The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“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.”
I Timothy 2:9-10
+ Modest Apparel +
Christian modesty is always in style. This Biblical doctrine of modesty is taught throughout Scripture and is binding today. After sin entered into the world the first issue dealt with was modesty, for God clothed Adam and Eve. This Biblical principle is a vanishing virtue in the world in which we live. God’s standards are constantly under attack because Satan knows that immodest dress leads to lust and many other sins. The subject of modesty must be a concern of both men and women, for it affects them both. Our clothing gives testimony of our heart and our attitude toward God and His Word.
“Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.”
- Noah Webster Dictionary 1828
In reference to clothing from a Biblical perspective, there are three areas to consider: modesty, covering, and distinction. This article will focus mainly on the subject of modesty even though all three are very important. Some rebel against this truth, but many just have never been taught. It is the responsibility of fathers, husbands, and pastors to teach their wives, sons, and daughters the doctrine of modesty. May we begin this study prayerfully with open eyes and a tender heart.
The Meaning of Modesty
In I Timothy 2:9 of the King James Bible, the English word modest appears only one time, “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.” The apostle is dealing with the issue of public worship in the context. The chapter begins with prayer, then in verse 8, Christian men are addressed, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” The women are addressed in the following verses. The issue of clothing is now brought up. Men and women are equally to blame in this area of dress, but it is a fact that women are in much greater danger of extreme, that is, displaying their body for the sake of show. The woman, in general, desires to adorn herself more so than a man and caution is given. God gives warning in verse nine against excess, extravagance, and sensuality. As another author plainly put it this way, “Glory of garments, pride of gold, and elaboration of hair.”
The verse under consideration has several interesting words in association with modesty. The word adorn, translated from the Greek word kosmos, means; “”to put in order, arrange, decorate.” This word is used in other places in Scripture giving further meaning to it. The word modest basically means free from vanity, not forward or bold, not calling attention to oneself. It implies dressing with restraint, avoiding extremism, excess, and extravagance. Noah Webster defines it like this in the original 1828 dictionary, “That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one’s own worth and importance.” Also in our text the words apparel and shamefacedness appear. The word apparel speaks of clothing. The Greek word katastole translated apparel basically means a long, loose-fitting garment. That is, the woman’s garment resembled floor-length dresses which did not accent the figure and was modest even in bending over or working. Shamefacedness is an old English expression which speaks of a sense of shame. The idea is, of down cast eyes or bashfulness toward others gazing at them. One writer put it this way, “Ashamed of going beyond the bound of what is decent or proper.” The problem is, we have lost shame in this society. The word sobriety means moderate or self-control and the words costly array concern expensive, extravagant or glamorous clothing. In I Timothy 2:10, the real issue is brought forth, “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Good works are our best ornament. Our dress is to match or be in harmony with what we believe. Our clothing is to glorify God and testify to the fact that we are a child of the King.
The Purpose of Modesty
Modesty begins in the heart and is of utmost importance in our walk with God. Modesty was the first issue addressed after the fall, and God clothed Adam and Eve to have fellowship with them (even though no one else was on earth at that time). In I Peter 3:3-6, modesty of the heart and clothing are addressed, “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: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” The apostle stresses inward adornment and not outward display. In verse 3, he is saying that the putting on of apparel is not your beauty, but your devotion and love to Jesus Christ is. In other words, do you spend more time adorning the outward or the inward? Our text plainly shows a connection between what is on the inside and what we are on the outside. It begins internally and manifests itself externally.
The heart is mentioned over eight hundred times in Holy Writ. No one is saved unless the heart is turned to God (Hebrews 8:10), and no one can please God in modest apparel unless there is a modest heart. When our hearts are right, our clothing will be right also. We must be governed by the Spirit of the living God and not by feelings, fads, or fashions. Modesty is man’s oldest challenge. Prior to sin, Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). They were clothed in God’s righteousness and veiled in purity, but after the fall, sin and shame came. Man’s heart became darkened and God clothed them spiritually and physically. Again, we must be changed from the inside out or all is vanity.
The Reward of Modesty
The reward of modesty is blessings, joy, peace, and ultimately, a crown at the judgment seat of Christ. According to Romans 12:1-2, God is concerned with 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.” Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:14-7:1). The Spirit of the God of heaven and earth lives within the believer (I Corinthians 3:16-17). God is very much interested in our hearts (inside) and our bodies (outside). Both are very important to God for He created us in this manner. The spiritual is connected to the physical (Revelation 3:18, Isaiah 61:10). Our salvation is spoken of as garments of holiness and the righteousness of Christ. We are called peculiar people in I Peter 2:9, and we should live in a manner that is pleasing to God. According to II Corinthians 5:10-11, if we obey God we are promised rewards, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” The apostle Paul spoke of the crown of righteousness in II Timothy 4:7-8. May we all desire the things of God and look for His appearing.
Clothing is to conceal, not to reveal. In the Garden of Eden, God designed clothes to cover our first parents’ nakedness, for man could not clothe himself. Adam and Eve made aprons, but God made coats. There is a difference between the two. As a Christian, we must let God be our designer and not man. The clothing industry is controlled by pagans and they know what sells. Satan has an agenda, and please understand that the fashion world is not neutral. Fashions and styles are to arouse the passions of the flesh. In many cases, packaging is more sensual than raw nudity. We must not allow the world to dictate what we wear. God’s Word must be our standard in all areas of Christian life, especially in modesty. Amen.
“The wearing of gay or costly apparel naturally tends to breed and increase vanity. By vanity here, I mean the love and desire of being admired and praised. Every one of you that is fond of dress has a witness of this in your own bosom. Whether you will confess it before man or no, you are convinced of this before God. You know in your hearts, it is with a view to be admired that you thus adorn yourselves; and that you would not be at the pains were none to see you but God and His holy angels. Now, the more you indulge this foolish desire, the more it grows upon you. You have vanity enough by nature; but by thus indulging it, you increase it a hundredfold. O stop! Aim at pleasing God alone, and all these ornaments will drop off.”
“The wearing of costly array is directly opposite to being adorned with good works. Nothing can be more evident than this; for the more you lay out on your own apparel, the less you have left to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to lodge the stranger, to relieve those that are sick and in prison; and to lessen the numberless to which we are exposed in the vale of tears.”
- John Wesley
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523