Monday, November 16, 2009

Mr. Burrell Part 2

The Outward Adornment of a Christian

Part 2

Hello to everyone in the name of our Lord. This is week two of the message on outward adornment. I pray that you have studied in your bible the passages that I left with you. If not, please read these again as we are going to get right into the study of God’s Word.

I left off last week covering only verse 8 of 1st Timothy chapter 2. In this verse Paul tells us the things men should adorn themselves with. Let’s look at verse 9. Paul starts off saying “in like manner”. We know that this means “just like that” or “in the same way” and that he’s connecting two examples. Here he says that women should adorn themselves with modest apparel.

Now every culture through the ages has had distinct apparel. If you open a newspaper on any given Sunday you will find a sales paper in the middle with all the latest styles. Christians seldom think that these are bad but rather good to pick from. They often choose clothing that accentuates the positive, as the old song goes. They choose clothing that will “show off” their figures. They pick colors that will make them more attractive.

Once you’ve lived a few decades you’ve noticed that these styles always change and often are repeated. One thing that I’ve noticed is that one particular part of a woman’s body is generally highlighted above all others. Presently, the stomach is on display with the short midriff blouses. When I was younger I remember legs being exposed with short skirts. Other times I remember chests or shoulders being exposed.

Friends, our Lord gave us rules to live by that do not change. They are not dictated by style nor do they follow man’s design. We know that His ways are higher than our ways -Isaiah 55:9. In reading His word we must accept that some things may not follow our logical thinking. If you could figure it out without God, you’d be god (you are not, by the way). His Word is there to teach us how to live.

Now last week I stated that I was going to make a point in using another passage. In 1st Peter chapter 3 we find almost identical scripture. Only this time we see it done from another person writing. I often hear people who say that Paul was a sexist and biased against women. I know that there are several books out explaining what Paul meant regarding women. People who don’t like what is being said often excuse it by saying that it was a man’s opinion and not God’s word.

Friends, either we accept the Bible as the Word of God without error or we can throw it away. These two passages were written by two different hands but have the same Author, God. Paul wrote his letter to Timothy, a leader in the church. Peter wrote his letter to the church. Both of these letters agree in context regarding dress.

Let’s turn to 1st Peter 3 verse 3. Peter says that a woman’s adornment shouldn’t be with the putting on of apparel. Now, obviously he doesn’t mean that a woman shouldn’t get dressed. He is saying that her adornment should not be in the clothes that she wears. This agrees with Paul’s teaching to Timothy. Clothing should not be a woman’s adornment. That’s clear unless you mix in our flesh that likes clothing which is fancy, shiny, stylish, sexy or even ornate. If you really ask yourself one question, you will have the answer. That question is, “who am I pleasing with the clothes that I’m wearing”. You can please your flesh or you can please God.

Last week I covered the adornment that a man wears. His outward attitudes and manners show what is in his heart. Likewise, a woman’s dress indicates her heart condition. You can judge a book by its cover when the book picks the binding! We dress everyday looking in a mirror and all the while doing it so that it makes us attractive to the opposite sex. It’s our flesh doing it, not our spiritual man. We dress to get attention! Even the clothes industry markets sex. It’s in their slogans. They sell “sexiness”.

Paul uses the term “modest apparel” while Peter says the “putting on of apparel”. I am not going to tell you what is modest. When I studied the writings of the early church I found that they did not dictate exactly what style of dress to wear. They didn’t choose colors that could and couldn’t be worn. They didn’t pick patterns that were in or out. What they did talk about was the Roman culture and how ungodly the styles were. They all taught that outward decoration in the form of clothing was ungodly.

I was recently saddened by a letter from a Christian Home School group in which they stated the dress code for their Prom. In it they listed that the split in the dress could not extend more than 4 inches above the knee; spaghetti straps or backless was accepted but no cleavage could show; and it ended in “in other words, modest dress”! Friends, modest dress should never have splits in skirts and bare shoulders. Exposing more skin cannot be considered modest! Somehow, Christians now even let their daughters wear colored under-wear on the beaches for all the men to lust after and call it a bathing suit.

I am including just a few quotes from the early church writers at the end of this message. You may look at these now if you like. These are men who wrote down the common interpretation that the early church followed. I think it’s interesting that any of them could be written in modern times. The so called beauty treatments of yesterday are the same as today. All of them are condemned as being sinful and against the dress of Godly women.

Please note that there are preachers today that teach that there is nothing wrong with stylish clothes, jewelry, make-up and coiffures. There are even some preachers that have supermodel wives. However in the early church no one taught these doctrines. They all agreed that the outward appearance was important and that it should not be ornate. You will not find any other opinion when you research early church writings.

Going back to scripture we see that Paul says a woman should be adorned with shamefacedness and sobriety. 1st Tim 2:9-For the word shamefacedness the Strong’s Concordance gives the Greek word aidos meaning a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect. For sobriety we see the Greek word sophrosune meaning self control. These are the adornments of a Christian woman. Paul then tells us what the adornments are not.

In verse 9 he says not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. I see ornate and extravagant hairstyles being used by churchwomen today. Their heads are uncovered (another bible study) and they even use jewelry in their hair. I commonly see jewelry and expensive dresses worn to church. Somehow we’ve missed these scriptures as well as the common church doctrine for the last (almost) 2000 years. Yes, that’s right; the church followed these scriptures up until the 1800’s. Then little by little more churches taught that women should be outwardly women of style.

The last adornment of a woman is in verse 10. Good works are listed as something to be adorned with. This agrees with all other scripture. While we are not saved by works, they are the outward sign of inward transformation.

Now, last week in the discussion questions I asked why God spelled out different things for women and men. Let me say that these standards are for both men and women. Let me explain what I mean. If women are to not dress ornately and with jewelry and expensive clothes, neither are men. Today we see men who wear gold chains and designer clothes. These are just as un-godly and forbidden in scripture.

Likewise, if it’s ungodly for a man to be in wrath and doubting it is for the woman, also. The reason, I believe, that different things are spelled out for women and men is that they are the things the particular sex would have a weakness for. Think about it; would God have women to be dressed plainly and allow men to dress stylishly? Of course not. There is one more scripture that I had listed for the sermon today. It’s Isaiah 3:16-26. Here God is passing judgment on women who are haughty and there is much outward adornment in the way of jewelry mentioned. There seems to be a connection to a woman’s pride and her jewelry. This passage says the Lord will take those away, it appears, to humble her. I encourage you to study this passage thoroughly and let the Holy Spirit speak to you regarding your appearance.

I could extend this another week but I really prefer that you study on your own. Our family has chosen clothing that does not match the world. You will never see Calvin Klein’s name on a cape dress or broadfall pants. We do not set standards for others as being Godly. Rather, we set limits on skin exposure, gaudiness and modesty. Our women do not wear pants since even the world knows what that means. If I asked you who wears the pants in the family, you’d know exactly what I mean. Also, they do not wear pants because cross-dressing is forbidden for both sexes.

Let me conclude today in a more practical way. We hear from a lot of women who deeply desire to dress more modestly than they do. They explain that their husbands will not let them. Wives, you should be submissive to your own husbands. What he says is what you should follow, not me. Husbands, you are the leader in your homes. It’s your job as a Christian man to keep your family according to scripture. Don’t make your wives dress in outward apparel so that you may show her off as a trinket or trophy. I know what I am talking about. I lived this way once.

It made me feel good to go out in public with Angie “decked out”. She wore stylish clothes, hoop earrings, makeup and her waist length hair was frosted blonde. She drew the attention of men and women alike. Oh, how I wore her on my arm! I enjoyed having men look at us, feeling that they must envy me! But as I pursued scripture I had to realize that it was not scriptural. I have to say that she is more beautiful today than when we first met. Inward beauty is true. Inward beauty lasts. So husband, do what is right by your wife. Don’t forget that following the prayer there is a link to quotes from early church fathers regarding dress. May the Lord lead you as you study His Word.

Father God,

I thank you that you know my heart. You knew ahead of time, just what I would battle. You know our hearts and our desires. Today, I pray that you would bring them in conjunction with your Will. Let us this day put on the adornment of a Christian so that the world might see the humility and purity of our hearts. Let us put on what you say is right. Let us be satisfied with what you created. May we remove from our lives anything that would be against Your will.

In Jesus Name—Amen

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