Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Philosophies in Conflict

Leslie Basham: True freedom doesn’t necessarily come from doing whatever we want. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The women who have adopted the world’s philosophy of fashion and clothing are not free. You’ll never be truly free until you’re free to do what God wants you to do regardless of what anything or anyone else dictates to you.

Leslie Basham: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 22.

How can you choose modest clothing in a world gone tight, short, and revealing? Nancy will help you think this through as we continue this week and next week in the series Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?

 Before evaluating specific pieces of clothing, you need to answer some fundamental questions. Nancy will address those today.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the things I did in studying and preparation for this series was to purchase a whole bunch of women's magazines and teen magazines.

Some of them I had never heard of before. Most of them I was not familiar with. I spent over a period of 3-4 days several hours just leafing through these magazines. I realized why so many Christian women today think that they are modest, because in comparison with what’s in Seventeen magazine or Cosmopolitan magazine, they are modest.

One of the things I realized is that we’ve been using the wrong standard to determine what’s modest.

I want to talk in this session (and in those to come) about the difference between the world's philosophy of clothing and appearance and our bodies and the Christian's philosophy of clothing and appearance and our bodies.

You see, our outward appearance and our clothing, whether it's the women in those magazines or the women in this room or the women in your church or the women in your workplace, those clothing styles, that outward appearance, reveals a way of thinking.

It reveals a philosophy. It reveals what women believe. So let's talk today about the difference between the world's philosophy and what should be the Christian's philosophy based on the Word of God as it relates to these matters.

For example, the world teaches us that beauty is physical, that beauty is external, whereas the Christian's philosophy is that . . . Now I'm not saying that all Christians practice this philosophy, but if we as Christians root our philosophy in the Word of God, we understand that beauty is spiritual. We understand that beauty is internal.

Now that doesn't mean that there's no such thing as external or physical beauty. There are some women who are just physically beautiful women. But we recognize that the heart of beauty, that true beauty whether or not you have it outwardly, is something that is internal and spiritual.

The world's philosophy of the body and clothing is that the body is all-important; the body is the supreme thing. The inner part of man, the spirit, the soul, that part is either secondary or it doesn't exist. What matters is the body, according to the world.

The Christian has a very different philosophy; the Christian understands that the body is temporal. It's going to die. It's going to be buried. It's going to go back into the ground. It's the spirit of man, the internal part of man, the heart of man or woman that lasts and really matters. For the person who adopts the world's philosophy, they believe that your body is your identity. It's the basis for your security or your insecurity.

So you have this beautiful model's figure, at least with the help of computers you get one, and that becomes the basis for your security. Or you have your fifth child, and you're forty pounds overweight, and can't get the weight off, and you start to feel real insecure about your body.

In the world's philosophy, the way you feel about your body is equivalent to the way you feel about yourself. That becomes a challenge as we get older because those of us who have passed 40 and are moving up along there realize that no matter what a great body you may have prior to 40, there are things about that body that are not going to be so great after 40. And I can see all of those above 40 saying, “You are so right.”

But the Christian recognizes that your body is not your identity. It's a casing for your spirit, for your soul. It's a temple. It's not the external temple that really matters. It's what is inside, the presence of God. The body is packaging; it's not the essence of your identity.

The world's philosophy is that you are the product of evolution, and as a result, you are the highest authority there is. Your body belongs to you. No one else has any say or control over it.

Whereas, the Christian philosophy is that your body did not just evolve as a result of chance but that God made your body, all 5’1” of me, all 5’ whatever of you. God made your body. It's not by chance that you look the way that you do. Your body doesn't belong to you, but your body belongs to God. If you're a married woman, your body belongs to someone else, and that is your husband.

If you are ever going to be a married woman, your body belongs to someone else. You're just keeping it, saving it, protecting it, preserving it for him.

Some of you when you got into your twenties may have started collecting things. You were still single, but maybe you were collecting china or home-keeping items that you wanted to use when you got married. Kind of the old-fashioned idea, the hope chest—they weren't things you were using at that moment, but things that you planned and hoped to use when you got married.

Well, that's what the single woman's body is. The woman who is ever going to be married realizes that not only does her body belong to God as all of our bodies do, but that her body belongs to her husband. As 1 Corinthians 7:4 teaches us, the married man has authority or power or control in a godly, serving, loving sense over his wife's body and the wife over her husband's body. So our bodies are not our own, as we see it from God's standpoint.

In the world's philosophy, people dress in order for people to notice. The Christian philosophy is that we dress not to have other people notice us so much as to first please God. He is the one we're trying first to please. Wanting to reflect His Glory becomes our objective for our clothing.

In the world's philosophy, the purpose of clothing is to reveal the body. The purpose is for sexual attraction. Some do it overtly and crassly—just exposing most of their body. Most people in this room would not do that. But some have adopted and many women in our churches have adopted the philosophy: just show a little bit to tease.

That can be as or more seductive to Christian men than some of the women that we would see that are barely clothed (no pun intended), in some of those more extreme magazines that we talked about.

That's the world's philosophy: that the purpose of clothing is to reveal the body or to sexually attract.

The Christian understands that the purpose of clothing is to cover the body. We saw in Genesis chapter 3 that God gave Adam and Eve clothing for a purpose: to cover their bodies, to conceal their nakedness. That's the Christian's philosophy. The world's philosophy is if you've got it, flaunt it. Advertise what you've got available.

But the Christian philosophy is, I want to draw attention to the life of Jesus within me, to my spirit, to my countenance, to the fullness of the Holy Spirit within me.

When people see me, I want them to see something that is an inner fullness and joy, a reflection of the beauty of Christ. By the way women, that’s why your smile is so important. It’s such an important part of how you communicate as a woman. Christian women can say many of the right things. And sometimes I look at them and think, “If you would just smile when you say that.” And moms, listen up. If you would just smile when you say that, you might find that your daughters and the people around you were even more receptive to some of the things that you’re having to say.

The world's philosophy is if you want to be loved, you have to be beautiful, sensual and alluring. That’s the way you get love from men.

Now I'll grant you that to be physically beautiful and sensual and alluring will get a woman a certain kind of male attention and love. But it will never get you the kind of love that you were created for, the kind of love and attention that your heart as a child of God really longs to have.

You see, the Christian's philosophy is that you're already loved, that you're loved by God in a deeper and richer and more meaningful and eternal way than you could ever be loved by any human being.

Therefore, your heart as a Christian woman in relation to clothing and the body is to be beautiful for Him. It is to cultivate the kind of beauty that He finds attractive—the one who loves you, the Lord. The world says to women, “Use your body to tempt, to tantalize, and to tease men.” But the Christian sees that the purpose of the body is to try and protect and edify and strengthen others.

The world's perspective on clothing is driven by fashion—what's in; what's hot. But the Christian's philosophy is driven by the heart and the Word of God.

Now, let me ask you which of these two philosophies—the world’s way of thinking or the Christian way of thinking—is revealed by your clothing and by your appearance? Which are you communicating?

When people look at you, what do they determine about what you believe? You see, Christian modesty is first and foremost a way of thinking. It’s not first what you wear or how you dress, how you look. That certainly is related, and we’re going to talk about that in much more specific detail.

But first of all Christian modesty is a way of thinking:

  • about yourself
  • about God
  • about men
  • about others

It's a way of thinking that manifests itself in:

  • the way that we dress
  • the way that we talk
  • the way that we act
  • the attitudes that we communicate

So ask yourself based on these two philosophies, "Am I living the world's way? Am I communicating the world's way of thinking?" or "Am I communicating God's heart and God's way of thinking?"

So before we get into some of the specifics of what's right to wear, what's wrong to wear, what looks modest, what looks immodest, we need to lay a foundation and look at some basic principles that will help us build for a lifetime that which is pleasing to the Lord. I'll tell you, the starting place for all of us has to be answering this question: "Why do I live?"

Why do I exist? What am I here for? What is my purpose in life? And as Christian women, we have to come to the place where we settle the issue that I live for one purpose. God has created me for one purpose. And that is—you know the answer—to glorify God, to please Him, to reflect what He is like in our world. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

That's a foundational principle in life, and we should come to the place where we say, "My purpose in life is to please God rather than to please others."

Listen gals, we've got a lot of teenagers here today; your ultimate purpose in life is not to please your parents. Now, it's important that you please your parents. Married women, your ultimate goal in life is not to please your husband, though it's important that you please your husband. Some of you are in dating relationships and you’re working real hard to please that guy. That’s not your ultimate goal in life.

We have to come to the place where we recognize that our ultimate purpose, our supreme primary purpose for living is to make God happy, to bless Him, to make Him pleased.

So that affects everything about our lives, including this matter of clothing. It affects our motives. Why am I wearing this? Why do I like this outfit? Why do I like this look? Is it because I want to fit in? Is it because I want to be accepted? I want to be cool? I want to be popular?

To examine my motives I need to ask, “What is my mission in life? What’s my objective? What’s my purpose?” Am I just going with the flow, fitting in with the crowd and making decisions about things like clothing styles without even thinking about it? You see, if I determine to live my life for the glory of God—that will affect why I wear what I wear. It will make me think about what I wear, not just go to the store and pick up whatever is the current style, not just pick out clothing that are whatever women our age happen to be wearing.

It will make us think about what we do and why. Then as we build on that foundation of seeking to glorify God, there are three foundational principles that I have found affect every other area of my life in some profound ways. And I want to just touch on those today.

The first is the principle of ownership. The principle of ownership. This means that my body does not belong to me. It's not mine.

Now in the last thirty years in particular in our country, we've had a huge emphasis on a woman's right to her own body. It's your body; you do what you want to with it.

Some girls have taken that philosophy to the extreme and have abused their bodies with eating disorders, with substance abuse, with drugs and alcohol. "It's my body; I can wreck it. I can trash it." How sad to think how cheaply some girls consider their bodies.

But to recognize the principle of ownership is to recognize that my body is not my own. It's not mine; it doesn't belong to me. As we’ve said, if you’re a Christian, your body belongs to God. If you’re a married woman, your body belongs to your husband. If you’re a woman who will ever be married, your body belongs to your husband-to-be.

We read about this matter of ownership in 1 Corinthians chapter 6:19 where the Scripture says: "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, you are not your own? For you were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (verses 19-20, NASB). 

Girls, how would you feel if a friend or one of your sisters took one of your prized possessions from your bedroom, something that belonged to you? She was just going to borrow it, but then she took it and trashed it or gave it away to someone else.

Would that make you happy? You know what, it doesn't make God happy when you and I take these bodies He's given us and we trash them or we give them to somebody that they don't belong to.

An immodestly dressed woman is giving away something that doesn't belong to her, something that belongs to God and to her husband. This principle of ownership means that, are you ready for this, that you and I are not free to dress in any way we please.

We're accountable to God. He owns us, and if you're not a child of God, that's a principle that you're not going to like, in fact, you won't like any of these principles if you don't belong to the Lord.

But if you are a child of God, you will find great comfort and security in the fact that you do belong to God, that your body is His.

  • It means that you can trust God to take care of you.
  • It means that you can trust that God will take good care of His property.
  •  It also means that you have a responsibility to take care of it.

Now, there's a second foundational principle. The first is the principle of ownership. My body is not my own.

The second is the principle of Lordship. Jesus is Lord over all. Ownership, then Lordship. Romans 14:9 tells us: "For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living."

You know what it means when we say that Jesus is Lord? It means that God has the right to regulate every area of our lives, including what we wear. It means He has that right because He is the Lord.

So I want to ask you, "Who runs your life? What runs your life? Who's your Lord?" Most of us would say, "Jesus is my Lord." But when it comes down to what you wear, who's your Lord? Who runs your life?

Are you governed by fashion? Are you governed by the culture? Are you governed by your friends' opinions, or are you governed by Christ and His Word? Who is your Lord? You see, you and I are not to be enslaved to anything or anyone other than Jesus—to have any Lord other than Him is to be a slave.

The women who have adopted the world's philosophy of fashion and clothing are not free. You'll never be truly free until you're free to do what God wants you to do, regardless of what anything or anyone else dictates to you.

So we have the principle of ownership, the principle of Lordship and then thirdly, the principle of citizenship. That means I belong to a different kingdom. If you go to an international airport, you're likely to see people walking around in all kinds of different outfits.

You'll see some maybe dressed in the sari. What country do they wear saris in? India. I've been in Pakistan, and what they wear there is this loose, baggy kind of silky trouser with a long tunic over it. It's called a Salwar Kameez. When you see that outfit, you say, "There's a woman that's probably from Pakistan." 

People wear what reflects the national dress of their country. Well, the fact is that you and I do not belong to this world—we live in a different kingdom—that has two implications at least for our lives. The fact is that we belong to a different kingdom, not to this world if we are children of God. First, it means that we are not to be conformed to this world. We’re not to let this world, as Romans 12 says, squeeze us into its mold.

You read this thought in the Old Testament where God said over and over again to his people, for example, in Leviticus 18:3,

Tell the [children] of Israel . . . "I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God" (verses 2-4, ESV). 

Then when we come to the New Testament, we hear the apostle Paul saying: "Don't let this world cause you to be conformed to it. You don't fit in this world. You're not a part of this world; you're not to be conformed to it (see Romans 12:1-2).

Now another implication of this principle of citizenship is that we're not to love the world. 1 John 2:15 tells us: "Don't love the world or the things in the world. In fact, if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you" (paraphrased). What's he talking about? He's talking about having a heart for this world and its system and its way of thinking. He's talking about gravitating to the way this world thinks.

John goes on to say: "For all that is in this world . . . is not from the Father . . . . The world is passing away, along with its desires but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17, NASB & NIV).

Listen, if you dress and live and think and act like the citizen of another kingdom, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, you'll find that you're well suited for all of eternity. You'll be ready to go to eternity.

Now there are some in this group who are already committed to modesty. Sometimes you feel like you're really weird. I’m sure it’s hard. But it’s okay. Do you know why? Because you don't belong to this kingdom. You're not going to be here long anyway. You dress for an eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God.

Could I ask, regardless of where you are on these issues, based on these foundational principles of ownership and Lordship and citizenship, "Are you willing to make whatever changes may be necessary in any area of your life in order to live out those principles, to live under the ownership of God, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?"

Leslie Basham: Did you ever realize how different the world’s philosophy of beauty is from God’s philosophy? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us philosophies in conflict.

If you want to deepen your understanding of physical beauty I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s booklet, The Look. Go through this devotional as part of your quiet time and get a fuller picture of true beauty and modest hearts.

We’ll send you The Look when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Your clothing can have a huge effect on men? Why? We’ll look at that tomorrow. Please be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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