Modesty for True Christians

Many of you have been taught in grammar school to “stop, drop & roll” in case of a fire so you don’t get burned. The bible teaches “stop(repent and cease all sin), obey(Jesus ’til the end) & cover(your body & soul)” lest you burn forever in hellfire. Join us for a complete study below in video and text.

Teaching Them To Observe…. MODESTY. After you read the below, Click here for a complete study on how a woman is to cover her head.  Click here for the story of Ruth as referenced in the teaching above.

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel (Gr. Katastole), 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 Tim. 2:9,10

“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 (conduct) coupled with fear. Whose adorning (beautifying) let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel (Gr. Himation);” I Peter 3:1-3

Of all the important doctrinal issues that Paul could have corresponded with Timothy about, he didn’t fail to speak of women’s modesty. In fact, Paul and Peter both, when speaking about women, made sure they dealt with modesty. Of all the important things in the Christian life that pertain to women, the apostles made sure they spoke of dress, jewelry, hair, head veil, and chastity. Yes, it is a big deal what you observe in these matters. Satan knows all too well that you can be doctrinally sound in every other area and still lose your soul and those of your young people by means of immodesty.

When Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy to make sure the women adorned themselves in modest apparel; it was then pastor Timothy’s responsibility to make judgments concerning what is modest and what is not modest. He had to “teach them to observe” modesty. The important point is that Paul expected Timothy to make judgments and be sure the people were dressing modest.

The apostles, in these passages, are “teaching them to observe” Jesus’ commands to some extent; but leave some room for the bishops to finish the work. It would be wonderful if pastors today at least taught their people the specific things the apostles did mention (no jewelry, no fancy or costly clothes, no hair-do, but a head covering, etc.) Godly church leaders today must search the Scripture to find God’s idea of modest. What did the apostles teach the people concerning this subject? It is the glory of kings to search out a matter…

BASIC OBSERVATIONS Simple grammar tells us that we should not wear: gold, pearls, costly array, broided hair, immodest apparel, fancy clothes. So, since we can’t wear gold, “I’ll wear silver”. Is that the idea? No. It is obvious to the seeking soul that the apostles are telling us not to “ornament” our bodies for self glory and not to follow the fashion of the world. We are NOT to work at beautifying our outsides, but this work should be only on our insides.

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (conduct).” I Pet. 1:14,15

We are not to dress to look rich, or attract the carnal praises of carnal and wicked men. We are not to justify the world’s seeking of self-glory, by partaking in it ourselves.

Paul says to Timothy to instruct the people (teach them to observe) to adorn themselves in modest apparel ….NOT WITH broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array — of any kind. Now, if you wear costly array of any kind, you are WITH these items; when you should be NOT WITH these items.

Peter tells the wives to win their unbelieving and worldly husbands by… “dressing to kill”? Did Peter tell them to dress however the husband wanted them to? No, they were accountable to dress and live godly even with an ungodly and unbelieving husband. He said, concerning their adorning: LET IT NOT BE the outward dressing up, fixing hair, putting on jewelry, and fancy clothes (Himation). Now, if you wear a gold ring, you are LETTING IT BE; when you are commanded to LET IT NOT BE.

Yes, I know the Baptists and others like to follow the NKJV perversion and say LET IT NOT MERELY BE; but “merely” is not in the Greek text. It is perversion, and if you “live” it, don’t criticize those who tamper with the Word of God, because you are one of them. Peter wouldn’t tell them not to merely have outward adorning, while Paul is saying to dress modest, not with gold, pearls, and costly array. You notice they can’t fit their merely in Paul’s statement. They try to say that “it” in I Peter 3:3 simply refers to their emphasis; but this is ignoring rules of proper grammar. “IT” in I Peter 3:3 does not refer to “emphasis”, but to “adorning”. The word “emphasis” does not appear in the passage. If you diagram the sentence, you will see “IT” refers to ADORNING. Let your adorning NOT BE the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel (himation – fancy clothes). Let your adorning (beautifying – ornamentation) be the inner spiritual beauty of holiness and godliness in a meek and quiet spirit. You can’t serve God and mammon, nor can you have your adorning on the inside while at the same time you are competing on the outside with the world’s fashions – they are opposing forces.

MODEST The word “modest” must be defined for our generation in terms that fit God’s program and not our glory. We have already learned that “dressing up” to please carnal man is wrong. We have learned that wearing jewelry, fancy clothes, worldly hair fashions, costly clothes, etc. are all DISOBEDIENCE.

We are told to wear “modest apparel” — what is that? First, I want you to notice that the word “modest” doesn’t just mean “covered up”. Modest is an attitude that shows in your dress as well as every other part of your life. Paul uses the synonyms, “shamefacedness”, “sobriety”, “chaste”, “meek”, “quiet”, and “fear”; but not, “showy”, “proud”, “sensual”, and “attractive”.

If I say, “He has a modest house”; what am I saying? If I say, “He makes a modest wage”; what am I saying? Modest also means, “simple”, “plain”, and is the opposite of extravagant. Yes, modesty should be seen, not only in our clothes, but in our homes, cars, and every area of our life. We are to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

1. We should not appear rich, or desirous of being rich.

1Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

2. We should not appear sensual or sexually attractive.

I Thess. 4:4,5 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

3. We should not appear to support fads, fashion groups, special interest groups, etc.

1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

4. We should not allow the praise of men to dictate our dress.

1Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

5. We should appear as humble, content, spiritual, hard working, modest, chaste, followers of Jesus Christ. That which is highly esteemed among men is still an abomination in the sight of God.

The early Christians became a “gazing stock”, and so will you when you follow Jesus and protest the world’s parade.

Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

KATASTOLE

If one, out of desire to live by Bible principles and to be a faithful leader, digs a little deeper; they will realize that we are not to use “our point of reference” to determine what is modest. They will then ask the question: “What was considered modest apparel in the first century? What principles can we find to apply to our century? Would we be considered modest if we were suddenly placed in the Antioch church in 50 AD? They will then find that the term used by Paul in I Timothy, seems to have a “historical setting” in a “style” of dress according the Adam Clarke. Paul said to dress in modest apparel — KOSMIOS KATASTOLE. The word Katastole evidently refers to parts of the Roman and Grecian dress. If this be Paul’s meaning or not, we still can learn through this a style of dress worn in those days and considered modest. What can we learn from it?

The Katastole seems to have been a “vest” type cover over the Stola or dress. The sincere, God fearing people of the day knew what was considered modest. Here is the testimony of Adam Clarke, in his commentary:

“The apostle seems to refer here to different parts of the Grecian and Roman dress. The stola seems to have been originally very simple. It was a long piece of cloth, doubled in the middle, and sewed up on both sides, leaving room only for the arms; at the top, a piece was cut out, or a slit was made, through which the head passed. It hung down to the feet, both before and behind, and was girded with the zona round the body, just under the breasts. It was sometimes made with, sometimes without, sleeves; and, that it might sit the better, it was gathered on each shoulder with a band or buckle.

The katastole seems to have been the same as the pallium or mantle, which, being made nearly in the form of the stola, hung down to the waist, both in back and front, was gathered on the shoulder with a band or buckle, had a hole or slit at top for the head to pass through, and hung loosely over the stola, without being confined by the zona or girdle. Representations of these dresses may be seen in Len’s Costume des Peuples de l’Antiquit’e, fig. 11,12,13, and 16. A more modest and becoming dress than the Grecian was never invented; it was, in a great measure, revived in England about the year 1805, and in it, simplicity, decency, and elegance were united; but it soon gave place to another mode, in which frippery and nonsense once more prevailed. It was too rational to last long; and too much like religious simplicity to be suffered in a land of shadows, and a world of painted outsides.”

So, if we really want to understand what the apostles had in mind and what they probably considered modest, we can look at the “historical setting” of this command; or, if we don’t, we can also follow the “frippery and nonsense” of our age like most.

The Anabaptist peoples, and many other godly groups have followed the “Katastole principle” in their dress for the ladies by using a “cape-dress”, “dress and vest”, or some other way of producing the simple, modest, “double covering” of the Katastole. The advantages of this dress are obvious: A loose, long, full dress, with a second cover to the waist that wasn’t drawn in at the waist. This avoids the “drawn in waist” that immodestly accentuates other parts of the body. Such practicality and modesty, why wouldn’t every Christian woman want to follow this godly example? Why?

So, is it right for a bishop(pastor), in “teaching them to observe”, to lead his church to dress in a modest, Katastole-type dress without jewelry, lace, bright colors, fancy prints, and such? Of course it is. Where is the backing for NOT leading your church to do so? Are you teaching your people to “observe all things”? Are you striving for excellence or convenience? It is also right for the bishop to counsel in “home decor”, types of vehicles, etc. to “teach people to observe” modesty and simplicity for the testimony of the church and to avoid the snare of the Devil.

I Cor. 6:19,20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

TESTIMONY OF MEN FROM DAYS PAST

Charles Finney, a former American Evangelist (1792-1875). (His “perseverance of the saints” doctrine was wicked, but here, as stated before, we are using this as a historical case for biblical modesty, nothing else).

The question now regards fashion, in dress, equipage, and so on. And here I will confess that I was formerly myself in error. I believed, and taught, that the best way for Christians to pursue, was to dress so as not to be noticed, to follow the fashions and changes so as not to appear singular, and that nobody would be led to think of their being different from others in these particulars. But I have seen my error, and now wonder greatly at my former blindness. It is your duty to dress so plain as to show to the world, that you place no sort of reliance in the things of fashion, and set no value at all on them, but despise and neglect them altogether. But unless you are singular, unless you separate yourselves from the fashions of the world, you show that you do value them. There is no way in which you can bear proper testimony by your lives against the fashions of the world, but by dressing plain. “Lectures to Professing Christians,” Pg. 146

John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Church (1703-1791) (We know the Methodist church has apostatized)

I am distressed. I know not what to do. I see what I might have done once. I might have said peremptorily and expressly, “Here I am; I and my Bible. I will not, I dare not vary from this Book either in great things or small. I have no power to dispense with one jot or tittle of what is contained therein. I am determined to be a Bible Christian, not almost, but altogether. Who will meet me on this ground? Join me on this, or not at all.” With regard to dress in particular, I might have been as firm (and I now see it would have been better), as either the people called Quakers, or the Moravian brethren. I might have said, “This is our manner of dress which we know is both Scriptural and rational. If you join with us, you are to dress as we do; but you need not join us unless you please.” But, alas. The time is now past; and what I can do now, I cannot tell. Wesley’s Sermons Vol. II, Pg. 439. Dublin, July 2, 1789.

“Shall I be more particular still? Then, I ‘exhort all those who desire me to watch over their souls,’ Wear no gold….no pearls, or precious stones; use no curling of the hair, or costly apparel, how grave soever… Buy no velvets, no silks, no fine linen, no superfluities, no mere ornaments, though ever so much in fashion. Wear nothing, though you have it already,…which is in any kind gay, glittering, or showy; nothing made in the very height of the fashion, nothing apt to attract the eyes of the by-standers. I do not advise women to wear rings, ear-rings, necklaces, lace (of whatever kind or colour), or ruffles…. It is true, these are little, very little things, which are not worth defending; therefore, give them up, let them drop, throw them away without another word; else, a little needle may cause much pain in your flesh, a little self-indulgence much hurt to your soul.” The Words of John Wesley, Vol. XI London: Weslayan-Methodist Book-room.

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) America’s first foreign missionary: to Burma:

In a letter to the Christian women of America, he illustrates how he dealt with a new convert from among the heathen:

“After the usual examination, I inquired whether she would give up her ornaments for Christ. It was an unexpected blow. I explained the spirit of the Gospel. I appealed to her consciousness of vanity. I read to her the apostle’s prohibition. She looked again and again at her handsome necklace — she wore but one — and then with an air of modest decision… she quietly took it off, saying, ‘I love my Christ more than this’. The news began to spread. The Christian women made but little hesitation.”

Judson now makes an appeal to American women:

“Let me appeal to your conscience, and inquire, What is the real motive for wearing ornamental and costly apparel? Is it not the desire of setting off one’s person to the best advantage, and of exciting the admiration of others? Is not such dress calculated to gratify self-love, and cherished sentiments of vanity and pride?…Do such motives and sentiments compare with the meek, humble, and self-denying religion of Jesus Christ? I would…suggest, that these questions will not be answered so faithfully, in the midst of company, as when quite alone, kneeling before God. Surely you can hold out no longer. You cannot rise from your knees in your present attire. Thanks be to God, I see you taking off your necklaces and ear-rings, tearing away your ribbons, and ruffles, and superfluities of headdress…” Herald of Truth, Elkhart, In, V. 10 (October, 1868), 146-148, quoted in J,C. Wenger, op. cit., pp. 145-151.

Menno Simons, Anabaptist leader (1496-1561): (writing about the state church)

“Dear reader, take notice that all the proud, haughty, avaricious, carnal, and adulterous persons who call themselves Christians, but are not such (for they testify by their disposition, heart, mind, and life that they hate Christ),….They say that they believe, and yet, alas, there are no limits nor bounds to their accursed haughtiness, foolish pride and pomp; they parade in silks, velvets, costly clothes, gold rings, chains, silver belts, pins, and buttons, curiously adorned shirts, shawls, collars, veils, aprons, velvet shoes, slippers, and such like foolish finery. They never regard that the exalted apostles Peter and Paul have in plain and express words forbidden this all to Christian women. And if forbidden to women, how much more to men who are the leaders and heads of their wives. Notwithstanding all this they still want to be called the Christian Church.” The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, pg. 377

Well, I think we know the difference between the slick tongued preachers of today, and the God fearing men of yesterday.. Believe me I could add many quotes from church writings of the first 3 centuries.

Today, if you try to build a church that observes “all things whatsoever” Jesus commanded, you are a freak and a cultist. The problem is ignorant and rebellious people who run from the light, because they love their darkness. Compare the lives of these men I have quoted with the life of your smooth talking, compromising preacher.

DEFRAUDING — FORNICATION “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” I Thess. 4:3-7

Notice how the apostle equates “going beyond” the bounds of modesty and “defrauding” his brother (or sister); with “fornication”. If you dress for sex appeal, or ignorantly dress in a way that tempts others to think unlawful thoughts, then you are guilty of defrauding. The form-fitting dress; the materials that lay against the form; shear materials; gaping between buttons; low necklines; slit skirts; short skirts; sleeveless; patterns that accentuate body shape; tight fitting clothes; and any other slick trick of Satan to draw people into sin. This goes for men also. Tight form fitting jeans, unbuttoned shirts, tank tops, shorts, T-shirts, thin or shear shirts, etc. are defrauding to the sisters. You can defraud brothers and sisters by looks, winks, flirting, flattery, lack of sobriety, and not conducting yourself with holiness.

“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” I Tim. 5:1

Living in holiness with God’s people is a challenge for all of us; but the problem is not the difficulty of the way; it is those who would rather come to church to be worshipped than to worship. The problem is secret desires that stem from our wicked fleshly nature(propensity to sin in a sinful world) . We should strive to build up the church, not tear it down by seeking self-glory and carnal preferences. There must be modesty in the home, work, and church — everywhere we are and go, we should properly represent Christ. Immodesty in the home among family members is still ungodly and dangerous. Having immodest pictures, magazines, art, photos, or such like in our home is defrauding to those who find it or see it. God has called us to holiness, and holiness is modest.

It’s right for church leaders to set godly standards of modesty for their flock in order to “teach them to observe” modesty.

I have made this section a major portion of this tract – why? Why, when so many others make this of very little value, and allow people to dress as they please? I grew up in a church where people dressed as they pleased, and have witnessed the fruits of such ways. I have compared what I saw with what the Bible says. I have seen how mankind’s major judgments stemmed from apostasy due to immodesty and sensuality. Look at the flood of Noah: What caused it? Look at Sodom and Gomorrah: What caused it? Why did 23,000 people die in Israel (I Cor. 10:8)? What caused David to fall? Sampson? What was one of the main things David warned Solomon of as we see in Proverbs? What made Solomon fall? Must I go on? You can have right doctrine, good form, nice buildings, and a great heritage, but immodesty in dress and life can still draw your people into Hell right under your nose.

Many times it is wiser to set some simple standards, rather than put the pastor in a bad position of having to police the dress. Printed materials are hard to regulate, and it is unwise for a pastor to have to approach a lady or her husband to let them know their print is too wild after the woman has already made the dress. So, to set a standard which allows only plain solids or just certain types of prints is wise. Give your leaders some slack, and don’t buck and rare over the standards set. If you want to do as you please, there are many apostate churches who will let you. If you want to do as you please, just don’t complain when everyone else does too. [Pastor Mark Bullen]

Click here for a complete study on how a woman is to cover her head.