Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 9 September 2018
Page 2

Editorial

From Loincloths and Back Again

Louis RushmoreAmong other things (i.e., introducing sin into the world among humanity, Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12), Adam and Eve initiated the very first clothing line. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7 NKJV). In place of “coverings,” some translations render the original language word in this place as “aprons” (KJV, ASV, RSV) or “loincloths” (ESV). Hebrew lexicons concur with the context here that Adam and Eve fashioned for themselves loincloths.

The first pair’s loincloths barely qualified as clothing, hanging from the waist and merely concealing their genitals. Nevertheless, aware of their nakedness, Adam and Eve endeavored to clothe themselves, howbeit, crudely. Their efforts, though, were unsatisfactory to God, Who became the first fashion critic. Therefore, He replaced their loincloths with a more expansive covering. “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics [“coats” KJV, ASV] of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 NKJV). God introduced the first fur or leather clothing line, and the first intimation of the death of animals resulted from human sin in the persons of Adam and Eve.

Unlike loincloths that hung from their waists, the “tunics” or “coats” hung from the first pair’s shoulders. The “tunics” or “coats” were robes or long, shirt-like garments extending at least to one’s knees and possibly to the ankles. God did not consider the fig-leaf loincloths as sufficiently modest or an orderly arranged covering to conceal one’s nakedness.

God has not changed His definition from the Garden of Eden to the New Testament era or the Gospel Age of what adequately covers nakedness. “…women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV).

Yet, mankind has made the journey from nakedness, to loincloth, to modestly clothed, back to virtual loincloth and even nudity. The bashfulness of Adam and Eve, once they realized that they were naked, is not shared commonly among moderns. One of the marks of civilization distinguished from remote unclothed or loincloth-wearing tribal people has been in the past the adoption of modest clothing. Remarkably, though, contemporary civilization is making a full circle back to loincloths and nakedness. Along the way, reverting to an uncivilized marker—nakedness—especially scantily clad wives, mothers and daughters may be mistaken by God and man alike as impure, unholy specimens of womanhood. “And there a woman met him, With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart” (Proverbs 7:10 NKJV; Matthew 5:28). Granted, men also need to demonstrate modesty (Genesis 39:5-19; John 21:7).

A place of worship does not define the worshipper, but the person determines the validity of his or her worship by one’s conduct. Likewise, no public place defines modesty (e.g., beach or swimming pool versus work, school, church assembly, etc.), but a person embraces or rejects biblical modesty. Particularly, the children of God ought to be observed by the world as being clothed with righteousness (Ephesians 6:14), which, in part, will manifest itself in our godly attire. Either too much gaudy attire or too little clothing will conceal “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:3-4).


Editorial

With the Spirit and with
the Understanding Also

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Christianity is a singing religion! God’s people sing. In fact, singing is a commanded act of worship (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). However, for the faithful child of God, singing goes far beyond the command. One of the great ways in which private and public worship is given to the Almighty is by raising our songs of praise. The faithful live by the wisdom of James. “…Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13b). The apostle Paul, by inspiration’s pen, declared that our singing must be done “with the spirit and with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). While most Christians understand the need and the requirement for vocal singing as per the New Testament pattern, this author is fearful that the spirit and the understanding part of that pattern often is not considered. What did God mean when He demanded that our singing was to be done with spirit and with understanding?

Firstly, “spirit and understanding” include concentration. In the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 14, Paul was dealing with people who were zealous for certain things (i.e., miracles), but they were not interested in the spiritual edification of others (cf., 1 Corinthians 14:12). The entire reason for the miraculous gifts at Corinth was so that understanding and enlightenment could come to all, not just to those who were using the gifts. Although the miraculous has ceased today, the principle is still the same. One result of vocal singing is to edify (build up spiritually) the worshippers (1 Corinthians 14:16). When our singing is merely “rote” and we do not really concentrate on the words and their meaning, we certainly neither please God nor fulfill the demand or reason for singing.

Secondly, “spirit and understanding” involve interpretation. Singing words that make little sense or that are unknown is a spiritual waste of time. Understanding what we sing is a vital part of pleasing God. Some songs use words with which many in the assembly are not familiar. Another serious concern are songs that simply do not teach truth, but in fact, they teach error. Remember, many of the “worshipful” songs we sing were not written by New Testament Christians. Therefore, just because a song is in our songbook or on our digital song list does not mean it is a scriptural song! Far too many songs teach Calvinism, Premillennialism, faith only as well as a myriad of other false doctrines. While many congregations would never let false doctrine be preached, these same congregations are often guilty of teaching false doctrines through song, which is equally reproachful. This author has witnessed a sound congregation whose elders went through the songbooks and stamped “do not sing or lead this song,” due to the false teachings contained therein. This is commendable and certainly proof of “watching for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). We sometimes get to the point where the only command as far as singing is concerned about which we care is that we sing without musical instruments. While there is certainly no authority for mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship, a cappella singing is not the only requirement for scriptural singing.

Thirdly, “spirit and understanding” include motivation. Singing in spirit engages our emotions. Please understand it is not “emotionalism” but rather genuine emotion that comes from a thankful heart. Our emotions are gifts from God, and they must be engaged as we praise Him. Singing should result in passion, power and a path by which we can live what we have sung. If our singing does not motivate our living, then one would have to question whether that singing was properly accomplished. Singing, by its very nature, is uplifting and affects our emotions. Scriptural singing should light a fire in our hearts that will melt the lead in our feet as we go forth to serve the One to Whom we sang.

I believe singing is one of the great ways in which we extol the King. Next time we “make music in our hearts” and allow that music to roll off our lips, let’s consider Paul’s admonition to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. Today and always, “…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).


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