By Mike and Julie McGhghy
In this third article regarding holiness, we will present the outward of holiness, including our actions, appearance, and physical stewardship. These are all readily observable by others and impact how others receive the message of the Gospel that we share. If you have not read the first two articles regarding holiness, we encourage you to access the archives of the Rumblings and do so. We do not want you to take this article out of the context set in the other two. Much of the material shared in these articles are taken from Dr. David K. Bernard’s books In Search of Holiness and Practical Holiness: A Second Look. We encourage you to read these books for more in-depth study about holiness.
Holiness involves both the inner man and the outer man. We must perfect holiness by cleansing ourselves of filthiness both of the flesh and of the spirit. 2 Corinthians 7:1. Inward holiness (attitudes, thoughts, and spiritual stewardship) will produce outward holiness, but outward appearance of holiness is worthless without inward holiness! In the second article of this series we discussed inward holiness, we will now consider the biblical principles of outward holiness, which are modesty, vanity, and moderation of cost.
Modesty involves being decent or chaste, especially in outward dress. Peter teaches that chaste conversation can lead to the conversion of the unsaved (in this context, unsaved husbands). 1 Peter 3:1-2. Dr. Bernard and the Amplified Version of the Bible translate the original Greek of “chaste conversation” to mean chaste conduct. What is chaste conduct? Avoiding actions or apparel that flaunt the body and that demonstrate a lustful spirit by striving to attract the opposite sex by lust. This is not only applicable to women, but to men as well.
Vanity involves dressing and acting pretentiously or ostentatiously in order to attract the opposite sex or to make others envious. Our dress and actions should demonstrate the hidden man (the heart), being ornamented by a meek and quiet spirit. 1 Peter 3:4.
Closely associated with vanity is the principle of moderation of cost. Our moderation should be evident to all men. Philippians 4:5. We are to avoid costly array. 1 Timothy 2:9. The definition of costly array may vary somewhat depending on the culture, society, and income of the individual. When making purchases, we should ask ourselves the following questions: 1) Is this an ostentatious display of wealth in the sight of acquaintances and fellow believers? 2) Will this arouse envy? 3) Does this represent a good stewardship of the money God has entrusted to my care? When God blesses us with prosperity, he does so not to feed our own lusts, but to invest in winning souls.
Although many scriptures regarding adornment and modesty specifically address women, because we are all striving to reach others with the Gospel of Christ to lead them to salvation, we all (men and women) need to develop a personal sense of modesty, avoid vanity, and consider moderation of cost in order to present ourselves holy and act accordingly.
As we are boldly presenting the Acts 2:38 message to others, our inward and outward holiness should be evident in our speech, our actions, and our appearance. Because we are called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16), we want to live dedicated to God and His will and separated from sin and worldliness. 2 Corinthians 6:17 – 7:1. In that way, when we share the Acts 2:38 message the light of Christ will shine through us.