What Garments Are You Clothed With?
What Garments Are You Clothed With? (Colossians 3:1-4) 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. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. How important is your clothing? You can tell a lot about people just from the clothes they wear. The clothes we choose to wear often reflect our status, our values, and even our priorities. At Hollywood red carpet affairs the question usually asked by reporters is, “Who are you wearing?" The clothing a person wears can often reflect their socioeconomic status, mood, or even their character. Clothing is referred to often in the scriptures as far back as the Garden of Eden. The Father was the first to provide clothing for Adam and Eve after the fall. We know initially they resided in the Garden naked and unashamed; they had no need for clothing because they were living in the perfect environment provided by God. However, after the fall they could no longer live there. And yet, God did not send them out naked as seen in Genesis 3: 21-24. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever—“ therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. The garments the Lord provided for them were made by God Himself, and worn close to the skin. The New Testament refers to clothing imagery three different, but yet very closely related, aspects of the believer's relationship with God. First, the imagery of clothing in relationship to our union with Christ that happens at the moment of conversion which Paul writes about in Galatians 3:26-27. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The second type of imagery, of which we will focus more closely on, vividly portrays the transformation that results from our relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul gives us instruction in Romans 13:13-14. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. In our focus passage for this message, Paul reminds us that sometimes the command is to do exactly what Colossians 3:12 states. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; This call to "put on" these godly characteristics are rooted in our status of those who are holy, chosen and loved by God. The third clothing imagery mentioned in the New Testament is in regards to the transformation of our bodies that will take place when we are resurrected from the dead. Paul explains that in 1 Corinthians 15:53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. These are the three different types if clothing imagery in the New Testament, now let us refocus on the second one mentioned in regards to our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. What we clothe ourselves is an essential part of our everyday lives. Many people take the time to choose what they are going to wear for the day and will even make a last check at the mirror before stepping out the door for the day. And the more important the event one is attending the longer it will take for them to get ready. Some people’s closets are filled with so many choices of clothing to wear for any event or time of day. However, in the spiritual realm the reality is that there are only two types of clothing that can be worn, the Old Man or the New Man. The old man is the flesh, sinful fallen man, the new man is a born again believer; one who has been raised in Christ. The new man is otherwise known as “the elect of God”. If one were to be invited to the Whitehouse, we would not put on our worst garments; we would want to look our best. What if you were invited to work for and better yet live with someone in a high position of authority like a king or president, we would need to change what it is that we wear all the time. As believers in Christ this is exactly what we are called to do, “put of the old, and put on the new." We have been called by the Father to follow His Son Jesus Christ, the King and to put on His garments so that we can look like Him and walk like Him. In Ephesians 6:11-17 we are commanded to put on the armor of God. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. God Himself provides the armor, straight from His personal armory. The armor is used to protect the warriors wearing it from the enemy who will attack; it is essential that we all as believers heed the command to “put on the whole armor of God. And yet, no soldier puts his armor on over a naked body, "Ouch" that would not be very comfortable. Interestingly, God’s armor will not fit on the old man, it can and only will go on the "new man." So, before any armor can be placed on we must put on the garments that Jesus wore. In order to do that we first must be born again. The old man in us must be crucified as so noted by Paul in Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Not only did Jesus wear tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, also patience and forgiveness to all; He embodied them. Without Christ there is no way anyone of us could put on His garments and walk continually in them. Oh, there maybe some who can do one or two of these traits, however, the old man would rise up and take credit for them unlike Jesus who gave all glory to the Father. It's interesting to note that the qualities of that which we are to put on express themselves in relationships. Our Christian life will be measured by how we treat people and the quality of our relationships with them. We can put on these characteristics because first of all God has chosen us and second of all His Son has shown us the way, providing the garments and will even help us slip into them. One of the hardest things for man to do is to forgive others as Christ forgave us, and yet, it is something that we as believers are commanded to do. The first step in forgiving someone is too always remember what God forgave us from and what it cost Him, in doing this it should make us much more generous with forgiveness. Next to love, forgiveness is most likely the most essential component of human relationships, simply because we are fallen, we will most assuredly offend or be offended by those we have relationship with at one time or another. God holds back His anger a very long time when we sin against Him. He bears with us a long time, even when we sorely provoke Him. Here are some comparisons of God's forgiveness and man’s. God reaches out to bad people to bring forgiveness to them; the habit of man is not to reconcile if the offending person is someone of bad character. God makes the first move towards us in forgiveness; the habit of man is to only be reconciled if the offending party craves forgiveness and makes the first move. God forgives even though He knows we will sin again, sometimes in the exact same way. It is the habit of man to forgive only if the offending party solemnly promises to never do the wrong again. God’s forgiveness is so complete and glorious that He grants adoption to those former offenders embracing them as if it never happened. In the habit of man, even when forgiveness is offered, he will not lift again the former offender to a place of high status and partnership, and even will bring up the offenders past offence. God bore the entire penalty for the wrong we did against Him. In the habit of the man, when he is wronged, he will not forgive unless the offender agrees to bear all the penalty for the wrong done. God keeps reaching out to man for reconciliation even when man refuses Him again and again. In the habit of man, one will not continue to offer reconciliation if it is rejected once. God requires no probationary period to receive His forgiveness; in the habit of man, one will not restore an offender without a period of probation. God’s forgiveness offers complete restoration and honor; in the habit of man, we feel we should be complimented when we merely tolerate those who sin against us. Once having forgiven, God puts His trust in us and invites us back to work with Him as co-laborers. In the habit of man, one will not trust someone who has formerly wronged him. This is what Charles Spurgeon says about forgiveness. “Suppose that someone had grievously offended any one of you, and that he asked your forgiveness, do you not think that you would probably say to him, “Well, yes, I forgive you; but I - I – I - cannot forget it?" Ah! dear friends, that is a sort of forgiveness with one leg chopped off, it is a lame forgiveness, and is not worth much." But the most important piece of this garment is love, which is the bond of perfection. Why is this the most important? God is love! 1 John 4: 7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know, for God is love. He is the very essence of love and we are to wear that always and be like that. This garment must be put in place on our skin before the armor of God is affixed for our daily battle. Jesus never went out looking for battle; however, He was always prepared just as we are called to be. We are called to be Christ like, in order to do that we are to wear His garments that He provides. We do this by daily meeting with the Lord in prayer, reading, and studying His Word. We must consider that all the virtues listed in verses 12 and 13 are all manifestations of love; but love is larger than any one of them. All the virtues pursued without love become distorted and unbalanced. God’s love is powerful and overcomes all. This very love is extended to us and in turn we are commanded to extend it to all others as given to us.