Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pastoral, Gracious, Truthful. Modesty: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel

Modest 364Cruciform Press publishes one kind of book. Cross focused Gospel proclaiming books. And you might at first wonder- How do you write a Cross focused Gospel proclaiming book about Modesty? 

Here is how. Modest: Men and Women clothed in the Gospel, by Tim Challies, author, pastor and blogger, and R W Glenn, Pastor of Redeemer Bible Church.
  "The foremost reason we’ve written this book is that it’s so easy to talk about modesty (or any other virtue, for that matter) without reference to the gospel" "We’re primarily interested in the gospel—the gospel that has implications for all of life, the full-orbed right-where-you-live gospel. What we’re interested in is gospel modesty."

   So true! All things from politics to evolution to modesty must be discussed from a  Cross Centered focus. That is what we needed. And that is what Pastors Challies and Glenn deliver.
With a Pastoral, gracious, truthful tone these two pastors show us The Cross between the two errors- making modesty our righteousness, and the other error, saying that "Outward modesty does not matter- it is the heart that counts. Besides, we have liberty." 

Here is their promise. 
"In the pages that follow, we will not focus on your wardrobe. There’s a sense in which we don’t even care about your wardrobe. But we do care a great deal about your heart—whether you are a man or a woman. We want to see your heart so gripped by the gospel of grace that modesty becomes beautiful and desirable to you, not just
in your wardrobe but in all of life. We want you to understand that modesty isn’t just motivated by the gospel, it’s an entailment of the gospel—it flows naturally from a solid grasp of the good news of the gospel."   Isn't this fascinating? That modesty flows out of understanding the Gospel? 
    "We might put it like this: God’s grace gets involved. It gets involved in every aspect of our lives. There is nothing that God is not interested in changing for the better by his grace.
So on the one hand, the gospel reminds us that what makes us Christian is that God in his grace
has justified us. He has declared us “not guilty” in his courtroom because Jesus lived the life we could never live and died the death we deserved to die—in our place."
"Grace makes an investment in every nook and cranny of our lives so that we may live to maximize the glory of God’s grace in the world. Your skirt and shirt and pants and shoes (we’re addressing both genders) matter to God!"    
     I love this- Grace Makes an Investment in Every Area of Life. So True! As Christians, Grace should be showing in our speech, in our relationships, and in our clothing. However- Clothing does not a Christian make. We are Christians by Grace, whether we dress modestly or not. However- this is not license to sin, not at all! One of the signs of true conversion is the turning away from sin, and to holiness. Grace saves us, not modesty, and Grace is the root of our faith. Holiness is the fruit, after we are saved that is when we understand modesty.  Then we want to dress modestly for God's reasons, not pious righteousness, nor works based salvation, but because we are saved.  
    "At the same time, the gospel of grace is not without demand. There is an edge to grace. Precisely because God is full of grace, he is not content to let us continue in attitudes or behaviors that are not good for us. The grace of God doesn’t cease after bringing salvation—it goes on to instruct us to live a certain way. This is where the edge comes in: grace makes us deny ungodliness and worldly desires because we should live sensibly, righteously, and godly. God cares about how we live, which means that he cares about modesty. "    Another fine phrase.  Grace with an edge. 

"Whenever you find yourself thinking or behaving as if “no condemnation” amounts to divine permission to sin, look at the cross. Your acquittal cost the Father his beloved Son. He suffered, bled, died, and experienced the Father’s wrath in order to purchase your acquittal. There was nothing free about it. This was a transaction with an unimaginable price. And Jesus didn’t pay that price so that you would then be free to sin. He didn’t do it to give you permission to indulge the flesh. He did it to give you the ability and the desire not to sin."  "If it cost something as precious as Jesus’ blood to ransom you from your sin, then sin must be very serious business indeed. Therefore, to blow off sin as inconsequential demonstrates that you live out of a muddied under- standing of the gospel."   It is the Gospel that saves us from error again. When you see the Savior crucified for you, when you are regenerated by His  Spirit you will not want to sin. You will be sensitive to what is sin. You will also see that your clothes are not your righteousness. You are clothed in the righteousness of Christ!

So modesty is fruit of a life regenerated by God. Modesty is more than dress. It is a way to live, and comes from a heart gripped by the Gospel.  A woman is not Modest because she wears a long skirt (although I love too!)- modesty is more than clothes.
Beauty is not immodesty.Modest is pure beauty- not the cheap, naked sensuality that the world calls beauty. Modest dress never leaves out beauty.Indeed, one with out the other is faulty. With pastoral grace, Pastors Challies and Glenn also address the our hearts as ladies on the lookout for those whose clothing choices "lack fabric". Some women really do dress immodestly! And we see it! What are we supposed to do with them? Love them."Love is the goal— love of God and love of neighbor. Even immodest neighbors. No, especially immodest neighbors." And we must ask- is this immodesty, her clothes chosen to cause lust in the men who are looking? Or is she just a beautiful girl? As the authors remind us beauty is not immodesty, and ugliness is not modesty.  I have looked at beautiful girls and thought "Immodest."And I have been wrong.
 There is a lot to think about here, as we avoid license and legalism. And it is important that we do think about it. Scripture says so. 

 This book was given to me free in PDF form to review it. I found this book helpful in my understanding of Modesty. My journey in Modesty has been helped by lots of book, blogs, and ladies who model it. Today I am convicted that a woman's clothes should be feminine, modest, and beautiful.
 Not men's clothes in the name of modesty. Not few clothes in the name of beauty. Both errors deny either femininity, modesty, or Godly beauty.  
   Praise of this book. 

“How short is too short? How tight is too tight? Glenn and Challies don’t say. But they do provide a thoughtful framework to help us come to a grace-based, gospel-grounded understanding of modesty that extends beyond mere clothing. They uphold a vision for modesty that’s both beautiful and desirable—and not only for gals, but for guys too! This book is a great tool to help you wrestle with the practical question of what and what not to wear.”
Mary A. Kassian, author, Girls Gone Wise

It is a healthy antidote to the prevailing views, which tend toward either legalism or antinomianism, by grounding the whole subject in the gospel. I heartily recommend this book.”
Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness 

I need the love of Christ to shape how I think about modesty in all of life; it’s not just about bikinis and burqas. Modest is wonderfully edifying, encouraging, and practical.”
Gloria Furman, author, Glimpses of Grace: Applying the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway, 2013)

“It is so refreshing to have a book on modesty that is a useful resource and not a legalistic, culture-bound list that leaves you a
bit paranoid and guilty. No, this book is different. Its counsel on modesty is not rooted in rules, but in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That grace alone is able to get at the heart of the problem of modesty, which is the heart. In a culture where immodesty is the accepted norm, Glenn and Challies have given us help that every Christian desperately needs.”
Paul David Tripp, pastor, conference speaker, and author

Read the first chapter here. 

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