British Summertime, Clothing and Mortification
Spring is well and truly here in the UK with the clocks springing forward (pun intended) recently and last week reaching tropical highs of 18⁰C. When the sun has got his hat on in Britain; everyone comes out to play.
Empty street furniture is now occupied with coffee drinkers, gloomy horizons have given way to blue skies, and usually dour faced commuters begin to smile: spring is a great time of year.
However, what does strike me during our rare sunny spells is how people dress. I'm currently spending time in a part of the city which relies on leisure seekers, and one can't help notice what people wear – or often what they don’t. The saying goes; ‘clothing is communication’ and our society is currently communicating a message of individualism, and immodesty. Some might do so unconsciously, while others are quite deliberate. The problem is that our society has normalised sin, and is saturated in indecency. We as Christians can quickly become desensitised to such things and need the to be reminded of what the Lord says.
As an aside; our celebrity obsessed culture (which the masses follow) and the fashion industry are controlled by the god of this world (Eph 2:2). Though the world system is utterly wicked and thoroughly corrupt, we should not be embittered toward individual souls. Rather, as we see them in their sin, they are to be pitied and reached with the Gospel.
Western society though, is salacious, decadent and overtly immoral. Whether it's daily newspapers, advertising boards, Instagram feeds or the local high street, all know that sex sells and this is reflected in much of what we see around us.
What's a man to do surrounded by such sin? The Lord Jesus said he was to pluck out his eyes: "if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell" (Mk 9:47, ESV). Sin is not to be trifled with, especially normalised sin that we get so complacent with, and desensitised to. Such sin is eternally dangerous.If your eye is causing you to sin, then you need to take urgent and drastic action; "put to death (mortify) your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5, NKJV).
Job was similarly hard on sin and what he looked at saying; "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job 31:1, NKJV). A sinful look, corrupts the mind, which in turn poisons the heart, and what we love will be reflected in our actions. Perhaps you've grown slack and comfortable with what you look at, whether in the flesh or on the screen. Maybe the worlds standards have become your own, if that's the case then it's time to get serious and follow the example of godly Job; look away, and get rid of your phone.
The issue of clothing and the wandering eye are gender specific issues. Not completely – but let's stick with the norms for now. The lustful eye is generally a male sin (Matt 5:28) and immodest clothing a female one (1 Tim 2:9). We have all failed at certain times and to varying degrees in these issues. My contention today, is to be ruthless with the sin in our own lives. Often, we're hard on the sins of others and not our own; we look at the specks in other people's eyes and not the beam in our own (Mt 7:3). Remember, we are each responsible for our own sin; it is not to be coddled or cajoled, but rather mortified with the sword of the Spirit. Let’s remember thatGod demands holy living; “be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet 1: 16). His will is “your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honour” (1 Thess4:3-4, ESV). As we look away from sin, let us look unto God and his word; this is positive sanctification. Sin can never satisfy, but Christ satisfies eternally. May the Lord help us all.
A few verses to finish with:
“Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Pr 7:25-27).
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Ps 119:9, NKJV).
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2).