Friday, September 7, 2018

Choosing the Right Clothes

Tootling around online this morning while drinking coffee and trying to wake up, I noticed that certain cretins out in the anonymous world of www. were #momshaming Tori Spelling for the way her kids look.  Girl had posted an Instagram pic of them on their first day of school - - a rite literally thousands of other moms did over the past few weeks.  These are beautiful children, wearing school clothes, and yet the buzzards of www. began to pick Tori apart.....

We are pretty much obsessed with clothes and physical appearance, aren't we?  While admitting we can certainly go overboard with that, clothes do say a lot about a person.  I've heard it said that, in the job world, you ought to dress for the next position you desire.  So, for example, if you are a mid-level manager, you should dress like a manager, in anticipation of that promotion coming to pass.  

Let's take a look at the role clothing plays in the life of God's children.  Our text for today is Genesis 3:21. 

The LORD God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

Nakedness, even from the beginning, symbolized incompleteness.  
Who first clothed mankind in the Garden of Eden? Adam and Eve did (Genesis 3:7), when they fashioned (pardon the pun) fig leaves together in a misguided attempt to hide their nakedness.  The first "successful" clothing of mankind, however, was done by God Himself, when He killed an animal, skinned it and made clothes for Adam and Eve to wear.   This is the first animal killing seen in Scripture, and blood was shed for the express purpose of atoning for (covering) man's nakedness, symbolic of his newly sinful, fallen state of being.  The animal's sacrifice was vicarious, a big theological word meaning "substitutionary".  Thus, the first animal slain was a sacrifice, was the launching point for the Old Testament sacrificial system and prefigured that once-for-all sacrifice which would take place millennia in the future, the everlasting, all-justifying, totally-redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Now, let's skip forward through the centuries to look more deeply at how God clothes His own.

Paul uses the analogy of clothes often to describe the Christian life, or what I call "the resplendent walk".  He uses this analogy briefly in 2 Cor. 5, but I want to also show you other places he talks about "being dressed right". Before we do that, though, look at what Isaiah said in 61:10 ---
I greatly rejoice in the LORD, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (HCSB)

This is an interesting verse.  Some theologians want to distinguish between these two "spiritual garments" - - - the garment of salvation being one, the robe of righteousness being another.  It is an interesting distinction.  The theological point made is that God gives us salvation through Jesus Christ, and this is symbolized by the salvation garment.  But, the robe of righteousness is an additional piece that He dresses us in.
Now, to Paul:

26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27 (NET)

Paul emphasizes here, as he does elsewhere, that salvation comes by faith, not by good works.  By accepting Christ, through faith, we become sons of God.  This act has "clothed us with Christ". Beyond that transformational decision, we are also commanded by Paul to adorn ourselves with the characteristics of Jesus, to imitate Him in our daily lives.  This does not secure our salvation; it is a manifestation of what has already been done in our hearts.  In this way, we "reflect" Christ. 
14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.  
Romans 13:14 (NET)

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
Colossians 3:12 (NET)

So, our righteousness comes from God the Father, through Christ the Son.  That is indisputable. However, we are responsible for making spiritually healthy choices as we live the Christian life.  This is how we "clothe ourselves".  It is a conscious act on our part, analogous to "taking up one's cross daily and following Jesus" (Matt. 16:24).  Now, look at the following passage:

Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord— for we live by faith, not by sight. Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Cor. 5:6-10 (NET)

Notice the phrase "make it our ambition to please Him". This is the conscious act of "putting on Christ" daily.  Paul goes on to say that we will have to give an account of all that the Lord Jesus has blessed us with in this life, in this body.  Our salvation is secure.  Our eternal destiny is fixed.  "There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).  But, and I've blogged about this in previous posts - - - I'll try to find which one and post it under "Sources:" - - - all of us Believers will be given rewards at this "judgment" seat...or not.  Some of us may stand there nearly naked, clothed only in our salvation garment!  About 3 years ago, in our study of 1 Corinthians, we examined 1 Cor. 3:12-13 and saw that our actions after salvation will be tested by fire, and that some of them will be "burned up" like wood or hay or kindling.  Not cool!

Well, I want to be dressed right on that great judgment day, clad not only in my salvation garment, but also adorned with the beautiful jewelry of Christ-likeness.  I'm dressing for the next position I desire!

Good morning, Father.  Thank you for securing my salvation and clothing me in salvation.  I also realize that my righteousness comes from Your Holy Spirit living within me, bestowed on me through Your mercy.  In light of that truth, and because of how grateful I am for it, I choose to imitate my Savior.  Well, at least I try to most of the time, because I want to please You.  I confess I'm nowhere near 100% in that effort.  Help me be more like Him as I look more like Him.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen.


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