Biblical Modesty: A Way of Life (Phil. 4:4-9)

Kent Bailey

The concept of modesty is set forth in the scriptures and is essential to our maintaining a proper life style as Christians. As we consider a basic definition of the term (kosmios) there are several definitions that we need to consider. J.H. Thayer states that the term refers to that which is “well arranged, seemly.” Arndt and Gingrich defines the term as being that which is “respectable, honorable.” Trench states that this proper order “extends not only to dress and demeanor but also to the inner life, which expresses itself in outward conversation.” While the concept of modesty deals with propriety in the type of clothing we wear, it also deals with our manner of speaking and conduct and indicates freedom from conceit and/or vanity. An inflated opinion of one’s self worth can cause problems in one’s life. Such is lacking in modesty just as much as of a lack of clothing or the wearing of improper clothes.

As we ascertain God’s truth regarding modesty, such therefore deals with our thoughts, speaking and actions. Let us take great care that our standard for modesty is the word of God (Phil. 1:9-10). Let us also have a proper concern that our modesty will produce decency. The term decency (aidos) is translated shame facedness in First Timothy 2:9. Thayer defines this word as “dealing with honor, modesty, that which is well arranged.” Arndt and Gingrich state that such refers to “reverence and respect.” Trench states that such refers to “control over passions and desires.”

Biblical modesty is a quality of life that will control our thoughts. A stark contrast is set forth in the scriptures regarding the way in which individuals think in a godly versus an ungodly fashion (Gen. 6:1-8; Rom. 1:18-32). Compare ungodly and unrighteous thoughts with that which is both godly and righteous (Phil. 4:4-9).

Biblical modesty will create a sense of humility of mind that will enable one to look upon one’s self without creating an over-inflated ego resulting in pride, arrogance, and conceit (Phil. 2). When one constantly feels the need to constantly refer to their greatness they have obviously forgotten the importance of the fact that Christians are to have the heart of servants (John 13:16; Matt. 20:27).

Biblical modesty will promote purity in our thinking. When one constantly thinks impure thoughts such will have devastating effects upon our mind (Matt. 5:28; 2 Pet. 2:9-14). As Christians may we subjugate our minds to the control of Christ; and through the agency of the scriptures have a proper control of our thought that will produce a life that demonstrates a reverence and respect for God as well as promoting a decency and demeanor of outward conversation, serving as a Biblical example to those both within and without of the church. Biblical modesty is a quality of life that will control our speaking. By our words we will be justified and by our words we will be condemned (Matt. 12:37). Such being the case this behooves us to temper our speech by Biblical modesty (Jas. 3).

Biblical modesty requires that our speech be pure (Eph. 5:1-4). Let us remember that cursing should never proceed from our mouths. Such would be just as opposed to the will of God as it would be for a fountain to send forth both sweet and bitter water (Jas. 5:10-12). As we consider our speaking, let us remember that we have an obligation for our spoken communication to be controlled by means of the New Testament of Christ, and that our words produce a reflection of our inner most intents of our hearts.

Biblical modesty is a quality of life that will control our actions. The Bible condemns all forms of public nakedness. Both Old Testament Hebrew words and New Testament Greek words may refer to one who is completely nude and bereft of any clothing (Gen. 2:25; Job 1:21; Mark 14:51-52).

These words may also refer to a condition of partial nakedness or inadequate dress (Acts 19:16; Rom. 8:35; 1 Cor. 4:11; 2 Cor. 11:27; Jas. 2:15). A careful study of the scriptures depicts partial nakedness as a shameful sinful condition (Rev. 3:18; 16:15).

The Bible consistently condemns all forms of public nakedness as sinful conduct. Immodest clothing is sinful due to the same reason that dancing and pornography are wrong. They all come under the condemnation of God in the usage of the term lasciviousness . This term depicts improper movements or improper handling of the human body. It speaks with reference to activity that promotes the sexual desire outside of the marriage relationship (Gal. 5:1921; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 4:1-4). Regarding God’s choice of clothing for Adam and Eve it is noteworthy that God provided clothing for them to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3:7, 10, 21). We find that God made Adam and Eve coats. This term is translated from the Hebrew word kethoneth . Brown, Driver, and Briggs in their lexicon describes this term as being a tunic with sleeves coming down to the knees. The chest and the thighs were covered. To expose such was considered as nakedness.

Body piercing and tattos are also sinful. Such is the case by reason of association with paganism. Such is sinful because it violates First Corinthians 3:16-17. Such is also sinful because it violates the Biblical principle adornment (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:24).

May we as Christians see the need for principles of Biblical modesty to be properly applied to all areas of our lives.

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