Christian Standards of Dress

Biblical Standards of Dress

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:6–8)

The text above shows us that the Bride of Christ is to be clothed in fine linen, clean and white. This fine linen is described as the righteousness of the saints. We know that this is symbolic of our justification in Christ (cf Isaiah 61:10). One cannot enjoy the wedding feast without this garment, provided by the King (Matthew 22:11-14).

We are told that Christ is making for Himself a bride that is pure: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (Ephesians 5:25–28) Jesus died to present to Himself this holy bride. Jesus purifies His bride with His own blood, thus justifying her, and then sanctifying her. Jesus desires and will have a pure bride. Paul was zealous to do his part in this work. “Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2)

When we look at Christ’s bride, who is clothed in this clean and white fine linen, we see that the church has been purchased, cleansed, and prepared for her heavenly bridegroom: she is pure. If the fine linen represents the righteousness of the saints in Christ, should not our fleshly reality conform to this spiritual reality? Certainly there is no great separation between the fleshly and the spiritual in the child of God. Although the flesh has sinful tendencies, we are to submit it to Christ; and we know that what is in our heart is made obvious in our flesh (Proverbs 27:19;Matthew 12:34;Mark 7:14-23). This being the case, we must assert that the Scriptures teach us that our clothing matters, and is often representative of what is within our hearts.

Why Clothing?

Why is clothing even necessary? After all, God made man without any clothing; and Adam and Eve were “naked and not ashamed” when God first created them. Even to this day we read, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4) This demonstrates that there is a place in which nakedness is still acceptable and not shameful. This is why the law states that uncovering nakedness, which is probably a euphemism for fornication or adultery, is a sin (Leviticus 18). We must understand Leviticus chapter eighteen to be an exposition and application of the commandment prohibiting adultery. Sexual relations should only occur within the bonds of heterosexual marriage and to uncover the nakedness of another violates that bond, because nakedness and sexual activity are honorable and pure within marriage.

When sin entered, shame accompanied it. That is what we see when we read of Adam’s fall:

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:7–10) Good desires for food and wisdom had become perverted (See Genesis 3:6 and compare 1 John 2:15-17). We know that, along with those desires, all other passions became misdirected. In fact, Scripture describes man thusly, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) The inward man became sinful, and thus nakedness and sexuality became things to protect from the

lustful eyes of the ungodly, as this would help protect the sanctity of marriage. This is why the young man is warned against lusting after the harlot: her revealing clothing is demonstrative of her heart, and he is to respect God and marriage enough that he does not long after adulterous deeds (Proverbs 6:25-35).

Nakedness apart from the marriage bed is described as shameful all through the Scriptures. Noah was naked to his shame, and his grandson’s descendants were cursed because of looking upon him in that state (Genesis 9:20-25). When Aaron led Israel into the worship of a golden calf, “they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:6) This play was sexual in nature, as was most idolatrous worship and play in those times, and the Scriptures say that “Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame amongst their enemies:)” (Exodus 32:25). Isaiah speaks of Israel being made naked to their shame (Isaiah 47:1-15), Nahum speaks of nakedness as being synonymous with shame and deserving of mockery (Nahum 3:4-7), and we find that this is the case even when it is spoken of regarding one’s spiritual state (Revelation 3:17-18;16:15). Obviously nakedness needs to be covered.

What Is Nakedness?

Nakedness is, first of all, the state of being uncovered or bare: but what is it that is bared that makes one naked? Most of us recognize that one’s face can be uncovered and the person not be naked. We can say the same about hands and feet. Where do we go with this, then? As seen above, nakedness often carried with it sexual connotations. Nakedness is the uncovering or revealing that is sexual in nature. This means that we shall have to speak plainly here, and it may be a bit embarrassing; although there is no intent of being crude or vulgar. The plain truth must be spoken, however.

When Scripture speaks of nakedness, we immediately realize that it will refer to the uncovering of the genital area. In fact, when the LORD gave Moses commandment regarding the priests’ clothing, He specifically directed him to make breeches (This was a legged undergarment.) that reached below the thigh. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:” (Exodus 28:42) Isaiah also spoke of the shame of the thighs being revealed (Isaiah 47:1-4). Based on this, we can certainly say that nakedness is revealing the leg above the knee. This establishes a sort of buffer zone that prevents prying eyes from seeing more than they should see and prevents inadvertent exposure of private areas. This is Most of us recognize that undergarments have typically been worn in a fashion that prevents them from being seen, so that the outer garment is actually covering and concealing even more than the undergarments. We also see that the buttocks are similarly spoken of in Scripture, as it logically follows that they would (2 Samuel 10:1-6;Isaiah 20:1-6). We can conclude that nakedness is any revealing of the flesh surrounding the private areas, from the waist to below the knee.

We can and must go farther to say that Scripture also associates the revealing of a woman’s breasts as being nakedness. We know that nakedness is the private pleasure of the marriage bed (Genesis 2:25;Hebrews 13:4), and the young man is told to rejoice with his wife and to enjoy her breasts (Proverbs 5:18-20). Solomon’s Song also mentions this explicitly (Song of Solomon 1:13;4:5;7:37-38). And when the LORD spoke to Israel of His rescuing her and making her a great nation, He used the analogy of clothing one who was naked, and giving covering that included her breasts (Ezekiel 16:1-14). Finally, Hosea is very plain about this, saying, “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; And to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother, plead: For she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, And make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst.” (Hosea 2:1–3) Notice how God’s Word associates sexual sin and nakedness by saying that Israel’s adulteries were between her breasts. Just as an adulterous woman exposes what should be held sacredly private for her husband, so Israel had given herself away to idol gods. The results? Israel would be stripped naked to her shame by God. Thus we see that the revealing of a woman’s breasts is nakedness.

Thus it is that we have seen the biblical definition and description of nakedness. This is very plain, but the Word of God is plain, and we should respect and honor the precepts found therein. It is very important that we be the pure bride to Christ that we should be. It is important that the principles of holiness are exhibited in our lives as we honor the Lord and the holy state of marriage by living according to principles of modesty.

The Purpose of Clothing.

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7)

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

With sin came shame, so Adam and Eve rushed to cover their nakedness by making aprons out of leaves. Thankfully the good Lord had a better plan. Taking the life of an animal and making clothing from the animal’s skins, He clothed them so that their nakedness did not appear. With this in mind, let us consider the Lord’s purpose for clothing, and what Scripture tells us about our apparel.

First of all, we need to consider the common objection that says, “The Lord looks on the heart!” Yes, that is true; but we need to consider the whole of the verse that is referenced. “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:6–7) Samuel had been sent to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel. Having seen Eliab, Samuel thought that he had surely found the next king, because Eliab was kingly looking. God told Samuel that he was looking at the man from the wrong perspective. The LORD had told Saul that He was seeking a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14); so God was not looking at the outward appearance, although Samuel was. The interesting thing is that God told Samuel that man looks on the outward appearance. The reason that this is so, is because we cannot see a person’s heart. We can, however, see signs of what is in their hearts; because what is inside will most often show up on the outside. Thus what is in our hearts comes out of our mouths (Matthew 12:34), and the wickedness that is within a person’s heart shows up in his deeds (Mark 7:21-23), and the faith that is within a person shows itself strong by love (Galatians 5:6). While God does indeed look on the heart, that which is on the outside matters; because the outside normally reflects what is on the inside. Man will look at our outward appearance and decide many things about us by that. What does your outward appearance say about you? This is why modesty is spoken of along with shamefastness (inward modesty) and sobriety (self restraint and moderation of desires and passions): true modesty begins within the heart and manifests itself outwardly.

Why clothing? Clothing was given to mankind to cover and to conceal nakedness. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness after they had sinned. They instantly experienced shame, knowing that nakedness is not to be shared except within the private confines of the marriage bed. For this cause they made aprons for themselves; but those aprons were insufficient, just as our own attempts to cover up our sin are insufficient. As a symbol of the coming lamb whose blood would wash away our sins, and whose righteousness would clothe the believer, an animal gave its life so that Adam’s and Eve’s shameful nakedness would be covered. Clothing is to keep the shame of nakedness from appearing (Revelation 3:18), so we see that clothing is not simply a cover, but also a concealer. It is important to note this, because some clothing covers everything while revealing many things. Whether the clothing is form fitting, tight, low cut, or with slits very high, or even being somewhat transparent, a person can be covered and yet not concealed. Clothing is given to cover and to conceal: let us be sure to wear it appropriately.

Biblical Standards of Dress: Modesty A Matter of Heart

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:8–10)

Modesty

As we continue our study of biblical standards of dress, we come to the subject of modesty. What is modesty? The dictionary meaning of the word deals with that which is well ordered or seemly. Our text above presents modesty to us as such as well. It also describes modesty in a broader sense, speaking of it as a matter of the heart.

Let us notice that modesty is not simply that which pertains to women because men are mentioned here as well. Men are told to pray “without wrath and doubting.” We shall see soon how that this relates to modesty, but for now we can simply state that it is certain that wrath and doubting are issues of the heart. Women are to dress modestly, yet their modesty must also be internal. They are to have a shamefastness and sobriety about them, as they profess godliness. Modest apparel seems to be the outward working of a modest heart. True modesty is a well-ordered heart that then orders one’s behavior rightly.

Often there are those who reply, stating that the Scriptures say that God looks on the heart. This is indeed so, because God told Samuel, who was evidently expecting God’s choice for the next king of Israel to be kingly looking, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God does indeed look on the heart. On what, however, does man look? Man looks on the outward appearance. How are we to show our modesty and holiness if not by how we look outwardly? How will our light shine (Matthew 5:16), if Christ is not seen in our deeds and our dress? Modesty is indeed a matter of the heart, seen of God inwardly, and seen of men outwardly.

The Immodesty of Wrath And Doubting

Paul tells us that men are to pray and to do so without wrath and doubting. He tells us that men should pray lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. It would be impossible to lift up holy hands if one was filled with either wrath or doubt. Both of these things are serious matters of the heart.

Wrath is extremely immodest. It is not only disordered, but it manifests itself in manners that are disorderly and harmful. Solomon said, “Only by pride cometh contention: But with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10) Contention comes from pride, and the proud heart is a heart that is not right with God and is not trusting in God (Habakkuk 2:4). That is by no means orderly. Contention is generally not a good state of affairs, yet some seek and pursue it. In so doing, they neglect to pray and often do much ill to others. James described this sort as pursuing their own selfish lusts, neglecting prayer, being friends of the world, and spiritually adulterous. Such immodest hearts and deeds lead to “confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16).

Doubting is also disorderly and unseemly. It is a matter of a heart that is unwilling to submit to what God says. King Ahaz was given the opportunity to seek a sign from the LORD, and yet he refused. God gave him the opportunity to have a confirmation that God’s promise would come to pass. In fact, Ahaz was commanded to ask for this confirming sign and yet refused to do so. God’s word to Ahaz was, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” (Isaiah 7:9) We are later told that we are to pray in faith without doubting because the one who is wavering is double-minded and unstable in all of his ways (James 1:5-8). When a person is like this, he leans to his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-7) and follows his flesh and his pride rather than humbly seeking the will of God.

In both of these instances, we find that an immodest heart will promote self. Proud self-promotion is by no means a helpful thing but is very detrimental to the health of a family, church, and society. It stirs up strifes, leads to chaotic conditions, and distracts us from the all-important pursuit of the glory of God. Remember, when Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” (1 Corinthians 14:40) it was

because the Corinthians had yielded to arrogant self-promotion, which led to chaotic conditions in the church.

Most of us recognize this sort of immodesty when we see it in others. Jesus spoke of the immodest self-promoters and spoke a parable regarding folks who went to public functions seeking positions of prominence. Jesus said that there would be times in which those who set themselves in positions of honor would be told that they were sitting in seats reserved for others. This would lead to their shame when they would have to then take a lower seat (Luke 14:7-11). Most of us would respond and say that such folks simply got their comeuppance. This is so, and God’s people must resist having such immodest hearts.

The Modesty of Shamefastness And Sobriety

Paul told Timothy that women are to dress themselves in modest apparel with shamefastness and sobriety. It is to be noted that apparel is generally reflective of what is within us. Servants are to adorn the doctrine of God, we are told (Titus 2:10). In other words, what was in their hearts, their professed beliefs, and their convictions would be seen in their actions.

Shamefastness is a word that is no longer in standard English dictionaries. It means that one has a sense of honor or shame, propriety and impropriety, and a certain bashfulness as opposed to self- promotion. Just as men are very prone to promote themselves by exhibiting wrath or arrogant self- promotion, an immodest woman will often dress so as to be seen and recognized. For this reason, Paul contrasted shamefastness with the immodesty of some who elaborately plaited their hair, wore much flashy jewelry, or wore much expensive and showy clothing. Peter, too, spoke of the meek and quiet spirit of a godly woman, rather than the attention-seeking person who would dress to catch other’s eyes (1 Peter 3:1-6).

Sobriety is not simply the issue of whether a person is intoxicated or under the influence of mind- altering substances. Sobriety is thinking clearly and sanely. We are taught to think soberly concerning ourselves in relation to God and the body of Christ (Romans 12:3). Sobriety and modesty go hand-in- hand because one who is sober will recognize their need to seek to be a blessing above simply trying to direct every eye her way. Sobriety is modesty of spirit, in which a person recognizes the need to glorify God and be a blessing to others above everything else.

Other Matters of Immodesty

Notice that modesty is not simply a matter that relates to whether or not a person’s nakedness is covered and concealed. We have seen previously what nakedness is, and why God gives us a command to wear clothing. Modesty extends beyond that, however, and is related to the desire to call unwarranted attention to ourselves. Sometimes we do not have an accurate measure of ourselves and think too highly of ourselves. We desire our opinions to be known by those around us. If we are not careful, we will think ourselves to be worthy of other’s attentions, or worthy of their obedience and reverence. This will manifest itself in an immodest display of loudness, arrogance, anger, or wrath; and it is sinful.

Modesty is also an issue of being a distraction. Can you imagine being a poor person in Timothy’s day, and look around in the church service and see a woman who is dressed in very expensive clothing, wearing much flashy and expensive jewelry? A man might not be tempted to lust after her, and yet he could be distracted by her. He might look at this ostentatious display of wealth and think, “Wow! I could sell that necklace and buy groceries for a year!” It could minister to envy and strife also because of the flaunting of wealth. This seems to be a part of what happened in James chapter two, and it ministered to envy, strife, and division in the church.

Solomon spoke of the immodesty of the harlot in Proverbs chapter seven, warning young men against this sort of woman. In his description of her, he said, “She is loud and stubborn; Her feet abide not in her house:” (Proverbs 7:11) In other words, she is an attention seeker. She is not meek and quiet but is loud and stubborn. She desires to draw attention to herself. In her stubbornness, she resists yielding to the authority of God and her husband in honoring her marriage, and she goes out to seek attention and affection in ungodly manners. While we are dealing with biblical standards of dress, it is instructive to note that her immodesty made itself known in the volume of her voice, and her attitude toward authority

and her marital obligations. True modesty is humble and seeks to quietly honor God, godly authority, and godly commitments.

This loud immodesty brings to my mind the Pharisees, who prayed loudly in the streets, dressed in such a manner that people would know when they were fasting, and wore apparel that drew attention to their religious devotion. Jesus stated that they had their reward, which was the praise of men. True modesty does not make a vain show of religion, but simply tries to live to the glory of God regardless of who sees or does not see us.

Biblical Standards of Dress: Holiness

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9–11)

Excellence Is in Holiness

As we come to this concluding article in our series, we need to consider the issue of excellence. Paul desired excellence from the Philippians. The word excellence means to differ. God’s desire and plan for His people is that they excel by differing from the world. By doing so, we will be pure, causing none to stumble, and will be filled with the fruits of righteousness, giving glory to God.

We must remember that God’s people are called to holiness. Holiness is a separation from the world to God. Without holiness, no man can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). It is by our minds being renewed, ourselves transformed, and resisting conformity to the world that we will discern God’s good and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). The Psalmist declares that the person who is blessed, or happy is the one who rejects the counsel of the world and enjoys the counsel of God, meditating in it, walking in it, and becoming rooted, stable, fruitful, and spiritually prosperous therein. Have you ever longed for stability, joy, fruitfulness, and the ability to be able to see the will and purpose of God more clearly? That comes through the passionate pursuit of holiness. It comes through separating ourselves from the world and following God instead of the world’s thought processes and ways.

We are told, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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.” (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1) There can be no close affinity between the children of God and the ways of the world. We cannot embrace the ways and thought processes of the world, because they are opposed to the ways and thoughts of God (See Isaiah 55:8-9). Those who love the Lord are to hate evil (Psalm 97:10) and are not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17). Those who love the ways, thought processes, and sins of the world are said to not have God’s love in them. This is very serious, and we cannot afford to take it lightly or treat it dismissively. We are told that it is the holy person who is received by the Lord and is called His son and His daughter. Let us pursue excellence in holiness: it is God’s way of joy for us.

Clothing That Excels, Or Is Holy

For many years many of us have said little from our pulpits about clothing because we have not desired to be aligned with some who were critical, rude, and unholy in their attitudes and words regarding clothing. This has been a major mistake on our part because a search of God’s Word turns up over nine hundred references to clothing and other related terms. When something is spoken of to such a great degree, it must be important; and we would be wise to search out God’s will concerning it.

In an earlier article, we saw that God made clothing for Adam and Eve for a reason, and that was to cover their shame. We also can read the book of Proverbs and find that that there was an adulterous woman, and she wore the clothing of a harlot. Evidently her clothing revealed her shameful heart (Proverbs 7). In contrast to her, we find that the family of the virtuous woman was clothed in clothing that was nicely colored and evidently covered them well because it kept them warm in the cold (Proverbs 31:21). Evidently, there is a difference even between the clothing of the virtuous and those who are not virtuous. We also find that the bride of Christ is espoused to Him as a chaste virgin (2 Corinthians 11:1- 2), that He will present her to Himself holy, spotless, and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-28), and that He will clothe her with fine linen clean and white (Revelation 19:7-8); and this contrasts with the attire of

the adulterous religious system (Revelation 17:1-6). If clothing is to cover shameful nakedness, and the virtuous woman and the bride of Christ are clothed differently from the harlot and the satanic bride, should not the bride of Christ be clothed differently from the world while she is upon this earth?

To take this further, the Word of God shows us that clothing is an identifier. A person in mourning often tore his clothing (Joshua 7:8;Job 1:20;2:11-13) or wore sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31;Esther 4:1). The harlot was known by her clothing (Genesis 38:12-15;Proverbs 7:10). We also read of prison clothing (Genesis 41:14 cf 2 Kings 25:29). During David’s day, the virgins were clad in clothing that signified their virtue (2 Samuel 13:18-19). Today we also see that people often dress differently according to their occupation or status. We recognize policemen by their uniform. In town, we see that the postman has his uniform. We also walk up to public restrooms, and the men’s room and the women’s room are differentiated by the silhouettes that are on the door.

We now come to the issue of difference and modesty that is so difficult for us today, the distinction between men and women in their clothing. The most important observation that can be made concerning this is the fact that we must remember that our calling as saints is to follow the leadership of the Lord in His Word and not that of the world (Psalm 1:1-6;Romans 12:1-2;2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). It is not for the world and worldly fads to establish for us what is acceptable. That is the authority of God and none other. What does Scripture teach us? Scripture teaches us that there is a difference between men and women (Genesis 1:27;Matthew 19:4-5). It also shows us that a man could be known as a man from a distance: “And Rebekah lift up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.” (Genesis 24:64–65)

Even in the New Testament, we find that men and women were naturally expected to appear differently one from the other (See 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). It is the New Testament that gives us a more in-depth understanding of a woman’s clothing. As Paul told Timothy, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,” (1 Timothy 2:9) he spoke of more than just modesty. The word apparel1&2 is literally a garment that is let down or a robe that reaches the feet. This instance is the only time that the word is used as such in the whole Bible, and it speaks specifically regarding a woman’s garments. The very act of a garment being let down is different from the garment of a man, which is often spoken of as being girded upwards. While it seems that most people of both sexes wore some sort of robes, it is obvious that a woman’s clothing was a sort of long dress, while a man would wear a long robe with a belt that would be used to pull up and aside his clothing so that he could work, run, or fight in a battle. There would have been, even then, a very visible distinction between men and women in their clothing.

What About Deuteronomy 22:5?

When we study the New Testament, we must remember that the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament; and we must recognize this as true in the case of clothing as well. Just as Rebekah could discern from a distance that Isaac was a man, we should be able to do the same today. When we read of the king’s daughters, who were virgins, being clad in a certain manner, we are right to understand that the king’s sons did not dress in that same manner. We also read, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) Again we see that God demands a distinction between men and women in their clothing, and that was affirmed in the New Testament, as we have already seen.

2689. καταστολή katastolḗ; gen. katastolḗs, fem. noun from katastéllō (2687), to put or let down, appease. A long garment or robe reaching down to the feet (see Sept.: Is. 61:3). Apparel, dress in general, a garment, a long robe of dignity (1 Tim. 2:9). Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000.

2689 καταστολή [katastole /kat·as·tol·ay/] n f. From 2687; TDNT 7:595; TDNTA 1074; GK 2950; AV translates

as “apparel” once. a lowering, letting down. a garment let down, dress, attire. Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995.page8image2397689376page8image2397689664

Some will say that this text is obsolete because it is an Old Testament text, and we are not under the law. To these, we pose the following question: Does the Old Testament law regarding murder still stand as authoritative today? The answer is indeed in the affirmative. Simply because something is in the Old Testament does not mean that it is nullified.

Another may protest that we do not observe the Jewish dietary laws (See Leviticus 11:1-47), and that those who eat catfish would be inconsistent to observe Deuteronomy 22:5 as authoritative. The issue before us is the fact that the Jewish dietary laws were specifically for the Hebrew people and were abolished in Christ. Paul speaks of this in Romans chapter fourteen, and then he tells Timothy, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4–5) While the dietary laws were done away with, we have already found that God has retained the demand for a distinction between men and women in what they wear.

Perhaps someone else will state that we do not build banisters on the roofs of our houses, so we are not obligated to observe Deuteronomy 22:5. Let us consider this verse. “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” (Deuteronomy 22:8) What is the issue before us? Is it not the issue of liability? Today we observe the spirit of this by buying liability insurance to protect us in the event someone is injured on our property or in our home. Surely, if we were to build a house with a flat roof, on which people were habited to walking about, we would be obligated to build a bannister of sorts in order to protect others and to lessen our liability. This being the case, we cannot dismiss or disregard Deuteronomy 22:5 based upon that argument.

What, then, should we think about Deuteronomy 22:5? We should consider that God indeed desires the distinction between men and women to be honored and observed, even in our clothing. The verse probably referred to women who would take up men’s clothing to go and work with men like men. It is thought by some commentators that it refers to a woman putting on armor to go to war as a man would. In these instances, issues of modesty and sexual propriety/impropriety would arise also, so we can certainly understand why the restriction is in place. While our culture has now influenced us to think differently about these things, it was only a few decades ago that women began to put on pants and go into the workplace dressed in them. It was not until the year 1993 that a woman wore a pantsuit onto the floor of the United States’ Senate in what was called, “The Pantsuit Rebellion.” It has been said that many in the Senate gasped audibly when this occurred. Things have changed rapidly, and we must ask ourselves whether God or culture has the authority to define our clothing.

We also consider the fact that the sexes should never be confused because God created male and female. “Transvestism was condemned because it spoke of unnatural mixing of clothing.3” Albert Barnes said, “The distinction between the sexes is natural and divinely established, and cannot be neglected without indecorum and consequent danger to purity (cp. 1 Cor. 11:3–15).4” The “King James Study Bible” tells us that transvestism was associated with homosexuality and idolatrous fertility rites. This informs us that the blurring or obliterating the lines between the sexes was about more than simply the appearance, but about sexuality; and God calls His people to holiness in sexual purity (See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). This is one of the reasons that Paul spoke as he did in 1 Corinthians chapter eleven, idolatrous practices in Corinth were immoral in nature, and the natural distinctions between men and women were maintained for spiritual and moral reasons.

John Gill stated that sometimes the distinction between the sexes was removed in dressing so that men could for lewd purposes enter in among women who were gathered privately. Matthew Henry stated, “men must not be effeminate.5” Paul also spoke of this, saying, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall

3 David S. Dockery, ed., Holman Bible Handbook (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), 181. 4 Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Exodus to Ruth, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller (London: John Murray, 1879), 312.
5 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 264.page9image2501464864page9image2501465152page9image2501465440page9image2501465728page9image2501466080page9image2501466368page9image2501466656page9image2501466944page9image2501467360page9image2501467648page9image2501467936page9image2501468224page9image2501468512

not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10) Today, when we see so many men seeking to be like women, men dressing as women and going into women’s restrooms and locker rooms, we can see the wisdom of God in giving us this verse. It certainly was given to protect against the lewdness of ungodly people.

Ask yourself, as you are looking at your clothing, whether it is truly modest or not. Does it cover and conceal, or does it uncover and reveal? Does it attract attention to places that attention should not be given? Is it tight? Does it cling? Is it sheer? Does it make a man appear effeminate? Does it make a woman appear masculine? Does it appear sensual? These are important considerations, and we must remember that our clothing demonstrates what is in our hearts. Yes, God looks on the heart, but man looks on the outward appearance. Let us show them true and modest masculinity and femininity.

Concluding Thoughts

I realize that this goes against the way many of us have long thought. This goes contrary to our ideals of freeing women from what some would think are unreasonable constraints. Should someone reading this choose to disagree with this writer, he will certainly continue to love the one who differs from him. This is not written to stir up strife or to agitate and anger people. This is written with the desire to stir up thought, to provoke us to consider whether we are being modest or not. It is written to cause us to ask whether we have allowed the world’s customs to so greatly influence us that we have come to accept immodesty as a way of life to the point that we have joined in with the world.

Jesus Christ is Lord over every area of our lives, including the most visible of areas, which is our clothing. We should take heed to His commands to be holy, to surrender our thoughts to His Word, and to refuse to follow the counsel of the ungodly. God calls us to excellence by means of holiness. God calls us to modesty, and He calls us to show a visible and modest distinction between males and females.

Finally, we must recall that our duty as Christians is to give glory to God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Often it seems that we seek to see how far we can go, or how much we can get away with. The question should not simply be, “Is this wrong.” The question should be, “Does this give glory to God, and does this represent my Savior well?”

Biblical Standards of Dress part 3

Biblical Standards of Dress Part Three

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9–11) 

Excellence Is in Holiness

As we come to this concluding article in our series, we need to consider the issue of excellence. Paul desired excellence from the Philippians. The word excellence means to differ. God’s desire and plan for His people is that they excel by differing from the world. By doing so, we will be pure, causing none to stumble, and will be filled with the fruits of righteousness, giving glory to God. 

            We must remember that God’s people are called to holiness. Holiness is a separation from the world to God. Without holiness, no man can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). It is by our minds being renewed, ourselves transformed, and resisting conformity to the world that we will discern God’s good and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). The Psalmist declares that the person who is blessed, or happy is the one who rejects the counsel of the world and enjoys the counsel of God, meditating in it, walking in it, and becoming rooted, stable, fruitful, and spiritually prosperous therein. Have you ever longed for stability, joy, fruitfulness, and the ability to be able to see the will and purpose of God more clearly? That comes through the passionate pursuit of holiness. It comes through separating ourselves from the world and following God instead of the world’s thought processes and ways.

            We are told, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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.” (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1) There can be no close affinity between the children of God and the ways of the world. We cannot embrace the ways and thought processes of the world, because they are opposed to the ways and thoughts of God (See Isaiah 55:8-9). Those who love the Lord are to hate evil (Psalm 97:10) and are not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17). Those who love the ways, thought processes, and sins of the world are said to not have God’s love in them. This is very serious, and we cannot afford to take it lightly or treat it dismissively. We are told that it is the holy person who is received by the Lord and is called His son and His daughter. Let us pursue excellence in holiness: it is God’s way of joy for us.

Clothing That Excels, Or Is Holy

            For many years many of us have said little from our pulpits about clothing because we have not desired to be aligned with some who were critical, rude, and unholy in their attitudes and words regarding clothing. This has been a major mistake on our part because a search of God’s Word turns up over nine hundred references to clothing and other related terms. When something is spoken of to such a great degree, it must be important; and we would be wise to search out God’s will concerning it.

            In an earlier article, we saw that God made clothing for Adam and Eve for a reason, and that was to cover their shame. We also can read the book of Proverbs and find that that there was an adulterous woman, and she wore the clothing of a harlot. Evidently her clothing revealed her shameful heart (Proverbs 7). In contrast to her, we find that the family of the virtuous woman was clothed in clothing that was nicely colored and evidently covered them well because it kept them warm in the cold (Proverbs 31:21). Evidently, there is a difference even between the clothing of the virtuous and those who are not virtuous. We also find that the bride of Christ is espoused to Him as a chaste virgin (2 Corinthians 11:1-2), that He will present her to Himself holy, spotless, and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-28), and that He will clothe her with fine linen clean and white (Revelation 19:7-8); and this contrasts with the attire of the adulterous religious system (Revelation 17:1-6). If clothing is to cover shameful nakedness, and the virtuous woman and the bride of Christ are clothed differently from the harlot and the satanic bride, should not the bride of Christ be clothed differently from the world while she is upon this earth?

            To take this further, the Word of God shows us that clothing is an identifier. A person in mourning often tore his clothing (Joshua 7:8;Job 1:20;2:11-13) or wore sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31;Esther 4:1). The harlot was known by her clothing (Genesis 38:12-15;Proverbs 7:10). We also read of prison clothing (Genesis 41:14 cf 2 Kings 25:29). During David’s day, the virgins were clad in clothing that signified their virtue (2 Samuel 13:18-19). Today we also see that people often dress differently according to their occupation or status. We recognize policemen by their uniform. In town, we see that the postman has his uniform. We also walk up to public restrooms, and the men’s room and the women’s room are differentiated by the silhouettes that are on the door.

            We now come to the issue of difference and modesty that is so difficult for us today, the distinction between men and women in their clothing. The most important observation that can be made concerning this is the fact that we must remember that our calling as saints is to follow the leadership of the Lord in His Word and not that of the world (Psalm 1:1-6;Romans 12:1-2;2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). It is not for the world and worldly fads to establish for us what is acceptable. That is the authority of God and none other. What does Scripture teach us? Scripture teaches us that there is a difference between men and women (Genesis 1:27;Matthew 19:4-5). It also shows us that a man could be known as a man from a distance: “And Rebekah lift up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.” (Genesis 24:64–65) 

            Even in the New Testament, we find that men and women were naturally expected to appear differently one from the other (See 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). It is the New Testament that gives us a more in-depth understanding of a woman’s clothing. As Paul told Timothy, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,” (1 Timothy 2:9) he spoke of more than just modesty. The word apparel[1]&[2] is literally a garment that is let down or a robe that reaches the feet. This instance is the only time that the word is used as such in the whole Bible, and it speaks specifically regarding a woman’s garments. The very act of a garment being let down is different from the garment of a man, which is often spoken of as being girded upwards. While it seems that most people of both sexes wore some sort of robes, it is obvious that a woman’s clothing was a sort of long dress, while a man would wear a long robe with a belt that would be used to pull up and aside his clothing so that he could work, run, or fight in a battle. There would have been, even then, a very visible distinction between men and women in their clothing. 

What About Deuteronomy 22:5?

            When we study the New Testament, we must remember that the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament; and we must recognize this as true in the case of clothing as well. Just as Rebekah could discern from a distance that Isaac was a man, we should be able to do the same today. When we read of the king’s daughters, who were virgins, being clad in a certain manner, we are right to understand that the king’s sons did not dress in that same manner. We also read, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5) Again we see that God demands a distinction between men and women in their clothing, and that was affirmed in the New Testament, as we have already seen.

            Some will say that this text is obsolete because it is an Old Testament text, and we are not under the law. To these, we pose the following question: Does the Old Testament law regarding murder still stand as authoritative today? The answer is indeed in the affirmative. Simply because something is in the Old Testament does not mean that it is nullified.

            Another may protest that we do not observe the Jewish dietary laws (See Leviticus 11:1-47), and that those who eat catfish would be inconsistent to observe Deuteronomy 22:5 as authoritative. The issue before us is the fact that the Jewish dietary laws were specifically for the Hebrew people and were abolished in Christ. Paul speaks of this in Romans chapter fourteen, and then he tells Timothy, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4–5) While the dietary laws were done away with, we have already found that God has retained the demand for a distinction between men and women in what they wear.       

            Perhaps someone else will state that we do not build banisters on the roofs of our houses, so we are not obligated to observe Deuteronomy 22:5. Let us consider this verse. “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” (Deuteronomy 22:8) What is the issue before us? Is it not the issue of liability? Today we observe the spirit of this by buying liability insurance to protect us in the event someone is injured on our property or in our home. Surely, if we were to build a house with a flat roof, on which people were habited to walking about, we would be obligated to build a bannister of sorts in order to protect others and to lessen our liability. This being the case, we cannot dismiss or disregard Deuteronomy 22:5 based upon that argument.

            What, then, should we think about Deuteronomy 22:5? We should consider that God indeed desires the distinction between men and women to be honored and observed, even in our clothing. The verse probably referred to women who would take up men’s clothing to go and work with men like men. It is thought by some commentators that it refers to a woman putting on armor to go to war as a man would. In these instances, issues of modesty and sexual propriety/impropriety would arise also, so we can certainly understand why the restriction is in place. While our culture has now influenced us to think differently about these things, it was only a few decades ago that women began to put on pants and go into the workplace dressed in them. It was not until the year 1993 that a woman wore a pantsuit onto the floor of the United States’ Senate in what was called, “The Pantsuit Rebellion.” It has been said that many in the Senate gasped audibly when this occurred. Things have changed rapidly, and we must ask ourselves whether God or culture has the authority to define our clothing.

            We also consider the fact that the sexes should never be confused because God created male and female. “Transvestism was condemned because it spoke of unnatural mixing of clothing.[3]” Albert Barnes said, “The distinction between the sexes is natural and divinely established, and cannot be neglected without indecorum and consequent danger to purity (cp. 1 Cor. 11:3–15).[4]” The “King James Study Bible” tells us that transvestism was associated with homosexuality and idolatrous fertility rites. This informs us that the blurring or obliterating the lines between the sexes was about more than simply the appearance, but about sexuality; and God calls His people to holiness in sexual purity (See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). This is one of the reasons that Paul spoke as he did in 1 Corinthians chapter eleven, idolatrous practices in Corinth were immoral in nature, and the natural distinctions between men and women were maintained for spiritual and moral reasons.

            John Gill stated that sometimes the distinction between the sexes was removed in dressing so that men could for lewd purposes enter in among women who were gathered privately. Matthew Henry stated, “men must not be effeminate.[5]” Paul also spoke of this, saying, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10) Today, when we see so many men seeking to be like women, men dressing as women and going into women’s restrooms and locker rooms, we can see the wisdom of God in giving us this verse. It certainly was given to protect against the lewdness of ungodly people.

            Ask yourself, as you are looking at your clothing, whether it is truly modest or not. Does it cover and conceal, or does it uncover and reveal? Does it attract attention to places that attention should not be given? Is it tight? Does it cling? Is it sheer? Does it make a man appear effeminate? Does it make a woman appear masculine? Does it appear sensual? These are important considerations, and we must remember that our clothing demonstrates what is in our hearts. Yes, God looks on the heart, but man looks on the outward appearance. Let us show them true and modest masculinity and femininity.

Concluding Thoughts

            I realize that this goes against the way many of us have long thought. This goes contrary to our ideals of freeing women from what some would think are unreasonable constraints. Should someone reading this choose to disagree with this writer, he will certainly continue to love the one who differs from him. This is not written to stir up strife or to agitate and anger people. This is written with the desire to stir up thought, to provoke us to consider whether we are being modest or not. It is written to cause us to ask whether we have allowed the world’s customs to so greatly influence us that we have come to accept immodesty as a way of life to the point that we have joined in with the world.

            Jesus Christ is Lord over every area of our lives, including the most visible of areas, which is our clothing. We should take heed to His commands to be holy, to surrender our thoughts to His Word, and to refuse to follow the counsel of the ungodly. God calls us to excellence by means of holiness. God calls us to modesty, and He calls us to show a visible and modest distinction between males and females. 

            Finally, we must recall that our duty as Christians is to give glory to God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Often it seems that we seek to see how far we can go, or how much we can get away with. The question should not simply be, “Is this wrong.” The question should be, “Does this give glory to God, and does this represent my Savior well?”


[1] 2689. καταστολή katastolḗ; gen. katastolḗs, fem. noun from katastéllō (2687), to put or let down, appease. A long garment or robe reaching down to the feet (see Sept.: Is. 61:3). Apparel, dress in general, a garment, a long robe of dignity (1 Tim. 2:9). Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000. 

[2] 2689 καταστολή [katastole /kat·as·tol·ay/] n f. From 2687; TDNT 7:595; TDNTA 1074; GK 2950; AV translates as “apparel” once. 1 a lowering, letting down. 2 a garment let down, dress, attire. Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995.

[3] David S. Dockery, ed., Holman Bible Handbook (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), 181.

[4] Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Exodus to Ruth, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller (London: John Murray, 1879), 312.

[5] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 264.

The Love of God

The Love of God

Romans 5:5-8

 

A Love Beyond Comprehension

The love of God is beyond human comprehension, yet is in many ways accessible to us. We will never fully comprehend God’s love, as it passes knowing (Ephesians 3:10); yet we can know its character and enjoy its benefits.

The love of God is so great that John exclaimed, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1, AV) John is declaring that God’s love is foreign. It is other worldly. It is not a mere human sort of love. The love of God, that makes us sons of God, can be recognized and known; yet it cannot be fully comprehended.

Why is God’s love so great? It is because God is love (1 John 4:8), and God is eternal. Therefore love is eternal in both duration and character.

Love Is of God

One of the most familiar verses of all Scripture is, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8, AV) Even small children often know, “God is love.” Notice that we are told that love is from God, because God is love. God is the source of love, and He is love.

What this means is that there is no true love apart from God. There can be ungodly and unholy love; but true love is from God. It also means that God defines love. Today the idea is that God is love, and therefore conforms to our ideal of what love is. Since God is eternal and holy, and being love, God defines what love is. He does not conform to our ideal of love, but He tells us what love is, what it does, and how it appears. Others like to say, “Love is love.” Not only is that a tautology and circular reasoning, it is also unrighteous. It is both incorrect and sinful. Let us always remember that God is love.

If you and I are to show love, it is because that we know God. Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians was that “the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13, AV) The way of practical holiness is that of love; and it is because the Lord causes us to grow in love. You and I grow in love and show love as God enables us. It is He who teaches us to love one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9). God is love and is the source of all true love.

Free And Unmerited Love

God’s love is free and unmerited. There is nothing that man has ever done or ever can do to deserve it. Moses told Israel, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8, AV) God did not love Israel because of what was in Israel. Nor did He love Israel for any reason other than the fact that He chose to love them. God’s love is free and unmerited.

When the LORD wanted to show Israel His free love, He commanded Hosea to take a harlot to be his wife. When Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful to him and wound up as a slave on the auction block, the LORD told Hosea, “Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:1–5, AV) Not only did Hosea freely love Gomer and buy her as a slave, but he also committed to be faithful to her as her husband. The LORD then continues to explain that His love for Israel is similar. God’s love for Israel was not for any good within themselves, but all because of the good that is in God. He said, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” (Hosea 14:4, AV) God promised to love Israel and to forgive them freely, because His love is free and unmerited. Israel was very unfaithful, but God is love.

God’s love to us today is the same: He loves us freely. Paul described us to Titus as being wicked, unloving, hateful, obnoxious, rebellious, and of bad hearts and minds. Then he said, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7, AV) When did God’s saving love come to us? How did God’s saving love come to us? It came while we were yet in our sinful rebellion, and it was in no manner deserved by us; but God freely loves us, and freely saves all who trust Him. We see this again as Paul said, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, AV) When we were impotent, helpless, unrighteous, irreverent, and unholy, Christ died for us. We were the enemies of God, living in rebellion against Him. We did what we wanted to do, and we followed the world, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-4); yet God loves us so freely that He gave His only begotten Son to be crucified for our sins, so that we can be freely saved. Is it any wonder, then, that John exclaimed that this love is foreign to us? It is a love far beyond human comprehension!

Sacrificial Love

God’s love is not only free and unmerited, but it is sacrificial: it is giving. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, AV) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, AV) This is how God loves us, in that He has given His Son; He has laid down His life for us. Even when we were enemies, God gave His Son to die for our sins, that we might be reconciled to God (Romans 5:6-11;2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

When Paul would counter the self-righteous and legalistic doctrine and lifestyle that was troubling the Galatian churches, he argued that Christ’s sacrificial love is what we should trust. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20–21, AV) As of late I have encountered a group of seemingly well-intended, but unlearned and misguided people whose teaching is that of being saved by God’s power, yet maintaining salvation by our own righteousness. Their idea is that love is something soft and permissive. God’s love is not that at all. God’s love sent Christ to the cross to confirm God’s righteousness (Romans 3:21-28). Sin has to be punished, and God punished the Lord Jesus Christ in our place because He loves us. God’s love is sacrificial, and it is this love that saves us and keeps us. If I can save or keep myself, Christ died a useless death, Paul says. I, for one, thank God for the unspeakable gift of God’s sacrificial love in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Forgiving, Saving, And Life Giving Love

Paul spoke to the Ephesians and reminded them of the depths of their depravity, which is the depravity which is common to us all, and then He said, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4–5, AV) God has a great love to us, and it is saving love. God, because of His great love, saves us by His grace!

Hezekiah would speak about how he was near to death and the LORD delivered Him: “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” (Isaiah 38:17, AV) Why was Hezekiah forgiven, delivered from death, and saved? Because God had love to his soul.

Paul exulted in the saving love of God by telling Timothy, “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:14–15, AV) The chief of sinners was saved because of God’s love and grace. Let us remember that the Lord does not change (Malachi 3:6), and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). This being so, all the redeemed will be saved because of God’s great love; and we shall all give Him glory, saying, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5–6, AV)

The Covenant Love of God

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:33–39) 

Unmerited Covenant Keeping Love

Often people will state that the God of the Old Testament is quite different from the God of the New Testament, and they either are implying that there are two different Gods in the Bible, or they are trying to say that God has somehow changed His character over time. Neither approach is correct. In fact, the idea is that God is somehow more loving in the New Testament than He is in the Old Testament. In this lesson we shall see that God’s covenant love in the Old Testament is the foundation of our Christian confidence in the New Testament testimonies of God’s faithful love to His people.

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8) 

Why did God love Israel and keep covenant with them? Simply because He loved them. Israel had no redeeming features about them. They were the smallest of all nations. They were also consistently rebellious and disobedient. The only thing that prompted the love of God toward them was the fact that He chose to love them, and that He had chosen Abraham and made a perpetual covenant with him. As we read Ezekiel chapter sixteen we find that the LORD took Israel as though she were an abandoned infant, rescued her, cleaned her up, clothed her, fed her, and then married her when she was grown. In short, God entered into a covenant with Israel though Israel did not deserve it. God’s love, even in the Old Testament, is an unmerited, committed, covenant love.

The love of the LORD to Israel is seen as a forgiving and heart changing love. Israel did not keep covenant with God, though they promised that they would (See Exodus 24:7;Hosea 6:7). Again, a reading of Ezekiel chapter sixteen demonstrates this truth. Despite this, God told Israel that He would change their hearts so that they would obey. “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6) Again we read, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27) Later we see Jesus speaking to Nicodemus about being born again of water and of the Spirit (John 3:1-9), and we can see that He was alluding to this passage, in which God promises to change hearts so that we might obey Him.

When God makes a covenant, He is true to His word, faithful to His promises, and always lives up to what He says He will do. Thus it is that, when Balak would try to get Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam was led of the LORD to say, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) God keeps covenant. Not only so, but we also read Samuel’s words of assurance to fearful Israel, when they realized they had sinned: “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22) Israel had sinned and failed to keep covenant with God, yet He promised that He would keep covenant with them!

We can continue on in the Old Testament and read how that God promised idolatrous, erring Israel that He would indeed send Babylon against them to destroy the city and humble the nation, yet He would continue to keep covenant with them. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) This covenant love is illustrated in Hosea’s covenant keeping love to Gomer (Hosea chapters 1-3), and highlighted by the LORD’s declaration, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” (Hosea 14:4) Although Israel treated God as an unfaithful wife mistreats her husband, yet He chose to love them, forgive them, and continue to keep His promises!

When Jeremiah wept over the desolations of Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple and the city, he could take heart in the fact that the LORD is a covenant keeper. Knowing the promises of God to Israel throughout all generations, Jeremiah stated, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21–23) Again, Malachi speaks for God, saying, “I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) God’s love is an unmerited, faithful, covenant keeping love to those who are His.

God’s Covenant Love As Seen in The New Testament

He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;” (Luke 1:54) “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68–75)

The New Testament presents the same covenant keeping God to us that the Old Testament does. Our text above shows us that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel. Furthermore Paul tells us, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Jesus’ work was to fulfill the promises of God to Israel.

God’s covenant promises were not to Israel only, however, because He had promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed in him (Genesis 12:1-3). Thus we read of Simeon saying, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29–32) Jesus came to bring the blessings of Abraham to the Gentiles also. Paul told the Romans, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:8–13) Gentiles are included in Christ’s covenant, and I’m taking the time to wrtie this because I’ve lately read a couple of people who have stated things to the effect that the New Covenant is a future covenant that pertains only to Israel; and another stated that he felt sorry for anyone who thinks that they are part of a blood covenant with God. Jesus, however, when establishing the Lord’s Supper “took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:27–28) This covenant love is shed for many for the remission of sins.

We continue and see that it is through Christ’s blood that our sins are forgiven. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:13–14) “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:22–28) “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” (Revelation 1:4–5) Through Christ God is a covenant keeping God, establishing His New Covenant through the blood of the cross of Christ.

These things fulfill the promise of God to make a new covenant with Israel: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:31–37) Jesus stated that this covenant comes through His blood, so that our sins can be forgiven (Matthew 26:28). Paul stated to the Hebrews that this covenant that God makes through Christ is the fulfillment of this promise (Hebrews 8:7-12). It is to be noted that this covenant is not peculiar to Israel, but is to all who are in Christ; because the promise is that “they shall all know me.” (Jeremiah 31:34;Hebrews 8:11).

The important thing about this covenant is the duration of it. God promises, saying, “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:35–37) This is a promise that God will keep covenant with all who are in covenant with Him. He will not turn away from those who are His! It is with this in mind that we then can begin to see the glories of the eternal security that the believer has in Christ.

Paul told the Romans that our security rests in the fact that Jesus died, arose, ascended to the Father, and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:33-34). He then proceeds to explain that there is not a single thing in all of creation, ourselves included, that can separate us from this covenant keeping love of God that is in Christ. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39) I realize that there are those who say that a person can lose his salvation, but this teaches us something that is very different from that. It explains that God keeps covenant with us, and that His unmerited love is a love that never ceases to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:5-2:2), sanctify us (Ephesians 5:25-33), and will ultimately present us before Him holy and without blame in love (Ephesians 1:3-7).

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15) 

The Love of God: Love And Hatred

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:4–7)

In this final post on God’s love, we shall briefly consider love and hatred. We must understand that every affection has an opposite that exists along with it. Thus it is that mercy rejoices against judgment, so that wrath and condemnation are counteracted where mercy is received and applied. This is also true with love. One can only love something or someone truly if they hate that which is diametrically opposed to the object of their love. For example, if I truly love my family, I must harbor within my heart a hatred for anything that would harm or destroy my family. This hatred can to a degree coexist in my heart with true love for someone who would seek to destroy my family. While loving them and desiring what is best for them, I must at the same time hold a certain contempt for them as one who would murder my children if they had the opportunity.

We are not accustomed to speaking about such things, because we tend to think that love and hate cannot exist within us at the same time. Let us consider how these things actually work in us, using an example of a murderer from years past. In 1980, Robert Willie and a friend of his killed a young lady named Faith Hathaway and dumped her body in what is now Bogue Chitto State Park, near Franklinton, LA. It was a particularly gruesome crime, and was only part of a crime spree that in which Willie was the main offender. Willie was put to death in the electric chair in 1984. While we all would love to have heard of a man such as Willie getting saved, that evidently did not happen. Willie is reported to have said that he enjoyed the crime, and expressed no remorse at all. We turn from such people in great disgust, do we not? Yes, we love them and desire the best for them. At the same time, that love is rightly countered by a hatred of both the deeds done and of the person. While we are to hold no malice, yet we must rightly condemn such to death (See Genesis 9:6). David himself, a man after God’s own heart, said, “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” (Psalm 139:21–22) These verses were given by inspiration of God, are His Word, and are true and righteous. Again, he said, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10) Where there is love for something or someone, we will likewise hate that which is the enemy of the object of our love. Thus we see how love and hatred can righteously exist within us at the same time.

If these things are true of men, how much more are they true with God? We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). We also know that the Scripture teaches us that God hates sin. “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Psalm 45:7) “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:9) God’s love is so great that He gave His Son Jesus to die for our sins. That love is an eternal love for all who trust Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Our text tells us that there are those who are wicked, however. These wicked are not repentant. They do not love God. They love evil. They do not seek God (Psalm 10:4), and their sin is hateful enmity to God (Psalm 36:1-4). We are told that such experience God’s wrath. In fact, as they continue in sin, they treasure up wrath (Romans 2:1-11), making their condemnation worse by the day.

The LORD speaks of certain activities as abominations to God (See Leviticus chapters 18-20 as examples.), but He also tells us that there are certain people who are abominations to God (Deuteronomy 22:5;25:16;Proverbs 3:32;6:16;11:20;16:5;17:15). An abomination is that which God finds disgusting, and both loathes and detests. Moses tells us that God’s wrath burns as a fire to the lowest hell because of abominations (Deuteronomy 32:16-22). Finally, we read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

You may wonder what I am trying to say with all of this, because we know that God is love. These are words of warning to those who have not yet repented of their sins and trusted Christ. God’s love will not be shown to you forever. God’s long-suffering will someday come to an end (2 Peter 3:9). While God loves His people forever, those who do not trust Him will be cast aside as unacceptable. This happens to some in this life (See Romans 1:28-32;Titus 1:16). Finally, there is the day of judgment  in which all who did not trust Christ are told, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) We are told of the horrible day of judgment, when all those not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). We have seen that those who work abominations shall not enter the eternal city, New Jerusalem. We also have seen that the unbelieving are cast into the same lake of fire as the abominable. The love of God will not negate the hatred, fury, and wrath of God upon those who persist in sin and refuse to trust Jesus. The day of grace is not forever to those who reject Jesus, because the wrath of God is coming. In that day you will be cast from Him as detestable and hated, because you refused the love of the truth and were not saved.

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” (Psalm 7:11–13)

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:4–7) “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103:13–18) These verses remind us of the wrath of God upon those who do not trust Christ. They also show us that God’s mercies and love endure forever to those who belong to Him through faith in Christ. Will you sin away your day of grace? Will you reject God’s free offer of salvation? Beware, lest you soon experience God’s hatred and wrath forever, because of rejecting Jesus. Today is the day of salvation!

Judging

“Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:11–12)

One of the most favored verses in the Bible is, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) This is often used when someone speaks out against sin. Is that what the Bible means? Should we truly use the verse in that manner? Is it a righteous thing for us to use this verse in such a way? Is all judgment wrong, or is there a righteous judgment?

Our text speaks to us about speaking evil of one another. This is more than simply saying bad things, but it is about judgmental speech that passes sentence or declares what a person must suffer for something. It is also a matter of going beyond the bounds of the Word of God in our declarations regarding others and their lives in our judgment. This is very specific in that it declares that God is the lawgiver who has the authority to judge, and that His Word is the rule by which He judges. When we say that a person is sinning or condemned when God has not, we are judging unrighteously, wwhen we criticize folks over things that God does not condemn, we are judging unrighteously, and when we say that God will punish someone in a certain manner that God has not specified in His Word, we are judging unrighteously. Notice that God is the judge and His Word is the authority.

What about Jesus saying that we are not to judge? After all, isn’t that the standard? Let us remember that every verse has a context, both an immediate context and then the context of the whole testimony of Scripture. Let us see the immediate context:“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5) What is before us here? Is it not the fact that Jesus was censuring hypocrites who were judging others while they were guilty of worse offenses? This is not a blast against speaking out against sin. This is not a condemnation of all judgment because, if it were, it would be self-contradictory: Jesus would have been judging people for judging, and Jesus is by no means inconsistent or self-contradictory. Jesus was calling out people such as the Pharisees, who condemned others while doing things much worse than that which they condemned in others.

What about standing against sin? Is that forbidden by Christ? Again, if it were, Christ would have contradicted Himself, and He did not do so. What we do find is that Jesus continues throughout Matthew chapter seven and speaks quite firmly against evil. He declares that there are some whose spiritual state is akin to that of hogs and dogs. He continues and declares that there are some who are false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, corrupt trees that bring forth evil fruit, whose end is to be burned. Jesus goes on to warn that there are people who profess Christ who will be rejected in the day of judgment, despite all of the things they had done in His name. Finally, the chapter ends by Jesus contrasting the one whose life is founded on the Word of God with the one who does not build his life upon the Word. In all of these things, Jesus was standing against sin, warning of sinful people, calling out some folks as spiritual fakes, phonies, and liars, declaring that one’s spiritual fruit tells much, and teaching us that we all must submit to His Word if we are to be accepted in the day of judgment.

What about us? Is judgment forbidden to us in every situation? The short answer is, “no.” Jesus told some one day, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) Judgment should not be superficial, for sure; but here we see that Jesus declares that there is a righteous judgment. Furthermore, we find that Paul, as he commanded the Corinthian church to excommunicate the immoral church member, stated that he had judged concerning that matter and that the church was to judge the man as well. “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,” (1 Corinthians 5:3) “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (1 Corinthians 5:12–13) This judgment is two-fold: it is first a speaking out against sin and condemning the person who is sinning because of his immorality, and it is also a matter of passing the sentence of excommunication upon him, which declared that he was not living as one who professed Christ should live and then expelling him from the fellowship of the body.

“BUT!” Someone exclaims to the one standing against sin or false doctrines, “You’re sinning by judging!” This is something that happens too often, I’m sad to say. This person may be quite sincere in what they are saying, and may truly desire to be a blessing and a help. Sometimes, however, such folks simply despise the fact that their sins and falsehoods are being exposed. The latter has much in common with ungodly Ahab, who accused the godly prophet Elijah of troubling Israel, when it was Ahab himself who was guilty (See 1 Kings 18:17-18). Sometimes folks misuse Jesus’ command “Judge not” in an attempt to cover up, justify, or otherwise continue in their sinful ways. This is by no means acceptable to God because they compound their sin by the misuse and abuse of Scripture.

Another says, “I think I recall that the one who could have cast a stone did not do so.” This is in reference to Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees, and a woman taken in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees were testing Jesus, trying to find fault with Him and accuse Him. They knew that the law commanded that adulterers were to be put to death by stoning. Jesus’ response to them was, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Did Jesus tell them that it was wrong to speak out against adultery? No. Did He tell them that they should never cry out against sin? He definitely did not. Jesus knew that these men were hypocrites who were willing to sacrifice the life of this woman in order to find fault with Jesus. They wanted to take her life. Jesus’ words to them and their response both demonstrate that they were guilty as well as she was. From the oldest to the youngest, they all walked away because they were convicted of their own sins. Jesus did not tell them that they could not speak against sin because they were sinners. Jesus told them that the one who was not equally guilty as the adulterous woman should be the first to cast a stone to execute capital punishment. For someone to use this text to claim that a person cannot speak out against sin and false doctrine is for a person to misuse and abuse the Scriptures.

Finally, we must recognize that much of the “Judge not” philosophy of today is due to folks acting upon emotions rather than logic and the direction of the Word of God. Sometimes it is due to the fact that folks would rather hold on to their opinions than to submit to the Word of God. Regardless, if someone is standing against sin and false doctrine and you insist that they are wrong, saying, “Judge not,” Brother, you don’t sound spiritual but you appear to be foolish and ignorant of God’s Word. Does that sound harshly? It is no time to mince words and dance around the sins of those who resist the Word of God. Please be sure that you are in the number of those whose allegiance is to the truth and not to emotions and opinions.

Biblical Standards of Dress Part 2: Modesty A Matter of Heart

Biblical Standards of Dress: Modesty A Matter of HeartBiblical Standards of Dress.full

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:8–10)

Modesty

As we continue our study of biblical standards of dress, we come to the subject of modesty. What is modesty? The dictionary meaning of the word deals with that which is well ordered or seemly. Our text above presents modesty to us as such as well. It also describes modesty in a broader sense, speaking of it as a matter of the heart.

Let us notice that modesty is not simply that which pertains to women because men are mentioned here as well. Men are told to pray “without wrath and doubting.” We shall see soon how that this relates to modesty, but for now we can simply state that it is certain that wrath and doubting are issues of the heart. Women are to dress modestly, yet their modesty must also be internal. They are to have a shamefastness and sobriety about them, as they profess godliness. Modest apparel seems to be the outward working of a modest heart. True modesty is a well-ordered heart that then orders one’s behavior rightly.

Often there are those who reply, stating that the Scriptures say that God looks on the heart. This is indeed so, because God told Samuel, who was evidently expecting God’s choice for the next king of Israel to be kingly looking, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God does indeed look on the heart. On what, however, does man look? Man looks on the outward appearance. How are we to show our modesty and holiness if not by how we look outwardly? How will our light shine (Matthew 5:16), if Christ is not seen in our deeds and our dress? Modesty is indeed a matter of the heart, seen of God inwardly, and seen of men outwardly.

The Immodesty of Wrath And Doubting

Paul tells us that men are to pray and to do so without wrath and doubting. He tells us that men should pray lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. It would be impossible to lift up holy hands if one was filled with either wrath or doubt. Both of these things are serious matters of the heart.

Wrath is extremely immodest. It is not only disordered, but it manifests itself in manners that are disorderly and harmful. Solomon said, “Only by pride cometh contention: But with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10) Contention comes from pride, and the proud heart is a heart that is not right with God and is not trusting in God (Habakkuk 2:4). That is by no means orderly. Contention is generally not a good state of affairs, yet some seek and pursue it. In so doing, they neglect to pray and often do much ill to others. James described this sort as pursuing their own selfish lusts, neglecting prayer, being friends of the world, and spiritually adulterous. Such immodest hearts and deeds lead to “confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16).

Doubting is also disorderly and unseemly. It is a matter of a heart that is unwilling to submit to what God says. King Ahaz was given the opportunity to seek a sign from the LORD, and yet he refused. God gave him the opportunity to have a confirmation that God’s promise would come to pass. In fact, Ahaz was commanded to ask for this confirming sign and yet refused to do so. God’s word to Ahaz was, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” (Isaiah 7:9) We are later told that we are to pray in faith without doubting because the one who is wavering is double-minded and unstable in all of his ways (James 1:5-8). When a person is like this, he leans to his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-7) and follows his flesh and his pride rather than humbly seeking the will of God.

In both of these instances, we find that an immodest heart will promote self. Proud self-promotion is by no means a helpful thing but is very detrimental to the health of a family, church, and society. It stirs up strifes, leads to chaotic conditions, and distracts us from the all-important pursuit of the glory of God. Remember, when Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” (1 Corinthians 14:40) it was because the Corinthians had yielded to arrogant self-promotion, which led to chaotic conditions in the church.

Most of us recognize this sort of immodesty when we see it in others. Jesus spoke of the immodest self-promoters and spoke a parable regarding folks who went to public functions seeking positions of prominence. Jesus said that there would be times in which those who set themselves in positions of honor would be told that they were sitting in seats reserved for others. This would lead to their shame when they would have to then take a lower seat (Luke 14:7-11). Most of us would respond and say that such folks simply got their comeuppance. This is so, and God’s people must resist having such immodest hearts.

The Modesty of Shamefastness And Sobriety

Paul told Timothy that women are to dress themselves in modest apparel with shamefastness and sobriety. It is to be noted that apparel is generally reflective of what is within us. Servants are to adorn the doctrine of God, we are told (Titus 2:10). In other words, what was in their hearts, their professed beliefs, and their convictions would be seen in their actions.

Shamefastness is a word that is no longer in standard English dictionaries. It means that one has a sense of honor or shame, propriety and impropriety, and a certain bashfulness as opposed to self-promotion. Just as men are very prone to promote themselves by exhibiting wrath or arrogant self-promotion, an immodest woman will often dress so as to be seen and recognized. For this reason, Paul contrasted shamefastness with the immodesty of some who elaborately plaited their hair, wore much flashy jewelry, or wore much expensive and showy clothing. Peter, too, spoke of the meek and quiet spirit of a godly woman, rather than the attention-seeking person who would dress to catch other’s eyes (1 Peter 3:1-6).

Sobriety is not simply the issue of whether a person is intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering substances. Sobriety is thinking clearly and sanely. We are taught to think soberly concerning ourselves in relation to God and the body of Christ (Romans 12:3). Sobriety and modesty go hand-in-hand because one who is sober will recognize their need to seek to be a blessing above simply trying to direct every eye her way. Sobriety is modesty of spirit, in which a person recognizes the need to glorify God and be a blessing to others above everything else.

Other Matters of Immodesty

Notice that modesty is not simply a matter that relates to whether or not a person’s nakedness is covered and concealed. We have seen previously what nakedness is, and why God gives us a command to wear clothing. Modesty extends beyond that, however, and is related to the desire to call unwarranted attention to ourselves. Sometimes we do not have an accurate measure of ourselves and think too highly of ourselves. We desire our opinions to be known by those around us. If we are not careful, we will think ourselves to be worthy of other’s attentions, or worthy of their obedience and reverence. This will manifest itself in an immodest display of loudness, arrogance, anger, or wrath; and it is sinful.

Modesty is also an issue of being a distraction. Can you imagine being a poor person in Timothy’s day, and look around in the church service and see a woman who is dressed in very expensive clothing, wearing much flashy and expensive jewelry? A man might not be tempted to lust after her, and yet he could be distracted by her. He might look at this ostentatious display of wealth and think, “Wow! I could sell that necklace and buy groceries for a year!” It could minister to envy and strife also because of the flaunting of wealth. This seems to be a part of what happened in James chapter two, and it ministered to envy, strife, and division in the church.

Solomon spoke of the immodesty of the harlot in Proverbs chapter seven, warning young men against this sort of woman. In his description of her, he said, “She is loud and stubborn; Her feet abide not in her house:” (Proverbs 7:11) In other words, she is an attention seeker. She is not meek and quiet but is loud and stubborn. She desires to draw attention to herself. In her stubbornness, she resists yielding to the authority of God and her husband in honoring her marriage, and she goes out to seek attention and affection in ungodly manners. While we are dealing with biblical standards of dress, it is instructive to note that her immodesty made itself known in the volume of her voice, and her attitude toward authority and her marital obligations. True modesty is humble and seeks to quietly honor God, godly authority, and godly commitments.

This loud immodesty brings to my mind the Pharisees, who prayed loudly in the streets, dressed in such a manner that people would know when they were fasting, and wore apparel that drew attention to their religious devotion. Jesus stated that they had their reward, which was the praise of men. True modesty does not make a vain show of religion, but simply tries to live to the glory of God regardless of who sees or does not see us.

The Love of God part three

The Love of God part three

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:4–7)

In this final post on God’s love, we shall briefly consider love and hatred. We must understand that every affection has an opposite that exists along with it. Thus it is that mercy rejoices against judgment, so that wrath and condemnation are counteracted where mercy is received and applied. This is also true with love. One can only love something or someone truly if they hate that which is diametrically opposed to the object of their love. For example, if I truly love my family, I must harbor within my heart a hatred for anything that would harm or destroy my family. This hatred can to a degree coexist in my heart with true love for someone who would seek to destroy my family. While loving them and desiring what is best for them, I must at the same time hold a certain contempt for them as one who would murder my children if they had the opportunity.

We are not accustomed to speaking about such things, because we tend to think that love and hate cannot exist within us at the same time. Let us consider how these things actually work in us, using an example of a murderer from years past. In 1980, Robert Willie and a friend of his killed a young lady named Faith Hathaway and dumped her body in what is now Bogue Chitto State Park, near Franklinton, LA. It was a particularly gruesome crime, and was only part of a crime spree that in which Willie was the main offender. Willie was put to death in the electric chair in 1984. While we all would love to have heard of a man such as Willie getting saved, that evidently did not happen. Willie is reported to have said that he enjoyed the crime, and expressed no remorse at all. We turn from such people in great disgust, do we not? Yes, we love them and desire the best for them. At the same time, that love is rightly countered by a hatred of both the deeds done and of the person. While we are to hold no malice, yet we must rightly condemn such to death (See Genesis 9:6). David himself, a man after God’s own heart, said, “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” (Psalm 139:21–22) These verses were given by inspiration of God, are His Word, and are true and righteous. Again, he said, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10) Where there is love for something or someone, we will likewise hate that which is the enemy of the object of our love. Thus we see how love and hatred can righteously exist within us at the same time.

If these things are true of men, how much more are they true with God? We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). We also know that the Scripture teaches us that God hates sin. “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Psalm 45:7) “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:9) God’s love is so great that He gave His Son Jesus to die for our sins. That love is an eternal love for all who trust Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Our text tells us that there are those who are wicked, however. These wicked are not repentant. They do not love God. They love evil. They do not seek God (Psalm 10:4), and their sin is hateful enmity to God (Psalm 36:1-4). We are told that such experience God’s wrath. In fact, as they continue in sin, they treasure up wrath (Romans 2:1-11), making their condemnation worse by the day.

The LORD speaks of certain activities as abominations to God (See Leviticus chapters 18-20 as examples.), but He also tells us that there are certain people who are abominations to God (Deuteronomy 22:5;25:16;Proverbs 3:32;6:16;11:20;16:5;17:15). An abomination is that which God finds disgusting, and both loathes and detests. Moses tells us that God’s wrath burns as a fire to the lowest hell because of abominations (Deuteronomy 32:16-22). Finally, we read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

You may wonder what I am trying to say with all of this, because we know that God is love. These are words of warning to those who have not yet repented of their sins and trusted Christ. God’s love will not be shown to you forever. God’s long-suffering will someday come to an end (2 Peter 3:9). While God loves His people forever, those who do not trust Him will be cast aside as unacceptable. This happens to some in this life (See Romans 1:28-32;Titus 1:16). Finally, there is the day of judgment in which all who did not trust Christ are told, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) We are told of the horrible day of judgment, when all those not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). We have seen that those who work abominations shall not enter the eternal city, New Jerusalem. We also have seen that the unbelieving are cast into the same lake of fire as the abominable. The love of God will not negate the hatred, fury, and wrath of God upon those who persist in sin and refuse to trust Jesus. The day of grace is not forever to those who reject Jesus, because the wrath of God is coming. In that day you will be cast from Him as detestable and hated, because you refused the love of the truth and were not saved.

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” (Psalm 7:11–13)

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:4–7) “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103:13–18) These verses remind us of the wrath of God upon those who do not trust Christ. They also show us that God’s mercies and love endure forever to those who belong to Him through faith in Christ. Will you sin away your day of grace? Will you reject God’s free offer of salvation? Beware, lest you soon experience God’s hatred and wrath forever, because of rejecting Jesus. Today is the day of salvation!

The Covenant Love of God

The Covenant Love of God

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:33–39)

Unmerited Covenant Keeping Love

Often people will state that the God of the Old Testament is quite different from the God of the New Testament, and they either are implying that there are two different Gods in the Bible, or they are trying to say that God has somehow changed His character over time. Neither approach is correct. In fact, the idea is that God is somehow more loving in the New Testament than He is in the Old Testament. In this lesson we shall see that God’s covenant love in the Old Testament is the foundation of our Christian confidence in the New Testament testimonies of God’s faithful love to His people.

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8)

Why did God love Israel and keep covenant with them? Simply because He loved them. Israel had no redeeming features about them. They were the smallest of all nations. They were also consistently rebellious and disobedient. The only thing that prompted the love of God toward them was the fact that He chose to love them, and that He had chosen Abraham and made a perpetual covenant with him. As we read Ezekiel chapter sixteen we find that the LORD took Israel as though she were an abandoned infant, rescued her, cleaned her up, clothed her, fed her, and then married her when she was grown. In short, God entered into a covenant with Israel though Israel did not deserve it. God’s love, even in the Old Testament, is an unmerited, committed, covenant love.

The love of the LORD to Israel is seen as a forgiving and heart changing love. Israel did not keep covenant with God, though they promised that they would (See Exodus 24:7;Hosea 6:7). Again, a reading of Ezekiel chapter sixteen demonstrates this truth. Despite this, God told Israel that He would change their hearts so that they would obey. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6) Again we read, Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27) Later we see Jesus speaking to Nicodemus about being born again of water and of the Spirit (John 3:1-9), and we can see that He was alluding to this passage, in which God promises to change hearts so that we might obey Him.

When God makes a covenant, He is true to His word, faithful to His promises, and always lives up to what He says He will do. Thus it is that, when Balak would try to get Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam was led of the LORD to say, God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) God keeps covenant. Not only so, but we also read Samuel’s words of assurance to fearful Israel, when they realized they had sinned: For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22) Israel had sinned and failed to keep covenant with God, yet He promised that He would keep covenant with them!

We can continue on in the Old Testament and read how that God promised idolatrous, erring Israel that He would indeed send Babylon against them to destroy the city and humble the nation, yet He would continue to keep covenant with them. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) This covenant love is illustrated in Hosea’s covenant keeping love to Gomer (Hosea chapters 1-3), and highlighted by the LORD’s declaration, I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” (Hosea 14:4) Although Israel treated God as an unfaithful wife mistreats her husband, yet He chose to love them, forgive them, and continue to keep His promises!

When Jeremiah wept over the desolations of Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple and the city, he could take heart in the fact that the LORD is a covenant keeper. Knowing the promises of God to Israel throughout all generations, Jeremiah stated, This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21–23) Again, Malachi speaks for God, saying, “I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) God’s love is an unmerited, faithful, covenant keeping love to those who are His.

God’s Covenant Love As Seen in The New Testament

He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;” (Luke 1:54) “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68–75)

The New Testament presents the same covenant keeping God to us that the Old Testament does. Our text above shows us that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel. Furthermore Paul tells us, For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Jesus’ work was to fulfill the promises of God to Israel.

God’s covenant promises were not to Israel only, however, because He had promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed in him (Genesis 12:1-3). Thus we read of Simeon saying, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29–32) Jesus came to bring the blessings of Abraham to the Gentiles also. Paul told the Romans, Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:8–13) Gentiles are included in Christ’s covenant, and I’m taking the time to wrtie this because I’ve lately read a couple of people who have stated things to the effect that the New Covenant is a future covenant that pertains only to Israel; and another stated that he felt sorry for anyone who thinks that they are part of a blood covenant with God. Jesus, however, when establishing the Lord’s Supper “took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:27–28) This covenant love is shed for many for the remission of sins.

We continue and see that it is through Christ’s blood that our sins are forgiven.In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:13–14) “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:22–28) “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” (Revelation 1:4–5) Through Christ God is a covenant keeping God, establishing His New Covenant through the blood of the cross of Christ.

These things fulfill the promise of God to make a new covenant with Israel: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:31–37) Jesus stated that this covenant comes through His blood, so that our sins can be forgiven (Matthew 26:28). Paul stated to the Hebrews that this covenant that God makes through Christ is the fulfillment of this promise (Hebrews 8:7-12). It is to be noted that this covenant is not peculiar to Israel, but is to all who are in Christ; because the promise is that “they shall all know me.(Jeremiah 31:34;Hebrews 8:11).

The important thing about this covenant is the duration of it. God promises, saying, “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:35–37) This is a promise that God will keep covenant with all who are in covenant with Him. He will not turn away from those who are His! It is with this in mind that we then can begin to see the glories of the eternal security that the believer has in Christ.

Paul told the Romans that our security rests in the fact that Jesus died, arose, ascended to the Father, and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:33-34). He then proceeds to explain that there is not a single thing in all of creation, ourselves included, that can separate us from this covenant keeping love of God that is in Christ. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39) I realize that there are those who say that a person can lose his salvation, but this teaches us something that is very different from that. It explains that God keeps covenant with us, and that His unmerited love is a love that never ceases to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:5-2:2), sanctify us (Ephesians 5:25-33), and will ultimately present us before Him holy and without blame in love (Ephesians 1:3-7).

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

The Love of God part one

The Love of God

Romans 5:5-8

A Love Beyond Comprehension

The love of God is beyond human comprehension, yet is in many ways accessible to us. We will never fully comprehend God’s love, as it passes knowing (Ephesians 3:10); yet we can know its character and enjoy its benefits.

            The love of God is so great that John exclaimed, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1, AV) John is declaring that God’s love is foreign. It is other worldly. It is not a mere human sort of love. The love of God, that makes us sons of God, can be recognized and known; yet it cannot be fully comprehended. 

            Why is God’s love so great? It is because God is love (1 John 4:8), and God is eternal. Therefore love is eternal in both duration and character. 

Love Is of God

            One of the most familiar verses of all Scripture is, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8, AV) Even small children often know, “God is love.” Notice that we are told that love is from God, because God is love. God is the source of love, and He is love.

            What this means is that there is no true love apart from God. There can be ungodly and unholy love; but true love is from God. It also means that God defines love. Today the idea is that God is love, and therefore conforms to our ideal of what love is. Since God is eternal and holy, and being love, God defines what love is. He does not conform to our ideal of love, but He tells us what love is, what it does, and how it appears. Others like to say, “Love is love.” Not only is that a tautology and circular reasoning, it is also unrighteous. It is both incorrect and sinful. Let us always remember that God is love. 

            If you and I are to show love, it is because that we know God. Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians was that “the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13, AV) The way of practical holiness is that of love; and it is because the Lord causes us to grow in love. You and I grow in love and show love as God enables us. It is He who teaches us to love one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9). God is love and is the source of all true love.

Free And Unmerited Love

            God’s love is free and unmerited. There is nothing that man has ever done or ever can do to deserve it. Moses told Israel, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8, AV) God did not love Israel because of what was in Israel. Nor did He love Israel for any reason other than the fact that He chose to love them. God’s love is free and unmerited.

When the LORD wanted to show Israel His free love, He commanded Hosea to take a harlot to be his wife. When Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful to him and wound up as a slave on the auction block, the LORD told Hosea, “Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:1–5, AV) Not only did Hosea freely love Gomer and buy her as a slave, but he also committed to be faithful to her as her husband. The LORD then continues to explain that His love for Israel is similar. God’s love for Israel was not for any good within themselves, but all because of the good that is in God. He said, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” (Hosea 14:4, AV) God promised to love Israel and to forgive them freely, because His love is free and unmerited. Israel was very unfaithful, but God is love.

God’s love to us today is the same: He loves us freely. Paul described us to Titus as being wicked, unloving, hateful, obnoxious, rebellious, and of bad hearts and minds. Then he said, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7, AV) When did God’s saving love come to us? How did God’s saving love come to us? It came while we were yet in our sinful rebellion, and it was in no manner deserved by us; but God freely loves us, and freely saves all who trust Him. We see this again as Paul said, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, AV) When we were impotent, helpless, unrighteous, irreverent, and unholy, Christ died for us. We were the enemies of God, living in rebellion against Him. We did what we wanted to do, and we followed the world, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-4); yet God loves us so freely that He gave His only begotten Son to be crucified for our sins, so that we can be freely saved. Is it any wonder, then, that John exclaimed that this love is foreign to us? It is a love far beyond human comprehension! 

Sacrificial Love

            God’s love is not only free and unmerited, but it is sacrificial: it is giving. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, AV) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, AV) This is how God loves us, in that He has given His Son; He has laid down His life for us. Even when we were enemies, God gave His Son to die for our sins, that we might be reconciled to God (Romans 5:6-11;2 Corinthians 5:17-21). 

            When Paul would counter the self-righteous and legalistic doctrine and lifestyle that was troubling the Galatian churches, he argued that Christ’s sacrificial love is what we should trust. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20–21, AV) As of late I have encountered a group of seemingly well-intended, but unlearned and misguided people whose teaching is that of being saved by God’s power, yet maintaining salvation by our own righteousness. Their idea is that love is something soft and permissive. God’s love is not that at all. God’s love sent Christ to the cross to confirm God’s righteousness (Romans 3:21-28). Sin has to be punished, and God punished the Lord Jesus Christ in our place because He loves us. God’s love is sacrificial, and it is this love that saves us and keeps us. If I can save or keep myself, Christ died a useless death, Paul says. I, for one, thank God for the unspeakable gift of God’s sacrificial love in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Forgiving, Saving, And Life Giving Love

            Paul spoke to the Ephesians and reminded them of the depths of their depravity, which is the depravity which is common to us all, and then He said, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4–5, AV) God has a great love to us, and it is saving love. God, because of His great love, saves us by His grace!

            Hezekiah would speak about how he was near to death and the LORD delivered Him: “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” (Isaiah 38:17, AV) Why was Hezekiah forgiven, delivered from death, and saved? Because God had love to his soul.

            Paul exulted in the saving love of God by telling Timothy, “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:14–15, AV) The chief of sinners was saved because of God’s love and grace. Let us remember that the Lord does not change (Malachi 3:6), and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). This being so, all the redeemed will be saved because of God’s great love; and we shall all give Him glory, saying, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5–6, AV)

Biblical Standards of Dress part 1

Biblical Standards of Dress

StandardsDress1

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:6–8)

The text above shows us that the Bride of Christ is to be clothed in fine linen, clean and white. This fine linen is described as the righteousness of the saints. We know that this is symbolic of our justification in Christ (cf Isaiah 61:10). One cannot enjoy the wedding feast without this garment, provided by the King (Matthew 22:11-14).

We are told that Christ is making for Himself a bride that is pure: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (Ephesians 5:25–28) Jesus died to present to Himself this holy bride. Jesus purifies His bride with His own blood, thus justifying her, and then sanctifying her. Jesus desires and will have a pure bride. Paul was zealous to do his part in this work. “Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2)

When we look at Christ’s bride, who is clothed in this clean and white fine linen, we see that the church has been purchased, cleansed, and prepared for her heavenly bridegroom: she is pure. If the fine linen represents the righteousness of the saints in Christ, should not our fleshly reality conform to this spiritual reality? Certainly there is no great separation between the fleshly and the spiritual in the child of God. Although the flesh has sinful tendencies, we are to submit it to Christ; and we know that what is in our heart is made obvious in our flesh (Proverbs 27:19;Matthew 12:34;Mark 7:14-23). This being the case, we must assert that the Scriptures teach us that our clothing matters, and is often representative of what is within our hearts.

Why Clothing?

Why is clothing even necessary? After all, God made man without any clothing; and Adam and Eve were “naked and not ashamed” when God first created them. Even to this day we read, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4) This demonstrates that there is a place in which nakedness is still acceptable and not shameful. This is why the law states that uncovering nakedness, which is probably a euphemism for fornication or adultery, is a sin (Leviticus 18). We must understand Leviticus chapter eighteen to be an exposition and application of the commandment prohibiting adultery. Sexual relations should only occur within the bonds of heterosexual marriage and to uncover the nakedness of another violates that bond, because nakedness and sexual activity are honorable and pure within marriage.

When sin entered, shame accompanied it. That is what we see when we read of Adam’s fall: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:7–10) Good desires for food and wisdom had become perverted (See Genesis 3:6 and compare 1 John 2:15-17). We know that, along with those desires, all other passions became misdirected. In fact, Scripture describes man thusly, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) The inward man became sinful, and thus nakedness and sexuality became things to protect from the lustful eyes of the ungodly, as this would help protect the sanctity of marriage. This is why the young man is warned against lusting after the harlot: her revealing clothing is demonstrative of her heart, and he is to respect God and marriage enough that he does not long after adulterous deeds (Proverbs 6:25-35).

Nakedness apart from the marriage bed is described as shameful all through the Scriptures. Noah was naked to his shame, and his grandson’s descendants were cursed because of looking upon him in that state (Genesis 9:20-25). When Aaron led Israel into the worship of a golden calf, “they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:6) This play was sexual in nature, as was most idolatrous worship and play in those times, and the Scriptures say that “Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame amongst their enemies:)” (Exodus 32:25). Isaiah speaks of Israel being made naked to their shame (Isaiah 47:1-15), Nahum speaks of nakedness as being synonymous with shame and deserving of mockery (Nahum 3:4-7), and we find that this is the case even when it is spoken of regarding one’s spiritual state (Revelation 3:17-18;16:15). Obviously nakedness needs to be covered.

What Is Nakedness?

Nakedness is, first of all, the state of being uncovered or bare: but what is it that is bared that makes one naked? Most of us recognize that one’s face can be uncovered and the person not be naked. We can say the same about hands and feet. Where do we go with this, then? As seen above, nakedness often carried with it sexual connotations. Nakedness is the uncovering or revealing that is sexual in nature. This means that we shall have to speak plainly here, and it may be a bit embarrassing; although there is no intent of being crude or vulgar. The plain truth must be spoken, however.

When Scripture speaks of nakedness, we immediately realize that it will refer to the uncovering of the genital area. In fact, when the LORD gave Moses commandment regarding the priests’ clothing, He specifically directed him to make breeches (This was a legged undergarment.) that reached below the thigh. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:” (Exodus 28:42) Isaiah also spoke of the shame of the thighs being revealed (Isaiah 47:1-4). Based on this, we can certainly say that nakedness is revealing the leg above the knee. This establishes a sort of buffer zone that prevents prying eyes from seeing more than they should see and prevents inadvertent exposure of private areas. This is Most of us recognize that undergarments have typically been worn in a fashion that prevents them from being seen, so that the outer garment is actually covering and concealing even more than the undergarments. We also see that the buttocks are similarly spoken of in Scripture, as it logically follows that they would (2 Samuel 10:1-6;Isaiah 20:1-6). We can conclude that nakedness is any revealing of the flesh surrounding the private areas, from the waist to below the knee.

We can and must go farther to say that Scripture also associates the revealing of a woman’s breasts as being nakedness. We know that nakedness is the private pleasure of the marriage bed (Genesis 2:25;Hebrews 13:4), and the young man is told to rejoice with his wife and to enjoy her breasts (Proverbs 5:18-20). Solomon’s Song also mentions this explicitly (Song of Solomon 1:13;4:5;7:37-38). And when the LORD spoke to Israel of His rescuing her and making her a great nation, He used the analogy of clothing one who was naked, and giving covering that included her breasts (Ezekiel 16:1-14). Finally, Hosea is very plain about this, saying, “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; And to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother, plead: For she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, And make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst.” (Hosea 2:1–3) Notice how God’s Word associates sexual sin and nakedness by saying that Israel’s adulteries were between her breasts. Just as an adulterous woman exposes what should be held sacredly private for her husband, so Israel had given herself away to idol gods. The results? Israel would be stripped naked to her shame by God. Thus we see that the revealing of a woman’s breasts is nakedness.

Thus it is that we have seen the biblical definition and description of nakedness. This is very plain, but the Word of God is plain, and we should respect and honor the precepts found therein. It is very important that we be the pure bride to Christ that we should be. It is important that the principles of holiness are exhibited in our lives as we honor the Lord and the holy state of marriage by living according to principles of modesty.

The Purpose of Clothing.

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7)

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

With sin came shame, so Adam and Eve rushed to cover their nakedness by making aprons out of leaves. Thankfully the good Lord had a better plan. Taking the life of an animal and making clothing from the animal’s skins, He clothed them so that their nakedness did not appear. With this in mind, let us consider the Lord’s purpose for clothing, and what Scripture tells us about our apparel.

First of all, we need to consider the common objection that says, “The Lord looks on the heart!” Yes, that is true; but we need to consider the whole of the verse that is referenced. “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:6–7) Samuel had been sent to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel. Having seen Eliab, Samuel thought that he had surely found the next king, because Eliab was kingly looking. God told Samuel that he was looking at the man from the wrong perspective. The LORD had told Saul that He was seeking a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14); so God was not looking at the outward appearance, although Samuel was. The interesting thing is that God told Samuel that man looks on the outward appearance. The reason that this is so, is because we cannot see a person’s heart. We can, however, see signs of what is in their hearts; because what is inside will most often show up on the outside. Thus what is in our hearts comes out of our mouths (Matthew 12:34), and the wickedness that is within a person’s heart shows up in his deeds (Mark 7:21-23), and the faith that is within a person shows itself strong by love (Galatians 5:6). While God does indeed look on the heart, that which is on the outside matters; because the outside normally reflects what is on the inside. Man will look at our outward appearance and decide many things about us by that. What does your outward appearance say about you? This is why modesty is spoken of along with shamefastness (inward modesty) and sobriety (self restraint and moderation of desires and passions): true modesty begins within the heart and manifests itself outwardly.

Why clothing? Clothing was given to mankind to cover and to conceal nakedness. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness after they had sinned. They instantly experienced shame, knowing that nakedness is not to be shared except within the private confines of the marriage bed. For this cause they made aprons for themselves; but those aprons were insufficient, just as our own attempts to cover up our sin are insufficient. As a symbol of the coming lamb whose blood would wash away our sins, and whose righteousness would clothe the believer, an animal gave its life so that Adam’s and Eve’s shameful nakedness would be covered. Clothing is to keep the shame of nakedness from appearing (Revelation 3:18), so we see that clothing is not simply a cover, but also a concealer. It is important to note this, because some clothing covers everything while revealing many things. Whether the clothing is form fitting, tight, low cut, or with slits very high, or even being somewhat transparent, a person can be covered and yet not concealed. Clothing is given to cover and to conceal: let us be sure to wear it appropriately.

           

The Holiness of God

Isaiah 6:1-8

The Holiness of God

Holiness is so important that we find that Israel was a holy people, with a holy priesthood, who was anointed with holy oil, had holy garments, and who assured their holiness with washing, before they ministered in a holy place, serving and worshipping the holy God, that they might minister to and for the people the LORD commanded to be holy as HE is holy. This same commandment is spoken concerning those of us who have trusted in our holy Savior, been made holy by His grace, and are called to live in holiness by that same grace, to the end that He might present us to himself a holy people.

            What does the word holy mean? The word holy means that which is set apart, or separate? When spoken of God, it means that God is set apart from all others, both gods, men, and all other creatures. The Creator is not the same as His creation. He is supreme over all things. There are none equal to Him. As we study, we will find that God’s holiness encompasses all of His attributes and is the very essence of who He is.

            Scripture shows us holiness is a matter of separation by declaring that the seventh day was set apart from all of the other days of week as holy (Genesis 2:3;Exodus 20:8-11;31:15-17). We also see that the firstborn of every Israelite family was to be set apart as holy unto the LORD (Exodus 13:1-2). Later we see that the Levites were hallowed, or made holy in their place (Numbers 3:11-13). Exodus 28-31 give us the narrative of the priesthood being hallowed with holy anointing oil, given holy clothing, that they might enter into the holy place, ministering for a holy people before the holy God. Should we consider the tabernacle and temple, we would see that the important places therein were the holy place and the most holy place. The holy place was set apart for the priests to do their work in, and the most holy place was set apart for the high priest to enter only on the day of atonement. 

            The Genesis Creation Account is given to us, not only to tell us about the creation of all things, but also to show us that the LORD is the only true God, being our Creator. He made all things. All of the things worshiped by man are but images and likenesses of His creation (Romans 1:21-25). Jeremiah plainly states, “Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, He hath established the world by his wisdom, And hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, And he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings with rain, And bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is brutish in his knowledge: Every founder is confounded by the graven image: For his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: In the time of their visitation they shall perish.” (Jeremiah 10:11–15) This is why we read, “For all the gods of the nations are idols: But the Lord made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5) The LORD calls on man to worship Him exclusively because of His solitary holiness: there is none beside Him (Deuteronomy 32:39-40;Exodus 20:1-11). There is no Creator other than the One Who created all things; and He is holy, being far above and separated from all other gods.

            The Exodus from Egypt demonstrates to us the holiness of God, because God demonstrated that He is above Pharaoh, the greatest of kings in his day. “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?” (Exodus 9:16–17) God also demonstrated that He is above all the gods of men, by conquering all of the efforts made by those who worshiped them. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12) Having seen that the LORD killed the firstborn of all Egypt, parted the Red Sea, causing Israel to pass through on dry ground, and overthrowing Pharaoh and his army, Israel worshiped the LORD, saying, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) The I AM, the LORD, the holy God of Israel is indeed separated from all rulers, powers, might, and all other gods: He alone is God, ruler of Heaven and Earth.

            Joshua, having exhorted the people of Israel to serve the LORD, “said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.” (Joshua 24:19–20) The gods of men are normally thought to be quite broad in their tolerance and acceptance, and thus the worship of many gods is acceptable to them. The LORD, however, is indeed separated by them in that He allows the worship of Himself only. He is the God of truth, righteousness, and judgement; and He will allow no competitors. He says, “for thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” (Exodus 34:14) And again, “I am the Lord: that is my name: And my glory will I not give to another, Neither my praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8) While the gods of the people are idols and devils (Jeremiah 10:1-16;1 Corinthians 10:20-22), the LORD is holy: He is the true God, and He alone. In fact, we find it truly stated that “there is none holy as the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:2).

            God’s holiness is also seen in that He has no equal at all. Not only do His people declare that there is none like Him (Exodus 15:11;Psalm 89:6-8), but God declares the same: “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:25) “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, And compare me, that we may be like?” (Isaiah 46:5) And He describes His holiness in that He is sovereign over all things, having determined the course of the universe before ever creating it. “Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times the things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, The man that executeth my counsel from a far country: Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9–11) It is this sovereignty that also highlights God’s separation from all other gods. “For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the LORD pleased, That did he in heaven, and in earth, In the seas, and all deep places.” (Psalm 135:5–6) There is none His equal, because no other god is the Creator of all things, who decreed and knew all things before the creation, and who is sovereign over all things. It is for this cause that we see the glorious exultation in God in the Revelation: “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:8–11) Our God is holy, because He created all; and He is exalted in majestic might above all others

            We also see the holiness of God in the fact that, although man is made in God’s image and likeness, God is not a man. “God is not a man, that he should lie; Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) God is both immutable and faithful: He does not change, and He is true to Himself and to His Word. Man is not like that, though man should seek to become more and more like God in holiness of living. (See also 1 Samuel 15:29;Hosea 11:9.

            God is also holy in His works. There is none who can work as He works. “O Lord God of hosts, Who is a strong Lord like unto thee? Or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; Thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.” (Psalm 89:8–10) And again we read, “The works of the Lord are great, Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: And his righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He sent redemption unto his people: He hath commanded his covenant for ever: Holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:2-4,9) The LORD’s works declare His glorious name, and evoke the praises of His people (Psalm 75:1). It is because of the LORD’s holiness in bringing about the Exodus that we find Israel rejoicing and triumphing in His holiness (Exodus 15:11). We thus conclude that “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, And holy in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17) 

            The very name of the LORD is holy: there is no other name like His. He declared to Moses that His name is “I AM,” and proceeded to say, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Exodus 3:14–15) The very name of the LORD sets Him apart from all other gods, and is His exclusive glory and fame (Nehemiah 9:6;Psalm 83:18;Isaiah 42:8). 

            When God appeared to Israel at Sinai, He also demonstrated that sinful man cannot approach unto His holiness (Exodus 19&20). He told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20) The men of Bethshemesh learned that the hard way, when fifty thousand-seventy men died after opening the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 6:19-20). It is for this reason that Jesus, the Holy One of God, came into the world, that He might bring God to us and man to God (See John 1:14-18;1 Peter 3:18). 

            When God reveals Himself to man, He shows Himself to be beautiful in holiness. This is what we see in our text. Isaiah says He saw the train of the LORD filling the temple. His very presence was strikingly beautiful. David longed to see and experience this, saying, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4) The LORD stands apart in His beauty. This not only refers to what men might have seen in visions (See Exodus 24:10-11), but also to the character of the LORD. Every one of God’s attributes is beautiful and to be desired. There is no absolute and flawless perfection except in Him, and He is to be worshiped and desired to the exclusion of all others (Exodus 20:1-6;34:14;Psalm 73:24-26). God is holy in the beauty of His being.

            We must also recognize that God will be honored as holy. It was a very sad, yet instructive day in Israel when Nadab and Abihu died for offering foreign and unacceptable fire in the tabernacle. Moses told Aaron that day, “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” (Leviticus 10:3) We find that the final judgment is about the holy exaltation of God alone:“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, And the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:11) “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, And opened her mouth without measure: And their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, And he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, And the mighty man shall be humbled, And the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, And God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.” (Isaiah 5:14–16) Many today think lightly of hell and judgment, or dismiss them altogether. In every case this is due to the failure to recognize that God is exalted in holiness, that there is none like Him, and that He is to be loved supremely and worshipped exclusively. Sin dishonors the holiness of God, and thus His wrath is kindled with eternal fury to those who commit any sin against His eternal, holy glory. It is this day of holy exaltation for which we are commanded to pray, “Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9). It is His holy exaltation that the saints and all creation will worship when His kingdom shall be seen in glory (Psalm 96:9-13). And we see that His holiness is the cause for the saints’ exultation at the end of the age: “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” (Revelation 15:4) 

            What is amazing about the holiness of God is that He is forgiving and just in doing so. While the idea of God in the minds of many means that God forgives regardless, the reality is as we have seen above, that God’s holiness shall always be honored and vindicated. Yet God does forgive, and this is a part of His holiness. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, And passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, Because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; And thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, Which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” (Micah 7:18–20) Note that there is no god like unto the LORD who, although wroth, will yet forgive, relinquish His anger, and show mercy, while upholding truth. That is what the cross of Christ is about: it is about God being just while justifying sinners (Romans 3:21-28). God is consistent with truth and righteousness when He forgives sinners, because He punishes our sin in Christ our representative, who suffered in our place. It is then that God can righteously forgive the sins of those who believe on Jesus. This is why John would say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) God’s holiness is seen in His wisdom as revealed in the gospel, as He justly punishes sin while forgiving the repenting and believing sinner. There is none other who can do this! Thanks be unto God for His holy pardon!

            Worship is due to God’s holiness. David called men to worship saying, “Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 16:10) “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come before him: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (1 Chronicles 16:29) “And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, That we may give thanks to thy holy name, And glory in thy praise.” (1 Chronicles 16:35) It is the holiness of God that is the cause of the saints’ rejoicing. We are told, “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, And give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:4–5) The One holy God is gracious and full of life giving favor. Though trials, hardships, and weeping may come, yet our holy God will bring joy in due time by His grace (See also 1 Peter 5:8-10). While many may have slight reason upon Earth to rejoice, the saints have an eternity of reasons to rejoice, because God our Savior is holy!