What We Confess With Our Clothing


What we wear says more about us than we might think.

Many of us probably barely think at all when we get dressed in the morning. But something really profound is happening every time we pull on our pants and slip into a shirt — or five shirts if you live in Minnesota this time of year.

John Piper writes, in his brand new book of devotionals, A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You, “God ordained clothes to witness to the glory we have lost.” Clothes were part of the wrath of God against our rebellion. They are a loud stamp of disapproval upon a disobedient people — people who before had been pure, innocent, shameless, and naked. There was no need or purpose for Gap or Old Navy prior to the fall, but now we wear clothes at all times — fall, winter, spring, and summer.

Cover-Up and Confession

Our clothing is a really humiliating reality — humanity’s longest-standing cover-up operation. Amazingly, we almost only think of it now in terms of pride and approval, in terms of fashion. But the dressing room of the garden, far from being fashionable, was one of the most fatal moments history’s ever known.

When God clothed Adam and Eve after their pitiful attempts, Piper describes, he was saying, “You are not what you were and you are not what you ought to be. Covering yourself with clothing is a right response to this — not to conceal it, but to confess it.” We confess with our clothing that we are sinful, that we need to be cleansed, and that we must be covered until we’ve been made new.

Nudity’s New Mutiny

Our clothes confess our sin and need for salvation, but Piper goes on to say, “…and it is added rebellion to throw them off.” Tragically, the horror of having to wear clothes because of our rebellion is increased when we inappropriately expose ourselves or indulge in others doing so. Nudity, once pervasively pure and good, is manipulated, abused, and flaunted in order to satisfy sin, a yet worse mutiny before the God who created and covered our bodies.

The Hope of Hand-Me-Downs

But the sin of the garden and the sins of lust and immodesty are not the end of clothing’s story and purpose in Scripture. Piper writes, “Our clothes are a witness both to our past and present failure and to our future glory.” Clothing confesses our sinful desperation, but it also announces God’s plan to clothe us perfectly in Christ. As God slayed the animals to cover Adam and Eve, he has slain his Son to cover his chosen, broken people (Revelation 5:9). He plans to wrap us in the spotless, holy, glorious hand-me-downs of our Savior (Galatians 3:27).

Daily Help for Your Heart

Following Jesus begins with listening to all he’s taught us, but even the best listeners must learn to apply the truth to all of life, even their attire. As we get dressed and undressed hundreds of time every year, we should have an awareness of the painful reason we wear anything, a sobriety and modesty in how we dress, and a hope in the promise of God to clothe us in Jesus’s perfect righteousness. Therefore, your closet — no, not your prayer closet in this case — can become a surprisingly spiritual moment, putting you and God in your proper places before your day begins.

In A Godward Heart, Piper addresses lots of questions and issues like clothing — stereotypes, social media, social justice, spiritual gifts, politics, parenting, and others — all while maintaining the main purpose of pursuing a heart in love with God in every circumstance. The fifty devotions offer hundreds of life lessons that will help you cultivate Christ-like wisdom and worship for the places God has put you right now.

Marshall Segal (@MarshallSegal) is executive assistant to John Piper, a recent graduate of Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis, and author of Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married.