Modesty: A Matter of the Heart

By Jerry Price
Jul 21, 2009

h2.Sermon Outline

Modesty: A Matter of the Heart


Bible verses about Modesty:
Romans 12:1; Ephesians 4:17-19; I Peter 3:1-5; 1 Peter 4:3

Emphasis Passage:

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


After dealing with doctrinal issues concerning false teachers and the juxtaposition of law and grace in chapter one, Paul turned in the second chapter to the matter of public worship in the church. In verses 1-8, he addressed the matter of prayer. In verses 9-15, he confronted the issue of how women should dress and serve in public worship.


h.3 Introduction:

The geode is the state rock of Iowa. Though they can be found elsewhere, Iowa is known for the high number of geodes that exist in the state. A geode is a rare type of rock that looks rather plain and dull on the outside. But when it is cut open, it is filled with crystals with a variety of colors and shapes. Most often the crystals inside are quartz and calcite, but as many as 20 other crystals, some colorless and some in varying shades of white, pink, red, black, gold, brown, bronze, orange, and green, have been identified inside geodes. No one would ever look at a geode and think that there was so much beauty inside.

Christians create a similar kind of deception when they fail to maintain a physical appearance that reflects true Christian values. What is seen on the outside should be a reflection of what is on the inside. Every outward expression of a believer—whether it is their dress, their manner of speech, or their actions—should reflect the reality of Christ in the heart. That is true for everyone, not just women to whom this passage was originally addressed.

I. Modesty: a matter of style (v. 9).

Paul said that modesty is a matter of style by using both a positive and a negative admonition. In the positive sense, he said that people should dress in “proper apparel” or “dress modestly” (NIV)A. T. Robertson, _Word Pictures in the New Testament, _ Vol. 4, p. 569, says the word translated “proper” is an “old adjective that means well-arranged, becoming.” John MacArthur, First Timothy. MacArthur New Testament Commentary, p. 79, notes this word “is often translated ‘world,’ but it really means ‘order,’ or ‘system.’ It is the antonym of ‘chaos.’” To be properly dressed means one is neither under-dressed nor over-dressed.

In the negative sense, Paul listed some things that were characteristic of people who sought to attract attention to themselves and away from God. Isaiah 3:18-23 described in detail some of the things being worn in earlier times that were self-glorifying. This is not to say that a person is to dress in drab, unbecoming apparel. A person may dress nicely without over-doing it. Lenski, _The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon, _ p. 560, says, “Paul is not insisting on drab dress. Even this may be worn with vanity; the very drabness may be made a display. Each according to her station in life: the queen not being the same as her lady in waiting, the latter not the same as her noble mistress.” Peter, speaking of women, made the same point in 1 Peter 3:3. No one is to dress in such a way as to attract attention. They are to draw attention to God. Again, this applies not just to women, but to men as well.

II. Modesty: a matter of substance (v. 9).

Paul used two words that reveal that modesty really is a matter of the heart. They are elements of the inner substance of the person that produce the outward characteristic of modesty. The first is the word translated “modesty” (or “decency” in the NIV). The KJV uses the word “shamefacedness.” Homer Kent, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 110, says this word “denotes reverence, respect, modesty.” Kenneth Wuest, _Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, _ p. 46, says the word “in earlier Greek…was sometimes blended with the sense of (shame), though it was used also of the feeling of respectful timidity in the presence of superiors, or of penitent respect toward one who has been wronged…The word is a blend of modesty and humility.”

This modesty and humility is reinforced by the second word, translated “self-control.” Wuest, _Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, _ p. 46, says this word refers to “soundness of mind, self-control, sobriety. The word speaks of the entire command of the passions and desires, a self-control which holds the reins over these.”

Speaking of the combination of these two words, Robertson Nicoll, _Expositors Greek Testament, _ Vol. 4, p. 108, says, “_with shamefastness and self-control or discreetness: _ the inward characteristic, and the external indication or evidence of it.” Donald Guthrie, “Commentary on 1 Timothy” in _The Pastoral Epistles, _ p. 75, says these two words indicate “dignity and seriousness of purpose as opposed to levity and frivolity.” In other words, what is on the inside finds expression on the outside.

III. Modesty: a matter of service (v. 10).

Just as people are to dress modestly with regard to clothing, they are to adorn themselves with “good works.” Here, too, we see that what is evident on the outside is dependent on who the person is on the inside. The good works are a matter of the heart. Those “professing godliness” will have an inward motivation to show their heart by the kind of life they live. It will be evident not only by the way they dress but also by what they accomplish for the Lord. Wuest, _Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, _ p. 47, states, “It is the principle that governs the kind of adornment, which is in Paul’s mind here, namely, the Christian woman is to depend for her adornment upon a Christian character, good works. When she does this her apparel will be in keeping with her Christian character.” The same certainly applies to men.


Modesty in all aspects of life, whether in clothing or speech or actions, really is a matter of the heart. Unlike the geode whose beauty is trapped inside until cut open, our inner beauty is to be shown by the way we conduct every aspect of our lives.


• If you have children living at home, begin teaching them why and how to dress modestly. If you are a grandparent, talk to your grandchildren about modesty as you have opportunity.
• Point out to children in your family examples of immodest dress that you observe on TV or in movies. Talk about how immodest dress influences other people.
• Ask the pastor to preach on modesty.
• Call or write media outlets to let them know of your concern about the level of immodesty in their offerings. Ask other people in your congregation to join you in this effort.

Further Learning

Learn more about: Family, Children, Parenting, Sexual Purity, Abstinence, Dating, Modesty, Pornography,

You May Also Like

Church Equip events aid in tackling ethical questions

By Tom Strode - Aug 9, 2013

For one church, it might be homosexuality. For another, it might be adoption. For another, it might be abortion or race relations or pornography or human trafficking.

Whatever issue a Southern Baptist church needs to address, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is seeking to tailor congregation-by-congregation methods of helping them by means of a new initiative called Church Equip.…

Read More
Senate includes homosexuals in hate crimes protection Health care reform threat to unborn, pro-lifers warn