Dressing the Part

Justin Johnson

You desire to lead the church. What should you wear? Under Israel’s law there were rules about what to wear (Deu 22:11).

Unfortunately, God was silent about Hawaiian shirts and low sagging pants. But now you are not under law, but under grace (Rom 6:14-15).

Under grace, you understand that just as a required tithe does not make someone generous, a required dress code does not change the person underneath.

Does this mean how you present yourself does not matter?

Grace Changes You

Does grace change what you wear? Why shouldn’t it? It changes you.

People change what they wear all the time, and no one tells them they must. They purpose it all by themselves.

Attire changes when people expect to sit and watch the game, to show respect at a wedding or funeral, to get dirty doing yard work, to present themselves professionally for job interviews, or to be taken seriously in their occupation.

What you wear is personal. Clothes change depending on the task you perform and how you want to present yourself. Why wouldn’t you consider your position and tasks as a member of the body of Christ any different?

You should dress according as you purpose in your heart under grace. Now, who has God made you in Christ?

In Christ you are a new creature, a saint of God, a member of His body, a servant of righteousness, to do the work of the ministry.

Grace teaches us to put off the old man, and put on the new man (Eph 4:22-24). Grace teaches us to be an example to the believers in purity (1 Tim 4:12); not to be a stumbling block (Rom 14:13); and that there is apparel which is becoming the saint(1 Tim 2:9).

It would be wrong to place our wardrobe back under the law, but would be just as wrong to ignore what is edifying for the sake of personal liberty (1 Cor 6:15; Gal 5:13). This would be a disservice to who God has made you to be.

The Position You Hold

It is always wrong to attach spiritual significance to physical things like clothes. What you wear does not change your position in Christ, but dressing the part requires knowing what position you are taking.

How should we dress? Paul wore robes and was found in nakedness (not a desirable condition 2 Cor 11:27 and 2 Cor 5:3). Christ was stripped of his clothes before he hung on the cross.

Nothing we wear down here will compare to the glory we shall put on in heavenly places (1 Cor 15:53; 2 Cor 5:2).

Until then, when we assume the most important task left us of edifying members of the Body, leading the church, preaching God’s words, dress like you are going to a funeral, because you should reckon yourself dead.

Dress like you are going to a wedding, because you wish to respect the two that have become one (Eph 5:32).

Dress like you are addressing the United Nations (gentiles), because you are an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ to all men.

Dress like you take what you are doing seriously, giving respect to the doctrine, the people, and the work. Never present yourself as if who you are in Christ and what you are doing does not matter.

What Clothes Cannot Do

Clothes cannot save you or put you in Christ, but they can set you apart from the crowd.

What we wear does not change who we are, but it can speak to whom we represent.

Raiment cannot change our behavior, but it can change the respect we give and receive.

Apparel cannot ordain authority or give confidence, but it can communicate it.

You are not under the law about what to wear. When Paul talks about physical adornment he speaks of adorning the doctrine not the man.

What you wear should start with putting on Christ in your inner man. Never take a stand in church without putting on the whole armour of God which is the truth (Eph 6:11-18). Then with a heart prepared by grace, with a purpose to stand for truth, knowing your position, you decide how to dress.

If you want to adorn right doctrine, purpose in your heart to respect the role you are taking by dressing appropriately (1 Tim 3:1-10).

If you are not yet ready to take such a role, then know that grace has changed you. Is grace changing what you put on (Col 3:10-14)?

Top of the Page
Article Index
Published: March 5, 2016
Last Modified: February 29, 2020
Receive articles like this in our weekly email update sent free to subscribers.