5 Aug 2003

Decency, Modesty, Deeds!

Submitted by theshovel
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Hi, Well, seems there’s always something to bring me back to my schitzoid state of guilt/works..

1 Timothy 2:9,10 Why does Paul tell women they should dress modestly, with decency, not with expensive clothes (getting back to the poverty concept again..) And with GOOD DEEDS appropiate for women who worship God? Why does it matter how we dress if Christ is what matters? What happened to freedom? Are we to dress like nuns? If we wear expensive clothes that goes back to my poverty question, that we should give all we don’t need away.

We have to prove we love God by our “good deeds?”

Also in Phillipians 3:15 Paul is pressing toward the goal “Let us LIVE UP to what we have already attained?” That sure sounds like the striving, the straining toward what is ahead. TRYING to LIVE UP TO IT????

Well, getting back to the first question: I have to confess I HATE wearing a bra. My Mom made me wear one when I “bloomed” and I was such a tomboy I hated it then too. She finally gave up and I didn’t wear one for years. Then when I got religion I felt ashamed that I wasn’t wearing “proper women’s Christian attire” so I started wearing them. Well, I hope I didn’t embarrass anyone but it has nagged at me. Dressing to show you worship sounds like impressing others. I am damned confused as usual.. I was feeling so liberated but I guess I better not start my bonfire yet.

Older, grayer, dizzier Barbi

Hi Barbi, the blooming tomboy!

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Something I’ve considered about Paul’s statement is the connection between “proper clothing” and “good works”. In other words, what if he is making a comparison between clothing and the goodness that comes out of the life of Christ by contrasting it with what we’ve assumed is fitting apparel? It would be as if he was making sure he was identifying the true and fitting clothing of a woman, which could not be achieved by any expense, either in the clothing, the hair or jewelry.

What I’m suggesting is that Paul was not telling the women how to wear man-made clothing. Instead, he was defining for them what their true clothing really was: the goodness of Christ. And no, it has nothing to do with an attempt to prove that we love God, but was meant as a wake up to those who thought that outward clothing had anything to do with our life in Christ.

You see, if we wanted to be real literal with Paul’s statement we’d have to realize that the ONLY clothing mentioned was “good works” … which might demand that they should wear no earthly clothes at all. :) “Modestly and discreetly” is used in direct contrast to the whole game of competition in showing off who is best-dressed by a world that only considers the outward when it comes to “proper clothing”.

Keep in mind that what Paul had written to Timothy would have been taken by that man in view of everything he knew of Paul … which was the determined recognition of Christ and him crucified. Timothy had probably written or said something to Paul previous to this about certain problems that may have been popping up relating to the men and also to the women.

Regarding the men, Paul had first written:

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 1 Timothy 2:8

Now, I’ve seen this verse used as if it were a rule that true prayer involved raising one’s hands in the air. But if you read the whole thing together there is a picture created of the contrast in the use of men’s hands: Lifted up in physical fighting or battle (“wrath and dissension) vs. those same hands now raised together in realization of the peace brought between them in Christ. There was no command or even preference established by the statement.

Our true clothing in Christ speaks of that which is truly fitting for us now. In other words, it is the most real stuff of Christ within us that truly corresponds with everything about us. While we so often get caught up in false pretenses and the establishment of an “image” to project toward others we need to realize that it is all totally bogus, for the real stuff of Christ fits us perfectly, whether it be the letting down of defenses built upon the flesh, or the honesty we find we must declare, or the simple kindness toward one another that keeps surging from within us. The old facades we tried to project as the “real us” are bogus … let that not serve as “proper clothing”, for it is not.

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, 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. Ephesians 3:20-24

I have a few things written concerning the verses following the “proper clothing” stuff in Timothy that you might find helpful. Click here to read that.


Jim, I understand your point of being clothed with good works instead of concerning yourself with what you are wearing on the outside. But why did Paul say “good works” instead of the goodness of Christ? Good works, faith is dead without works, why the word “works” if it isnt works? AGHH! I just don’t know what to believe anymore.


Why did he use the word “works”? Maybe because the goodness of Christ IS our works. Don’t you find it ironic that we had striven by our own works to gain some kind of satisfaction from ourselves, our world and our gods … and yet when the miraculous life of God in us becomes our very life making us alive to actually perform what is truly good we back off in fear at the very idea?

Fear not, my dear friend, for God would not or could not deliver you according to your own works of righteousness (which were never righteous in any sense other than self-righteous garbage), but He has indeed determined that you WOULD walk IN works of TRUE righteousness. The so-obvious reality is that according to HIS righteousness we have no doubt as to where it comes from … and that it is not according to anything we ever were or are in the flesh.

Just don’t be surprised when the true good works are rated as being NOT from God by the world around you. It happened to Jesus.

Love, Jim

Jim, not to be a thorn in your side, tee hee- but in James 2 he does say deeds as in ACTION. Example: If you DO nothing about someone’s physical needs your faith is dead. “I will show you my faith by what I do” “What good is faith without deeds?”So how can that “works, deeds” be translated into the goodness of Christ already in me? I just live & trust that Christgoodness is doing its thing regardless of what I see??? Barbi

A thorn in my side? haha … no, no, I take stuff like this as wonderful opportunities for the grace of Christ to really shine bright!! Actually, if you were being a thorn in anyone’s side I would suspect it might be your own!

First thing to keep in mind is that there is nothing truly active in a living sense other than the goodness of Christ within us. Everything else that we have grown accustomed to in this world is pretty much smoke and mirrors. So, never assume that the goodness of Christ within us is not doing something. But, as Connie mentioned, this is the stuff that is almost always overlooked in favor of the world’s foo-foo.

Also, when you’re considering verses from James don’t be intimidated by the religious explanations, because most of what we’ve been taught about that letter had actually addressed the exact same mindset that is now telling us how to understand the letter. Risk management. That’s what the religious world has done with James alright!

You see, when somebody wants to hammer you with the “faith without works is dead” issue of James 2 they almost always miss the point directed at the religious self-righteous mentality … and the fact is that when they do this they are doing the same thing as the ones James criticized in his letter!

The religious mind is always trying to wow its audience by how it says what it says. At that time, those who only had religion (and not Christ) found they could better establish themselves in positions of leadership, respect and/or authority if they were to adjust their speech to include the professions of what “Christians” were supposed to say.

So, they claimed to believe in Jesus Christ, when in fact nothing miraculous had ever occurred within them, for they were caught up in their own self-righteousness. “Faith” to them was nothing more than a form of religious power, and just like today’s religious folks they thought very highly of their own “level” of faith. That attitude came across so clearly that it intimidated those “of faith” … for real faith doesn’t boast of itself. And how could it since it is a miraculous reality born of God and not of human accomplishment?

James’ words cut right through the lies of those deceivers by using their little game against them and exposing the hypocrisy of those whose “faith” is nothing but a vapor on the wind, you know, hot air forming itself into boastful facades. If James were to address those same people I think he would probably make a set up based upon those who talk about how “faith without works is dead” so that it is assumed (by false appearances, that is) that they are actually performing what they demand!! It’s all fluff, smoke and mirrors, foo-foo … you know, BS!

Here’s a clip from my Shovelation on James dealing with the last part of chapter 2 and the infamous “faith without works is dead” passage. It considers the two examples of true faith (that which is not void of works) in more detail so that the obvious point made to the original readers cannot be missed.

After all, wasn’t Abraham, “the father of faith”, shown to be righteous by what he did when he set out to kill his son “for God”? Considering the fact that the only eye-witness to the deed was about to be offered as a sacrifice, Abraham was obviously not trying to please men (but I doubt anybody would have thought it was from God). Don’t you see how faith was the invisible substance behind his actions; and in turn, the actions were the visible instrument by which that faith was carried to completion? And so, that which had been declared about him – “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” – was shown to be true . By the way, who do you suppose circulated the story of Abraham’s faith so that he came to be known as “the friend of God”? Abraham … or Isaac? Don’t miss the fact that this story shows a man motivated by faith, doing something that didn’t appear right, but being shown as righteous by the thing he did to the one who had the greatest reason to doubt it. It wasn’t only his claim to believe God.

And there’s another unlikely example from the Bible that shows how a person is justified by what they did. Her name was Rahab, and she was a PROSTITUTE and also a foreign enemy! She turned against her people and hid the spies who were sent to survey her city before destroying it. And then she lied to the guards as to the whereabouts of the intruders; and then sent them safely back with a promise from them for protection. For she, also, had been motivated by the miraculous working of God to do this thing. Once again, in the life of this woman, the outworking of faith was not something that would have appeared to be right in the eyes of her own people, nor would her emotions have convinced her that it was of God, but it was. For as the body without the life of it is dead, so also “faith” without that which carries it is dead.

The fact is that we have now been released from the facade of what the world teaches as being goodness and morality and godliness. This freedom has set us free from the bondage of empty claims and promises so that we can truly live. We are so free that any attempt to compete with what the world calls good and right will grate against our very lives from the pure fakery of the empty lie. Never, ever underestimate the reality of our freedom in Christ.

For at one time we were motivated to achieve an image in this world to help pacify our own sense of desperation and despair. And even now, the empty religious mind will try to intimidate us to jump back into the game based of pretenses and competition with a desire to come out looking good to the world around us. In Christ we are constantly having it revealed as to the emptiness of the former facade. Into this world the life of Christ is being expressed in truth and reality, in very real ways. There is nothing hypothetical about the miracle of his life in us.


I just live & trust that Christgoodness is doing its thing regardless of what I see??? Barbi

Or maybe, regardless of what you have assumed you see. Yep, trust his life in you … for hope does not disappoint.


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To deal honestly with those around us is to deal with them according to the truth we have been re-created in, the life that is always testifying from within us. source