Summary: Christians young and old find the subject of modest apparel a difficult subject to discuss objectively.

Part 1


A. Text: Col. 3:17.

B. Christians young and old find the subject of modest apparel a difficult subject to discuss objectively.

C. Yet it is a Bible subject, so we must give our reverent and obedient attention to it.


A. “Immodest” has many connotations. Several basic English words must be distinguished.

B. Some of these words are:

1. Immodest = having an immoderate estimate of one’s self > having a forward nature > having a disregard for decencies of behavior or dress (from Latin modestus = keeping due measure).

a. Synonyms: arrogant, proud > bold, impudent, unreserved, unrestrained > shameless, unchaste.

b. 1 Tim. 2:9.

2. Lascivious = lewd, wanton, inciting to lust.

a. Licentious = lacking moral discipline or sexual restraint.

b. Synonyms: prurient, suggestive.

c. Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:17-19; 1 Pt. 4:3.

3. Obscene = offensive, suggesting impure ideas. On “purity,” the opposite quality. Phil. 4:8; 1 Jn. 3:3.

4. Meretricious = attracting attention in a vulgar manner > pertaining to or resembling a prostitute.

a. Synonyms: gaudy, tawdry, garish, flashy.

b. Prov. 7:10.

5. Ostentatious = marked by a vainglorious display.

a. Synonyms: vain, pretentious, showy.

b. 1 Tim. 2:9,10; 1 Pt. 3:3,4.

6. Unbecoming = beneath the standard implied by one’s character or position.

a. Synonyms: improper, inappropriate, not fitting.

b. Rom. 1:28; Eph. 5:4; 1 Tim. 2:10.

7. Indecent = not conformed to recognized standards of propriety (from Latin decere = to be fitting, suitable, acceptable).

a. Synonyms: indecorous, indelicate, unseemly, disgraceful.

b. Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21; 1 Pt. 2:12.


A. It is shameful to expose one’s nakedness.

1. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their childlike innocence.

a. Clothing was needed to cover their nakedness - Gen. 3:7,10,11,21.

b. Note that the Lord put more clothes on them than they had put on themselves!

2. It is shameful to expose or draw attention to the private parts of the body - Isa. 47:1-3. Isa.

3:16,17; Lk. 8:26-35; 1 Cor. 12:23,24; Rev. 3:17,18.

3. One can be shamefully “naked,” in the biblical sense, without being totally nude - Job 22:6; Mt.

25:36,43; Jas. 2:15,16. Isa. 20:2-4.

B. Lasciviousness destroys others as well as one’s self.

1. Gal. 5:19-21.

a. “Licentiousness” (KJV = “lasciviousness”) = aselgia = lustfulness, sensuality; that which promotes lewd emotions and lustful desires.

b. Eph. 4:19; 1 Pt. 4:3. Rom. 13:14.

2. Mt. 5:27-30.

a. There is a twofold responsibility here:

1) The man is responsible to guard his mind from impurity. Phil. 4:8; 2 Pt. 2:14.

2) The woman is to help prevent the lewd stare.

b. It is inconsistent for a woman to dress provocatively and then resent being leered at by men.

c. Though lust is inexcusable on the man’s part, if the woman, by her apparel or otherwise, has encouraged it, she shares in the guilt.

d. Consider these possible examples of mutual guilt: Gen. 9:20-27; 38:12-26; 2 Sam. 11:1-5; Prov.


C. The Christian’s clothing must be consistent with godliness.

1. Prov. 7:6-27. This woman’s attire fit her impudent heart and lustful intent.

2. 1 Tim. 2:9,10.

a. “Adorn” = kosmeo = to put in order; to arrange, to ornament.

1) cosmos, cosmetology, cosmetic.

2) Mt. 23:29; Lk. 21:5; Tit. 2:10; Rev. 21:2.

3) Note that adornment as such is not condemned, but enjoined ( Prov. 31:22), and that adornment involves orderliness.

4) Slovenly, unkempt appearance is nowhere praised in the Scriptures.

b. “In modest apparel” = en katastole kosmio = lit., in seemly guise.

1) Kosmios = orderly, well arranged, decent, modest.

2) “of good behavior” in 1 Tim. 3:2.

c. “Propriety” = aidos = modesty; reverence; respect. Hb. 12:28. Cf. shamefacedness (KJV),

shamefastness . E.g. Gen. 24:64,65.

1) Propriety involves a sense of shame, a moral abhorrence of doing anything disgraceful, an inner reserve. Shamefast = held fast or firm by a sense of shame.

2) Since it is humility and shame that prompt the wearing of modest apparel, it is no wonder immodesty is so widespread in our age.

a) Today, too few women have a sense of shame or embarrassment.

b) Blushing is almost a lost ability.

d. “Moderation” = sophrosune = soundness of mind; self-control, sobriety, discretion.

1) “reason” in Ac. 26:25.

2) sensibility, discreetness, prudence, serious-mindedness, self-restraint.

3) Godliness produces a reserved dignity, a discreet control over the passions, a voluntary self-government — not merely the external restraint of social taboo.

e. “Not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.”

1) “Costly” = very expensive, extravagantly costly.

2) Excess and ostentation, rather than adornment, are condemned here. Contrast Isa. 3:16-26 with Ezek. 16:10-14.

3) This is an example of the comparative use of “not” in the Bible.

a) “Not” is sometimes used absolutely - e.g. Exo. 20:14.

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