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Gamaliel's Desk
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
 
Appearance is Everything
The greatest danger facing God’s True Churches today is doctrinal compromise. Today’s sotted saints are selling out their allegiance to the timeless truths of God’s word for a mess of pottage and their chief salesman is Rick Warren. His Saddleback Church in California is leading thousands astray by their false teachings and lackadaisical attitude toward Biblical integrity. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in their casual attitude toward dress.

Let me say, first of all that God cares a great deal about how His people dress. To teach anything different is to give in to the devil’s teaching that “Jesus looks on the heart and not on the outward appearance.” Just because Jesus can see our hearts, doesn’t mean that he ignores what he sees on the outside. It is also because we can’t see the heart that we need to pay particular attention to outward appearance. While it is possible for a worldling to dress like a saint and appear outwardly to be holy, we should never think that it is possible for a saint of God to appear outwardly unholy while remaining right with God in his heart. Outward appearance is how we advertise our allegiance to God and demonstrate to the world that we are holier than they are.

So let us see what the Bible has to say about how we dress. You will find that the Levites received particular instructions in how to dress at the hands of Moses (Leviticus 21). They were told exactly what to wear and they were given individual instruction depending on whether they were the high priest or the regular Levites. God also instructed the nation of Israel on particulars regarding their clothing, including putting fringes on their garments and making sure not to mix fabrics like wool and linen in a single garment (Deuteronomy 22:11-12).

By contrast, Rick Warren has made worship so casual that folks come to his church in shorts, jeans and t-shirts rather than suits, ties and dresses like they ought to. And no wonder, for they are merely following the example of their pastor who preaches in Hawaiian shirts and khaki pants. He is more suited to a California beach than he is a California pulpit. He has no respect for the church, the pulpit or the ministry. Everything about his style is casual and comfortable. Someone who takes such an informal attitude toward worship cannot possibly please God.

As proof of God’s disapproval we see that his church is one of the largest and fastest growing congregations in America today. We all know that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and that apart from the drawing of the Holy Spirit, none can come unto Him. This is why good Pharisee churches remain small – we appeal only to the elect, the sacred remnant, the few who have made their way through the narrow gate. The explosive growth of Saddleback demonstrates that they appeal to the carnal pleasures of the flesh, not the holiness of the spirit. They attract big crowds because people are more interested in satisfying their own desires than in pleasing God. Nor can Rick Warren possibly be preaching the truth since we know that worldly people are not attracted to truth (my church being a clear case in point) and his church is full of people who dress like the world.

His argument for casual dress is that worship doesn’t have to be uncomfortable to be pleasing to God. Let me just say that if God had wanted us to be comfortable in His presence he would have given us a comforter instead of the Holy Spirit of his presence who comes to judge the righteous and the unrighteous alike. God abhors complacency and compromise with the world, demanding instead a separation from the world and a holiness that raises us out of the mire of humanity. We are called to be heavenly minded in spirit and truth and this includes the spirit and truth of how we dress. We know that we will not be spending eternity in heaven dressed in jeans and t-shirts with cute slogans on them but will be arrayed in robes of fine linen signifying of our purity. It is time we started dressing as the heaven-bound saints that we are called to be and not like the world around us.
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