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Be Aware of Appearances
Bible study on appearances.

God commands us to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Th. 5:21-22, KJV).

So we must be aware of appearances, in order to abstain from evil.

Personal Appearance
We are commanded to glorify God in our bodies. So, we must be aware of our outward appearance, to ensure that it glorifies God.

  • "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Our outward appearance either glorifies God or dishonors Him.

If we adorn ourselves to look rebellious, we dishonor God. But if we adorn ourselves in a way that appears godly, we honor God.

  • We must exalt Christ and profess godliness in everything we do (Phil. 1:20; 1 Tim. 2:2, 10).
  • We don't take pride in physical appearances, but in heart (2 Cor. 5:12).

Therefore, we must have a sense of society's impression of our appearance. To do this, we should rely on individuals who are mature in the faith for guidance.

  • We must do the things that are honorable and respectable in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17).

For example, guidance from the elders of our congregation regarding propriety should be considered when making decisions relating to appearance.

Appearance of Questionable Activities
In the world, many people think it's okay to engage in questionable activities, especially if you do it just a little.

But as Christians, we abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Th. 5:21-22).

We don't engage in anything that's questionable.

  • If something is questionable in our minds, it's a sin (Rom. 14:23).

Questionable things are often on the cutting edge of popular culture, like the most modern attire and activities. As Christians, we are aware of things that appear to be questionable, and don't participate in them.

Appearance of Worldly Wisdom
False religious doctrines appear to be wise, in worldly terms.

  • "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence" (Col. 2:23).

These doctrines appear to be wise since they're built upon human philosophy, rather than God's word.

  • "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:8).

So Paul warns us not to give into false teachers, who through their doctrines try to defraud us of our salvation.

  • "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God" (Col. 2:18-19).

For this reason, I'm very careful in my use of the word "theology", which means the "philosophical treatment of Christian doctrine" (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, Historian, 09 Jan, 2010).

Although the meaning of "theology" is broader today, than when it was first used in the fourteenth century, it still includes philosophy. So, I avoid using the term when talking about the doctrine of Christ and my religion, which is not based on a human philosophy.

Appear as Lights in the World
As disciples of Christ, we appear as lights in the world.

  • "So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15).

As lights, we glorify God in our personal appearance, and the activities in which we engage.

We don't engage in questionable activities.

And we show people the path to heaven, as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

As God's children, it's our obligation to be aware of appearances.

We're aware of our personal appearance, and the appearance of everything we do.

And we're aware of the appearances of things around us, so we don't give into evil.