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That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
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THE ROBE OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
AND THE RIBBON OF BLUE
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the border of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye used to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God." Num. 15:38-41.
"The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel for examples. If God gave such definite directions to His ancient people in regard to dress, will not the dress of His people in this age come under His notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are His peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of His people. Pride is rebuked in His Word (HR Feb. 1872)." S.D.A. Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 1114.
"Many who profess to believe the Testimonies live in neglect of the light given. The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God's commandment-keeping people from the world. The dress reform answers to us as did the ribbon of blue to ancient Israel. The proud, and those who have no love for sacred truth, which will separate them from the world, will show it by their works." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 171
GEM THOUGHTS: "Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-Day Adventist churches and doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. ...We must arise at once and close the door against the allurements of fashion." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 647-48.
"Many dress like the world in order to have an influence over unbelievers, but here they make a sad mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction plain between the Christian and the worldling." Ibid., 633.
STUDY AIM: The following testimonies are presented to clearly show the Spirit`s mind on the matter of how Christians should dress. That is, how they should be in the world, and not of it. While Spirit has brought to our attention that
"Pride and extravagance in dress is a sin to which woman is especially prone" (MYP 355),
men are not in the least bit free from the same sin. Quite often men are tempted to indulge themselves in prideful dress through their desires to please their wives or other women that they want to impress, or other men that they want to influence.
While much of the counsel we shall read in this compilation applies equally to men and women, the main thought which we wish to examine herein is whether or not the common "business" ("dress") suits and neckties worn by the vast majority of those professing to be following Christ fall into the category of the type of "obedience to fashion" that is "doing more than any other power to separate our people from God." That is, is that look (suits and ties) the fashion of the world or of the Church?
"Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazing stock by dressing differently from the world. But if, when following out their convictions of duty in respect to dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world; but they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differ from them. If the world introduce a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change our relation to God or to the world to adopt such a style of dress. Christians should follow Christ and make their dress conform to God's word." Ibid., p. 458-459.
Even the casual observer can admit that over the past few decades in the Western world men's general style of dress has been changing to a more casual look. That is, many men are foregoing the wearing of neckties in business and societal gatherings. At the same time, many of those who still chose to wear the necktie have turned to wearing what are sometimes called "power ties" – flashy, colorful ties. There can be no doubt that men are wearing those things in an attempt to impress others and draw attention to themselves.
As a note, the practice of wearing neckties became prominent during the French Revolution, by the people who were burning the Bibles and outlawing religion. While it is true that the apostle, Paul, stated that he was all things to all men (1Cor. 9:22, 10:33), does that mean that he was proud, arrogant, and self-indulgent while he was in the company of the unsaved who were like that? Did he, as did the vain dressers of his day, cause humiliation and embarrassment for the poor that he met by wearing clothes that they, in their looking to worldly things, may have coveted? And most importantly, what was Jesus' own will and practices in the matter of dress?
Some try to justify the wearing of fine suits by quoting Revelation 19:8 –
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
But to come to that conclusion they must leave out one word of the text, thus changing its meaning. That word is "the" in the statement "the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." They would have the text read "fine linen is the righteousness of saints," implying that wearing "fine linen" is the right thing for the saints to do. But to read it that way changes the descriptive nature of that phrase. The "she" in this verse refers to the Lamb's wife, and the "fine linen" is what "she" is wearing. The words that follow are given to describe what the words "fine linen" are meant to symbolize – that being "the righteousness of saints." The question then is, What is "the righteousness of saints?" We have the following testimony on this subject.
"By the wedding garment [Matt. 22:1-14] in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ's true followers will possess. To the church it is given "that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white," "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Re 19:8; Eph 5:27. The fine linen, says the Scripture, "is the righteousness of saints." Re 19:8. It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 307.
Thus we see that the "fine linen," "the righteousness of saints," is nothing less than "the righteousness of Christ." But what is the righteousness of Christ in the matter of dress? Why has the counsel be given for the church to "live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction [in dress] plain between the Christian and the worldling?" Let's read more of the counsel from the above-quoted COL –
"The white robe of innocence was worn by our first parents when they were placed by God in holy Eden. [Gen. 2:25] They lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the strength of their affections was given to their heavenly Father. A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering. [Gen. 3:7]
"This is what the transgressors of God's law have done ever since the day of Adam and Eve's disobedience. They have sewed together fig leaves to cover the nakedness caused by transgression. They have worn the garments of their own devising, by works of their own they have tried to cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable with God.
"But this they can never do. Nothing can man devise to supply the place of his lost robe of innocence. No fig-leaf garment, no worldly citizen dress, can be worn by those who sit down with Christ and angels at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
"Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God's presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul. "I counsel thee," He says, "to buy of Me ...white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear." Rev. 3:18.
"This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. "All our righteousness are as filthy rags." Isa. 64:6. Everything that we of ourselves can do is defiled by sin. But the Son of God "was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." Sin is defined to be "the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:5,4. But Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He said of Himself, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart." Psa. 40:8. When on earth, He said to His disciples, "I have kept My Father's commandments." John 15:10. By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.
"The guests at the marriage feast were inspected by the king. Only those were accepted who had obeyed his requirements and put on the wedding garment. So it is with the guests at the gospel feast. All must pass the scrutiny of the great King, and only those are received who have put on the robe of Christ's righteousness.
"Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine." Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 307-319.
Therein we find that "the fine linen," "the righteousness of saints," "the righteousness of Christ," is nothing less than we living "His life," that has been imparted to us by the workings of the Holy Spirit. So then the question is asked again, How would Christ dress today, were He personally here, for such is how His people should be dressing if they are truly living His life – allowing Him to live in them?
We will find in the following testimonies of the Spirit a clear picture of Christ, the Pattern man, in regards to dress, how other people saw Christ's dress, and what kind of impressions it made on them. We will also see why Christ needed to follow such a course of action in His dress.
Therefore, let us, with open hearts and minds, prayerfully behold
THE ROBE OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
We know by Holy Scriptures that the Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' outer garment, because it was a goodly garment (John 19:24), but to Roman soldiers who were paid their wages in salt, most any garment that was capable of holding together for a while would be considered goodly. Those same soldiers also divided his undergarment into four separate pieces, rather than preserve it whole (John 19:23).
We also learn from John 19:23 that Jesus' "coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout." That means that it had no lapels to impress the eye, pockets to hold a fashionable handkerchief, no embroideries to attract the beholders, nor useless buttons on its sleeves. It was basically a well formed sheet. Though it being woven "without seam" was not common, it was not unique in that respect, it just required a little extra thoughtful skill on the part of the weaver. But, as we shall see, the purpose of it being so plain was not to impress the rich and vain, nor the cunning craftsman, but rather to convey the thought that there can be true dignity in simplicity.
"Said the angel, 'Jesus left a bright track for you to follow. Tread closely in His footsteps. Share His life of self-denial, His self-sacrificing life, and inherit with Him the crown of glory.'" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 170.
"The life of Christ, the Lord of glory, is our example. He came from heaven, where all was riches and splendor; but He laid aside His royal crown, His royal robe, and clothed His divinity with humanity. Why? That He might meet men where they were. He did not rank Himself with the wealthy, the lordly of earth. The mission of Christ was to reach the very poor of earth. ...The very foundation of His mission was self-denial and self-sacrifice." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 177.
"'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.' We must study the Pattern, and inquire at every step, 'Is this the way of the Lord?' We shall certainly make grave mistakes if we do not keep self-denial and self-sacrifice prominent before the people in every movement." Ibid., p. 178.
"Christ the majesty of heaven, laid aside His robes of royalty and came to this world, all seared and marred by the curse, to teach men how to live a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, and how to carry out practical religion in their daily lives. ...His garments were dusty and travel stained, and His appearance was uninviting." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 373.
This is not to be understood to mean that we are to go around in dirty clothes, but, rather, that under trying circumstances we are not to be concerned about our apparel being less than perfectly spotless. This also tells us that should we see someone in church or elsewhere whose clothing is not spotlessly clean, we are to remember that there are circumstances in life such that Christ would not condemn nor judge, and that we should be like minded.
"...He withstood the fearful test upon appetite, and upon love of the world and of honor, and pride of display which leads to presumption." Ibid., p. 372.
How often people presume that they are right in God's eyes because they are able to put on a display that will charm the beholders thereof.
"In the garb of a common laborer... He lived in a peasant's home; He was clothed with coarse garments." Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p., 276-277.
"The narrow and worldly-minded judged of Christ by His humble birth, His lowly garb, and daily toil." The Desire of Ages, p. 196.
"The Jews had refused to receive Christ, whose garments, coarse and often travel-stained, covered a heart of divine love. Their eyes could not discern, under the humble exterior, the Lord of life and glory, even though Christ's power was revealed before them in works that no mere man could do." The Acts of the Apostles, p. 150.
"In the simple garb of a common laborer He walked the streets of the little town, going to and returning from His humble work.
"With the people of that age the value of things was determined by outward show. As religion had declined in power, it had increased in pomp. The educators of the time sought to command respect by display and ostentation. To all this the life of Jesus presented a marked contrast. His life demonstrated the worthlessness of those things that men regarded as life's great essentials." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 222.
Those testimonies reveal the error in the thinking that says "the fine linen" spoken of in Rev. 19:8 is to be understood to mean that the saints are to be wearing fine clothes after Christ's example, or as a reward for their faith. To the contrary, Christ's righteousness (His right-doing) was to present a marked distinction to the fig-leaf covering men had chosen for themselves by dressing in simple contrast to them in order to reveal the worthlessness of the things they had come to think of as most important.
"Was this the Christ? With awe and wonder the people looked upon the One just declared to be the Son of God. They had been deeply moved by the words of John. He had spoken to them in the name of God. They had listened to him day after day as he reproved their sins, and daily the conviction that he was sent of Heaven had strengthened. But who was this One greater than John the Baptist? In His dress and bearing there was nothing that betokened rank. He was apparently a simple personage, clad like themselves in the humble garments of the poor." The Desire of Ages, p. 137.
"Jesus came in poverty and humiliation, that He might be our example as well as our Redeemer. If He has appeared with kingly pomp, how could He have taught humility? How could He have presented such cutting truths as in the Sermon on the Mount? Where would have been the hope of the lowly in life had Jesus come to dwell as a king among men?" Ibid., p. 138.
How can we likewise teach humility if we dress with "kingly pomp?" What lessons of humility can the modern day kings of this world (the presidents, prime ministers, etc.) learn from us if we follow in the same fashions as they? The average person would have to look closely in order to tell that the ruler's tie clip is made of solid gold, while the Christians is only plated brass. Yet the habitual wearer of gold would be able to discern the difference, and could indulge himself in a prideful self-assurance of his supposed superiority.
"His [Nicodemus'] faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed man, dusty and worn with travel." Ibid., p. 197.
"The contrast between Jesus and the high priest as they talked together was marked. The proud dignitary of the temple was clothed in rich and costly garments. ...Before this august personage stood the Majesty of heaven without adornment or display. His garments were travel stained." Ibid,. p. 594.
"In the time of John the Baptist, greed for riches, and the love of luxury and display had become widespread. Sensuous pleasures, feasting and drinking, were cause physical disease and degeneracy, benumbing the spiritual perceptions, and lessening the sensibility to sin. John was to stand as a reformer. By his abstemious life and plain dress he was to rebuke the excesses of his time." Ibid., p. 100-101.
"The principle of the Baptist's own life of self-abnegation was the principle of the Messiah's kingdom. John well knew how foreign all this was to the principles and hopes of the leaders in Israel." Ibid., p. 218.
"Jesus continued, 'But what went ye out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in king's courts.' John had been called to reprove the sins and excesses of his time, and his plain dress and self-denying life were in harmony with the character of his mission. Rich apparel and the luxuries of this life are not the portion of God's servants, but of those who live in 'king's courts,' the rulers of this world, to whom pertain its power and its riches. Jesus wished to direct the attention to the contrast between the clothing of John, and that worn by the priests and rulers. These officials arrayed themselves in rich robes and costly ornaments. They loved display, and hoped to dazzle the people, and thus command greater consideration. They were more anxious to gain the admiration of men than to obtain the purity of heart which would win the approval of God." Ibid., p. 218-219.
"The solemn position in which we stand today toward the world, the solemn responsibilities and duties enjoined upon us by our Lord, are not to be ignored until our will and circumstances are adjusted. The principle of self-denial and self-sacrifice, as revealed in the sacrifice of Christ, of John the Baptist, of Daniel and the three worthies, is to pass like a plowshare through hereditary and cultivated habits through all circumstances and surroundings."
Regarding Daniel, after he had come to notoriety in Babylon, we read,
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, ...In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace ...Then was Daniel brought before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel ...I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, 'Let thy gifts be to thy self, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation." Daniel 5:1, 5, 13, 16, 17.
The wisdom that was given to Daniel was given him because he earnestly sought for it by word and deed (Daniel 2:20-23). The Holy Spirit was so evident in Daniel that the queen of Babylon said to the king, "There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the Spirit of the holy Gods; and in the days of thy father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the Gods, was found in him." Daniel 5:11.
It was from the study of the Holy Scriptures that Daniel, in his youth, had learned to appreciate the lessons of wisdom. It was from the book of Proverbs that Daniel learned that there are more valuable things that one can wear around one's neck than chains of gold. He was quite familiar with proverbs such as:
"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." Proverbs 1:8,9.
"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck." Proverbs 3:3.
"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck." Proverbs 6:20, 21.
Though we are instructed to obey our earthly father and mother, there is a higher calling upon us from above. The law and instruction of our heavenly Father, and the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit (heavenly Wisdom – Proverbs, chapters 3 & 8) are to be an "ornament of grace" around our necks. Jesus said,
"Wisdom is justified of all her children." Luke 7:35.
Thus is Wisdom's own testimony as to what should be worn about our necks. Does that mean we should wear a necktie with the Ten Commandments written on it? No, it does not. It is true spirituality and righteousness (love towards God and man) which should be around our necks, and not items of gold, silver, wood, stone, hay, or cloth, for that alone will give grace to our necks. Jesus, John, and Daniel, Wisdom's children, understood this.
The holy things of God's law were more important to Daniel than the things of the world – its fashions and prestige. Giving heed to all that the "holy Gods" have commanded is one's integrity, which is more valuable than gold, and more fashionable than any neck ornament that man can devise. Therein is a key to Daniel's righteousness. Compared to Balaam, who could be bought for a price when he was a free man, Daniel could not be bought even as a captive. He certainly displayed the righteousness of Christ – that is, Christ's righteousness was not only imputed to his record in the books of heaven, but the evidence that the righteousness of heaven had also been imparted to Daniel, and had sanctified him, was quite apparent to all who had occasion to witness the works of the "holy Gods" in preserving him and in blessing him with divine inspiration. We, too, must have the witness of Christ's righteousness in our lives.
"When you devote precious time to trimming your apparel, remember that the King of glory wore a plain, seamless coat. You who weary yourselves in decorating your persons, please bear in mind that Jesus was often weary from incessant toil and self-denial and self-sacrifice to bless the suffering and needy. ...It was to save us from the very pride and love of vanity and pleasure which we now indulge, and which crowds out the love of Jesus, that those tears were shed and that our Saviour's visage was marred with sorrow and anguish more than any of the sons of men." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 379-380.
"As we read the word of God, how plain it is that His people are to be separate and distinct from the unbelieving world around them. ...The Son of God was the heir of all things, and the dominion and glory of the kingdoms of this world were promised to Him. Yet when He appeared in this world, it was without riches or splendor." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 286.
"A Pattern has been given them. In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way." Messages to Young People, p. 126.
"Why is it so hard to live a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead. ...They have a disposition to dress and act as much like the world as possible, and yet go to heaven. Such climb up some other way. They do not enter through the strait gate and the narrow way. ...Such will have no excuse. Many dress like the world to have an influence. But here they make a sad and fatal mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction great between the Christian and the world. ...If any wish to have their influence tell in favor of the truth, let them live it out, and thus imitate the humble Pattern." Messages to Young People, p. 128.
"Jesus declares to us that there is a greater sin than that which caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the sin of those who have the great light of truth in these days and who are not moved to repentance. ...It is not pleasant to overcome as Christ overcame, so they turn from the Pattern which is plainly given them to copy and refuse to imitate the example that the Saviour came from the heavenly courts to leave them." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 380.
"...When we see them using God's time and money in needless display of dress we cannot but warn them that they are breaking not only the first four, but the last six commandments. They do not make God the supreme object of their worship, neither do they love their neighbor as themselves.
"Christ is our example. We must keep the Pattern continually before us and contemplate the infinite sacrifice which has been made to redeem us from the thralldom of sin." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 632.
"In the beginning of the work, we must not reproduce the very things that the Lord has condemned in America, the needless, extravagant, expenditure of money to gratify pride and love of display. Let everything of this order be scrupulously shunned." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 179.
"In every movement let us follow closely the example of our Saviour. I feel deeply over these things. Our ministers and their wives should be an example in plainness of dress; they should dress neatly, comfortably, wearing good material, but avoiding anything like extravagance and trimmings, even if not expensive; for these things tell to our disadvantage. We should educate the youth to simplicity of dress, plainness with neatness. Let the extra trimmings be left out, even though the cost be but a trifle." Ibid. p. 180.
"Jesus has noticed the care and devotion given to dress, and has cautioned, yea, commanded, us to bestow not too much thought upon it.
"As we see our sisters [and brothers] departing from simplicity in dress, and cultivating a love for the fashions of the world, we feel troubled." Ibid., p. 628.
"Those who cherish and flatter self, fostering pride and vanity, giving to dress and appearance the time and attention that ought to be given to the Master's work, are incurring a fearful loss. Many who are clothed in beautiful outward garments know nothing of the inward adorning that is in the sight of God of great price. Their fine clothing covers a heart that is sinful and diseased, full of vanity and pride. They know not what it means to 'seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.' (Col. 3:1)....
"Their cases are represented by the man who came to the king's banquet in his common citizen dress. He had refused to make the preparation required by the king. The garment provided for him at great cost he disdained to wear. To the king's demand, 'How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?' (Matt. 22:12) he could answer nothing. He was speechless; for he was self-condemned....
"Many who profess to be Christians are such only in name. They are not converted. They keep self prominent. They do not sit at the feet of Jesus, as Mary did, to learn of Him. They are not ready for Christ's coming...
"In the night season I was in a company of people whose hearts were filled with vanity and conceit. Christ was hid from their eyes. Suddenly in loud, clear accents, the words were heard, 'Jesus is coming to take to Himself those who on this earth have loved and served Him, to be with Him in His kingdom forever.' Many of those company went forth in their costly apparel to meet Him. They kept looking at their dress. But when they saw His glory, and realized that their estimation of one another had been so largely measured by outward appearance, they knew that they were without the robe of Christ's righteousness, and that the blood of souls was on their garments.
"When Christ took His chosen ones, they were left; for they were not ready. In their lives self had been given the first place, and when the Saviour came, they were not prepared to meet Him." Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 79-81.
"I saw that the third angel's message must yet work like leaven upon many hearts that profess to believe it, and purge away their pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.
"As I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world, with no distinction, except in name, between many of the professed disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus, and unbelievers, my soul felt deep anguish. I saw that Jesus was wounded and put to an open shame. Said the angel, as with sorrow he saw the professed people of God loving the world, partaking of its spirit, and following its fashions, 'Cut loose! Cut loose!'" Messages to Young People, p. 128-129.
"I saw that God's people are on the enchanted ground, and that some have lost nearly all sense of the shortness of time and the worth of the soul. Pride has crept in among Sabbathkeepers – pride of dress and appearance. Said the angel, 'Sabbathkeepers will have to die to self, die to pride and love of approbation.'" Early Writings, p. 120.
"Do not waste any part of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desire of the eye, by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part of him curiously adorning your house; ...lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the adoration or praise of men ...So long as thou art 'clothed in purple and fine linen,' and farest `sumptuously every day,' no doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be content with the honor that cometh from God." The Great Controversy, p. 385-386.
"Forgo some of your luxuries, yea, even comforts, and help those who can obtain only the most meager food and clothing. In doing for them you are doing for Jesus in the person of His saints." Welfare Ministry, p. 272.
"As you turn from the worship of self and try to relieve suffering humanity, pray that God will give you a true missionary work to do for souls. Then those who come to worship in the house of God will see a people clothed in modest apparel in harmony with the faith and Word of God." Ibid., p. 273.
"...I was pointed back to God's ancient people, and then was led to compare their apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! What a change!" Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, p. 228.
"If God's people had not departed greatly from him, there would not now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. ...The inhabitants of the earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction must be more plain between them and the Israel of God, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall upon God's professed people." Ibid., p. 228.
"Your pride, your love to follow the fashions of the world ...And I saw that the Lord was whetting His sword in heaven to cut them down." Ibid., p. 229.
"I saw many traveling in this broad road who had written upon them, 'Dead to the world. The end of all things is at hand. Be ye also ready.' They looked just like all the vain ones around them, except a shade of sadness which I noticed upon their countenances. Their conversation was just like that of the gay, thoughtless ones around them; but they would occasionally point with great satisfaction to the letters on their garments, calling for the others to have the same upon theirs. They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of that number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say, 'There is no distinction between us. We are all alike; we dress and talk and act alike.'" Messages to Young People, p. 126-127.
"They think they are not like the world, but they are so near like them in dress, in conversation, and actions, that there is no distinction. I saw them decorating their poor mortal bodies, which are liable at any moment to be touched by the finger of God, and laid upon a bed of anguish." Ibid., p.127.
"Ask them then how they feel about decorating their bodies, and if they have any sense of what it is to be prepared to appear before God, they will tell you that if they could take back and live over the past, they would correct their lives, shun the follies of the world, its vanity, its pride, and would adorn the body with modest apparel, and set an example to all around them." Ibid., p. 127.
"Those who are truly seeking to follow Christ will have conscientious scruples in regard to the dress they wear; they will strive to meet the requirements of this injunction so plainly given by the Lord. The money now expended in extravagances in dress will be used for the advancement of the cause of God and in storing their minds with useful knowledge, thus qualifying themselves for positions of trust." Ibid., p. 346.
We hear the church's leaders making pleas for sacrificial offerings in order to support foreign missionaries, yet no pleas are made to the church's physicians, businessmen, or to the elders themselves to cease from wasting money on the fashionable suits and ties that fill their closets. While a business suit maybe somewhat mandatory for some jobs, for those whose work is more independent the suit and tie is simply a matter of choice, and is quite often only worn to impress people and attract attention to one's affluence. But Christ's mind in this regard is of a different nature –
"He would have you be content to dress in modest apparel ... The outside appearance is frequently an index to the mind, and we should be careful what signs we hang out for the world to judge of our faith. ...Pride and love of display will be discarded from your hearts and lives." Ibid., p. 346-347.
"As we see the love of fashion and display among those who profess to believe present truth, we sadly ask, Will the people of God learn nothing from the history of the past? There are few who understand their own hearts. The vain and trifling lovers of fashion may claim to be followers of Christ; but their dress and conversation show what occupies the mind and engages the affections.
"How can one that has ever tasted the love of Christ be satisfied with the frivolities of fashion? My heart is pained to see those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Saviour, so eagerly seeking to conform to the world's standard of dress. Notwithstanding their profession of godliness, they can hardly be distinguished from the unbeliever." Ibid., p. 355.
"Pride and extravagance in dress is a sin to which woman is especially prone [though men are not in the least bit safe either]." Ibid., p. 355.
"We see steadily gaining ground in the church an evil which the word of God condemns. What is the duty of those in authority in regard to this matter? Will the influence of the church be what it should be, while many of its members obey the dictates of fashion, rather than the clearly expressed will of God? How can we expect the presence and aid of the Holy Spirit while we suffer these things to exist among us? Can we remain silent while the teachings of Christ are set aside by His professed followers?" Ibid., p. 355-356.
"The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases, submission to the gospel requirements will demand decided change in the dress." Ibid,. p.358.
"Demoralizing extravagance prevails everywhere, and souls are going to ruin because of their love of dress and display. The life of nine tenths of those who are devotees of fashion is a living lie. Deception, fraud, is their daily practice; for they wish to appear that which they are not." Ibid., p. 359.
"Having before us the picture of the world's demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of worldlings? Shall we appear to sanction these demoralizing fashions by adopting them? Many do adopt the fashions of the world, but it is because Christ is not formed within them, the hope of glory." Ibid., p. 359.
"This idolatry of dress destroys all that is humble, meek, and lovely in the character." Ibid., p. 360.
"Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration is excluded from the modest apparel which God's word enjoins. Our dress is to be inexpensive ..." Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 302.
"In the professed Christian world enough is expended for jewels and needlessly expensive dress to feed all the hungry and to clothe the naked. Fashion and display absorb the means that might comfort the poor and the suffering. They rob the world of the gospel of the Saviour's love....
"But our clothing while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display." Ibid., p. 302.
"No outward adorning can compare in value or loveliness with that 'meek and quiet spirit' which in His sight is 'of great price.' " Ibid., p. 303.
"Pride of dress ...hardened the heart and benumbed the conscience, so that the voice of truth was not heard. ...' And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served Jehovah.' ... Like Israel, Christians too often yield to the influence of the world, and conform to its principles and customs, in order to secure the friendship of the ungodly ..." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 558-559.
"I saw the distinction between these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, in conversation.
"They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it Himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 127-128.
"They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of the number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say: 'There is no distinction between us. We are alike; we dress, and talk, and act alike.'" Ibid., p. 128.
"Many dress like the world, to have an influence. But here they make a sad and fatal mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction great between the Christian and the world." Ibid., p. 132.
"As I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world, with no distinction, except in name, between many of the professed disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus and unbelievers, my soul felt deep anguish. I saw that Jesus was wounded and put to an open shame. Said the angel, as with sorrow he saw the professed people of God loving the world, partaking of its spirit, and following its fashions: 'Cut loose! Cut loose! lest He appoint you your portion with the hypocrites and unbelievers outside the city. Your profession will only cause you greater anguish, and your punishment will be greater because ye knew His will, but did it not." Ibid., p. 133.
"Much has been expended for ribbons and laces for the bonnets, for collars and other needless articles to decorate the body, while Jesus the King of glory, who gave His life to redeem us, wore a crown of thorns. This was the way our Master's sacred head was decorated. He was 'a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.' 'He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.' Yet the very ones who profess to be washed by the blood of Jesus, spilled for them, can dress up and decorate their poor, mortal bodies, and dare to profess to be followers of the holy, self-denying, humble Pattern. Oh, that all could see this as God sees it and showed it to me! It seemed too much for me to bear, to feel the anguish of soul that I felt as I beheld it. Said the angel: 'God's people are peculiar; such He is purifying unto Himself.' I saw that the outward appearance is an index to the heart. When the exterior is hung with ribbons, collars, and needless things, it plainly shows that the love for all this is in the heart; unless such persons are cleansed from their corruption, they can never see God, for only the pure in heart will see Him.
"I saw that the axe must be laid to the root of the tree. Such pride should not be suffered in the church. It is these things that separate God from His people, that shut the ark away from them. Israel have been asleep to the pride, and fashion, and conformity to the world, in the very midst of them. They advance every month in pride, covetousness, selfishness, and love of the world. When their hearts are affected by the truth, it will cause a death to the world, and they will lay aside the ribbons, laces, and collars; and, if they are dead, the laugh, the jeer, and scorn of unbelievers will not move them. They will feel an anxious desire to be separate from the world, like their Master. They will not imitate its pride, fashions, or customs. ...God will have a people separate and distinct from the world. And as soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children." Ibid., p. 136-137.
"Achan coveted a golden wedge and a Babylonish garment..." Ibid., p. 140.
The common dress of those men in those fallen churches who today constitute "Babylon" is that of the secular world – fashionable business/dress suits and ties. The remnant church is to bear a testimony against the pride manifested in the fashions worn by those Babylonians. Yet the vast majority of those who are in positions of leadership in the remnant church think it better to seek the approbation of those they are supposed to call to repentance from dead works by dressing and acting in a like manner, thus quieting the Lord's Spirit that is to call God's people out of Babylon.
"I was shown that the people of God should not imitate the fashions of the world. Some have done this, and are fast losing the peculiar, holy character which should distinguish them as God's people. I was pointed back to God's ancient people, and was led to compare their apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! What a change! ...If God's professed people had not greatly departed from Him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. ...The inhabitants of the earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction between them and the Israel of God must be more plain, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall on God's professed people." Ibid., p. 189.
"Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting His sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that the Lord is about to make among His professed people! Dear friends, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition." Ibid., p. 190.
"I saw that God requires young men to sacrifice more for the good of others. He claims more of them than they are willing to perform. If they keep themselves unspotted from the world, cease to follow its fashions, and lay that which the lovers of pleasure spend in useless articles to gratify pride, and give it to the worthy afflicted ones, and to sustain the cause, they will have the approval of Him who says, 'I know thy works.'" Ibid., p. 191.
"The prophesy of Isaiah 3 was presented before me as applying to these last days, and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: 'Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.' I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust and will long for an experience in the things of God, which they have failed to obtain." Ibid., p. 270.
"The very class that have been presented before me as imitating the fashions of the world have been very slow, and the last, to be affected or reformed. Another class who have lacked taste and order in dress have taken advantage of what I have written and have gone to the opposite extreme; considering that they were free from pride, they have looked upon those who dress neatly and orderly as being proud. Oddity and carelessness in dress have been considered a special virtue by some." Ibid., p. 275.
"Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress, and zealous of good works, that we shall be marked as peculiar." Ibid., p. 275.
Plainness in dress does not mean that we should just wear cheap suits with monochrome neckties. Though doing that may label us as "peculiar" in some people eyes, it would not produce the same results in those who think that neckties are just plain silly and not the least bit weighty in judging a man's character and worthiness of respect.
"Those who profess to be Christians amid the perils of the last days, and do not imitate the humble, self-denying Pattern, place themselves in the enemy's ranks." Ibid., p. 276.
"But God's people have so long been led by the inventions and fashions of the world that they are unwilling to move out independent of them. ...The marks of distinction between Christ's professed people and the world have almost disappeared. Like ancient Israel, they follow after the abominations of the nations around them." Ibid., p. 277.
"It is the duty of every child of God to inquire: 'Wherein am I separate from the world?' Let us suffer a little inconvenience, and be on the safe side. What crosses to God's people bear? They mingle with the world, partake of their spirit, dress, talk, and act like them." Ibid., p. 278.
"Yes, so peculiar that God places a mark upon them as His, wholly His. ...Those who have not the moral courage to conscientiously take their position in the face of unbelievers, leave the fashions of the world, and imitate the self-denying life of Christ, are ashamed of Him, and do not love His example." Ibid., p. 287.
"We may deny Him in our outward appearance by conformity to the world, by a proud look or costly apparel. ...I was shown that merely observing the Sabbath and praying morning and evening are not positive evidences that we are Christians. These outward forms may all be strictly observed, and yet true godliness be lacking." Ibid., p. 304-305.
"We as a people do not believe it our duty to go out of the world to be out of the fashion. If we have a neat, plain, modest, and comfortable plan of dress, and worldlings choose to dress as we do, shall we change this mode of dress in order to be different from the world? No, we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world, lest they despise us for so doing." Ibid., p. 424-425.
One may take note that the quotations herein span almost the entire time of Ellen White's ministry. These counsels would not have needed to be repeated so many times during her life had the church accepted the counsels and put them into practice. But instead they went in the opposite direction,a sis noted in the following testimony –
"I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders.
"The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us.
"Let each put the question to his own heart: 'How have we fallen into this state of spiritual feebleness and dissension? Have we not brought upon ourselves the frown of God because our actions do not correspond with our faith? Have we not been seeking the friendship and applause of the world rather than the presence of Christ and a deeper knowledge of His will?' Examine your own hearts, judge your own course. Consider what associates you are choosing. Do you seek the company of the wise, or are you willing to choose worldly associates, companions who fear not God and obey not the gospel?" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 217-218.
There are photographs available of some of the early pioneers of this movement at their General Conference meetings. In those pictures it can be seen that very few of the men had neckties on, though it was the general custom of those days to wear them. Yet at the recent General Conference meeting (2005), most all of the delegates were wearing very nice suits and ties after the customs of the world. To the casual observer on the street one would not have known whether those so dressed were at a meeting of business executives, a gathering of government officials, or attending a society party. There was nothing that would have identified them as being so "plain in dress, and zealous of good works" that would have been "marked as peculiar." There was nothing in the appearance of those church leaders that the Holy Spirit would have been able to use to prick the hearts and minds of their observers in regards to their own pride and vanity of dress, and the worthlessness of trying to hide a sinful character under the fig leaves of fashion.
"Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazingstock by dressing differently from the world. But if, when following out their convictions of duty in respect to dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world; but they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differ from them. If the world introduce a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change our relation to God or to the world to adopt such a style of dress. Christians should follow Christ and make their dress conform to God's word." Ibid., 458-459.
What harm would there have been had those delegates at the recent General Conference meeting left off their neckties and fashionable suits? How much more powerful would have been their testimony to the people on the downtown streets of St. Louis where the meeting was held if they had seen a people who were joyful and with great peace yet who apparently had no need to put on an outward show by displaying the world's fashions?
"God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase of crime." Ibid., p. 460.
While this presentation is generally focusing on the issue of men wearing fashionable suits and neckties, there are other relevant issues such as the one stated above that are also just as important to understand. A simple observation of Western society today will reveal that many women are forsaking feminine clothing for the more masculine look. It is not uncommon to see women who are advancing in the business/corporate world cutting their hair short and wearing a suit of clothes that looks very similar to the men and includes a necktie. Sadly, the men around them often revel in the fact that they can cause a woman to defeminize herself by aping their vain fashions and customs.
"...the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. ...God is dishonored by the frivolity and fashion, and empty, vain talking and laughing that characterize the life of the youth generally." Ibid., p. 498-499.
"The dress reform is a striking contrast to the fashion of the world." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 66.
"Those who have had light upon the subjects of eating and dressing with simplicity in obedience to physical and moral laws, and who turn from the light which points out their duty, will shun duty in other things. ...Some will be laughed out of their principles. Conformity to the world is gaining ground among God's people, who profess to be pilgrims and strangers, waiting and watching for the Lord's appearing. There are many among professed Sabbathkeepers in New York who are more firmly wedded to worldly fashions and lusts than they are to healthy bodies, sound minds, or sanctified hearts." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 51.
"Love of dress and pleasure is wrecking the happiness of thousands. And some of those who profess to love and keep the commandments of God ape this class as near as they possibly can and retain the Christian name. Some of the young are so eager for display that they are even willing to give up their Christian name if they can only follow out their inclination for vanity of dress and love of pleasure. Self-denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith." Ibid., p. 366.
Are not neckties just an unnecessary "ornament" used to give the impression that its wearer carries with him (or her) some sort of style and grace?
"Christian youth, I have seen in some of you a love for dress and display which has pained me. In some who have been well instructed, who have had religious privileges from their babyhood, and who have put on Christ by baptism, thus professing to be dead to the world, I have seen a vanity in dress, and a levity in conduct that have grieved the dear Saviour and have been a reproach to the cause of God. I have marked with pain your religious declension and your disposition to trim and ornament your apparel." Ibid., p. 366.
"You will, if you are indeed Christians, feel more like mourning over the moral darkness in the world than indulging in levity and pride of dress. You will be among those who are sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. You will resist the temptations of Satan to indulge in vanity and in trimmings and ornaments for display." Ibid., p. 370.
"The impression is too frequently left upon minds that religion is degrading and that it is a condescension for sinners to accept of the Bible standard as their rule of life. They think that its requirements are unrefined, and that, in accepting it, they must relinquish all their tastes for, and enjoyment of, that which is beautiful, and instead must accept of humiliation and degradation. Satan never fastens a greater deception upon minds than this. The pure religion of Jesus requires of its followers the simplicity of natural beauty and the polish of natural refinement and elevated purity, rather than the artificial and false." Ibid., 375.
"... the simplicity of natural beauty and the polish of natural refinement and elevated purity" lies in following the wisdom quoted previously –
"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck." Proverbs 6:20, 21.
Why would such counsel have been placed in the Bible if men and woman were not inclined to place "artificial and false" objects around their necks in order to attempt to display the notion that they are beautiful, refined, and pure? Jesus wore none of the vain and useless objects that were the custom His day around His neck.
"Here [M.t 6:28] He shows that notwithstanding persons may have great care, and may toil with weariness to make themselves objects of admiration by their outward decorations, all their artificial adornments, which they value so highly, will not bear comparison with the simple flowers of the field for natural loveliness." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 375.
"People of discernment will look upon your attempts to beautify the external as proof of weak minds and proud hearts.
"...And shall the young live vain and thoughtless lives of fashion and frivolity, dwarfing their intellect to the matter of dress and consuming their time in sensual pleasure?" Ibid., p. 377-378.
The truly discerning people in Christ's day could not find in Him signs of a weak mind and proud heart that was so evident in the vain dressers around them, for He did not look like them in His dress.
"I was shown the churches in different states that profess to be keeping the commandments of God and looking for the second coming of Christ. There is an alarming amount of indifference, pride, love of the world, and cold formality existing among them. And these are the people who are fast coming to resemble ancient Israel, so far as the want of piety is concerned. ...? " Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 403.
"The reason why so many are not desirous of attending prayer meeting and of engaging in religious exercises is that their minds are devoted to other things. They are conforming to the world in the matter of dress; and while they are so doing, souls whom they might have helped by letting their light shine in good works are strengthened in their unbelief by the inconsistent course of these professed Christians." Ibid., p. 629.
"The plain, neat dress of the poorer class often appears in marked contrast with the attire of their more wealthy sisters [and brothers], and this difference frequently causes a feeling of embarrassment on the part of the poor. Some try to imitate their more wealthy sisters [and brothers], and frill and ruffle and trim goods of an inferior quality so as to approach as nearly as possible to them in dress. Poor girls, receiving but two dollars a week for their work, will expend every cent to dress like others who are not obliged to earn their own living." Ibid., p. 631.
"Many will not attend the service of God upon the Sabbath because their dress would appear so unlike that of their Christian sisters [and brothers] in style and adornment." Ibid., p. 631.
The apostle Paul said, "... if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." 1 Cor. 8:13. He also said, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." Rom. 14:21. Surely the same principle expressed therein applies to the matter of dress that offends the poor to the extent that they are embarrassed to even go to church meetings where the devotees to fashion parade themselves.
Paul also said, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Rom. 14:13. He also said in this regards, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." 1 Cor. 8:9.
There are two ways in which those in the church who are followers of fashionable clothing become stumblingblocks to others. One by tempting them to turn from the straight and narrow way by indulging in vain shows of fashion, and the other by causing them to stay away from church gatherings .
"Those among Sabbathkeepers who have yielded to the influence of the world are to be tested. ...The genuineness of their faith will be proved. Many have united with worldlings in pride, vanity, and pleasure seeking, flattering themselves that they could do this and still be Christians. But it is such indulgences that separate them from God and make them children of the world. Christ has given us no such example." Ibid., p. 633.
"Many dress like the world in order to have an influence over unbelievers, but here they make a sad mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction plain between the Christian and the worldling." Ibid., p. 633.
"Pride, ignorance, and folly are constant companions. The Lord is displeased with the pride manifested among His professed people. He is dishonored by their conformity to the unhealthful, immodest, and expensive fashions of this degenerate age.
"Fashion rules the world; and she is a tyrannical mistress, often compelling her devotees to submit to the greatest inconvenience and discomfort. ...She has a fascinating power, and stands ready to criticize and ridicule the poor if they do not follow in her wake at any cost, even the sacrifice of life itself." Ibid., p. 634.
"To protect the people of God from the corrupting influence of the world, as well as to promote physical and moral health, the dress reform was introduced among us. It was not intended to be a yoke of bondage, but a blessing; not to increase labor, but to save labor; not to add to the expense of dress, but to save expense. It would distinguish God's people from the world, and thus serve as a barrier against its fashions and follies." Ibid., p. 634.
"To those who consistently adopted the reform dress, appreciating its advantages and cheerfully taking their position in opposition to pride and fashion, it proved a blessing. When properly made, it was a becoming and consistent dress, and recommended itself to persons of candid mind, even among those not of our faith." Ibid., p. 635.
"There is no style of dress more appropriate to be worn at the sanitarium than the reform dress. The idea entertained by some, that it would detract from the dignity or usefulness of that institution, is a mistake. It is just such a dress as one would expect to find there, and should not have been discarded. In this suit the workers could perform their work with far less effort than is now required. Such a dress would preach its own sermon to the devotees of fashion." Ibid., p. 638.
"At the sanitarium, physicians and helpers, have greatly departed from the Lord's instructions in regard to dress. Simplicity is now rare. Instead of neat, unadorned apparel, which the pen of Inspiration has prescribed, almost every style of fashionable dress may be seen." Ibid., p. 639.
"God has been testing His people. He allowed the testimony concerning dress to become silent, that our sisters [and brothers] might follow their own inclination and thus develop the real pride existing in their hearts. ...Many scorned the idea that this dress was necessary to preserve them from following the fashions; but the Lord has permitted them to prove that pride was cherished in their hearts, and that this was just what they would do." Ibid., p. 640.
"Many a soul who was convinced of the truth has been led to decide against it by the pride and love of the world displayed by our sisters [and brothers]. The doctrine preached seemed clear and harmonious, and the hearers felt that a heavy cross must be lifted by them in taking the truth. When these persons have seen our sisters [and brothers] making so much display in dress, they have articulate: 'This people dress fully as much as we do. They cannot really believe what they profess; and, after all, they must be deceived. If they really thought that Christ was soon coming, and the case of every soul was to be decided for eternal life or death, they could not devote time and money to dress according to the existing fashions.'" Ibid., p. 641.
"Those who cling to the ornaments forbidden in God's word cherish pride and vanity in the heart. They desire to attract attention. Their dress says: Look at me, admire me. Thus the vanity inherent in human nature is steadily increasing by indulgence. When the mind is fixed upon pleasing God alone, all the needless embellishments of the person disappear.
"There is a decided contradiction between the love of outward adorning and the grace of meekness, the quiet spirit.
"The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman [and man] the opposite of the Christian lady [and gentlemen] characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently proceeded by the indulgence of pride and vanity of dress. He sees that the costly apparel stifles the desire to do good." Ibid., p. 645.
"Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-Day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God.
"There is a terrible sin upon us as a people, that we have permitted our church members to dress in a manner inconsistent with their faith. We must arise at once, and close the door against the allurements of fashion. Unless we do this, our churches will become demoralized." Ibid., p. 647-648.
"Our only safety is to stand as God's peculiar people. We must not yield one inch to the customs and fashions of this degenerate age, but stand in moral independence, making no compromise with its corrupt and idolatrous practices.
"It will require courage and independence to rise above the religious standard of the Christian world. They do not follow the Saviour's example of self-denial; they make no sacrifice; they are constantly seeking to evade the cross which Christ declares to be the token of discipleship." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 78.
"Brethren awake from your life of selfishness, and act like consistent Christians. The Lord requires you to economize your means and let every dollar not needed for your comfort flow into the treasury. Sisters, take that ten cents, that twenty cents, that dollar which you were about to spend for candies, for ruffles, or for ribbons, and donate it to God's cause. Many of our sisters earn good wages, but it is nearly all spent in gratifying their pride of dress." Ibid., p. 156.
"We profess to be governed by the same principles [as the first Christian church], to be influenced by the same spirit. But instead of giving all for Christ many have taken the golden wedge and a goodly Babylonish garment and hid them in the camp. If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan?' Ibid., p. 157.
"But how are the professed people of God today maintaining the honor of His name? How could the world infer that they are a peculiar people? What evidence do they give of citizenship in heaven? Their self-indulgent, ease loving course falsifies the character of Christ. He could not honor them in any marked manner before the world without endorsing their false representation of His character.
"...I looked upon the dress and listened to the conversation of many who profess the truth. Both were opposed to the principles of truth. Dress and conversation reveal that which is most treasured by those who claim to be pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
"...Puritan plainness and simplicity should mark the dwellings and apparel of all who believe the solemn truths for this time.
"...Those who have Christ dwelling within will feel no desire to imitate the world's display." Ibid., p. 188-189.
"We may deny Christ by our worldly conversation and by our pride and apparel. ...Through association with them, you are led to dress yourselves and your children after the fashions followed by those who have no fear of God before their eyes." Ibid., p. 437.
"There should be no display of the apparel; for this encourages irreverence. The attention of the people is often called to this or that fine article of dress, and thus thoughts are intruded that should have no place in the hearts of the worshipers. ...Let none dishonor God's sanctuary by their showy apparel." Ibid., p. 499.
"It is not alone those who openly reject the Testimonies, or who cherish doubt concerning them, that are on dangerous ground. To disregard light is to reject it." Ibid., p. 680.
"Many are going directly contrary to the light which God has given to His people, because they do not read the books which contain the light and knowledge in cautions, reproofs, and warnings. The cares of the world, the love of fashion, and the lack of religion have turned the attention from the light God has so graciously given, while books and periodicals containing error are traveling all over the country." Ibid., p. 681.
"All [men and women] should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when attending service in God's house. While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to the outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though without adornment." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 355.
"Had the ministers taken hold of this work in its various departments in accordance with the light which God has given, there would have been more decided reformation in eating, drinking, and dressing." Ibid., p. 377.
"We all know that the sin of many professing Christians is that they lack the courage and energy to bring themselves and those connected with them up to the standard." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 46.
"We are living in an important period of this earth's history; and with the light of truth shining upon us, we cannot now be excused for a moment in meeting a low standard. As co-workers with Christ, we are privileged to share with Christ in His suffering. We are to look at His life, study His character, and copy the pattern. What Christ was in His perfect humanity, we must be; for we must form characters for eternity." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 174.
"In our institutions of learning there was to be exerted an influence that would counteract the influence of the world, and give no encouragement to indulgence of appetite, in selfish gratification of the senses, in pride, ambition, love of dress and display, love of praise and flattery, and strife for high rewards and honors as recompense for good scholarship." Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 286.
"...and our institutions of learning have been established for the express purpose of counteracting the influence of those who do not follow the word of God. ...The school is to supplement the home training, and both at home and at school, simplicity of dress, diet, and amusement must be maintained. ...We must maintain a position against every species of sophistry that bewilders in this degenerate age, when error is glossed over, and so mingled with truth that it is almost impossible for those who are not familiar with the distinctions that the Scriptures make between the traditions of men and the word of God, to distinguish truth from error.
"As the truth is brought into the practical life, the standard is to be elevated higher and higher, to meet the requirements of the Bible. This will necessitate opposition to fashions, customs, practices, and maxims of the world. ...It will require moral courage to do this, and those whose souls are not riveted to the eternal Rock will be swept away by the worldly current. We can stand firm only as our life is hid with Christ in God. ...By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world's standard; but we are to make the line of demarcation decidedly apparent." Ibid., p. 288-289.
"When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-Day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. 'We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.'" Ibid., p. 289.
On one hand the Spirit has told us that we are not to make ourselves "a gazingstock by dressing differently from the world," yet above we are told that when we "reach the high standard" that worldlings will regard us as "odd, singular, strait-laced extremists." There would be very few people who would look at as a "gazingstock" if we dressed plainly, leaving off the neckties and the fashions that go with them. Yet, were people to know that we refuse to decorate our poor mortal bodies with those useless and meaningless items for the benefit of reproving the vanities of the world, we would surely be thought of as "odd, singular, strait-laced extremists" in the way the Lord's wants us to be, and after Christ's own example. Would He who walked in this world in the "humble garments of the poor" be found today wearing a classy suit and a flashy tie? Or even a inexpensive polyester suit that is designed to give the appearance of grace and refinement?
"For this reason our schools have been established, that youth and children may be so educated as to exert an influence for God in the world. Then shall our schools become converted to the world, and follow its customs and fashions?" Ibid., p. 289.
"In heart, in dress, in language, in every respect they are to be separate from the fashions and practices of the world. They are to be a peculiar and holy people. It is not their dress that makes them peculiar, but because they are a peculiar and holy people, they cannot carry the marks of likeness to the world." Ibid., p. 311.
"Their ideas of what constitutes a religious education and religious discipline are vague, resting only on probabilities; there are many who have no intelligent hope, and are running great risk in practicing the very things which Jesus has taught that they should not do, in eating, drinking, and dressing, binding themselves up with the world in a variety of ways. They have yet to learn the serious lessons so essential to growth in spirituality, to come out from the world and be separate." Ibid., p. 311.
"... the first simplicity disappeared... As the founders, those who possessed the true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward and 'new model the cause.' While blindly clinging to the creed of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of what they saw, the children of the reformers depart widely from their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the world. Thus 'the first simplicity disappears.' A worldly flood, flowing into the church, carries 'with it its customs, practices, and idols.' " The Great Controversy, p. 385
"The worshippers [in the popular churches] array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. ...Thus fashionable sinners are enrolled on the church records, and fashionable sins are concealed under a pretense of godliness." Ibid., p. 386.
"Human reasoning has ever sought to evade or set aside the simple, direct instructions of the word of God. In every age, a majority of the professed followers of Christ have disregarded those precepts which enjoin self-denial and humility, which require modesty and simplicity of conversation, deportment, and apparel. The result has ever been the same, departure from the teachings of the gospel leads to the adoption of the fashions, customs, and principles of the world. ... One after another, different denominations have risen and, yielding their simplicity, have lost, in a good measure, their early power." Messages to Young People, 354.
"On Sunday the popular churches appear more like a theater than a place of worship of God. Every style of fashionable dress is displayed there. The poor have not courage to enter those houses of worship.
"But the greatest evil is the influence upon the children and youth. Almost as soon as they come into the world they are subjected to fashion's demands. Little children hear more of dress than of their salvation. ...The outward display of dress is made of greater consequence than the adornment of the character. Sharp reprimands are called forth for soiling the fine clothing, and the mind becomes peevish and irritable under continual restraint." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 643.
"The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer. Many unbelievers have felt that they were not doing right in permitting themselves to be slaves of fashion; but when they see some who make a high profession of godliness dressing as worldlings dress, enjoying frivolous society, they decide that there can be no wrong in such a course." Ibid., p. 641.
There we see another expression of the principle of our influences upon the weaker among us Paul spoke of – of being a stumblingblock to others. Those who are the weaker ones are not necessarily the poor, but rather it is the rich. Quite often it is the rich who are truly the weak ones and susceptible to "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life..." (1 John 2:16), for they are the ones who have the financial means to easily indulge themselves. Therefore, they are the very ones who are most need of the silent witness of our simplicity in dress. They are the ones who are most likely to say " ''This people dress fully as much as we do. They cannot really believe what they profess; and, after all, they must be deceived. If they really thought that Christ was soon coming, and the case of every soul was to be decided for eternal life or death, they could not devote time and money to dress according to the existing fashions.' "
"Most generally the fashionable, the wealthy, the proud, understand by experience that happiness is not to be secured by the amount of money that they possess, or by costly edifices... They want something they have not. But this class are attracted toward each other, and it is hard to find access to them; and because of this many are perishing in their sins who long for something that will give them rest and peace and quietude of mind. They need Jesus, the light of righteousness." Evangelism , p. 556.
"The rich left alone without any effort to save them become shut up more and more to their own ideas. Their own train of thoughts and associations lose eternity out of their reckoning. They grow more proud and selfish, hardhearted and unimpressible, suspicious that every one wants to get money, while the poor are envious of the rich, who need pity rather than to be envied." Ibid., p. 556-557.
"Ask them how they feel about decorating their bodies, and if they have any sense of what it is to be prepared to appear before God, they will tell you that if they could take back and live over the past, they would correct their lives, shun the follies of the world, its vanity and pride, and would adorn the body with modest apparel, and set an example to all around them. They would live to the glory of God.
"Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead. ...They have a disposition to dress and act as much like the world as possible and yet go to heaven." Ibid., p. 131.
"We want to clothe ourselves, not with pomposity, but with plain simple dress, so that they will feel that we are an equal with them and as though we considered that they were worth saving, and we can melt our way into their hearts." Welfare Ministry, p. 90
The foregoing testimonies, spanning the life of Ellen G. White, from the earliest writings to the last, clearly show that all during that time the church, as a body, the vast majority, have never excepted the counsel given to be separate from the world in fashion, and to follow the Pattern, the life of Christ. The testimony, "Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war." Isa. 3:25, (1T 270), will be fulfilled unless they repent!
"As Christians we are to have a righteousness that shall be developed and seen – a righteousness that represents the character of Jesus Christ when He was in our world. " (MS 43, 1908), S.D.A. Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1151.
The Pattern – "the humble garment of the poor" (D.A. 137), not the fashions of the rulers of this world.
"The church is charged with the terrible sin of whoredom, -- intermingling with the world, -- and of bringing forth 'children of whoredoms' (Hos. 2:4), converts begotten not by 'the Spirit of Truth' but by the spirit of the world.
"These have not cut loose from the desires of the natural heart and from the promptings of the 'carnal mind,' the 'lust of the eyes, and the pride of life' -- all of which is 'not of the Father, but is of the world.' 1 John 2 :16 .
"When these unlawful children are told of the straight testimony, which would compel them to give up the world and accept the whole truth, they quickly reveal themselves as not of the seed of God. Let dress and health reform and a thorough acceptance of the Spirit of Prophecy, without any mention of either worldly pleasures or sins of morality, be urged upon them, and thousands of so-called good Christians in unexceptionable standing in the church, will abandon their membership.
"Let this test be applied, and the honest who may have some doubt about the results, will have it quickly and completely dispelled, once and forever. (See Early Writings, p. 270). The church, well aware of this fact, and fearful that she may lose a selfish gain, tithes and offerings, if she fails to acquire a large membership, virtually says: 'I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. For she did not know,' said the Lord, 'that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.' Hos. 2:5, 8.
" 'Only when the church is composed of pure, unselfish members, can it fulfill God's purpose. Too much hasty work is done in adding names to the church roll. Serious defects are seen in the characters of some who join the church. Those who admit them say, we will first get them into the church, and then reform them. But this is a mistake. The very first work to be done is the work of reform. Pray with them, talk with them, but do not allow them to unite with God's people in church relationship until they give decided evidences that the Spirit of God is working upon their hearts.' -- Review and Herald, May 21, 1901, Vol. 78, No. 21." The Latest News for "Mother", p. 58, 59.
Yours, to clothed in Christ's righteousness,
that the Lamb's wife may be clothed in "the fine linen"
– "the righteousness of the saints,"
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