Outward Ornament vs. Inward Adornment

The Bible teaches against wearing gold or other precious metals for ornament or decorations such as finger rings, bracelets, earrings, lockets, etc. Ornaments of gold or other metals are evidences of a prideful heart and are unbecoming to a child of God.  “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3, 4). The Bible also records, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” (1 Timothy 2:9) and “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

Historical records indicate that, at the time the cited Scriptures were written, the women of the world plaited, or interwove, their hair with gold, and also attached jewels, pearls, and gold ornaments, to their apparel or costly array. Therefore, it appears that the reference are to jewelry and gems, or stones. The early Church was staunchly against all worldliness. Since the Scripture is given by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it is clear that these items are still unbecoming to all children of God – both men and women.

Some Old Testament passages may seem contradictory to the New Testament writings previously mentioned; however, when rightly divided, they actually strengthen the New Testament’s position. An example can be found in Genesis 28:10-17. Following the patriarch Jacob’s sojourn in Haran, which was heathen territory, the Lord bade him return to Bethel, the house of God which is a type of the future Church established by Christ. Jacob remembered his early, awesome experience at Bethel, and although he and his family had apparently become involved to some extent in heathen practices, in the fear of God he dared not return to Bethel with the images and jewels of heathen worship (Genesis 31:19). At his command, they “…put away the strange gods…and all their earrings which were in their ears…”(Genesis 35:2, 4).

Another Old Testament incident some two hundred forty years after Jacob’s return is sometimes cited in defense of wearing jewels of silver and gold. “Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people” (Exodus 11:2, 3). The Lord Himself commanded the departing Israelites from Egypt to borrow jewels from their neighbors. Some argue that this was the Lord’s approval of such items; however, two incidents soon made apparent the Lord’s purpose in giving this command.

First, He showed them the awful consequences of using those jewels for the wrong purposes. “And when he people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto t hem, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:1-6). While Moses was in the mount receiving the commandments and the detailed instructions for the tabernacle, the people corrupted themselves. There were already wearing the jewels, both men and women, and at Aaron’s request they gave them for the making of a molten calf, declaring, “…These [jewels] be thy gods, O Israel…” (Exodus 32:4). After offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, their worship is summarized in these words: “…the people sat down to eat and to drink [to the molten calf], and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6).

When Moses descended from the mount, he found them shouting, dancing, and singing to their idol god. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou brightest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it” (Exodus 32:7-19). Moses ground the calf to powder, put it in the water, and made the people to drink of it. Thus, we see God’s angry judgment in the matter in verses seven through fourteen. Though the Lord repented of His anger, they still had to “drink” the consequences of their sin.

Secondly, in due time, the Lord revealed His purpose for the remaining borrowed silver, gold, and jewels.  “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a wiling heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, silver, and brass… And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD. And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them. Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD’S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses” (Exodus 35:4, 5, 20-29). The silver, gold, and jewels were to be used to adorn the tabernacle, not the bodies of the people.

Two New Testament writers cite the adornment issue. In 1 Timothy 2:8-10, the Apostle Paul adamantly states, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up the holy hands [unadorned], without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety [holy modesty and humility]; not with broided hair [entwined with jewels and other ornamentation], or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” In slightly different words recorded in 1 Peter 3:3-5, the Apostle Peter agrees.

Though apparel is not the topic under consideration at this moment, it is clearly related since gold and other conspicuous and prideful decoration is often used as apparel. It is an evidence of worldliness and pride. Vain pride is severely condemned in the Scriptures. For instance, a “proud look” is listed as the first of seven things that the Lord hates and is an abomination to Him (Proverbs 6:16, 17). Then, “the pride of life” is cited by the Apostle John as one of three enticements unto worldliness.

The Word of God instructs the Christian not to love the world and the things of the world.  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15, 16). James, the Overseer of the early Church, added emphasis to these words: “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

The New Testament brought fulfillment to the Old Testament prophecies, types, and shadows. In the Old Testament era, some things were “suffered,” or allowed, such as divorce (Matthew 19:3-9); however, Jesus came to restore God’s original order of things, and His Church is now His agent in that restoration according to Isaiah 58:12. It is therefore the responsibility of the Christian to stand against the wearing of gold for ornament or decoration – such as finger rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, lockets and large showy pins) – in addition to worldliness in any form or fashion.

It is often argued that the wedding ring should be an exception; however, in-depth research reveals that the wedding band originated as a pagan practice, along with many other uses of jewelry and adornment. In the origin of these customs and vain traditions, they had absolutely no Christian significance. Therefore, the acceptance of these pagan practices would have no valid argument for their use; rather, it would contradict the argument.

In the final book of the New Testament, Revelation, a glaring contrast of two women is given. One is “…arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:4, 5). “Babylon” means confusion and is descriptive of false religions and that which is contradictory to God’s established truth.

The other woman is the Lamb’s wife, “…arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8). What a stark contrast between these two women! One, the great harlot, destined for the lake of fire and brimstone; the other, God’s glorious Church, destined for the New Jerusalem!

It is recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that the time of the Church’s espousal to Christ is now. The Bridegroom is so in love with His Church that He has given Himself for her, and He is now sanctifying and cleaning Her “…with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27). The Church must be a “glorious Church” or a “chase virgin” completely uncontaminated by the trappings of this world! Christ Himself will provide her “adornment.”

“…Come hither, I will whew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God [after the marriage], having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;…And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones…And the twelve gates were twelve pearls;…and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:9-11, 18, 19, 21).

We must not cheapen this glorious revelation by the use of the unrefined products of the present world. It behooves us to beware of everything related to the woman who rides the beast and to dispense with anything that would be a spot, wrinkle, or blemish on the pure, white garments of Christ’s virgin bride.

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