Modern Day Modesty

Modern Day Modesty
In Matthew 19 Jesus appeals to a time previous to the Law of Moses to demonstrate principles
concerning marriage which are timeless and changeless regardless of the particular covenant
under which man lives. God is God regardless of when man comes to know Him and regardless
of dispensation and law God’s desires for man have never changes. God’s desire for man to
love Him, His desire for man’s holiness has been consistent regardless of the particulars of
covenant and law.
When Christians study most subjects passages are reviewed, terms are defined, and authority,
whether permissive or prohibitive, is established and we stand by these findings. We have
divided from the majority of the religious world based on this sort of study, we have divided
from our own brethren, and often individual Christians find themselves separated from their
own families all on the basis of Bible. However, despite the same efforts in teaching the truth
about the sin of immodesty otherwise pious Christians seem to turn a deaf ear and label the
teaching as opinion. It is my hope that with this lesson the audience will treat the study as any
other be it instrumental music, denominationalism, or the essentiality of baptism, hold the
sermon to the same standard and after critical examination accept the truth of scripture and
allow it to mold your lives.
I. Godly Behavior – Demonstrating the Inner Man With the Outer
A. “…Be holy for I am holy” 1Pet 1:13-16
1. Having described for us the blessings and promises that can be ours in Christ Jesus
Peter begins to draw a conclusion in vs 13
a. “Be sober” (KJV) - “sound judgment” practically expresses the meaning; “it is
that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions
and desires, which would hinder the temptation to these from arising, or at all
events from arising in such strength as would overbear the checks and barriers
which aidos (shamefastness) opposed to it” (Trench Syn. Sec.xx, end). (Vine’s)
b. “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ” – i.e. “set your mind on things above”
c. “do not be conformed to the former lusts” – this sound judgment and focus on
spiritual matters is to have the effect of removing our attentions from
i. “conform” – assimilate oneself to (Mounce)
(a) According to Vincent this word carries the idea of changing that which is
outward. In others words this passage is not merely saying not to have
certain lusts but to not to participate in the outward things which would
cause such lust.
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Modern Day Modesty
d. “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior”
vs. 15
i. The force of the passage is plain to see, every aspect of our lives and action is
to be holy i.e. modeled after the Divine principle of holiness, that which
never participates in nor tempts others to sin
ii. Our inward disposition toward God is demonstrated by our outward actions
and appearance
B. “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…”
1Pet 2:9
1. This text deals with the class of people who have been chosen to salvation in Christ
a. They have been called from darkness into light
b. They were not a people but have been made a people
c. They deserved no mercy and yet they received mercy
2. As a result Peter “urges” us to “abstain from fleshly lusts”
a. Once again our holiness is expressed by our outward actions particularly our
abstaining from lustful activities
C. “…women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” 1Tim 2:9-10
1. Modest - “orderly, well arranged, decent, modest” (Vine’s)
a. “The well-ordering is not of dress and demeanor only, but of the inner life,
uttering indeed and expressing itself in the outward conversation” (Trench,
Syn., Sec.xcii).
i. Notice the same term is used in 1tim 3:2 “good behavior” KJV, “temperate”
in the NASB
2. “with shamefacedness” (KJV) - (aidos) literally “shamefastness” - “Shamefastness is
that modesty which is ‘fast’ or rooted in the character (Vine’s)
a. “aidos is more objective, having regard to others; it is the stronger word. “Aidos
would always restrain a good man from an unworthy act” (Trench)
D. From these texts we an clearly conclude that there is a manner of dress that is
acceptable to God which demonstrates the purity of heart that every child of God
should strive for, and there is a manner of dress more associated with the world, which
generates sinful lust, and which is disapproved of by God. The question we must now
answer is one of application, what does God approve of and what does God not approve
of i.e. where is the line?
II. When is one Naked?
A. Two key problems
1. In my experience there seem to be two key problems that arise whenever the
discussion of modesty arises
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Modern Day Modesty
a. On the one hand some want to soften the terms and so attempt to lessen the
sin. We speak of certain apparel being “inappropriate for the setting” rather
than using the Bible term “unchaste” the shorts might be “a little short” when
actually the Bible term is “naked”
b. On the other hand there are those who wont to bind a standard that simply is
not found in scripture
i. Often this comes from a desire to set a good example, or to create a very
distinctive mark, in their mind, between themselves and the world
ii. While this is a noble cause it is a matter of personal liberty. Calling sin
righteousness is unacceptable, however we must understand that the
reverse is true we cannot call a thing sin which the God does not condemn
c. Rather than appeal to man and his wisdom in this matter we must appeal to God
and His wisdom as in all things.
B. The Bible uses the term “naked” in two very different ways Gen 3:7-10
1. When in a state of complete nudity Adam and Eve came to realize they were naked
2. Having come to this realization and having made “loin coverings” from fig leaves
they still recognized that they were naked
a. Notice vs. 11 – God does not argue with Adam’s definition instead He makes
garments for them that are more suitable
3. It is interesting to notice that Adam with his new found understanding of good and
evil felt shame at being nude, but also having covered himself partially still felt
a. Shame goes hand in hand with such nakedness, the term used in this context is
used throughout the prophets to describe the shame brought on nations due to
punishments God brings on them
i. Dt. 28:47-48; Is 47:3; Ezek 16:39; 23:28-29
C. So what constitutes naked and what constitutes modest attire?
1. It is with this question that we often begin to encounter difficulty. Many brethren
seem to think the line simply is not drawn in scripture and so we must each draw
our own line; however scripture draws a very clear line if we are willing to
a. Rember the principle of Matt 19, some concepts transcend dispensation
2. Gen 3:21 – “garment” NASB, “coat” KJV, “tunic” NKJV – literally translated the term
means tunic (Brown –Driver-Briggs)
a. Original I.S.B.E. article on “Dress” says chiton “resembled the Roman tunic,
corresponding most nearly to our long shirt, reaching below the knee always,
and, in case it was designed for dress occasions, reaching almost to the ground”
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(I.S.B.E., II:877). . . . the chiton of the peasantry was shorter like modern kamis
of Syrian fellah which is to the knee.
b. KUTTONET--"a tunic...; generally with sleeves, coming down to the knees, rarely
to the ankles" (Gesenius, 420; cf. Harris, 1:459; Brown, Driver, Briggs, 509).
c. “The tunic . . . was a shirt which was worn next to the skin. It was made of
leather, hair-cloth, wool, linen, or in modern times, usually of . . . The simplest
form of it was without sleeves and reached to the knees or sometimes to the
ankles. . . . Women as well as men wore it [see Cant. 5:3, A.R.V.], although there
was no doubt a difference in style and pattern in what was worn by the two”
(Fred H. Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, 91).
3. Exposing the thigh as many modern styles do is considered by God exposing the
a. Exodus 28:42-43 – For the priest to expose his thigh was to uncover his
nakedness. Such was to “incur guilt and die”
b. Isaiah 47:2–3 – again exposing the thigh is considered nakedness
4. The pattern seems clear, modest attire is clothing that covers a person from the
shoulder to the knee. The thigh, the breast, the midsection are not portions of the
body that should be exposed by the sober, godly, holy person
a. It might be noted that the purpose of covering is to hide from the sight, with this
in mind we need to recognize that clothing so tight as make visible that which is
covered has failed to be modest and instead has caused us to be naked
A matter of brotherly love
A. “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will
not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it.” Dt 22:8
1. One of the overriding principles of Christianity/Godliness is a concern for the souls
and well being of others
a. Matt 18:6 - “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to
stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his
neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
b. Romans 14:3 – “…but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a
stumbling block in a brother’s way”
c. Romans 14:21 – “it is not good…to do anything by which your brother stumbles”
B. While the act of immodesty itself is a sin we need to remember that like many sins it has
effects beyond our own souls.
1. We have looked at passages in this lesson admonishing us to holiness and to leave
behind the lust of the immoral pagan world
2. All of this is made more difficult when even surrounded by fellow Christians we are
bombarded with things that drag the mind back into the mud of ungodliness
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Modern Day Modesty
Dressing as a Godly Person
A. Clothing can and does indicate character
1. Prov 7:10 “and behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and
cunning of heart”
2. I must make sure that I am demonstrating godly character in my speech, my
behavior, and my dress
a. What influence will my clothing have on Christians; non-Christians?
B. Look for the divine standard rather than the excuse
1. As with all self examination determining modesty requires brutal self-honesty
a. Can I stand, walk, sit, kneel, bend over, etc. without being “naked”
b. Does my clothing emphasize body parts that could cause others to lust?
c. Will my attire cause me to be respected by others for godly behavior?
C. Like many pious attitudes proper attitudes toward modesty require education and
1. Allowing immodesty in preteens and teens and then expecting them to understand
the need for modesty is foolishness
a. We must take the lead in teaching our children proper values and demonstrate
them with our own actions
2. Fathers take the lead in teaching these principles in your homes, Mothers do not
undermine your husbands
Be modest – reserved, decent, respectable
Exhibit Shamefastness – have a proper sense of shame
Show good judgment – use common sense that has been developed by a proper regard
for scripture
Demonstrate Godliness – allow your behavior to demonstrate your devotion to God
Respect Others – do not put a stumbling block before others
Cover Your Nakedness – God takes modesty seriously so must we
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[Publish Date]
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