Pleasing God in Personal Appearance
Scriptural Truths to Guide Your Choices
Pleasing God in personal appearance! Does this seem like a strange subject to discuss? Do you think that God accepts anything we may wear as long as our inner heart is warm toward God? If so, you are only looking at a part of God’s will in regard to physical appearance.
Are you a Christian? If so, this message is for you. It is not directed to the person who has little or no interest in the will of God for their life. If you belong to Christ, you are not the person you used to be! The Word of God says that you are a new person inside. Paul the apostle writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Furthermore, you are to continue the changing process of change from what you once were in sin to what God wants you to be in Christ. Notice this profound and expected transformation: “In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). What does this say? We are to lay aside the old self of sin and put on the new self of righteousness (1 Peter 2:24)!
This means that God wants you to begin an entirely new way of living! He gives you the Holy Spirit so that you will have the strength to live for Him and obey Him (Rom. 8:13; Eph. 3:16). God will lead you to:
- A new way of thinking (Rom. 12:2)
- A new way of speaking (Eph. 4:29)
- A new way of relating to people (Luke 6:31)
- A new way of reading (Phil. 4:8)
- A new way of eating (1 Cor. 10:31)
- A new way of spending your time (Eph. 5:15-16)
- A new way of using your money (2 Cor. 8:3-5; 9:6-7)
- A new way of looking at life (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
Let’s discuss one more aspect of your life that God wants to change. The Lord wants to change your appearance. In one respect, God actually wants you to take the initiative in doing the changing, but He will give you the strength and ability to do this to please Him (Phil. 2:13-14; Heb. 13:21). Those in the world around you will not be able to understand this perspective since they are controlled by their own personal desires and the patterns of society around them. The genuine Christian, however, will be interested in the will of God contained in Scripture. How does God want you to be transformed in appearance? (Most of what we discuss will directly pertain to the woman but the principles will likewise pertain to the man.)
Modest Clothes (but these girls could have covered their heads).
You must dress to please the Lord.
Paul says that we must have as our ambition “to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9). This means that in everything we do, including how we dress, we must please the Lord rather than ourselves (2 Cor. 5:15). Peter writes that the woman’s adornment “must not be external” but she is to be concerned about “the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4). Are you deeply concerned about how you may glorify God in your clothing rather than please yourself or other people? Are you determined to seek that which is “precious” in God’s sight instead of desirable in the sight of others? Remember that those men and women of God you really care about who are fellow-members in the Father’s eternal family will be interested in your inner spiritual qualities rather than your external attractiveness.
You must dress modestly and discreetly.
You must choose your clothes wisely and in harmony with Scriptural directives. For example, Paul writes that women are to “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly” (1 Tim. 2:9a). This means that you should not wear form-fitting, sexy, and transparent clothes. You should not expose your body to others, for clothes are meant to conceal rather than reveal. Would you say that shorts, short dresses, sleeveless blouses, swim suits, low-cut necklines, and the like are designed to reveal or to conceal the woman’s body?
You must not dress in costly clothes.
Many women (and men) spend far too much on clothes. Paul says that we are not to be adorned in “costly garments” or “expensive clothes” (1 Tim. 2:9, NASB, NIV). People generally spend a lot of money on clothes when they want to impress others and this in itself is not worthy of the Christian. Consider making your own dresses and other clothes or have a sister in the Lord help you make them. Scripture also warns against adorning ourselves with “gold or pearls” (1 Tim. 2:9) or “gold jewelry” (1 Pet. 3:3). Think of the rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pins, and other jewelry items used to draw attention to ourselves or make ourselves look important or physically attractive! Be content with a natural, simple and plain appearance that draws the attention of others to God and your inner qualities rather than your external physical appearance!
You must not dress to be admired by other women or sexually desired by men.
Clothing is meant to cover our bodies in a plain and simple way. It is not meant to create envy in another sister. Nor are clothes meant to arouse lust in the heart of the opposite sex. Jesus warned, “Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). He said it is better to tear one’s eye out than to sin in this way and be sent to hell (vv. 29-30)! Love others to such an extent that you do not stimulate either envy or lust in others! If you cause others to sin by your appearance, then you grievously sin yourself (Luke 17:1-2).
Wear clothes that clearly identify your own sex.
In the beginning, God created “male and female” (Genesis 1:27) and He wants men and women to appear as men and women! God said in His Law: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing” (Deut. 22:5). Even under Christ, God wants a clear gender distinction. Traditionally, in the western world, this has meant that “men wear the pants” and appear in a masculine manner. Women have generally expressed their femininity by wearing modest dresses. Furthermore, until quite recently, worldly women have bedecked themselves with jewelry of all kinds. However, in our day many worldly men appear feminine by wearing earrings and other jewelry. God says that it is an “abomination” to appear as the opposite sex (Deut. 22:5). Although the unisex influence of the last two generations has served to blur the male-female distinctions, Christians should determine to wear clothes that clearly pertain to their own gender and witness to God’s will in a corrupt and God-defying world (Gal. 1:4; 1 Peter 4:2-4).
Be careful of your hairstyle.
Hair is one of the chief “gods” in the life of many people. Entire magazines are devoted to hairstyles. Hairdressers are in demand today! When the Bible was written, fashionable women in the Roman world put up their hair in an elaborate coiffure and even dyed their hair! Because of this, both Paul and Peter write that women must not style their hair in an ostentatious manner (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3). Surely the intent of these passages would disallow the worldly and even unnatural hairstyles popular today as well as the dying of hair and every other means of seeking “the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43). Consider also the use of a cloth covering that is related to feminine submission that Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
Beware of the unisex hair lengths.
When women began to cut their hair several generations ago, the practice created a scandal! When men began to allow their hair to grow long in the 1960s, this too created a scandal! The Bible speaks to this matter: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Cor. 11:14-15). Paul also says that “it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off” (v. 6). Quite plainly, men should have short hair and women should have long hair. Men should look like men and women should look like women. It is disgraceful for men and women to look like the opposite sex! A woman may ask, “How long is long?” Consider the examples of Mary of Bethany (John 12:3) and the woman in the Pharisees’ house (Luke 7:37-38,44). Both of these women had hair long enough to wipe the feet of Jesus! Sisters, determine to look like women and allow your hair to grow long. Brothers, look like men and regularly cut your hair.
Avoid any practice in appearance that is worldly, unholy, undisciplined, and unlike Christ.
Determine to not be con-formed to the world (Rom. 12:1). Purpose to live in absolute holiness (Heb. 12:14). Practice strict self-control (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Be committed to walk like Jesus did (1 John 2:6). This sincere perspective will have implications in our appearance. Consider carefully: What about the worldly practices of long, painted fingernails? What would Jesus say about tattoos and body piercing? Would a devout and holy woman indulge in bright lipstick and makeup? Do high-heeled shoes really communicate a modest demeanor? Does being grossly overweight give the appearance of self-control, temperance, and self-discipline? What about wearing loud colors, bizarre patterns and high-fashion items? Biblical principles should help you to answer these questions for yourself.
Be careful of influencing others with your clothing.
Clothes today make a “statement” to others. Most of the pictures and messages on shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and caps give messages that are questionable in the least and negative at the most. Many have to do with sports, rock and country music, beer, sexual immorality, and other negative themes. Even advertisements may convey the wrong message. It is better to be “neutral” in your clothes to avoid offending others. If any message at all is conveyed, let it be a distinctly Christian or moral one! Be an example for good to others (1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7).
A Final Word
The true Christian is part of a counter-cultural movement. We do not think, speak, plan, read, eat, or dress like the sinful society around us! God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Just as our words reveal our heart (Matt. 12:34), so our appearance reveals our inner person (1 Peter 3:3-4). God says that people look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). He wants us to have a heart that is earnestly in love with Him that will motivate us to appear as transformed people. Our very appearance is to be pure and holy in contrast to a world around us that is distorted and under Gods righteous judgment. Let us prayerfully determine to give all we are and have to God through Christ and make the radical changes necessary to appear as His children in the world!
Questions to Ask Yourself
What effect does Christ have on your appearance?
What instruction from God’s Word can help us in knowing how to dress?
Do you dress to please the Lord or yourself?
What do you think about sexy, worldly, or expensive clothes?
Do you choose clothes to be admired by other women or sexually desired by men?
If you are a woman, do you look completely feminine? If you are a man, do you appear fully masculine?
What does God say about hairstyles and hair length?
Do you avoid anything that appears worldly, unholy, and unlike Christ Jesus?