Biblical Modesty: How to Interpret the Scriptures

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,  for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.  (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)

Have You Ever Been Asked, “Why Does Your Church Do What You Do?”

Many people will give a response to those who inquire about their lifestyle by saying, “That is just the way we do it at our church” or, “That’s the way we do it over here” or “We don’t do that here.” When they really should say, “The Bible says to do this”  and “We obey the Scriptures concerning these things.”   We all should live  according to the word of God, not according to what we think, because there is no private interpretation of the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Everyone should remember that living according to biblical teachings  will put a  distinct difference between  the church of God and the world (Romans 8:13-14). And you and I should want that difference.  These biblical principles are from Jesus Christ, through his first apostles, who used the Old Testament Scriptures to teach the message in New Testament writings that were addressed to the churches throughout the world.  Therefore the biblical teachings about holiness did not change with the new covenant. And it is upon these biblical principles that True Holiness exists (Ephesians 2:20).

We have a sure foundation! 

Holiness Is Not a Religion… It is Not an Organization.  It is a Lifestyle.

Apostle Peter was one who taught the 1st century churches from the Old Testament Scriptures about holiness (see Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 20:26).  The first verse of 1 Peter 1st chapter  says that he wrote to the saints who were “exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”  What he said to them defined holiness as a way of life that the people of God should practice:

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Also read 2 Peter 3:11.


The Bible is the authority on every aspect of our lifestyle. 

Therefore, Apostle Paul also instructed the churches to study the Bible and obey (or practice) its principles of holiness.  The Scriptures will lead us on a straight course to a victorious life, while suppressing our own stereotypes and biases that negatively influences our understanding of the truth and cause us to promote false doctrine.

The greatest problem is if any of us fail to follow God’s law, we will end up trying to establish our own kingdom.  That’s a frightening thought that people are actually preaching their own gospel!  That is what Lucifer did!  So, like Lucifer,  they are doomed and will “fail to make heaven their home”…(as the old saints used to say).  They need to be made aware that we cannot appose God and win.


But surely you  and I know that there is only one true and everlasting kingdom.

We should only preach the kingdom of God.  Therefore, each builder must study the Bible (which are the blue prints of the kingdom) and build accordingly (read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). 

So let us review the following statement about the authority that the church is following.  I will paraphrase 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 very carefully…

All Scripture belongs to God and it is …

⇒  The authority for doctrine, which is a pattern of sound teaching

⇒  To establish the difference between right and wrong (2 Tim 1:13-14)

⇒  To reprove, to scold or rebuke ( Proverbs 15:5 ), 

⇒  To correct, e.i. chastise (Hebrews 12:6), and

⇒  Provide instruction unto righteousness (2nd Timothy 3:16-17).


2nd Timothy  2:15 imperatively says Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 

StudyingI caution you that studying the word of God is more than an intellectual exercise; it requires a prayerful mind, and a series of deliberate and well-planned steps that follow the leading of the Holy Ghost (John 16:13)  into an accurate comprehension of the Scriptures. The outcome of this systematic study is a thorough understanding that will transform your life and the lives of others, from worldliness unto holiness.  It works!  It really works! 

Using the Process of Exegesis:    

Exegesis is a technical and grammatical exposition, e.i., a careful drawing out of the exact meaning of a passage in its original context.

In other words, our study on the biblical doctrine of the difference between modesty and immodesty needs to start with a time-honored systematic approach that will accurately interpret the Scriptures.  The method most often used is called “exegesis,” which analyzes the Scriptures, without the influence of our contemporary  culture or our personal biases.  explains that when using “the process of exegesis, a passage must be viewed in its historical and grammatical context with its time and purpose of writing taken into account as well.” When investigating a biblical doctrine, the student must ask the following questions:

1. Who wrote the text and who is the intended readership?

2. What is the context of the text, i.e. how does it fit in the author’s larger thought process, purpose, or argument in the chapter and book where it resides?

3. Is the choice of words, word order, or phrases significant in this particular passage?

4. Why was the text written (e.g. to correct, encourage, or explain, etc.)?

5. When was the text written?

If you do not follow these rules of interpretation, you will develop unsound doctrine.  Remember…be careful not to read your own culture and your own ideas into the Scripture.

True Holiness biblical scholars have used the method of exegesis in Bible study and have found the doctrine and practice of modesty is how God wants all of us to live; especially his anointed must be an example to the world. 


For a Broader Study on Biblical Exegesis — When you have more time.

Click this comprehensive 311-slide PPT, entitled Science of Scripture Interpretation, from Beulah Heights University.

A Study on Nudity and Biblical Modesty

[For those who want a detailed study on God’s teaching on Biblical Modesty.]

In the Garden of Eden, the sin of indecency and obscenity entered into the affairs of mankind.  Therefore, God began to teach Adam, his wife Eve, and all their generations against this sin.  And for those generations that would never encounter their first parents doctrine, God designed a recurring biblical theme of “the shame of nakedness” throughout all the books of the Bible. 

These biblical precepts are clearly described and are used to instruct us against inappropriate nakedness, that it should be avoided in order to maintain a healthy society.   A list of topics covered in the Bible, against full and partial nakedness, are

  A violation during worship (Exodus 20:26),

⇒  A description of the adornment of a harlot (Proverbs 7:10; Isaiah 4:30; Proverbs 7:6-27;  Read this Introduction),

⇒  Inappropriate exposure to certain family members (Genesis 9:21-23; Exodus 20:26; Leviticus 18:17),

⇒  The consequences of indecent exposure in public (Proverbs 7:6-27),

⇒  Its intentional and unintentional exposure that tempts someone to sin (2 Samuel 11:2), 

⇒  The consequence of Israel’s spiritual condition as a result of God’s judgement (Isaiah 47:3); Ezekiel 23:28; Ezekiel 16:36-39; Hosea 2:1-13; Lamentations 1:18),

⇒  The consequence of the heathen nations as a result of God’s judgement (Isaiah 20:3; Isaiah 47:1-3),

⇒  Used to contrast the proper covering the nation of Israel should desire (Ezekiel 16:7-22),

⇒  Coverings that God requires for his institutional church (Matthew 25:36-40; Revelation 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Revelation 16:15),

⇒  The immodest covering of women and men in the church and society in general (Genesis 3:7; Proverbs 11:22; Proverbs 31:17-22; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; Deuteronomy 22:5;)

  sin referred to as nakedness that need to be covered through Christ (Psalm 32:1-2; Psalm 85:2; Romans 4:7-8; James 5:20)

The scope of this study is much too large to include in this New Member’s Orientation, but it is necessary for you to have access this information, so that you will understand why the saints of God are to be particular about the garments they put on and take off. 

So, for those who desire a detailed study, I have placed a hyperlink to an article in this section on this very important principle, entitled Nudity and Biblical Modesty.  You will find in-depth Scriptural references there as well.  This article is a great resource for preachers and teachers of the gospel and for parents who are struggling to provide facts to their children.

Click on the Study the Bible with us icon below, to read an in-depth exegesis on the sin of nudity, godly modesty, which was published by the Word Internet Bible College.  Bible Study Icon

Modesty promotes a healthy society. 

God first taught this  lifestyle to Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden and they in turn taught their succeeding generations.  That is the reason people clothe themselves all over the world, whether correctly or incorrectly applied. Since the beginning of Adam’s transgression, garments are used for identification, social distinction, religious purposes, and protection.

So, Let’s Investigate God’s Word to Understand How God’s People Must Observe This Principle.

A survey of the Scriptures will demonstrate that the word “modesty” is not used in Genesis, nor in any other Old Testament Scriptures, but is  found in 1 Timothy 2:9.  Yet, the temporal and spiritual principles of covering oneself are taught in both the Old and New TestaModestyments, from Genesis to Revelation.  For example, Proverbs 11:22  teaches that “ As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” This scripture is in reference to her behavior, as well as her immodest appearance. 

Another Old Testament scripture that teaches against immodest covering is  Deuteronomy  22:5.  It says that “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.”  This, of course, is self-explanatory. 

And this passage of scripture should also be understood in the light of the context of the prevailing culture at that time.  For example, garments in that era were not designed like those of our time; specifically slacks.  So what was God teaching Israel.  He taught them to avoid gender confusion, do not practice cross dressing.  He wanted them to avoid wearing any garment that would blur the difference between male and female.

Yet this scripture is used by others to defend the right of women to wear slacks, because women’s slacks can be designed differently from men’s slacks. So it is OK to wear them?  Further study will demonstrate that other scripture  concerning modesty must also be considered.  For example, when women wear tight or form revealing clothing, their genitalia, thighs, and buttocks are on display.   Therefore, women’s slacks may not be a issue for gender confusion, but they are an issue for female modesty, for revealing their nakedness.

The theme of biblical modesty is also found in Revelation 3:18.  It teaches about spiritual nakedness in the Laodicean church. 

The Scripture tells them to be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.  What does that mean?

The Laodicean church had walked in the steps of Adam and Eve—they had attempted to clothe themselves to cover their nakedness (Genesis. 3:7-11). Yet the fig leaves sewn by Adam and his wife were not sufficient in God’s sight—animal sacrifice was needed to atone for sin when God provided their clothing (Genesis. 3:21). The Laodicean church had religion, but was lacking relationship . They had attempted to substitute their own righteousness (Proverbs 20:6Proverbs. 21:2;  Matthew 5:20;  Luke 10:29Luke 18:9) for the righteousness that can only come from God (Romans 10:3). They were clothed in see-through garments of their own works—naked but unable to see their condition. They needed to purchase from God the robes of righteousness: 

Therefore, to Be Modest is to Cover Your Temporal and Spiritual Nakedness

In the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 3:21,  to be modest was “to cover physical nakedness.” God sacrificed an animal to make Adam and Eve coats of skin, to cover their nakedness.  In this biblical account,  we read of 3 different types of immodesty, which involved the inner man (spiritual) and the outer man (temporal):

1. ⇒ lack of discretion (Eve’s lack of humility toward God)

2. ⇒ complete physical nakedness (which they became aware through their transgression) and

3. ⇒ inappropriate clothing (which were their aprons)

Therefore, we have learned that the aprons that Adam and Eve made to cover their nakedness were not appropriate garments.  And in a spiritual manner, the works of the Laodicean church were not acceptable covering as well.  God is the same today as he was yesterday (Hebrews 13:8)!  He is still teaching us how to cover all of our nakedness.


Modest Adornment vs Elaborate Outer Garments

In the New Testament, Apostle Paul used the actual words “modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9-10) when he instructed Pastor Timothy how to teach women in the church to properly adorn themselves.   He stressed that the woman’s proper behavior should be her adornment, instead of the elaborate outer garments.

Also, in Romans 12:1-2,  Paul emphasizes to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God...”  He goes on to remind us that the Holy Ghost dwells in us (the inner man) through which we approach the throne of God and through which we witness to the world.  The people of God are to be living epistles for others to read.  Paul continues to instruct the Corinthian church in the following…

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1st Corinthians 6:19, 20) 

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2nd Corinthians 3:2, 3)

Another Definition of Nakedness

Many generations after Adam and Eve, we read in the Gospel of John 21:7 that the doctrine of covering nakedness is still socially observed.  This was when Peter removed his outer coat to work (or was stripped to his undergarments for work) on his fishing boat. We learn that his undergarment was a proper garment for fishing, but was considered immodest apparel for public appearances.  Especially when greeting his Rabbi. 

Like Adam and Eve, Peter became ashamed and covered himself.  It was a nonpublic environment, before Christ arrived, and the Scripture describes Peter’s lack of appropriate covering as nakedness.”  Lets read the biblical account of this event, in the Book of John 21:4-5:

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (John 21:4-7)

The Scriptures Teach that Nakedness is Never Socially Acceptable, Regardless of the Situation.  

(Luke 8:26-29, 35):

And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. Demon Possessed(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)  Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

When the demon possessed man of Gadarenes found Jesus Christ, he came into his right mind, put his clothes back on and sat down at the feet of Jesus.

I will expound further by saying it is reasonable for us to understand why it is holy and acceptable to be appropriately adorned before God and man; it demonstrates self-respect, respect for others, and discourages or extinguishes ungodly emotions.  We have reviewed only a few passages that demonstrate these things. However, a more detailed study of this topic is presented in the next blog post, entitled  Modesty: It is Not a Religious Invention.

Various Social and Religious Institutions Neglect Proper Use of Scriptural Analysis.

This is because they simply rely on mere intellect that appeals to their fleshly appetites.  Many twist the Scriptures to say what they want them to say.   Therefore, they make themselves blind to the truth.  1 Corinthians 2:14-16 reminds us that

“…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, [or acquire them] because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 

What you must understand is that it is the same devil, who was in the Garden of Eden convincing Eve to ignore God’s law about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, who appealed to her sense of reasoning through beguiling her (e.i., to influence by trickery, and flattery, to mislead; to delude), who has and is yet deceiving and confusing people throughout the ages, about the Scriptures about God’s law of temporal and spiritual modesty. 

Therefore, you need the Holy Ghost to simplify the letter of the word and to guide you (John 16:13) through your study….to protect you from being misled, like Eve.  Satan beguiled her through deception, by employing charm and enticing words. She enjoyed that!  It made her feel powerful or prideful.  That is why she did not feel threatened or alarmed during her conversation with Lucifer.  His suggestions seemed reasonable and attainable to her.  Therefore, she allowed herself to be seduced… by a false oracle of God.   True Holiness, let us be wise!

Apostle Paul warns us in, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 that

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his  [Satan’s] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 

We need to be vigilant, because you don’t want to end up living and worshipping contrary to God’s will.  

Biblical modesty isn’t a set of rules that teaches everyone to wear exactly the same style and exactly the same color of clothing and headdress…

Nor should your manner of living and adornment convey that you are a prude or extremist.  Yet, you want to refrain from putting on or taking off anything that identifies you with worldliness, such as seduction, lasciviousness, and rebellion.  Your distinctive holy lifestyle will cause others to respect and acknowledge you as sober minded and wise, “so that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:1-8).  

Click on 11th Orientation Topic ⇒  Modesty: It is Not a Religious Invention

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