There is a way of dress that complements the Christian and his high calling. Paul writes to the Philippians, “Only let your conversation [manner of life] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). An individual’s manner of dress is like a window providing a look into his heart. It makes a clear statement of his estimation of himself and reveals who is the master of his life. God’s will is for the human form to be adequately covered, not displayed. The true disciples of Christ have always been known for their modest dress.
Satan uses various methods to undermine God’s standard of modest dress. There is apparel that is worn mainly as an ornament or for display, rather than simply as a covering for the body. The proud heart of man is gratified by fashionable and showy things. Proverbs 21:4 says, “An high look, and a proud heart…is sin.” Suggestive attire draws attention to the human form and promotes lustful thoughts and desires. Clothing that fits tightly or insufficiently covers the body attracts attention, arousing the passions of the opposite sex, and contributes to immorality. It is especially alarming that many people profess godliness but show little regard for modesty and purity. Man is ignoring God’s will in the matter of dress.
The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 lay a scriptural foundation for humility in dress. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Notice that the apostle does not say that a Christian may glorify his body. Rather, he is to glorify God in his body and in his spirit.
Writing to Timothy, Paul further gives the general principles of a Christian’s dress. When addressing women, he writes, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Peter also writes that women should shun “that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4). “Putting on of apparel” means clothing other than that which is used for the sake of decency. There is a manner of clothing the body that is appropriate for the Christian. On the other hand, there is a type of clothing that is carefully chosen to draw attention to one’s self and leaves a different impression than that of a humble and sincere Christian. In Proverbs 6:16-17 we read that even a proud look is an abomination to God.
The fashions of the world are so alluring because they appeal to man’s vain pride. Some people want so strongly to be identified with the latest trend that even their common sense is overruled and they become a slave of fashion. This is the sad condition of those who profess Christianity but do not embrace the Biblical principle of modesty and simplicity in dress.
Customs may vary from one culture to another, but most societies make some distinction between the clothing of a man and that of a woman.
Romans 12:1-2 is applicable to this subject. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This is a beautiful invitation to offer our lives to the Lord in every way. While these verses do not refer only to the way of dress, they do suggest that a holy beauty will radiate from those who are surrendered to God’s will. We are blessed when the attire of the physical body witnesses to the presence of Christ in our lives.