New clothes for a new life

Gift wrappingDid you give or receive clothing for Christmas? God gives clothing, too. He always has. And if you gave or received underwear, God gives that, too.

When Adam and Eve sinned and became ashamed of their nakedness, they covered themselves with fig leaves.

Fig leaves aren’t very suitable clothing. They’re not sturdy enough to wear for very long, and I understand they’re itchy.

God clothed them in the skins of animals. But first, they had to take off their useless old clothes.

Ezekiel 16 shows God calling Jerusalem his own. He found her naked, dirty, and helpless, so he washed her and adorned her with the finest garments and jewelry. But she chose to become a prostitute and defiled the gifts.

God doesn’t give up. He always prefers redemption to punishment. Even when he must punish, the offer of redemption soon follows. Exchanging old, soiled clothes for new clothes is a frequent metaphor for redemption.

Colossians 3:12-13 begins to describe the clothing God wants his redeemed covenant people to wear:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (NKJV)

But that’s just the underwear! Paul goes on to write, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

The underwear God gives isn’t like ours. We cover it up so no one can see it, or at least usually. Women sometimes wear sheer garments, so their undergarments must look nice for the outfit to look nice.

Love is like that. It does not cover up tender mercies and the rest. It displays them.

But let’s not forget the fig leaves. Adam and Eve couldn’t put on their new clothes till they put off the fig leaves.

The restoration of Jerusalem after the captivity also involved a change of clothing. Zechariah had a vision of Joshua the high priest standing before God in filthy garments and being reclothed instead of condemned.

So in Colossians 3:8-9, Paul tells us how to prepare ourselves for our new clothes:

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

How do you feel when you offer someone a gift and they spurn it? Refusing to accept the gifts God offers grieves and angers him. It means preferring sin to redemption.

Jesus gave a parable about a wedding feast to which the invited guests declined to come. So the king had his servants bring in as many other people as they could find and, it appears, provided proper clothing.

But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

So let’s do as Paul commanded. Put off our filthy old clothes and joyfully put on what God provides.

Photo credits:
Gift wrapping. Some rights reserved by torbakhopper
Filthy clothes. Source unknown

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