New Clothes!

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  (Luke 4:18-19)
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” 5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.  (Zechariah 3:1-5)
Most of us start out our Christian lives with enormous joy. That was certainly the case for me in the first few weeks after my own conversion. I couldn’t get over how gracious God had been to me, forgiving all of my sin and inviting me into his family. I couldn’t stop singing. My heart was bursting with love for everybody. I couldn’t help myself from sharing the Good News about Jesus with people.

But then something changed. I messed up, big time. I went back to God for forgiveness, and I believed I received it, but I couldn’t shake this horrible feeling that he was disappointed in me. I felt as though I had let the side down. My spiritual failures had brought delight to the devil and his demons, and embarrassment to the host of heaven. So began the experience of the next few years – a life of low-level guilt that I imagined was Christianity.

I should have known better. After all, the sermon that Jesus preached at Nazareth to launch his ministry was all about freedom and seeing the world in bright colours. It was about God’s favour, not a crushing sense of God’s disapproval. That’s why I will be eternally grateful to Terry Virgo, who showed me these verses in Zechariah 3 for the first time. It was by reading and understanding these five verses that I rediscovered the true joy of Christianity.

Zechariah sees a vision of Joshua, the high priest of Israel. This is the man who is in charge of the Temple. He is the holiest man in Israel – and yet Zechariah notices that he is dressed in filthy clothes. The Hebrew phrase that is used here means literally that he was wearing “clothes covered with excrement”. That’s pretty stinky! What’s more, the devil is standing right by him to accuse him before God. That pretty much sums up my experience of Christianity in the days before Terry Virgo showed me what these verses mean for us today.

You see, God isn’t interested in what the devil has to say. He was never under any illusions about Joshua’s character. He always knew that he was nothing better than “a burning stick snatched from the fire.” The Gospel message is that Jesus completes and finishes our salvation. He doesn’t merely deal with our backlog of sins and then tell us to try harder in the future. He strips us of our filthy clothes and gives us bright new clothes to wear. Zechariah watches as Joshua is given the gleaming clothes of Jesus himself. You know, the ones that are described in Mark 9:3 as “dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could ever bleach them.” When God dresses Joshua in the perfect righteousness of Jesus, the devil has nothing left to say. Joshua isn’t a disappointment to God. How could he be? When God looks at him, he sees the righteousness of Jesus!

Grasping that this is true for us is what enables us to experience the deep and lasting joy of Christianity.
1)   Can you identify with the idea of living under a constant cloud of low-level guilt?

2)   Put yourself in Zechariah’s vision of the high priest Joshua. What difference does it make to our lives when we grasp that God already knows the worst about us, but has decided to clothe us in the righteousness of Christ?

3)   One of the things that our friends at Freedom In Christ have taught us is the power of declaring Bible truth over ourselves, so take a moment to declare the following truths over yourself. If you are not yet a Christian, then these things will be true of you the moment you say yes to Christ. If you are already a Christian, then these things are true of you right now. Speak them out, loud and clear, over yourself today!

I have been made right with God (Romans 5:1)
I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:5)
I am a child of God (John 1:12)
I have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
I am completely forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
I am not guilty in God’s eyes (Romans 8:1)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
God has begun a good work in me and he will finish what he has started in me (Philippians 1:6)
Father God, I thank you so much that these statements are all true of me. I thank you that I don’t have to live under low-level guilt any longer. I have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and the life that I now live he lives in me. Thank you that you know the worst about me, and yet you delight in me. Thank you so much, Father. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have been brought to you with help from our friends at Freedom In Christ.
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