Someone Cares Series
Information Brochure No. 25
The Christian's Dress
"Jesus Christ ... gave Himself for us, that He might ... purify for Himself His own special people, zealous of Good works" (Titus 2:13, 14). When we really love Jesus we will be zealous to glorify Him in the way we live. This involves such practical matters as eating, dressing, giving, spending our time, relating to family members and witnessing. These things will not save us, but if Jesus is abiding in our hearts we will be growing more and more like Him every day. Our topic today is on how to dress to the glory of Christ.
1. What did Jesus say about the way men look at women?
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matthew 5:27-29).
God made the home for perfect compatibility. He made the man to notice his wife, and the woman to be noticed by her husband. But when men lust, or women dress to invite lust, outside of marriage it is adultery. Thus the Bible deals with men's eyes and women's dress. Thoughts are awakened that would not have been if woman had kept her place in all modesty and sobriety.
Clothing should never be revealing. The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman the opposite of the Christian lady characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently preceded by the indulgence of pride and vanity in dress.
2. How are wives to be submissive to their husbands?
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 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 God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:" (1 Peter 3:1-5)
The apostle exhorted the women in the faith to be chaste in conversation and modest in dress and deportment. "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). The inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit is priceless. In the life of the true Christian the outward adorning is always in harmony with the inward peace and holiness. Evidence that the taste is converted will be seen in the dress of all who walk in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord.
3. How should Christian women dress, and what should they not 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;" (1 Timothy 2:9).
The Bible teaches modesty in dress. This forbids display in dress, gaudy colors, and profuse ornamentation. Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration is excluded from the modest apparel which God's Word enjoins. Our dress is to be inexpensive—not with gold, or pearls or costly array.
But our clothing, while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display. It should provide warmth and proper protection.
There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination (Deuteronomy 22:5). God designed that there would be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it: for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase of crime.
4. When the Lord judges His people, what fault does He find with the "daughters of Zion?"
"The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. ... Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: ... In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty" (Isaiah 3:13, 16, 18-24).
Self denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly and abstain from display of jewelry and ornaments of very kind is in keeping with our faith. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty and purity. Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments.
5. Today, since 1844, we are living in the "hour of God's judgment." When coming down to judge ancient Israel, what did God tell them to do with the ornaments that they had adopted from the surrounding countries?
"For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb" (Exodus 33:5, 6).
It was necessary for the good of Israel, and is also a lesson to the succeeding generations, that crime should be promptly punished. And it was no less a mercy to the sinners themselves that they should be cut short in their evil course.
The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. If any of these depart from Him, and by stubborn persistence in sin become finally hardened against the influences of His Holy Spirit, their names will, in the judgment, be blotted from the book of life, and they themselves devoted to destruction.
Jehovah had declared, "I will not go up on the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff necked people; lest I consume thee in the way" (Exodus 33:3). And the command was given, "Put off thy ornaments from thee, that I might know what to do with thee." There was mourning in the encampment. In penitence and humiliation "the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb."
All this ornamentation was vanity and an offense to God.
6. Along with the household idols, what else did Jacob bury before meeting with God?
"And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they
gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem" (Genesis 35:1-4).
While Jacob was thus bowed down with trouble the Lord directed him to journey southward to Bethel. The thought of this place reminded the patriarch not only of his vision of the angels and of God's promises of mercy, but also of the vow which he had made there, that the Lord should be his God. He determined that before going to this sacred spot his household should be freed from the defilement of idolatry. He had taken the most effectual way to prepare them to join in the worship of God when they should arrive at Bethel.
7. What trait of character was at the root of Lucifer's downfall?
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. ... Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast the as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezekiel 28:13, 15, 16).
Speaking of Satan the Lord declares that he abode not in the truth. Once he was beautiful, radiant in light. But God's Word declares of him, "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty" (verse 17).
It was a being of wonderful power and glory that had set himself against God. Lucifer (Satan) had been the covering cherub. He had stood in the light of God's presence. He had been the highest of all created beings, and had been foremost in revealing God's purposes to the universe.
Pride led Lucifer to be self-centered. He exalted himself because of his appearance when adorned with jewels. God bids us not to wear jewelry lest we too become proud.
8. In what kind of dress does God picture the woman that represents Satan's kingdom?
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Revelation 17:4, 5).
The purple and scarlet color, the gold and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence and kingly pomp affected by the impure woman (church).
9. What kind of garment is to clothe God's people?
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8).
By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure spotless character which Christ's true followers will possess. To the church it is given "that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white" (Revelation 19:8), "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27). The fine linen, says the Scripture, "is the righteousness of saints." It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour.
10. Who gives us this garment of Christ's righteousness?
"And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by" (Zechariah 3:2-5).
Through His sacrifice human beings may reach the high ideal set before them, and hear at last the words, "ye are complete in Him," not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness that He wrought out for you. Your imperfection is no longer seen; for you are clothed with the robe of Christ's perfection.
11. As with the symbolic clothing that represents our characters, in what condition should our real clothing be when we meet with the Lord?
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes," (Exodus 19:10).
The necessity of personal cleanliness was taught in the most impressive manner. Before gathering at Mt. Sinai to listen to the proclamation of the Law by the voice of God, the people were required to wash both their persons and their clothing. This direction was enforced on the pain of death. No impurity was to be tolerated in the presence of God.
We are not to enter the presence of God in common clothing (working clothes) worn during the week. We are to be neat and trim without adornment. The children of God are to be pure within and without.
12. What will eventually become of the world's vain adornments?
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17).
This earth is the place of preparation for heaven. It is the love of self that destroys our peace. God's everlasting arm encircles the soul that turns to Him for aid. The precious things of the hills shall perish, but the soul that lives for God shall abide with him. The city of God will open its golden gates to receive him who learned while on earth to lean on God for guidance and wisdom, for comfort and hope amid loss and affliction.
13. How can we glorify God in our bodies?
"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).
A pure heart and a strong, fearless hand are wanted in the world today. Our hope of happiness in two worlds depends upon our improvement in one. Stand forth in your God given manhood and womanhood.
It is the inward adorning, the graces of the Spirit, the kind word, the thoughtful consideration of others, that God values. They may present to God their entire being, a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to Him, which is their reasonable service.
God uses clothing to represent our characters; and in reality the outer covering often reveals what is inside. God calls for every Christian to be renewed, both within and without. He wants us to dress tastefully and becomingly, in a manner that will attract attention to Jesus instead of to ourselves. External adornments that encourage pride God forbids—His perfect character is the only adornment the true Christian needs. And that adornment will be more attractive to the regenerate heart than external glitter! Is it your desire to reflect Jesus' character in your manner of dress?