“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”
Does this look all right? Do these go together or do they clash? Does this make me look fat? These are the kinds of questions we impose upon our beloved family members to answer before we go out in public. They are questions about clothing.
Whether we like it or not, clothing is an especially important part of our lives. A good portion of the floor space in any shopping mall is dedicated to clothing. We have closets and dressers that are full of clothing. In fact, most of us have so much clothing, that we don’t know what to do with it all.
It’s actually a growing problem. Subtle shifts in style and fashion are often to blame. When something is “in” we are pleased to wear it. But when something goes “out” we wouldn’t be “caught dead” in it. It is actually possible for a person to stare into an overflowing closet and say “I don’t have a thing to wear!”
What might we conclude from all of this about our use of clothing? Obviously, it's more than protection from the elements. It’s more than simply a means to preserve our personal modesty. To put it succinctly, I think we use clothing to make ourselves feel better. We use it to accentuate what we consider our best features. We use it to downplay those aspects of our physic that we are not so proud of. In short, we use clothing to maintain a better “image” of ourselves. And it just so happens clothing world offers us a wide variety of ready-made images that we can buy into. Which, of course, brings us to the ultimate question about clothing: Why do we feel the necessity to improve or bolster our image? Is there something wrong with our image?
What we have here is something from our everyday life in this modern world that telegraphs a deeper and most ancient spiritual truth. We are not the first generation to become so preoccupied with clothes you know. We are not the first human beings who have attempted to improve our image. No. This goes way back to the first human beings. Remember Adam and Eve. They were made in the image of God. But when they became sinful, when that perfect image was shattered, the first thing they did, was trying to fix it. They made clothes for themselves out of leaves. It may have made them feel a little better, but it did not really fix the broken image they now had. For the inadequacy they now felt did not come as a result of their outward appearance, but from the sin that lay heavy upon their souls.
A new outfit can make you feel good about yourself, for a time, but then shortly thereafter, those same old feelings of inadequacy come bubbling up again. We are right to think that we need some sort of clothing to fix our broken image. But we are wrong to think that we can find that clothing in any store. For no matter what the fabric, or cut, or style no store-bought clothing will cover what truly needs to be covered.
We need something better, we need something that will address the broken image we feel so deeply in our souls.
And that is exactly what Isaiah is talking about in the text. He says “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness...” He is pretty excited about these clothes. And rightly so. For here we have the only solution to our problem. We were born on the outs with God. We were born sinful and God does not tolerate sin. That’s what’s really bugging us. Deep down inside, whether we know him or not, we sense that we are intolerable to the one who created us. But the one who created us is ready to fix it! He gives us the garments of salvation. He gives us the robe of righteousness. He covers and forgives the sin on our souls and makes us acceptable to him.
This wonderfully redemptive garment was woven together by the life and death of Christ. By the perfect life he lived, he fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law for us. By his death, he made a full atonement for our sins. And we were clothed with him in our baptism. That’s what Paul says in Galatians 3:27 “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” If you are going to fixate on any piece of clothing, this is the one, because this is the only one that can truly give you the peace that you are looking for. Through the forgiveness of your sins that you have in Christ Jesus God not only tolerates you but welcomes you into his family as one of his own.
You put on Christ, you go before this trusted beloved family member, your, father in heaven and you say, “How do I look” And he says “you look perfect my son” “You are beautiful my daughter” “That’s how I’ve always imagined you could look!” Now get out there and take on the world!
I think you’ll agree that there’s an immense amount of confidence that can come from the right set of clothes. And I’m telling you, that when you have Christ Jesus when you wear a dress according to his will, you’ve got the right set of clothes. For in Christ Jesus, you have the complete approval of the one who holds the entire universe in his hands. When you have that, it can put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and brightness in your demeanor. It doesn’t matter the price of clothes you wear it is expensive or not. But how you dress modestly will matter the most in the sight of God.
Having the approval of the Lord means that ultimately, no matter how things might look right now, that you will eventually come out on top.
Remember what the Prophet Isaiah said in the text: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God” and then he tells us why: “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” The garment of salvation is the good news that God does not count your sins against you; that he forgives you completely. And when you put this article of clothing on, it truly can change the way you feel about yourself. It never goes out of style because it is the only piece of clothing that can truly cover and make up for those deep-seated inadequacies that we all have. Our broken image is healed through faith in Christ Jesus and it can and does affect the way we live and respond to others.
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