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 Sermon on Church Standards

By Brian Pepper

There are hundreds of questions that people ask through the year. Some are quite easy to answer, others not so easy. Folk often ask, "Where did we came from? Where are we going to? Is there a heaven? Why do we have to die? and many others far too numerous to mention. However there is one thing that I have noticed and that is people like to get straight and clear cut answers to their questionings.


Children Looking for Answers

A father and his young son were one day sitting before the fireplace, the father was reading the paper, the boy was looking at pictures in a book. Suddenly the boy asked his father, "What is electricity, and how does it go through the wires. The father said, "I don't know. Never knew very much about electricity." A little later the boy asked, "What makes lightning and thunder?" "Well, to tell the truth," the father answered, "I don't exactly understand that myself." Some time passed, then the boy said, "Say, Dad." He hesitated a moment, then dropped the matter with "Well, never mind." "Go ahead," said the father, "ask the question. How else are you ever going to learn?" You may smile at this, for the father had not told the boy a thing, except of his own ignorance, and then he had expected his child to learn by asking questions.

There are thousands of homes, so-called Christian homes, in the world today where children are asking their parents questions about the things in life that really count; but very seldom do they get an honest, straight-forward, enlightening answers. We need to know the answers. The Bible has them all. Yes, it is up to the parents to know the answers, and the way to find out the answers is to read and study God's Book.


Is it Alright for Christians to Wear Jewellery?

Now here is a question that is often put forward, is it alright for Christians to wear jewelry?

Now, I have found as I studied this book that God is not only interested in the souls of His people but we find that He is also very interested in their outward appearance. God has given some very definite instruction concerning the things that we are to wear.

In Numbers 15:38-40 God instructed His people to put borders of blue on the fringes of of their garments. And the reason given was that "ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them.“ This distinctive dress was to remind them that they were God's people. Their dress marked them as distinct from all of those who did not serve God.
 

Bible Principles for Christians

We find in the New Testament that there are principles laid down for God's people.

1 John 2:15,16,17 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

The love of the world is the love of display. The man of the world is interested in the material things, he has no time at all for the spiritual things. The world is carnal, all its interests are self centered.

St Paul speaks of the carnal mind. By that he means a worldly mind, the unconverted mind. St John tells the Christian, "Do not love the world or the things of the world, because our interests should be different. Our interests should be spiritual.” We need to be careful that we do not dress like the world.

It is an alarming fact that the love of the world predominates in the minds of the young people. I remember two young men who attended one of the city churches. They dressed like Bodgies. Actually they were nice young fellows but by dressing like Bodgies they gave the impression that they were Bodgies, and Bodgies did not have a very nice reputation. You should be able to distinguish a Christian by their dress and appearance. Their dress should be neat, well chosen, without undue show and display.

God has laid down some principles to guide us in regards to our outward appearance. 1 Timothy 2:9,10 says, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

The principle is that Christian women are to have a modest appearance. They are to refrain from using or wearing Jewelry.

St Peter adds this counsel, 1 Peter 3:3,4 says, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

The thing that God is opposed to is vain show. It is not the thing for a Christian woman to make a vain display of dress and ornaments in order to attract attention to herself. Her greatest attraction should be her Christian conduct.
 

Plaiting of the Hair

The plaiting of the hair was the time consuming hair styles that were all the fashion in Peter’s time. They are with us today. The Ladies often spend hours having their hair trained to follow the latest fashion.

Peter mentions the wearing of gold, the glittering rings, the bracelets, the anklets, that the fashionable women wore in the Roman Empire. The putting on of apparel undoubtedly referred to the custom of changing dresses and ornaments several times a in a day to meet social requirements. We can become so engrossed in our outward appearance that it can become 'idolatry of dress.'
 

Why is God Against Wearing Jewellery?

But you might ask, why is God against the wearing of jewelry? Because the way that you dress, the way you adorn yourself, is a revelation of your character. That is why that God is concerned about ‘vain show’ and the following of the fashions of this world. The worldly idea of beauty is so often the very opposite to that of the Christian’s idea.

When God's people transgressed against Him at Mt Sinai, He said, "..Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.” Exodus 33:5,6

Later on we read where the bracelets, the earrings, rings and jewels of gold, were given as an offering for the building of the tabernacle.

When God's people turned to the use of jewelry, it was a sign of apostasy. In Hosea 2:13, God says that Israel "..decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.”

Then bringing it down to our day, in the Book of Revelation chapter 17 the false church is pictured under the symbol of an evil woman, and she is described as “arrayed in purple and scarlet colour and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls." Verse 4.

While on the other hand, when God's true church is described, the woman is said to be clothed with the righteous character of Christ.


Why were Precious Stones and Jewellery Created?

However you might be inclined to say, "Why then was jewelry created?" It was given for practical uses. Today jewelry is used in our timepieces. Diamonds are used in cutting instruments. We use diamonds and sapphires in our radiograms. The industrial uses of precious stones are many and varied. 

GOD plans to use precious stones in His glorious city, the New Jerusalem. The streets will be of pure gold. Every gate will be a single pearl. The foundations of the city will be of precious stones. God intended that precious stones and jewels would beautify the dwelling places, not the body.

As one well known writer has said, "If men would give less attention to the artificial and would cultivate greater simplicity, they would come far nearer to answering the purpose of God in their creation." Well, the same principle applies as in the case of jewelry.
 

What Should be the Appearance of a Christian?

We are not to attract attention to ourselves by our appearance. I realize that Ii am treading on dangerous ground. One has to be very careful; it is possible for a person to look so odd that we can attract attention to ourselves in the wrong way. A Christian should not be a ‘laughing stock’ but very definitely should be distinctive. The ideal appearance is to reveal that one has abundant health. This is always revealed in the face.

The best way I can illustrate this is to give you my impression of what I saw in two cities, New York and Liverpool. The thing that made the most profound impression upon my mind, was the unhealthy appearance of the girls that I saw in my brief visit to that great metropolis of New York. I can quite honestly say that I did not see one girl in that city with a complexion that caught my attention. I thought now maybe there was something wrong with me, perhaps I had met the wrong ladies, the ones with poor complexions. But checking with the other men on board our ship they assured me that my conclusion was correct. However when we arrived at Liverpool, what a difference! The girls stood out with their lovely complexions, the real peaches and cream that you hear about.
 

Our Faces Reveal our Character

Yes, your face reveals your inward condition. You only paint things that look a little shabby, isn’t that right? Cosmetics are not necessary for a person who is in good health. Usually they have sparkling eyes, radiant skin etc.

In speaking of the sins of His people, God said, “Declare unto them their abominations: Thou didst paint thine eyes and decked thyself with ornaments.” Ezekiel 23:36, 40.

Again in Jeremiah 4:30. "Though thou deck thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rent (paint) thy face with painting; in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life." The term "rentest thy face" means enlarges thy eyes.

The Oriental women used to put a black mineral powder on the edges of the eyelids. This black powder had a metallic glitter and made the eyes appear larger and more brilliant. God speaks against this kind of thing and well He might.

While in New York I went to ±he Stage Door Canteen and was able to have a real close-up view of some of the famous actresses. I don’t mind saying this and it is true with all the paint and plumage that they had on, they looked as if they were on the war path. Instead of being attractive, they really frightened me.

It reminded me of Jezebel, that wicked and idolatrous queen of Israel. In 2 Kings 9:30-37 it describes how "she painted her face and tired (adorned) her head and looked out at a window... so they threw her down and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall."

Jezebel was a sun worshipper; she was an enemy of God. In other words, she was the very opposite to what a Christian should be. She was a heathen and to attract the opposite sex she painted her face. And just as I have stated, our faces reveal our character. And just as Jezebel revealed her character by her appearance, it is very important then as professing Christians, particularly as Christian women, that there is displayed the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price.
 

Looking for the Light in Our Faces

A missionary over in China advertised for a servant, and a well dressed lady responded to the advertisement. The missionary hesitated, for she really wanted someone who would scrub, wash and make beds. Oh yes, the lady understood just 1 what was required, so she was hired. One day the missionary noticed that this lady was looking in a small mirror, again on another occasion it happened. The missionary was interested to know why? The secret was out. "It is coming; the light is on my face!” The lady went on to say "I used to see Christians on their way to church and I noticed how bright their faces were. I wanted to look like those Christians so I thought that if I came here to work for you I might get some of it. My husband tells me the light is coming and I was looking into this mirror to see it.”

As sincere Christians in these last days, making special preparation to meet the Lord, may our outward appearance reveal that inner beauty of character, so that we may rightly represent the kingdom of God.
 

Is Anything Wrong with Dancing?

While I am on this subject of what God expects of His followers, I must answer the question that repeatedly comes up. What is wrong with the dance? Young people often say, “The Bible mentions dancing, David danced and the Lord was blessed with David.”

We find out that there are two kinds of dancing mentioned in the Bible, one that is acceptable to God, the other is not.

In Exodus 15:20 we read of Miriam, the sister of Moses, and the women of Israel dancing on the banks of the Red Sea after the mighty deliverance of Israel from the hosts of Pharaoh. This dancing was an expression of their deep emotions and gratitude to God.

We also read of King David dancing before the Ark. This dance was a result of the joy that David felt. But I want you to notice that David danced alone and also the women of Israel danced only among themselves.

The second kind of dance is mentioned in Mark 6:21-28. We read of Salome the daughter of Herodias who danced before Herod. So infatuated was Herod by her dancing that he rashly promised her all she desired, even to half of his kingdom. After consulting with the wicked Herodias, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. This dance was very clearly associated with evil. And it was this type of dancing that we read about in Exodus 32:6-25.

You will remember that when Moses came down from the mountain after communing with God, he found that the children of Israel were worshipping the golden calf. And associated with this idolatry, commandment breaking and rebellion against God, was dancing.

In verse 19 we read “As Moses came nigh to the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing.”

This dancing was highly immoral for we are told in verse 25, “Moses saw that the people were naked.” When the Israelites danced at Mt Sinai they were "naked". Why? Because of sex appeal. The more the female form reveals, the more it appeals to the lower side of the natural Man. Dancing permits intimacies that would never be allowed anywhere else. In the dance is involved the embracing of the opposite sex. It is obvious to many that this is dangerous. If one can embrace the opposite sex on the dance floor, then why cannot he do the same anywhere else? Why should it be considered correct on the dance floor and yet very wrong to embrace another man's wife somewhere else. No normal husband or wife would be at all happy to find his or her partner in the embrace of a member of the opposite sex anywhere but in the dance hall!
 

Is Anything Wrong with Embracing the Opposite Sex?

Now that brings us to the question of "What's wrong with embracing the opposite sex?" The answer is that it stimulates the feeling emotions and instincts. These instincts should only be stimulated between two people that are married. Dancing definitely stimulates the sex instincts. This of course is particularly so in the case of the male, although not necessarily so in the case of the female.

Many good Christian women have objected to the statement that dancing is immoral, but they do it in ignorance, for they have not realized the effect of dancing on their partners. Liquor and dancing go together.

It is very interesting to note that among the dark races, where at special times they engage in immoral rites, the dance leads up to their sexual orgies, usually the dance precedes the fire walking.

And so it was with the Israelites. When they danced at Mt Sinai, they “were naked”. In other words they stripped themselves.
 

Dancing and Sensuality

Dr W.S.McKeever, an authority on social relationships, wrote “Our chief objection to the social dance is that it always seems to be drawing its participants toward the borderline of sensuality." Again from the pen of Dr McKeever, "The new social dance is a dance of death. Young 15 year old striplings are forced by the dance into an intense sexual development, instead of experiencing the normal, slowly awakening sex consciousness.

And how true this is of the dances of today. Many social workers are really troubled. They claim that the dance is associated with the appalling laxity in morals of today. Professor Faulkner, the famous dancing master and proprietor of the Los Angeles Dancing Academy, investigated the results of the the dance. It was his deliberate conviction that two-thirds of the women and girls who morally fall do so through the influence of the dance. This led him to quit the dancing academy.

A Roman Catholic priest, in arguing for the confessional, admitted, “By the confessional we can tell how our people fall. We trace the laxity of 19 out of every 20 who have lost their purity, to the dancehall.
 

Is it OK for Husband and Wife to Dance?

However there are some who ask "Is it wrong for a husband and wife to dance?" Not at all as far as the above principles are concerned, but the thing is this, what parents do, the children, will do. If Christian parents take the stand that dancing is contrary to Christian principles then to be consistent they would not dance even though it only involved themselves.

The Christian needs to be social, but his social life needs to be governed by Christian principles. In Galatians 5:21 Paul lists the works of the flesh, "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Oh yes, I have been to dances even though I was not much of a dancer. But you would never see me in a dance hall. Why? Because Satan has perverted what at one time was a joyous expression of one's feelings. Oh yes, it looks very attractive. The rhythm of the music, the gay dancers and all that.

Perhaps some of you have read how that during the last World War the enemy used to leave watches, fountain pens, and other valuable and useful articles lying around. To all appearances they were very good watches and excellent fountain pens. But as soon as one of the soldiers bent down and picked one up there was an explosion and the man was blown to pieces. 

Satan is very cunning, he makes things look so attractive, but death is the end of it. As Dr McKeever says, The new social dance is a dance of death.” This is a man of the world speaking, not some religious square.
 

Playing Cards

And now our final question and it is one that is often asked, "Why is the common pack of cards considered to be unfit for the Christian to use?"

In answering this one we would state that playing cards is a form of gambling.

 It is not commonly known that the common pack of cards with their figures and markings etc; are known to be immoral in their significance. It is stated that these cards are a parody of the Christian faith. It is claimed that the Joker is a caricature of Christ and that he is actually represented here as an illegitimate. This being so the common pack of cards should not even be kept in the Christians home, let alone use them in a game. This possibly may account as to why these cards are usually associated so much with the sordid side of life; gambling and other doubtful activities, as represented by gangsters and crooks in movies.
 

Good Things give the Greatest Pleasure

The Apostle Paul in his instruction to Christians declares, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsover things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8.

It is the good things that give use the most lasting pleasure and happiness.

The American chief White Feather had a lovely voice and he was called to the White House to sing before King George VI and queen Elizabeth. With real depth of meaning he sang that lovely gospel song "I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold". Turning to the Queen at the conclusion of his song he asked this pointed question. Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour? The queen smiled and said "He is in my heart." The king, a deeply religious man, added "I'd rather have JESUS too."

Friends I would rather have Jesus too, wouldn’t you? Let us look beyond the tinsel, the glitter of this life, to the reality of life with Jesus: life far more abundant, and rewarding. Won’t you do just that?

 

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Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert @yeshuaskingdom.org (USA) ... more testimonials.

 

 
 

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