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Monday, 10 October 2016

Clothes!

It was a sad morning!  For the first time in many months, I felt obliged to put on a pair of working jeans instead of the shorts that have been my attire in the garden, and the house, for a long time.  It was simply the case that, although there was not a cloud in the sky, and the sun was beaming, there was a wee chill in the air.  Mind you, by lunchtime I was ready to revert to shorts, as we sat outside for our mid-day meal!

Clothes!  We all use them - basically because of culture and climate!  They do have uses.  As I dug out some old rose bushes, I was glad that I was still wearing the jeans.  Those thorns can be quite sharp!  

I was reminded of a verse in Paul's letter to the Christian believers in ancient Rome.  He encourages his readers (and that includes disciples of Jesus, today!) to: "... put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Rom 13:14).

The word translated "put on" (endusasthe) refers to putting on of clothes.  But why would Paul tell us to put on Jesus as we put on our clothes?!  Well, here are some of the reasons why we put on clothes, that might provide some clues.  We put on clothes, first of all, in order to cover our bodies. In Gen.3:1-7, we read about the entrance of sin into the perfect world that Almighty God had created. When they realised what they had done, Adam and Eve "... sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (v.7).  This action is often interpreted to refer to nudity, as if that was the great sin!  Not so!  It has really to do with sin.  This was man's attempt to cover his sin by his own works – sewing the fig leaves together.  But Heb.9:22 makes clear that “... without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” and, in Gen 3:21 we read that: "... YHWH Elohim made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them."  In order for that to have been done, an animal had to die - the first death in creation!

You and I born as sinful human beings.  Like Adam and Eve, we need to have a covering for our sin.  Like them, we often try to make up our own covering.  But it's of no use.  Father God sees right through us!  So how can my sin be covered?  “... put on the Lord Jesus Christ ...”!  I need to be covered with His righteousness; I need to be so surrounded by His presence so that, when the Father, in judgement, looks at me, He sees, not my sinfulness, but the Son’s sacrifice and shed blood.  I need to “... put on the Lord Jesus Christ, ...”

But we also put on clothes in order to protect our bodies.  Father God’s words, after mankind had allowed sin to enter, and spoil, His good creation were, concerning the earth, “... the ground is cursed because of you.  All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, ‘though you will eat of its grains.” (Gen 3:17-18).  And so, man found that an apron of leaves that was the work of his own hands, would not be sufficient.  They might have covered his immediate nakedness; they might have satisfied his desire to cover up his sinfulness; but they would do nothing to protect him from the thorns and thistles that now surrounded him or, as his descendants migrated to colder climates, from the lower temperatures.  He discovered that he needed not only covering, but also protection.

And so it is with Jesus.  We don’t just need to be covered with His righteousness; but also protected by His power.  We need to be, not just saved; but also sanctified.  We don’t just need forgiveness for all of our past sin, but also the strength to resist the temptations that we meet, day after day – the spiritual thorns and thistles that crowd into our lives.  We need to “... put on the Lord Jesus Christ ...”

Covered; protected; and then a third reason for putting on clothes occurred to me.  For is it not true that we also put on clothes in order to enhance our bodies – to make us ‘look better’?  Even a person of very plain looks may, if well and properly dressed, look more attractive.  Just think of the popularity of various ‘makeover’ reality shows on TV!  And, of course, even a person endowed with natural good looks can be strikingly beautiful, or handsome, when dressed with equally good taste.  “Clothes maketh a man” (Shakespeare) – and there is more than a grain of truth in that!

Of course, it would be unfair to directly compare me with, say, Tom Cruise (he wouldn’t stand a chance!!).  The only valid comparison is between me poorly-dressed, and me well-dressed.  It's the same in the spiritual realm.  The life of one who having confessed their sin, and repented, is following Jesus, changes – and does so for the better.  Putting on Lord Jesus Christ has made that life more attractive than it was before; the person is different.  But beware of making a comparison with someone else!

Clothing: something with which each of us very familiar: used to cover; to protect; to enhance our bodies. 

The Lord Jesus Christ: One of Whom we are all so very much in need – the need to be covered with His righteousness; protected by His power; enhanced with His beauty.

Have you “... put on the Lord Jesus Christ ...”?  Have you?

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