Several times in the past, I have heard preachers say something along the lines of:
If you were going to meet royalty, you would put you best foot forward behavior, and you would wear your best suit! Well God is here now, and you should look your best for him, too!
In a certain way, these pastors are correct… we should look our best for God. The question is “how exactly do we accomplish that?” By what means and method do we “put on our best suit”? Where exactly can our best clothes be found – spiritually-speaking?
There are some who think that we must strive, struggle, and sweat, to work for God, and exercise our own force-of-will in order to look our best for God… but is that the truth?
Today we will answer these questions in this study.
Now the question of “spiritual worthiness” is often one that really doesn’t get much attention in mainstream Christian teaching – it’s generally just assumed that it’s something that people already know about. However that couldn’t be further from the truth. In-fact many people have expressed to me in conversation, that what they really believe is that they are still very much unworthy, and that they are trying very hard to become more worthy than what they currently perceive themselves to be.
This erroneous but very common belief fits right in-line with the line from pastors that I quoted in the opening: that we need to properly present ourselves before God; and as I mentioned, that idea does have some merit on the surface – but where we differ is how to accomplish the result… because this is where most pastors will begin touting self-effort and works to achieve a certain standard (still below God’s standard of absolute perfection) – while the scriptures present a different methodology: one not of self-effort, but one based of Jesus’ finished work.
So let’s examine what the scriptures say regarding this, starting with Zechariah 3:1-5:
“And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, O Satan; even the LORD that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And to him he said, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with change of raiment.
And I said, Let them set a fair turban on his head. So they set a fair turban on his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.”
Now take a few moments here to fully meditate on the scene being painted here, because this tells us something very important about our identity – both in our own estimation, and in the estimation of God.
In verse 1, we see Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD – this was Jesus in a pre-incarnate form, as can be made clear from other instances of His appearing (such as Judges 2:1-4 and 6:11-13). And we can also see that Satan was standing next to Joshua to resist him.
The accuser, the prosecutor, Satan, resists, through lying accusations, and slanderous condemnation – and here is no different.
Now verses 2 and 3 are where things become very interesting, because in verse 3 we are told that Joshua is standing before the LORD in filthy clothes; literally clothes covered in dung! Not at all appropriate attire for anyone to stand before God – let alone the high priest!
Most modern church pastors and leaders would say that appearing before the LORD in this fashion would be worthy of rebuke and punishment… and there is indeed a rebuke, but not the kind of rebuke that we may be expecting… look at verse 2:
The Angel of the LORD, rebukes Satan! Not Joshua!
My friend, please do not let this fact go unnoticed, or under-appreciated. Religion would expect God to rebuke Joshua for his dirty appearance, but here we can see that the target of the rebuke is the accuser Satan!
Moreover, in verses 4 and 5, we see that the Angel of the LORD then does something astonishing: He orders that Joshua be given new and clean clothes!
The Angel of the LORD (Jesus) orders that Joshua’s filthy clothes be taken from him, and that he be given new garments! This is a clear picture of exactly what Jesus has done for us in the New Covenant, where He took our dirt and shame of unrighteousness, and Has clothed us in His perfect divine righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 says plainly that we have clothed in the very righteousness of Christ; the garments of His salvation.
Receive this truth, my friend.
Verse 5 makes a point to specifically mention that a fair turban be placed on Joshua’s head. That word “fair” actually means pure and clean.
Now the turban of the high-priest is very symbolic. It is described in Exodus 28:36-37 as having an inscription on it which reads “Holy to the Lord”. This was the covering for his forehead; the place of his thoughts – and shows that his thoughts should always be set-apart to the Lord.
There are many believers today who have divided thoughts. Thoughts which are not set apart to the Lord, but very much captivated and focused their own efforts, and the accuser has a lot of ammunition to work with there. Many of us are still trying to wash our old dirty clothes, but the enemy will always be there to point out that old stain, or a particular piece of dirt. It’s a rinse cycle that never truly ends. The laundry detergent of our own self-effort just doesn’t have the strength to get the job done.
You see, as is mentioned in these verses here, the solution is not to wash the old garments clean, as religion tries to teach us, but the real answer is to take away the old and give to us completely new, pure and clean clothes – which is exactly what Jesus Christ has done. This is why John proclaims so enthusiastically in John 1:29 to behold the Lamb of God (that’s Jesus) who takes away the sin of the world!
God does not expect us to clean ourselves up, or to wash the stains from our own spiritual clothes – if that were even possible, Jesus would’ve never neededto sacrifice Himself in our place.
Instead Jesus totally removes our sin! As in put away; completely gone! This isn’t just a mere covering or hiding of sin, but an absolute removal of sin!
This is the magnificent reality of what Jesus Christ has done for you, and for me, and for everyone!
I encourage you today to stop trying to wash the old stains from your garments. Stop trying to scrub-away those permanent stains that cannot be cleansed through your efforts.
Simply receive His free gift of righteousness – and enjoy your new clothes!