Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As a young woman Nancy Leigh DeMoss was confronted about her clothing.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I still remember distinctly when a godly, mature man came to me one day and said, “I don’t think you realize that the particular style of outfit that you have on right now is probably not best.” And I would honestly have told you I thought that outfit was very modest. But I hadn’t seen it from a guy’s standpoint.

Leslie Basham: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, April 30.

We all need input from time to time. We don’t always notice things that others can see about us, and God can use people who are older and wiser to give us wise counsel. Here’s Nancy to help us understand how this especially relates to the issue of modesty. She’s wrapping up the series Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me just share my heart in a very informal way, in a just kind of a friend-to-friend peer, woman-to-woman way about some things I think will help us. I'm not going to say anything you don't know, but these are just the kind of reminders I think we need from time to time.

First, I would say if you want to become a modestly dressed woman and you want to become sensitive to these issues, resolve to live to please God.

Resolve to bring glory to God with your life; that's what matters more to you than anything else. Now, that may not always be what you feel matters most; but resolve in your heart that whatever it takes, whatever it costs, what you want more than anything else is to please God and for your life to bring glory to Him.

I’ll say whether you resolve that or not, that's why you were made. You will really only find joy and fulfillment in life as you say, "Yes, Lord, I'm willing to fulfill the purpose for which You made me."

It's so important that we yield our bodies to God; that we consecrate our bodies to God, that we dedicate our bodies to God and realize this body is not mine to do with as I please. It belongs to the Lord. If we consciously recognize that, I think it will help us in this pursuit of modest living and dressing.

Then resolve to be modest because that is what pleases the Lord and brings glory to Him.

Resolve to be pure inwardly and in the outward expressions of your heart. That means that you are resolving to stand against the culture at any point where the culture stands against the Word of God. 

The example that comes to my mind in the Scripture—it doesn't relate directly to modesty, but it does relate to standing against the culture—is that of Daniel, who as a teenage young man made a covenant of modesty, in a sense.

He said, "I'll be pure; I won't defile myself; I won't fit in with the crowd if to do so I have to make choices that are contrary to the Word of God."

It helps so much, the younger the better, to start out with this resolve. "By God's grace, I will be modest. I will be pure as His Spirit works within me. I want to have a modest heart and a pure heart, whatever that means and whatever it costs."

Once you have made those resolves, you have committed your body to the Lord, you have committed to please Him, to bring glory to Him, to be modest, to be pure, if you’re going to live out those resolves, one of the practical things we have to do is to guard our eyes, to guard our minds and to guard our hearts.

That means we have to be careful about the kind of intake that we have into our minds, the kind of influences that we allow ourselves to be exposed to.

Now, there are some influences in this culture that are godless, that are immoral or immodest, that you can't avoid. There are some highways that you can't drive down without being exposed to billboards, for example, that are immodest.

One of the habits I started as a young woman which has so helped me and has been such a benefit is practicing what Proverbs says, which is, "Don't let your eyes look to the left or to the right, but look straight ahead."

Now, that's in the context of talking about making choices of purity. I have really tried over the years to train my eyes not to be curious, not to look at things that aren't my objective.

That helps me when I'm on the computer because when I go to the Internet I know what I'm looking for. I'm looking for things that are wholesome, that are pure; I'm doing research for study.

And if other things come on—it may be advertisements, and they don't even have to be wicked things—if it's not what I'm in pursuit of, I don't give it time. I don't give it attention.

When it comes to media and advertising and magazines, this can be so helpful. I don't stand around and look at the magazines on the rack at the grocery store typically or the checkout line at another store because I don't want to imbibe the culture.

I have told you that in studying for this series on modesty that I bought a number of magazines just to find out, What are women reading? What are teenagers looking at?

I spent several hours going through those magazines and as I did, I could feel the culture creeping up on my heart, on my mind. Once those images were in my mind, I couldn't do anything about it, they were there. I was so thankful that over many years, the Lord has helped me to be disciplined in a practical way about not reading those magazines.

If you are subscribing to Cosmo magazine or People magazine or Vanity Fair or—I could name a whole list of others—you are imbibing the culture. You are being influenced by it, don't think you are not.

You need to guard your heart, guard your mind, guard your eyes, and it will be so much easier then to make right choices if the culture hasn't swept you up and overtaken your thinking.

Then take responsibility for dressing modestly, that's your responsibility.

Some practical ways to do that are to go through your closet. A lady handed me a note today. She thanked me for this seriesm, and she said, "I am going to be going home and going through my closet and evaluating my wardrobe based on what God has been showing me."

Go through your closet, try on clothes, do a little fashion show for yourself, your husband, your dad, whatever season of life you are in. Before you even ask anyone else, stand in front of a mirror and look; not just standing straight, but bending, stretching, reaching, bending over.

If you can see private parts of your anatomy that a man other than your husband should not see, then say, "As part of my resolve to be modest, I don't need to wear this article of clothing." It may be your favorite article of clothing. But remember your choice to be modest and to be pure and to glorify God and please Him matters more than how much you like this particular style or article of clothing.

Look at it from all angles in the mirror. And I’m talking from the front, the back, the sides. And then while you’re moving, sitting, walking, stretching, ask yourself, “What will others notice? What will they see? What will their eyes be drawn to, their attention, when they see this clothing on me?”

I want to tell you I do this virtually every day with whatever I wear out of my house because the fact that it looked good on me two years ago doesn't necessarily mean that it's modest on me today.

So almost every day, and I don't think it's being vain, I'm trying to be careful. So I just say, "What will this combination of pieces, this skirt, this top—maybe this skirt's okay but with a different top, what will be seen? What will be noticed?"

And I take responsibility for my choices and to say that it's my responsibility to dress modestly. Then ask yourself questions:

  • Why do I want to wear this outfit?
  • Why do I like this style?
  • Evaluate your motives. Be honest.

I had a 20-something gal who really has a heart for the Lord tell me recently,

I've changed some of my wardrobe, and I'm wearing some things now that I would not have worn a couple of years ago. Honestly, the reason is that I wanted guys to notice me.

She's not being sexually driven in her case, but she just wanted that attention and God was leading her to ask herself some questions.

Ask the Lord, "Does this please You?" I want the Lord's direction in selecting my wardrobe.

Before I came today, I was evaluating a number of different possible outfits. I'm wanting to know in this setting what's appropriate for me. I'm not saying that's what's appropriate for you in this setting, but what would please the Lord. I'm asking the Lord, "Is this okay? Does this please You?” And I'm asking Him to help me to be teachable and open and humble and obedient in dealing with these issues.

Then ask your husband or your father, or if you don't have a husband or a father, ask a mature Christian woman to help you get input. We don't see ourselves the way others see us.

I will from time to time ask a friend, "Do you think that this looks appropriate? Do you think that this outfit is modest?" If I have any question about it, I'm going to ask a godly woman who can help me think that through. Then be humble and be open to the input of others.

My dad died when I was 21 years old, and within the next couple of years I was now a woman without a dad, a young woman, and I wanted to be modest. I wanted to be pure. I didn't have a dad to give input in those areas anymore.

I still remember distinctly when a godly, mature man came to me one day and said, "You are a pretty girl, but I don't think you realize that the particular style of outfit that you have on right now is probably not best." I would honestly have told you that I thought that outfit was very modest.

I hadn't seen it from a guy's standpoint, and I was so thankful that the Lord gave me the grace in that situation to respond in a way that was open and teachable. God used that godly man's input in my life as a very young woman to help me steer a course that would help me fulfill the resolve of my heart to be modest.

Now, I want to give a few cautions, and then close with just sharing a list of blessings and benefits of choosing the pathway of modesty. But first, just a few cautions in this area. I know we’re coming from different ways of thinking. Some of you have a very, very conservative church background or family background, and you think that I have not been strong enough on some issues. You wish that I had said more about the list and the rules and you think I should have come down harder on some issues.

And then there are others, you’ve come out of this secular culture; you’ve been very influenced by it. And some of the things I’ve said have struck you as just very extreme in the conservative direction. And we’ve got people probably everywhere in between. We’ve had teenagers and moms and grandmoms and quite an assortment here of people from different perspectives.

And just a few words of caution depending on where you’re coming from. I want to speak to those who come at this issue with a very conservative viewpoint and to say that it is possible to have a very modest appearance outwardly and to have the heart of a Pharisee.

The way that will come out may be in terms of being critical or judgmental or self-righteous toward those who do not see things the way you do. Can I just remind you that people are coming from all different backgrounds? They are at all different phases and stages of their spiritual development.

  • The fact that you dress modestly or conservatively does not necessarily mean that you have a modest heart.
  • It doesn't necessarily mean that you have the corner on truth.
  • It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more spiritual.

The way you dress outwardly is a reflection of your heart, but not always. You can have a heart that really is rebellious against God and be dressed extremely conservatively.

You can have a heart that is warm and tender toward God but be harsh and critical toward people who have not perhaps been trained or educated in some of these ways of thinking.

Give God room and time to work in the lives of other people. Don't be so arrogant as to say that just because I see it this way, that's the way it has to be or that I'm necessarily right in all of these things.

The Lord has challenged my thinking on these issues over the years. There are things that I will wear today that I didn't feel comfortable wearing 20 years ago and vice versa.

There are areas where I've come to feel that something I might have worn 20 years ago probably is not best for me, where God has me at this point. Remember, we are not the Holy Spirit.

Let God be the Holy Spirit; let Him do that job in people's lives. If you hold to these views highly and prize them as I do, the views of biblical modesty, ask God to help you communicate them to others in a way that is winsome.

I think some people look at Christian women . . .  In fact, I saw a video not that long ago of a woman teaching on this subject, and I agreed with virtually everything I heard her say. But I sat there thinking, "If I didn't already agree with this woman, I don't know that I would be drawn to her position because I just want to see her smile. I just want to see her say this warmly."

Now, she wasn't ugly about it. She wasn't harsh; she wasn't unkind. But she didn't look too happy about the fact that she found this blessing of modesty. It came across to my ears as something that might not be attractive or desirable to other Christian women who aren't quite where she is.

Now I found myself just looking and saying, "Would you just smile?" I'm telling the video this. But it reminded me that when we're saying things to people that are counter-cultural, we're challenging them to go against the current—that's hard. That takes courage. When we are speaking the truth, we need to do it with compassion, with love, and with a tender heart.

Listen, I don't want to just hammer on the culture; I could do that naturally. I tend to be one who sees things in terms of right and wrong, in clear-cut ways. So I found, as I was thinking on this subject of modesty, my first instinct was to say: "Go get the culture. It's wrong. We need to fight it." Then I realized that's probably not going to win the hearts of the people we are trying to reach.

So, I've been asking the Lord, “How can I communicate these principles in a way that is attractive, that adorns the Gospel and the message and the doctrine of Jesus Christ?”

So, let God work in other people's lives as you communicate these truths—we need to communicate them—ask God to help you do it in a way that will make the truth as attractive as possible.

I believe that this is a beautiful truth, that modesty is something good, desirable, precious, and something that—if people knew how good it was—they would really want.

Let me just close by giving you several reasons for modesty, some of the blessings and benefits of modesty. This is not an exhaustive list, but just several things that came to my mind as I was thinking about this a few days ago.

First of all, you have the blessing of knowing that you have been obedient to God. It doesn’t hurt in the scheme of the universe since He is the controller and the Creator and the Lord of the universe. It doesn’t hurt to be in submission to Him, to be obedient to God. You can know that when you are choosing the pathway of modesty that you are pleasing Him.

Choosing the pathway of modesty sets us free, I think, from being enslaved to fashion, to fads, and to other people's opinions. I find so many women today who think they are doing their own thing, are really just slaves to what other people think. They are slaves to their culture. So, to choose the pathway of modesty says: "I can be free from that."

To choose the pathway of modesty in many cases will protect a woman from the wrong kind of guys, or from the wrong kind of attention from guys. To choose the pathway of modesty will give greater freedom and joy and pleasure in marriage.

I would especially say that to those of you gals who are single. You are not thinking now the way that you will be thinking five or ten or fifteen or whatever-it-is years from now, when you are wanting to have a meaningful, sexual, and intimate emotional relationship with your husband-to-be.

The choices you are making now in the area of modesty will, in time, provide greater freedom and joy and pleasure in marriage.

Then, to choose the pathway of modesty, I think, helps a young woman to attract the right kind of attention from the right kind of guys, not only protection from the wrong kind. You say, "Where are all these guys who love women to be modest? They don't seem to be in our youth group. They don't seem to be in our church or my school."

You know what? Those kinds of guys are like the right kind of women. They are few and far between, but they are out there. It's worth waiting for God's person, for God's time.

Listen, there only needs to be one. When you are 16, don't let it trouble you too much that the one isn't there yet. In God's time, in God's way, in God's will, if that is what God has for you, He will be. It's worth waiting for that right one.

Then, you'll find as you choose the pathway of modesty that you will be valued for more than your body, more than your physical characteristics.

You will be valued for eternal qualities, heart qualities, spiritual qualities, things that are enduring. Listen, that beautiful body is only going to last a short period of time, relatively. Beauty is fleeting, fading; but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised.

You will find as you choose the pathway of modesty that you are beautiful to God because He values that heart that is meek and quiet, that spirit that is gentle, that life that is spiritually rich.

You'll find that you will be secure in your identity in Christ. The more secure you are in your identity in Christ, the less you will find that you have to use your body to get attention for yourself.

As you choose the pathway of modesty, you will be able to point people to Jesus—just by the way you look, just by your spirit—you are going to make the Gospel believable. You’re going to make people want to be drawn to Jesus.

Now, not everyone will appreciate that or be attracted to Christ, but your goal in life is to have people think Christ is wonderful. That's why you want to draw attention—through a modest spirit and modest dress and modest behavior—to your eyes (in the right sense), to your countenance that will reflect joy and peace and freedom and purity and humility.

These are the things that will point people to Jesus. So as you are proclaiming Christ, remember that one of your most powerful instruments, one of your most powerful tools (and means of doing that) is through a heart and an appearance and a demeanor that are modest.

Thank You Lord for each of these women. I know they’re here today because they want to be women who please You. I pray especially for the younger women, the teenage gals. I pray Your blessing on them. I pray that You would encourage them and give them the joy and the freedom of walking in a way that is different from the way that this world walks; that they would love You and not love this world; and that they would experience a security and the peace and the freedom of finding their identity in You.

I pray that You’d give them courage and help them when to be a godly woman means that they’re not as easily accepted by the “in crowd.” I pray that their spirit will be so winsome that people will be drawn to You.

And Lord, help all of us as women to reflect the beauty and the fragrance and the radiance of what it means to be filled with Your Spirit and to reflect Your beauty and Your wonder in this world. Thank You Lord for Your grace. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for making us women, and thank You for the distinctive calling we have as women. I pray that You’d revive our hearts and then that You would use us as instruments of revival in the lives of others. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie Basham: Have you ever thought about the way modesty relates to the gospel? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been taking us into the heart of modesty today and for the last couple of weeks. The series is called, Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? When you order the series on CD, you’re adding a very valuable resource to your library that you can turn to when a new season of fashions appear.

Order that series at ReviveOurHearts.com. Today is the final day we’ll offer Nancy’s booklet called The Look for a donation of any amount. This booklet will take you into the Bible so you can study and evaluate for yourself. It will ask you valuable questions so you can respond based on your wardrobe and your heart.

Make modesty a priority and study with Nancy. Ask for The Look when you call 1-800-569-5959 with your donation of any size, or take advantage of this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

What are you believing God for when you think about your future? Nancy challenged some young women with this question, and you’ll heart that message Monday. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.