Lesson 9 -- fourth quarter 2009
November 1, 2009
© Copyright 2009
After what or whom do I model my life?
Have I excused or ignored any unholiness in me recently?
How practical and liveable is my hope?
Am I taking an active, purposeful role in the purifying of my soul?
Just how eternal is my day-to-day value system?
Which is more important: holy doing or holy being? Are they really so independent of each other? I'll try to clarify my point with another question: Which is more important to life on this planet: your body or your spirit? They are essential to each other!
Though holy living has plenty of facets, I want to focus my comments here on a dimension of holy living that gets little positive press these days: outward appearance ("externals," if you will).
I have met plenty of people who bristle, squirm or get defensive when the subject of outward nonconformity comes up. Some of them try to "get off the hook" by asking questions such as this: "Which should come first, the outer expression or the inner conviction?" They seem to think they can "win" no matter what answer they get. If you tell them the outer expression should come first, they inform you such a view encourages and supports hypocrisy. If you tell them the inner conviction must come first, they let you know God hasn't given them such a conviction. Either way, they feel they don't need to practice nonconformity of appearance.
Is there then no right answer to the question?
I suggest answering their question with a couple of questions: "Regardless of which of those comes first, does God want His people to look like the world? What does the Bible say about the matter?" I expect that most committed Christians will know intuitively that the answer to the first question is negative. They may need some help with answering the second question. (That's where you come in; are you ready?!)
Once you agree that God doesn't want His people to look like the world, you have agreed that God does want His people to be nonconformed in appearance. Then you are finally ready to answer the original question: "Obedience should come first." Ideally, we want obedience in appearance to result from conviction. However, if you belong to a family or a congregation that requires nonconformed dress, then you obey even if you don't have the conviction. That is not hypocrisy, unless you pretend you have the conviction to go with it.
The issue of how the believer should dress can raise plenty of questions...as well as hackles. I'm not too concerned about the hackles. The questions definitely interest me, especially as they concern principles that guide our choices regarding personal appearance. Here are several principles to help us:
This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: The Power of the Tongue.
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