He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

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APPEARANCE STUDY #2 - BIBLE & THEOLOGY: If you have not read my post from 10/31/05 please read it before reading this one.

2 Corinthians 5:12 says, "For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory (literally "boast") on our behalf, that you may have somewhat (be able) to answer (implied in the context) them which glory ("boast") in appearance, and not in heart."

I previously attempted to establish that outward appearance matters to God...but how much? This verse uses a different word than is found in 1 Thesslalonians 5:22, but it is a word often synonymous with it - it is the word for "face" or "presence" (prosopon). If you compare various translations it is quickly apparent that the word is somewhat vague in this context. Most versions understand it as I do - that which is visible versus that which is invisible ("in heart") in a general sense. However, the RSV and NLT understand it as a wrong attitude toward position in ministry. The context allows for this possibility, I believe, but by no means requires this narrow of a definition of prosopon. I bring up this verse because I believe it makes the point that while outward appearance matters to God, the heart condition is of primary importance. Or to state it in another way: the content is more critical than the form.

It is very easy to allow outward appearance (the form) to be the content; in other words, to define a true Christian on the basis of form rather than the content of the heart. It is my opinion that the form is critical to maintaining the content of the heart, but it is never a substitute for it. I am encouraged by several sermons I have heard preached by some of our leading preachers and evangelists lately along this line. Form should never be a substitute for a passionate desire after God. Rather, it should be a handmaiden for focusing on our pursuit and enjoyment of God. By maintaining the principles concerning form, we ought to be enabled to more fully focus on our relationship with God. Too often we have been more interested in form for form's sake and it has calcified our Christian experience. Let's practice the form for God's sake, and none else.

Just for a look ahead, I hope to cover the following principles concerning outward appearance:

1. The Principle of Separation (Romans 12:2)
2. The Principle of Self-control (1 Timothy 2:9)
3. The Principle of Sufficiency (Genesis 3:7, 21; Exodus 28:42)
4. The Principle of Stewardship (1 Timothy 2:9)
5. The Principle of Sexuality (Deuteronomy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11)
6. The Principle of Sensitivity (Romans 14)

Blessings,

David Fry
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5 comments

Heather Handel said...

David,
We probably dissagree on a lot of things...maybe not...I don't really know you at all. But I am very glad to read what you wrote. You wrote that "form should never be a substitute for passionate desire after God." Most holiness preachers would say that the most important tenat of Christianity is faith. They also will say that the most necessary thing that one must do to make it to heaven is to have faith. And I completely agree, however, I think that many people act as though FAITH becomes passive after becoming a child of God. I believe that FAITH must be active and REQUIRES a daily and passionate love relationship with God. We do hear a lot in the holiness churches about form and many christians forget what Form we are suppose to be imitating. "Form should never be a substitute for passionate desire after God." I like that statement; it is very true and it addresses the problem that many of our churches are facing today. Thanks, Heather Handel

darrellandlizzystetler said...

David,
I've been thinking a lot about this stuff lately as we're dealing with a number of new people in our church who are unaccustomed to holiness "norms." And I'm more convinced (and thankful) than ever that it is God's job (and He uses His servants and His Word of course) to stamp His image on each Christians heart.

In my own life, the outward forms are a constant and practical reminder of whose I am. I'm not autonomous even in the most simple things. That is a blessing (although uncomfortable to our natural selves) and a discipline to keep forming me to look like Jesus.

I don't know if that will even make sense. Anyway, I did enjoy reading your blog!

Lizzy Stetler

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