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The Spiritual Declension of the Soul by Michael Durham
"A believer may pass through much affliction, and yet secure very little blessing from it all. Abiding in Christ is the secret of securing all that the Father meant the chastisement to bring us." -
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What does holiness got to do with clothes?
I think we need to distinguish between the essence of holiness and the expression of holiness. Our sister is correct in the assmuption that holiness does not lie in our clothing.
Holiness is a Person, the Person of Christ. God is Holy and only God is holy. And we are holy only as God in Christ grows in us and imparts His holy nature into us. This imparting holy life within us regulates us. The more of Christ we have, the more we are regulated in our outward behaviour. And this includes how we dress.
A flower in bloom is only the outward expression of the flower Life contained in the seed. As the flower grows according to it's own life, eventually it's expression becomes that of a flower in full bloom. The blooming flower is the expression of the inward nature and life of the flower.
In every epistle to the churches, the Apostle Paul never began with commands for behaviour, or instructions, or anything outward. He always begins with our organic union with Christ. We are in Him and He is in us and all the commands and exortations to follow are based in this Divine Reality.
The more we are conformed inwardly to Christ by the indwelling Life of Christ, the more we will find ourselves regulated in our conduct, behavoir, mannor, and even dress. Our outward life just becomes the expression of the inward reality of Christ within us, the Hope of glory.
Paul to Timothy addresses the issue of dress in this light, To women he says, to let themselves be charecterised not by the putting on of dresses and the wearing of jewelry and plaiting of the hair, but rather the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quite spirit.
Of course this in not forbidding women to wear jewelry or plait their hair any more than a prohibition to wearing dresses. But rather it is what should be the controling factor in a womans demeanor.
Our goal should be to express the Reality of Christ within us. And we gain this by our intimate and personal contact with the Lord and our love toward Hiim.
If our preaching were more directed toward unveiling this wonderful Christ and our union with him in spirit, and we sheparded people into the enjoyment of Christ and to fellowhip with Christ in intimate contact and communion, we would find those whom we have been charged with by the Holy Spirit developing and growing in the Divine Life and their worldly dress and manors would fall by the wayside. Holiness would be expressed because of the growth of the Divine holy life within them and not by our outward condemning of their manor of dress. Changning the clothes does not make you holy. But the impartation of the Holy nature of Christ within us will change our dress.
A Methodist brother once brought a young woman to John Westley and presented to him in a very condemning way her hand full of rings. He said to John, "does this look like the hand of a methodist?" In the wisdom and grace of the Spirit brother Westley replied, "that is a very lovely hand".
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