Shirts. Tees, button-down, collared, flannel. I’m sure you have a closet full of them. We do. There have even been times when we have purchased more hangers simply to hold them all.
We put on new clothes each day, don’t we? And with good reason. The ones from yesterday smell a little, well… lived in. The spaghetti sauce on the tummy doesn’t ride too well on day two, does it? Wrinkles resulting from hours in our cubicle chair may raise the eyebrows of coworkers. The Beatles’ may long for yesterday, but certainly not for yesterday’s attire.
And so we change our wardrobe. Something new and fresh for today, and then we repeat once again tomorrow. Society expects it of us, and we expect it of others, too. And in the midst of this daily rhythm, we see a spiritual reality played out.
God wants us to make a daily revision to our spiritual wardrobe also. He has provided the closet and the new, clean garments. Ever since Eden’s fig leaves, God has demonstrated that we are in need of something new and appropriate to cover us for the day. And He has shown Himself to be the clothier. In light of the new covenant, He states His intended purpose for our new clothes through the Apostle Paul:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self–created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Put off, put on. Disrobe and get dressed. We take off the old self and put on the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our old self, which we all know is so beholden to old desires, such as lust and lies, greed and grumbling, is in need of being discarded for something much better: a new self, created by God Himself.
God has given us this new clothing and hung it in our closets, ready for us to place our arms into its sleeves. This new suit is given to all who recognize the filth that is staining their lives and who trust that the blood of Jesus cleans whiter than any launderer’s soap. We see ourselves in the parable of the prodigal son: God is the father who calls for the new robe to be placed upon his wayward child and we, still caked with grime from the pig sty, are given a new, fresh look.
Once we put on this new robe of righteousness, we possess it forever. We are children of the Father, and nobody can take away what He bestows! But as with so many things in the Christian life, there are two dimensions to our possession of this blessing. First, we are declared righteous eternally in God’s sight. This is evidenced by the creation of the new self that the Holy Spirit has caused to come alive in us.
The second dimension related to our new spiritual outfit is a temporal one. Each day, though we are eternally, perfectly, and unalterably clothed in Christ’s righteousness in the sight of God, we must actively put on that same holy garment. We find ourselves in Peter’s shoes in the Upper Room. When he thought he needed a bath from Christ to show that he was all-in, Jesus told him that he was already clean because of his belief. He just needed the grime of this earthly world washed from his feet. So we, too, must remove the soiled old self and put on the new self each day. Through confession and repentance, acceptance of forgiveness and fixing our eyes on Christ, we accomplish what Paul had envisioned in Ephesians. And in so doing, we are appropriately attired for being ambassadors of our heavenly Father to the watching world.
What a wonder it is that God has provided this change of clothing! And what a wonder it is that He has given us all we need to access our new wardrobe through our closet of prayer and private devotion. The garment we suit up in is more glorious than the one the father gave the prodigal. It is more glorious even than Joseph’s coat was! We are arrayed in the righteousness of the Lamb of God. And we shall wear it on that great Day, when we’ll be admitted to the wedding banquet that Jesus told us of. There, the Bride shall behold her Groom for the first time, and she shall be radiant in her pure, holy, untarnished gown. Until that day, let us continue our work in the wardrobe.