November 17, 2007

What shall I wear today?

When Adam and Eve sinned, they made coverings for themselves out of fig leaves. While people joke about this, it was no laughing matter. They tried to cover their nakedness before God and while it might have done the job physically, their efforts didn’t remove away their sense of shame because fig leaves could not cover their sin. Instead, “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). In this He revealed the cost of sin and the only thing that will cover it—shed blood and death.

While not every mention of clothing in the Bible is a symbol, clothing definitely became a symbol of God’s grace and what He does for us. Reading verses about it makes me look at what I’m wearing today in more ways than one.

In Exodus 28:40-41, God told Moses, “For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics, and you shall make sashes for them. And you shall make headpieces for them, for glory and beauty. So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests.

The clothing of the priests symbolized their righteousness and purity before the Lord. Psalm 132:16 adds, “I will also clothe her (Zion’s) priests with salvation.” In contrast, verse 18 says that He will “clothe His enemies with shame.

Clothing is used symbolically for more than the priests. In Isaiah 61:3, God says he will console those who are sorry for their sin by replacing their mourning with the oil of joy, and “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” That garment appeals to me!

Christians speak often of the white robes of righteousness that God gives His people. The use of clothing is often hinted in Scripture passages that tell us to “put off” our old life and behavior and “put on” the virtues that Christ has given us. When I get dressed each day, I need to remember to be spiritually clothed also.

As I read about this, I thought of another inclusion in my wardrobe—the armor of God. It is spoken of in Ephesians 6:10-20. Because I have an enemy that wants to pull me into sin and defeat me, God tells me to “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This armor consists of the belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes representing the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. As I cover myself with these garments and use the protection and weapon God gives me, I can defeat the enemy’s lies and other tactics and stand firm in my faith. I am also promised that my prayers for others will be powerful.

The robes of righteousness represent all virtue given to me by Jesus Christ. One is mentioned in 1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

I struggle with this battle. Not only do spiritual enemies try to sidetrack me, but my own old self would like to reign. Wearing pride comes more easily than putting on humility. However, I’m helped by knowing my destiny. Revelation 19:7-8 speaks of the church, the Bride of Christ; which includes me. It says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

One day all the struggle to obey God will end. He will take off everything that resisted Him and replace it with a pure and brilliant righteousness. That promise encourages me to do the best I can to keep my garments clean and white.

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