Friday, November 6, 2009

Paul Burrell again . . .

Thank you Mr. Burrell. I agree that what we are on the outside reflects the inside. That reflection either draws people to Christ or drives them away.


The Outward Adornment of a Christian

Greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that the week has been safe and you are all well today. I am re-running a couple of messages due to some events in which are family are busy with. I hope you find them relevant!

I’ve been asked by several to cover the area of dress and outward appearance. I’m going to cover three main passages of scripture. Two are common. One is less common but quite long so I felt the need to include it. This message will be in at least two parts as I want to cover it thoroughly.

It is a common belief in many churches that everybody should be accepted just as they are. Not just in dress but also if there is sin in their lives. We have denominations now who are ordaining men and women against scriptural basics. Also, if the outward appearance is immodest, “so what”, they say. Dress is no longer talked about from the pulpit as it once was. We have higher dress codes in restaurants than we do in church. I remember a preacher asking a row of young ladies to not come back the way that they were dressed. They sat in front of him with short dresses on. This was not a one time thing but week after week. After his rebuke they continued to come and began to dress more modestly.

Preachers everywhere are looking for numbers now. They use the old phrase, “at least they are in church”. The truth is that they feel like more people will only bring in more finances. They’ve dropped standards everywhere just to get people into the church. Indeed, I heard a talk show this week on a radio station in Birmingham where a person said the church should be more like a bar. In a bar everyone is accepted. Everyone comes in and it doesn’t matter about your past or beliefs or what you look like. You are accepted just as you are.

This person said that church people were too judgmental and he felt like it should be more open to anyone. Now, stop and think about why everyone is accepted in a bar! If you have money, they will serve you a drink. You are a customer there. The music is loud and upbeat. Your comfort and entertainment are their number one priority. Nothing is expected of you. (You know, now that I think about it, some of the modern churches do sound like a bar!…J) No one has ever had their life improved from a bar.

Well, the truth is that the church IS open to anyone. All of us have sinned. It doesn’t matter what someone has done wrong in their past, there is someone on the inside of the church that has done something worse. The problem is that people want to come in and stay as they are. I really think that this is caused by the miss-belief that being a member of a local church will get you into heaven. They don’t want to change. They just want some assurance of salvation.

The church should be like a hospital. We know that the sick go there. We shouldn’t expect them to get better before they are allowed in. However, once they come in, we should do everything within our power to see that they are changed according to God’s Word.

Suppose a man goes to a hospital and the doctor sees a tumor. He is obligated to tell him. Do we think he would tell him nothing just to keep the money coming in? That man is probably there because he has pain in his life anyway! The doctor owes it to him to say something about it.

I saw a headline on a church sign the other day that said it correctly. It said “Come as you are, but leave changed”. That is how the church should be. People should be accepted when they come into the church, but with the understanding that once your life has been touched by the Hand of Jesus you will want to change and you need to change. Yet people that have been in the church for years are still the same as when they started.

Actually, the hospital is a much better illustration of how the church should function than a bar. If you go to the emergency room today you will receive information as to the expectations between you and the hospital. They will give you a list of things that they will help you with and will give a paper with what is expected of you. Before you leave the doctor will hand you a paper with the prescription that you should take and any therapy that you should do to get better. These things are your responsibility. No doctor can make you do them. If you don’t follow the recommendation you won’t get better.

In churches, we call this the doctrine or statement of faith. They spell out what that particular church requires. They tell of your responsibility when you are away. I’ve noticed that many denominations are getting more vague every year. Many churches don’t even have a printed paper available to let you know what that particular body believes.

I realize that I seem to be wandering from the topic, but I am getting there! Let’s look at the scripture in 1st Timothy 2:8-15. Here Paul is writing to Timothy, a young pastor. This is an important point, as to who is writing. I’m going to make a point on this in next week’s sermon. Paul is instructing Timothy in matters of the Body of Christ, especially those regarding order in the church. Rules for bishops and conduct are given in his letter. In this passage we find the area of appearance of men and women. Verse 8 says that men should pray everywhere lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting. This doesn’t sound like he’s talking about a man’s appearance at first. It just sounds like he wants men to pray. But the next line gives us deeper truth. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…

Now, go back to verse 8 and let’s look at it in the context of a man’s adornment. We often forget that men have an adornment that they wear. More so than with clothes, we as men adorn ourselves with our outward actions. People can tell a lot about us by our body language. If I approach someone on the street and have my arms folded I will appear as one that is angry or hiding something. If a father approaches a child and towers over them or gets very close he will frighten the child. Squatting down or bending over is less frightful.

If a husband and wife get into an argument and the man gets really close, especially leaning toward her, he is in a threatening position. Even if he doesn’t realize it, he will be frightening his wife. Men, our outward adornments tell others what we are like on the inside! Now, look again at that verse. Paul says that men should pray everywhere. What would you think of a man that prayed everywhere? Have you ever seen men that prayed at work? Perhaps you’ve known someone who prayed outside the doors of the church. What did you think of them? I can tell you that that man has his life more in order than a man who doesn’t. When a man prays with his family at a restaurant I always notice!

The next line is important also. Lifting up holy hands is a strange expression to some. I remember years ago when only the Pentecostal churches had people raising their hands in worship. If you raised your hands in a Baptist church you would get sideways looks! Now more denominations are realizing that it’s scriptural and they think nothing of it.

You may have even noticed people doing this other than Christians. Think about other religions. I have seen Muslim and Buddhists worshipping this way. But there is one more group that comes to mind. Have you ever seen young people at a rock concert doing it? I have. They raise their hands when their god comes on stage or sings their favorite song. It’s all about worship.

My pastor as a youth, pointed out that it’s the international sign of surrender. If someone is giving up they always put their hands up. So along with prayer, the second adornment of a godly man is total surrender to God.

The third adornment I see here is “without wrath”. Christian men should not pray in retaliation. If someone does you wrong, you are not supposed to get vengeance for it. I have had some people in my past who would probably claim that I “got them back”. But keeping silent when someone else rants and raves isn’t wrath! You’ll find it hard to pray for your enemies yet it’s always the right thing to do. If you look at the tragedy that happened to our brethren in Lancaster County a few years ago, you can see the impact of men who had every right in the flesh to be angry. Yet, those godly men went to the funeral of the murderer of their children. It’s hard to do, but it’s right.

We, as men, have a responsibility to be peaceful. Just last week my family was put in a very difficult situation where we could have started a big argument. We left as peacefully as we could without much fanfare. If you want to see real grace under pressure, just look at our Lord. When the accusers stood before Him and told lies to Pilate, He was silent. He was a completely innocent man. If anyone had cause to speak back, Jesus did. Yet he spoke not a word. Men, let us learn to handle aggression! His prayer later for His accusers was one of forgiveness.

The last adornment that I see in this verse speaks of “without doubting”. Now, let’s put that in context with praying. When we pray it should be with the belief that our prayer will be answered. As my sweet wife always reminds our family, “Pray the prayer that never fails. Pray for God’s Will to be done”. If we walk in holiness, we will never worry that His Will is done. If our hearts are right, we should have no doubt that He hears us.

Now, don’t get ahead of me in all this! I know that most want to hear what the scripture says about a woman’s adornment. That will be for next week. I will keep going as far as the Spirit gives. For now I would encourage you to study ahead. Our passages to look at are 1st Timothy 2:8-15; 1st Peter 3:1-7 and Isaiah 3:16-26.

Let me say that everyone has a uniform that they wear. It identifies them with the group that they belong to. You may not consciously do it but you will always dress like those that you want to identify with. If I see a man dressed in black leather with a bandana around his head; if this man has black leather chaps on, I know that he rides a motorcycle. If I see a man in three piece suit and he has a briefcase, I know he’s a businessman. If there is a fellow with camouflage on and an orange cap, I can pretty much tell you that he’s a hunter.

Christians have a dress too. This time we’ve looked at just a few things that the scripture lists for men. Next time I will proceed and cover things spelled out for women. Until then, I encourage you to study the Word. Go ahead and see what it says to you! May the Lord Bless you this week.


Father God,

As we arise each day help us to remember that we are dressing in a manner that tells others about us. Let your Holy Spirit help us to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be properly adorned. If there is something that we have worn that is not pleasing to you, reveal it to us.

In Jesus Name,


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