Summary: Applying the biblical principles of Christian Liberty to how we ’dress’ - in appearance and attitude.


A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today


C.) TRAINING ETTIQUETTE (Instructions for Worship)

“PROPER DRESS” (1 Cor. 11:2-16)

Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, May 31, 2009 AM

APPEARANCE: Wear tacky baseball cap through beginning of message.


Tom Landy, former Hall of Fame Coach of the Dallas Cowboys and a great man of faith in Christ, once had this to say:

“Most successful football players not only accept rules and limitations but, I believe, they need them. Players are free to perform at their best only when they know what the expectations are where the limits stand. I see this as a biblical principle that also applies to life, a principle our society as a whole has forgotten; you can’t enjoy true freedom without limits.”

We have recently been reminded of what Scripture generally says about the freedoms of choice that believers have in and through Christ, His salvation and His Spirit. The key verses we examined last week were:

1 Corinthians 10:23

"Everything is permissible," but not everything is helpful. "Everything is permissible," but not everything builds up.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33

Give no offense . . . just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

In His Holy Spirit-inspired charge to the 1st Century church in Corinth (and ultimately to us here today as well), the apostle Paul continues to apply these principles to three specific areas of worship and church community in which they had been falsely applying and abusing the principle of Christian Liberty.

The first of these specific issues is what we will be looking at more closely this morning and addresses the area of our attitude as expressed through physical appearance and gender. Yeah, I know, I’m already in trouble and there’s no way out!

Before we look at Paul’s words, it is important to understand that the specific example he points to refers to outward appearances and symbols that were very significant and important to that specific culture but foreign to our own. Therefore, the specific instructions here regarding physical appearance are not meant to be a universal requirement. However, the underlying PRINCIPLES that Paul concentrates on ARE universal and to be learned and applied by all of the faithful who desire to please the LORD in any time or place.

To properly distinguish and understand this, passage, then we must first . . .


A.) Local Culture

As in every other society, the one in 1st Century Corinth had certain rules, expectations and symbols concerning their appearances. Some of these had the purpose of distinguishing people by class, some by profession, some by slave or free, and some by gender.

In this case, how one wore their hair and did or did not cover their head were considered the biggest and most important distinctions.

Physical symbols were very important and, like today, the degree to which an individual did or did not confirm to these generally accepted and expected practices determined the others’ assumptions about their character and the degree to which one was viewed as being a responsible part of society or a disruptive rebel against it.

B.) Church Culture

As we have already seen again and again through this letter, the Corinthian Church had developed within itself a culture that in some key aspects differed greatly from that of the other Christian Churches throughout the Ancient Near Eastern world. Sadly, these differences were the result of an arrogant and rebellious attitude.

First, the Corinthian Christians saw themselves as being “fully realized” and therefore “super-spiritual” people who had already attained the highest level of spiritual transformation and were therefore “like the angels.”

Second, as a result of this, they began to see themselves, their knowledge, and their spiritual discernment to be superior to that of Paul, and all of the other apostles and prophets. As such, they claimed a right to make their own changes and additions to the teachings about living in and for Christ.

Third, they considered all earthly distinctions (including and especially those of gender) as being null and void for them.

C.) Paul’s Teaching

Throughout this letter, the Holy Spirit-inspired apostle Paul has been starkly pointing out their errors in these regards, while reminding them of God’s Truth.

The problem Paul addresses in the text we will now look at is that at least some of the women have begun, in public worship, to openly and intentionally disregard an accepted custom – the purpose and result of which is unnecessarily causing contention in the church and challenging (rebelling against) the accepted and biblical male-female distinctions. Specifically through their physical appearance in church, they are contentiously forcing a change that is not necessary or have any biblical or normative grounding.

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