Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Wardrobe of the Saints

As I have written previously in my articles, Garments of Godliness and Godly Attire and Adornment, there is virtually a Christian "dress code". The Scripture defines what is appropriate and not appropriate for a disciple of Christ to wear on his or her body. That cannot be denied, even though some people attempt to do so on the faulty premise that God is only interested in the things of the heart, not our bodies.

In this post, I would like to discuss the inward garments we are instructed in Scripture to wear at all times. We'll call this the wardrobe of the saints.

A Garment of Praise
We begin with a rather long but beautiful passage in Isaiah, which says:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." (Is 61:1-3, NIV)

The Lord Jesus read from this very same passage when He announced the beginning of His public ministry (Lk 4:18). He said the Spirit of the Lord was on Him, because the Lord has anointed Him to do all these wonderful things mentioned in this passage. One of those things was to provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a garment of praise. Therefore, we know from Scripture that one garment we must be wearing is this garment of praise, which the Lord bestows upon us by His Holy Spirit.

Praise is an action that we should continually practice, as part of our practice of the presence of the Lord. We should not take a vacation from praise, or only praise the Lord on a certain day of the week, in a certain building, or at one particular time of day. The psalmist David said, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Ps 34:1). We should praise Him in the good times and praise Him in the bad times. May we never cease to praise Him. For He is worthy. Let's put on the garment of praise.

Clothe Yourselves with Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, and Love
The next passage we will look at is from the apostle Paul's letter to the Colossians. He wrote:

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Col 3:12-14, NIV).

We are supposed to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love as an outer garment.

Clothe Yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ
Paul also wrote to the Romans saying, "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." (Rom 13:14, NIV).

In the context of this passage, in the previous verse, Paul was speaking about our behavior, when he wrote: "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy." (Rom 13:13, NIV). So this tells us that to clothe yourself with Christ or to "put on Christ" will involve a behavioral change. He also wrote to the Galatians saying, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Gal 3:27). Christ not only lives on the inside in our hearts, but we must also wear Him outwardly, so that He shows on the outside and others can see Him.

Put on the Armor of Light
In this same passage and context, Paul said, "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." (Rom 13:12, NIV). He contrasted putting on the armor of light with the deeds of darkness, so again it is a behavioral matter. On the one hand, we must put aside the deeds of darkness, while on the other hand put on the armor of light.

Paul described each piece of armor in detail in his epistle to the Ephesians. He wrote:

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph 6:11-17, NASB)

In this passage he says to "put on the full armor of God" (v. 11) and then again to "take up the full armor of God" (v. 13). He emphasizes the need to put it on and to ensure we are not missing any piece of armor. These are necessary to protect us from the schemes of the devil in this spiritual warfare we are in daily.

Paul also mentioned the armor in his epistle to the Thessalonians, when he wrote: "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation." (1Th 5:8). Here we see that the name of the piece of armor that each virtue corresponds with is somewhat different than what he wrote to the Ephesians. Here he says that faith and love are the breastplate, whereas in Ephesians, righteousness is the breastplate. However, when he says here that the hope of salvation is our helmet, that is essentially the same as saying to the Ephesians that it is a helmet of salvation.

So what are we to make of this minor discrepancy? It is not critical to know which piece of armor each virtue corresponds to. For the most part, Paul uses the same metaphor to make the same point, with only minor differences. The important thing is that we put them on, and that they are to the soldier of Christ as armor is to a soldier of any worldly army. No soldier in his right mind would go into battle without his armor on, and neither should we. It's a daily battle, so we need to put these on daily. The adversary of our souls is always prowling around looking for someone to devour. As Peter says, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1Pe 5:8). Let's be sober and alert.

Clothe Yourselves With Humility
Just as Paul did, the apostle Peter also admonished us to clothe ourselves with humility. He wrote: "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." (1Pe 5:5-7).

The reasons he gives for clothing ourselves with humility are fully sufficient for us. Since God opposes the proud, then if we fail to clothe ourselves with humility, we may behave proudly and find that God is opposing us. However, if we walk humbly before God, He will give us grace. If we humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand, He will lift us up in due time. Since pride is a weakness of young men especially, Peter addressed this admonition to them, but it applies likewise to all of us.

Clothe Yourself with Good Works
Paul wrote to Timothy, "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." (1Ti 2:9-10). As I have written in my article, Garments of Godliness, this passage teaches how women should outwardly adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, so as to glorify God. It forbids certain types of adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, and expensive clothes, all of which apply to men as well. But it also teaches how women should adorn themselves spiritually by means of good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Bind Kindness and Faithfulness Around Your Neck
The proverb says, "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart." (Pro 3:3). We are supposed to bind kindness (mercy) and truth around our necks, which is in contrast to the way the wicked wear pride as their necklace (Ps 73:6).

Put on the New Self
The apostle Paul taught that the old self or former way of life must be put off, which means it must be completely discarded, since it is being corrupted like an old rag by its deceitful desires. He taught that we should throw it off and in place of it we should "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph 4:24, NIV). This, too, is part of the saints' wardrobe.

White Garments So That You May Clothe Yourself
In the book of Revelation, in the apostle John's letter to the angel of the Church in Laodicea, he wrote in part the following message from the Lord: "I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see." (Rev 3:18). This indicates that there are actually spiritual, white garments that we are supposed to wear and that we must buy them from the Lord Jesus Christ. May we all seek to buy from Him those white garments, so that we may clothe ourselves. In the case of the Church in Laodicea, the Lord said they were naked without these garments (Rev 3:17), and they needed them to cover the shame of their nakedness.

Be Dressed in Wedding Garments
In His parable of the wedding feast, Jesus said:

"Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”  (Mat 22:10-13)

The man who came to the wedding feast without wedding clothes was thrown into the outer darkness, which is hell. This is a stark reminder that not all who call Jesus “Lord, Lord” or are within the church will be qualified to participate in the wedding feast in the kingdom of heaven. To be fit for heaven, we must be wearing our white garments. As Matthew Henry once wrote: “Those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, that have a Christian temper of mind, and are adorned with Christian graces, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding garment.”

Be Dressed in Readiness
The Lord also taught us to "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit." (Luk 12:35). Other versions say, "Stay dressed for action" (ESV) and "Be dressed ready for service" (NIV). The original language literally says, "Let your waist be girded about," which is rendered in many translations with the expression, "Let your loins be girded about," (see KJV, MKJV, ASV, Darby, and YLT translations).

In Bible times, the men wore long garments, and when they were preparing for action, such as labor or a journey, they girded it up or tucked it up around their waist (loins). This would enable them to move freely without restriction (see Lk 12:37). Therefore, in using the expression, "let your loins be girded about," the Lord was teaching us to remain dressed for action. He was obviously speaking of a spiritual state of being dressed in readiness, rather than one that requires being in your literal day clothes, even though it may often times involve being physically dressed in certain instances.

Peter used essentially this same expression in the original language, when he wrote, "Therefore girding up the loins of your mind..." (1Pe 1:13a, MKJV; cf., KJV, ASV, Darby, and YLT). Other versions use a more dynamic equivalent translation, such as "Prepare your minds for action." (1Pe 1:13a, NASB). This helps clarify what the Lord meant in Lk 12:35. The point is to stay alert in your thoughts, so that you are always ready for action.

Putting it All Together
According to God's Word, there are some garments of righteousness that all disciples of Christ are supposed to wear at all times. It is our responsibility to do so. The expressions "clothe yourself," "adorn yourself," "put on," "take up," "gird up your loins," "buy from me," "be dressed," and "bind around your neck" are all actions that we must personally take. They are not automatically done for us and are not a one-time occurrence.

These garments include praise, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, and love. We must put in the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We must put on the armor of light, which is the armor of God that includes truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, the hope of salvation, love (once again), and the Word of God. We must stay dressed for action with our minds alert. We must buy from the Lord white garments, so that we may clothe ourselves. We must be dressed in wedding clothes. We must adorn ourselves with good deeds. Last but not least, we must clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We are not properly dressed unless we are clothed with these.

Attribution notice: Some Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®. The "Robes of White" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page. I recommend reading Garments of Godliness, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Godly Attire and Adornment, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Tattoos and Body Piercing, The Beauty of Brokenness, Holy Fire Baptism, Fruit in Every Season, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Is Tolerance a Virtue?, Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?, The Ways of Life, and The Way, Will, and Word of God. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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