So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then He said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.” – Zechariah 3:4
Clothes. In my opinion they are an unfortunate necessity of life, one I wish we did not have to worry about. But alas, Adam and Eve chose to disobey, so now we must wear them. And although I do not place a high priority on the clothes I wear, I do dress according to the plans I have for the day. Going out with friends? Jeans and a nice shirt or sweater. Exercising? Breathable pants and moisture-wicking shirt. Church? Dress pants, skirt, or dress. And regardless of where I’m going or what I am doing, what I wear had better be comfortable.
Since clothes are not a priority to me, I tend not to think about them too much other than for the reasons I just mentioned. That changed the other day, however, when my daughter made a comment regarding what I had on that gave me a moment of pause. For God connected her comments to my spiritual walk.
Now, she did not say anything profound. All she did was guess that I was going to be exercising because I was wearing my exercise clothes. I did not need to tell her I was going to exercise; she could tell by the clothes I had on.
And this is what got me thinking. What do I spiritually put on every day? Does it convey to those who come in contact with me that I am God’s child? Can people tell I know Jesus by what I put on spiritually? Do my clothes reflect the truth that even though “by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
Does the devil know I mean war by what I put on? After all, whether or not we are dressed for it, we are in a battle every day. It is why Paul exhorts us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). It is why he says in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. “
Although Jesus encouraged us while He walked the earth to “…take heart; I [Jesus] have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and although the ultimate victory indeed is ours, we still need to fight. And if we are going to fight, we need to wear the right clothes.
So what should we wear?
Nothing says it better than God’s own words: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:14)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently walking through the Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer. This week we are discussing the breastplate of righteousness. Within this discussion, I have come across many verses referencing “putting off” the old self and “putting on” the new. We are told in Colossians that as believers in Jesus we have “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). We are reminded in Ephesians our old self “is corrupt through deceitful desires” but we are “to be renewed in the spirit of [our] minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). It’s the familiar adage “Out with the old; in with the new” applied to our hearts.
But the key is we cannot wear both. We can’t put on righteousness and unrighteousness together. I’m certainly not going to wear a long, flowing dress while running a marathon, so why would I want to wear my own righteousness, which is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) to “run with perseverance the race marked out for” me (Hebrews 12:1)? That’d be insanity; that would be sin. After all, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1: 5-6, 8).
Jesus compares such practices–such attempts to keep our old righteousness while also trying to walk in the newness of life provided by salvation–to putting an unshrunk cloth on an old garment or new wine into old wineskins. If we try to combine the new with the old, “the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made” and “the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed” (Matthew 9:16-17). In other words, trying to walk this life in fleshy, man-made righteousness is futile.
Nevertheless, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Therefore, if we have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, then we must put Him on. We “must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Ephesians 4:17-19). For as we are told in Romans, “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Romans 5:21).
So when we get up in the morning, and as we put on our physical clothes, we need to dress spiritually as well. And dress accordingly. We must put on the armor of God as Paul describes it in Ephesians 6:10-18. In doing so, we will also “put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10).
I encourage you, leave those old, man-made righteous rags in the closet and put on His righteousness. Allow Him to clothe you with “garments of salvation” and cover you with the “robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)
And as you put on Christ, as you surrender your every moment and pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), you will not only “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10), but also you will be confident knowing “the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).