we should be aware of how our conduct affects others.  As Christians, we must make sure that what we are doing does not cause our brethren to sin – 1 Cor. 8:9, 11-13 – beware of stumbling; 1 Cor. 10:24 – seek the well-being of others.  Vs. 31-32 – give no offense, either to the Jews, Greek or the church.   Matthew 18:6-7 – while offenses will come, woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
Simply stated, don’t dress so as to provoke lustful thoughts in others.

h.       Are we interested in seeing how close to the line we can get without crossing over it?  Or do we seek to avoid that line?  As Christians, we should not see how close to sin we can get.  We run away from it!

i.         What about what men wear? These same principles apply and they are a problem also.  Men wear tight clothes, go around with no shirt, wear skimpy and revealing bathing suits, etc.  

 III.                 Answering arguments

a.       What others think is their problem?  True, ultimately we will all give an account for ourselves!  There is no excuse for men to lust and if they do, they need to repent.  Furthermore, some will lust no matter how modest you are.  THEY have a problem and need to deal with it God’s way.
BUT everything that addresses us being a proper example and not causing others to stumble must be considered.  Remember again Matthew 18:6-7.  Remember that we need to care about others!

b.       People don’t care what we wear now.   Yes, society has become desensitized in many ways, but they DO care!  Again think of the fashion industry.  Think of the sexualization of our society.

c.        I just dress to be comfortable.  There are choices where you can be comfortable and modest.  Also consider how such is an argument to justify behavior without the Bible.  Romans 3:8

d.       The Bible doesn’t say how short is too short.  No, but we have addressed the principles.   Is your HEART modest?  That’s the question.

 IV.                 Ask yourself…

a.       Joe Price in a sermon presented in 2008 addressed this subject.  He began with a series of questions, that I would like to conclude with.  These are not exact, but they present the general idea of what he asked.

                                                   i.      If I learn that my clothing is immodest, will I change in order to be right in the sight of God?

                                                 ii.      If I have doubt about the modesty of my clothing, will I change in order to be modest beyond doubt?

                                                iii.      IF my clothing tempts others to sin, will I change so as not to cause them to stumble?

                                                iv.      If my clothing brings reproach upon Christ and His church or damages my influence, am I willing to change?

b.       I add to this:

                                                   i.      If a concerned sister or brother came to me, would I be willing to listen to them and consider what they have to say?

I submit these things for your consideration.  As I stated at the beginning, this not a fun lesson and these thoughts have consequence.   They may involve changes in this aspect of our lives.  Will you participate in activities that involve questionable or immodest clothing? 

There are many other things to say about this.  While we are to be set apart from society, there are choices that are still fashionable and fitting for a Christian.  As Christians, let seek to let our light shine so that others will glorify God, NOT our own bodies.  Think about it!