Dressing Purposefully: Your Closet and the Cross

April 24, 2017  - By Gretchen Saffles

Two years ago we did our first Life Lived Beautifully fashion week and discussed how fashion and the gospel are connected! This week we are going back to these posts and adding a few more as we work through changing our wardrobe into summer mode! I would love for you to join us each day and follow along on Instagram where we will also be giving away some of our favorite fashion finds! Are you ready to see your closet in a whole new way? I am! This is going to be fun!

We are all worshippers. The question is never, am I worshipping? Instead, we should daily ask ourselves, what/who am I worshipping? The definition of worship is “the act of worshipping God or a god.” We either worship the one True God who is worthy of our affection, or we worship little gods that deceive us into thinking they are greater than they are. In Psalm 115:4-8, David described what this kind of worship looks like, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” Idols do nothing for the life of the worshipper other than steal joy. God alone hears us, walks with us, and is trustworthy. Worship is meant for Him alone. 

Several years ago I traveled across the world to India to partner with a friend who’s mission was to share the gospel with the people. Idols were everywhere. The people unashamedly placed small, hand-made idols at their doorsteps, in their shops, and exalted them in their temples. In America, this kind of idol worship appears different, but it still exists. We worship our things, our social media profiles, our homes, and our jobs. One area that often gets worshipped in today’s culture is fashion and dress. We place too much affection in our clothing, material possessions, and the affirmation we receive from others (all of which are fleeting). We spend countless hours (and a lot of money) worrying about our looks, stressing over our closets, and obsessing over our appearance. Just like Paul described in Romans 1:24-25, we worship the created and not the Creator.

In college, I majored in Fashion Merchandising. I loved my major and I love the art of dress. However, I lived many years of my life worshipping fashion, always needing the newest things to feel beautiful, and finding my worth in my outward appearance. Any money I made went straight to the clothing budget. Thankfully, the Lord began to show me there’s more to dress than just outer appearance. It is not an area of our life that is exempt from worship. We either worship what we wear, or we worship through what we wear. Dress is more than putting clothing on the body, it represents what we believe, communicates a message, and can be an area of freedom or bondage.


In the garden of Eden in Genesis 1, God created Adam and Eve in perfection. He fashioned Adam “from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). He then created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs and formed her to be a “helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Adam and Eve were completely naked and unashamed. God didn’t mess up and forget to put pants on Adam and a dress on Eve. There wasn’t a need for clothing because there was no sin. Everything on earth was spotless, blameless, and in right relationship with God. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve sinned that they recognized their nakedness and tried to cover up.

In this moment, shame, fear, and regret entered the world, tarnishing what God once made in all purity. No longer did Adam and Eve experience the freedom of purity. For the first time ever, they tried to cover their wrongdoing from their Maker. Their eyes “were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Quickly, they grabbed the nearest fig leaves and sewed them together to make loincloths to cover themselves up. The first clothing in the history of mankind was a simple, fragile fig leaf. 


But God’s amazing grace redeemed them from a life of “covering up” with things that wouldn’t last. In Genesis 3:21, God killed the first animal. The very first death was a sacrifice made by God to cover the sins of man. Blood was shed so that Adam and Eve would have sufficient covering. This, dear friends, is the grace of God. In the beginning, dress was never meant to be elevated. Clothes were never meant to be worshiped, God was. Satan knew what he was doing when he tempted Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit. He knew it wouldn’t satisfy their hungry hearts. Adam and Eve settled for less than God’s best because they took their eyes off of their Creator and set them on the created.

After the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, God set into motion His plan of redemption. All of history would point to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who would come to save us from our sins. In Matthew 27:32-50, God intervened for us by sending His only Son to die on the cross and shed His blood so we might have new life. The first animal that was sacrificed in the garden to cover Adam and Eve was simply a precursor to the Lamb of God who would be killed to take away our sins. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, and we have been painted red, scrubbed clean, and made white as snow by His blood. 

Sin is the reason we wear clothing, grace is the reason it can be beautiful. Because of God’s mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can worship through our dress. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul explained the richness of God’s scandalous grace, “But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God is so loving that He makes all things beautiful that are surrendered to Him. Instead of worshipping the things we wear, we can worship the Creator of both our bodies and our clothing. 


Psalm 96:9 tells us:

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, tremble before him, all the earth.”

The Hebrew word for “beauty of holiness” is hadarah, which translated means to worship in “holy attire.” Our dress isn’t something we claim for ourselves and our own enjoyment. It is a symbol of the grace of God meant to be enjoyed as a gift redeemed by the shed blood of Christ. We should dress to honor Christ. Because of God’s beautiful grace, we can create through what we wear. Our love for Him can radiate through our outer appearance. Like a diamond, we are to reflect the Master Artist through our closets. When our hearts are set to praise Jesus in all things and lift up His precious name, our outer appearance glows.

Each day, we have an opportunity to worship the Lord through our closets. Our attitudes are the first expression we have of our worship. Because Jesus has set us free, we no longer worship the clothes we put on our body, the size of our pants, or the makeup we put on. Instead, we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Our clothing is a direct representation of God’s grace made manifest to us on the cross. The gospel is the good news that Christ has ransomed our sin-stained hearts and traded our worthless rags for His infinite riches (Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 62:10).

I’ve spent far too many mornings stressing over what to wear, spending too much time getting dressed,  and too much money wanting something new when what I have is enough. I’ve elevated my looks to an unhealthy degree and sought affirmation through my outfits. Christ continually sets me free of this, but it is a struggle that comes up quite frequently. Have you ever felt paralyzed when you go to your closet? Have you ever felt like you aren’t enough and had that negative feeling affect your entire day? Our bodies and our dress have been bought by the blood of Christ. We can be different, sisters. We can worship and create through our dress and honor our Creator. We can wear holy attire because we serve a holy God who has washed us white as snow!

here are a few questions i ask myself before i get dressed each day:

  • Does this display the Gospel, or distract from the Gospel?
  • Is what I am wearing going to bring someone down, make someone envious or cause them to struggle?
  • Does what I have on bring others freedom and encouragement?
  • Am I dressing to make myself known or to make Christ known?
  • Do I find my worth in my outfit or in my identity in Jesus?

John Piper defined worship as “being satisfied in God and cherishing Christ as gain.” All of life is worship…including the moments we get dressed in the morning and go shopping. May we do everything for the glory of God who has redeemed us from wearing fig leaves and allows us to live in His grace and goodness everyday.



share this post:

Post Categories:

Fix your mind on gospel truth

and apply God's Word to everyday life with our weekly articles. Sign up below to receive the full article in your email inbox every time a new one is released!

  1. goddardd75@gmail.com says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve never heard anyone expound on the issues of dress and fashion like this and it was convicting and refreshing. I’ve grown up in a denomination that only gives out a set of rules rather than giving out these truths from scripture. This is such a breath of fresh air and it is beautiful. I have been helped and encouraged. Thank you!

    • gretchen@lifelivedbeautifully.com says:

      This is a passion of my heat so reading this just makes me so excited! Praise the Lord, Dawn!

  2. agibby246@gmail.com says:

    Do you believe skirts and dresses to be the ultimate act of modesty?

    • gretchen@lifelivedbeautifully.com says:

      Hi Abby! I believe that women can wear pants and shorts in a modest way that still points to Christ! I will be sharing more about modesty in Thursday’s post this week!

  3. jaspeck@gmail.com says:

    Beautiful! I love this, Gretchen! I’ve always had a heart for young girls and modesty, and I’m excited for this series, as it will put into words what has been on my heart for so long! Blessings.

  4. green_bean7@hotmail.com says:

    LOVE THIS and just what I needed to hear! Looking forward to more of your posts. 🙂

  5. Yadilavender@icloud.com says:

    Definitely true – do all to the Glory of God, Truely blessed with what you shared and reminded me once again I must dress to bring worship to my Savior and Creator God bless you Gretchen 💕

  6. Madkat1514@bellsouth.net says:

    This is a great post and well said. Thank you for using the scripture to express Gods meaning for our clothing and and WHO we worship not what we worship. I have two young girls and I want to teach them modesty and why it is so important to Us and to God! Thank you for helping me!’

    • gretchen@lifelivedbeautifully.com says:

      That blessed me so much to hear that you are going to be teaching your girls this truth!

  7. Thank you for this…it was a beautiful and timely reminder to renew my heart in this area.


  8. Daniel Hughes says:

    Does it matter if I dress (sweatpants, white socks, Nike shoes) to church?

Leave a Reply


join the

helpful links

When you sign up for our emails you will receive encouragement straight to your inbox, shop discounts just for our subscribers, free gospel-centered resources, and Well-Watered Shop updates!


give me jesus journal

the well-watered woman book

free resources

back to top

affiliate program

rewards program


contact us

refund policy


what we believe