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Standards Of The Church--Christian Dress
by O. L. Johnson

1 John 2:15–17 (2 translations)

King James Version: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Phillips Modern English: Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die.


Romans 12:1–2 … 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.

There are two kingdoms in this world. The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. There are two spirits operating in these two kingdoms, the spirit of God and the spirit of Satan. There are two kinds of people, the children of God and the children of Satan. There are two standards of living, righteous and un-righteous. The children of the kingdom of Satan cannot love the things of God for the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither can be. Also, the children of the Kingdom of God are admonished not to love the world, neither the things that are of the world. If we love the world, the love of God is not there—visa versa etc.

The Church is in the world (geographically) but not of the world (spiritually). The word ‘church’ comes from the word ‘Ekklesia’ and it means ‘called out’. The world has a mold, a standard of conduct and dress. The Bible is emphatic in admonishing the Church not to allow the world to squeeze the Church into its mold.

Bible is a different book from all other books. Christ was a uniquely different person than any other person. Then, the institution produced by Christ as revealed in the Book should be a different institution than any other. Christianity is a matter of the heart, not a matter of the body. To use a modern phrase, “the quality goes in before the name goes on.” Put name on etc., hurts reputation of product.

You cannot put on or take off Christianity as a garment. Neither can you put on or take off pride and worldliness as a garment. They, too, are a matter of the heart. What does happen is that which is in the heart manifests itself in what the mind thinks, the mouth speaks, the body does, in what it wears.
Illustration: Bro. F. G. Smith says in his book, “What the Bible Teaches” —‘when we see a display sign outside a store, we expect to find inside the store what is displayed.’ He goes on to say, ‘dress is one way the pride in the heart finds expression.’ Let us look at what the Bible has to say about Christian dress in the light of present day practices. Let’s look at it from the standpoint of apparel and adornment.


I Timothy 2:9–10 … (4 translations)

King James Version: In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

Revised Standard Version: Also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire, but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.

Phillips Modern English: The women should be dressed quietly, and their demeanor should be modest and serious. The adornment of a Christian woman is not a matter of an elaborate coiffure, expensive clothes or valuable jewelry, but the living of a good life.

New English Bible: Women again must dress in becoming manner, modestly and soberly, not with elaborate hairstyles, not decked out with gold or pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, as befits women who claim to be religious.

‘Modest’ —held back by a sense of what is fit and proper, chaste, marked by purity and propriety, not pretentious, retiring, not excessive or extreme. (synonym) unassuming and decent.

Someone has said that modest apparel is the happy medium between the two extremes. I feel today the extreme has become too extreme.

Illustration: Years ago the wearing of a bathing suit was to wear a suit designed to cover the body and allow freedom of movement so people could swim. Year after year, the designers kept cutting away the covering so as to reveal the body. The result, the bikini and then the topless—and as soon as this is accepted, it will be nudeness as in France some years ago.

It started in France and London and was accepted in America. So-called ‘sex-idols’ usually are the first to wear such, etc.
Street dress also.

There was a time when a dress was to cover up the body, now the trend is to show as much of the body as possible and still be accepted as dressed. We have the mini skirt and the body revealing tights worn by men and women alike.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 … “but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

If a woman or a man so dresses as to cause lust, I feel they are as guilty as the one who lusts.

If you so dress your body as to attract lustful attention from the opposite sex, it is sinful, in my opinion. If you so dress as to reveal your body, rather than present a modest appearance, you are making yourself an object to entice lust. Don't be extreme—wear clothing that becomes a person professing holiness.


Illustration: My wife and I were out calling one day and saw a man (I think it was) wearing high boots, tight pants, almost to his knees, long flowing hair and long whiskers, stepping high and handsome.
The Bible has something to say about this:

I Corinthians 11:14–15 … Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame upon him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Paul, here, writes the Corinthian Church—that the hair styles are to be a distinguishing characteristic between the sexes. In the next verse he says—

1 Corinthians 11:16 … But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

He is saying, “your hair doesn’t put you in or out of the Church, and is not a doctrine pertaining to your salvation—but you ought to learn from nature.” The Christians have always adhered to this through their history. Illustration: When I was a boy, the fashion for girls that drew the voice of disapproval of the Church was the ‘boyish bob’ for girls. Now it is the ‘girlish bob’ for boys. Let us not be contentious about it—but sensible and obedient.
Illustration: $10,000 a year for his hair styling—an actor on a T.V. show.


I am sure you will agree with me that there are certainly extremes in this area of our fashion.
Illustration: I have a picture of a preacher who was in St. Louis at the same time as I was for a revival. The caption under his picture reads: “The Rt. Rev. James F. Jones, who arrived in St. Louis yesterday to hold a week long revival. He is the leader of the Church of Universal Triumph Dominion of God which has headquarters in Detroit and claims 550,000 followers. The radio and television preacher is shown wearing what he describes as his $14,500 mink coat and part of his $150,000 jewel collection. The Bible has something to say about this:

1 Timothy 2:9 … In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
I Peter 3:1–5 (4 translations)

King James Version: 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 to their own husbands.

Revised Standard Version: Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands.

Phillips Modern English: Your beauty should not be dependent on an elaborate coiffure, or on the wearing of jewelry or fine clothes, but on the inner personality—the unfading loveliness of a calm and gentle spirit, a thing very precious in the eyes of God. This was the secret of the beauty of the holy women of ancient times who trusted in God and were submissive to their husbands.

New English Bible: Your beauty should reside, not in outward adornment—the braiding of the hair, or jewelry, or dress—but in the inmost center of your being, with its imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value in the sight of God. Thus it was among God's people in days of old: the women who fixed their hopes on him adorned themselves by submission to their husbands.

Adorn: to beautify, decorate, ornament.
Synonyms—bedeck, array, embellish.

The words of Peter certainly would urge us to refrain from lavishly decorating ourselves outwardly with gold, pearls or jewels. But—a quiet and meek spirit. It has been my honest observation the two seldom are compatible. Outward adornment and lavish jewelry usually speaks of haughty proud spirit. This has usually been true, those who insist on the extreme in dress, are usually insubordinate unless they can do exactly as they wish.

To draw the line between the godly pride and worldly pride is and can be only God's responsibility. He knows the heart. This must be a matter of spiritual concern.

The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. Be sure you have Him and He will make these scriptures practical in your Christian life.

I do not believe you are a Christian or not a Christian by what you put on or take off. But being a Christian will certainly govern these matters. What constitutes adornment in my way of thinking, is any ornament of jewelry that is not necessary to modest apparel that is worn solely to attract or beautify.

If you wear beads, earrings, bracelets, tie pins, etc., for this purpose, it is adornment. We should never wear anything publicly that we would feel ill at ease, embarrassed or cramped to meet any person or group of persons—let alone Jesus Christ.

According to I Timothy 2:9–10 … We must array ourselves in modest apparel, not with gold, pearls or costly array. These articles of adornment are not modest apparel. Every Christian would do well to read “Worldly Dress” on pages 139–142 in the book, “What The Bible Teaches” by F. G. Smith.

Oh! God, adorn us with thy Holy Spirit. A meek and quiet spirit will follow. Without Him, we are at best, proud, haughty, undone.

There are many articles of gold, silver, plastic, etc. that are worn as a symbol. They are a testimony either of an accomplishment or a relationship or covenant between two people or a group of people. If it is worn solely as a symbol, it does not constitute adornment, in my opinion.

(sermon preached by Rev. O. L. Johnson—Sunday, January 22, 1967.)

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