+Scripture: Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-4; Luke 15:17-24
Title: Robes of Righteousness or Check our These Royal Robes!
Grace and peace this morning!
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you have gone shopping lately you know that some of the newest Spring Clothes Fashions are already hitting the markets. Some stores starting putting out part of their Spring Wardrobe before the Christmas Season was finished. It seems that before one season is finished another season of new clothes is ready for the public to buy.
However, for most of us we may not really keep up with all the new trends and fashions. After all, who has the time, the money and even the desire?
Flannel shirts and blue jeans do just the trick.
If it still fits why change it?
But just so you will be prepared these are some of the things that are coming back into style for the 2020’s
+Both the color Neon (Green) and Tangerine are going to be hot colors – you will be seeing a lot of them this year
+Skittle colored leather jackets
+Rose Print dresses
+Big and Bold Colors – Disco colors for both men and women – think of the 1970’s
+Rope Belts – made out of real ropes this time
+Bell Bottoms – mostly geared right now for men’s clothing
+A new type of Leisure Suite – only this time it is being called Relaxed Suits
So, in effect if you still own something from the 1960’s and 70’s then drag them out of the closet or pull them down from the attic and either give them to your grandchildren to wear or wear them yourselves. It ought to be an exciting few years in fashion.
This morning, I want for us to talk a little about a special type of clothing: spiritual clothing.
You might think that the Bible doesn’t have much to say about clothing but as you spend time reading the Bible you find that there is quite a bit about clothing mentioned.
+You have the first poorly fashioned nature outfit by Adam and Eve called the FIG LEAF OUTFITS – not real comfortable and not real protective either. It seems that they didn’t catch on.
+You have of course a great looking coat of many colors worn by young Joseph.
+You have the stolen Babylonian garments of Achan that led to an Israelite defeat and eventually led to his whole family being killed.
+You have the woman with the Issue of Blood wanting to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe to be made well. That proved to be a great choice as she was healed.
+You have the clothes of Jesus that the Roman Soldiers gambled for at the foot of the Cross of Calvary.
So, there is a great deal spoken in the Bible about clothes.
This morning, I would like for us to look at a certain robe that is mentioned several times in the Bible that we are invited to wear. We see it most clearly identified in such passages as Zechariah 3:1-4, Isaiah 61:10 and Revelation 3:4.
It is called a Robe of Righteousness and each one of us this morning has been invited to wear this Robe. Let’s take a few moments and examine what all this means and in particular what it means to us today.
I. The Robe of Righteousness is first and foremost a Gift
In Luke 15 we find the Story of the Prodigal Son. It is a wonderful back ground story that Jesus used not only to talk about the Father’s Love but also to reveal to us a little more about our Robes of Righteousness.
Most of us know the story. The youngest son wants his inheritance and so begs and pleads for it until his father agrees to his request.
He then goes out and wastes everything. He spends it all on what the Bible calls wild living. Translation of that we know to be; excessive drinking, committing all kinds of immoral acts and other sundry things. He got so caught up in his life of sin that by the time sin got through with him, he had wasted all of his inheritance. And his only friends, if they were in fact his friends, were a bunch of pigs who didn’t even want to share their pig slop with him.
Ravi Zaccharias is correct when he says:
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
For this young man that was truly the case. He had no idea when he first left home that his life of sin would lead him scrambling for food in a hog lot.
Jesus tells us that one day this young man woke up and decided that he would travel back home. Verse 17 tells us that he remembered that even his father’s hired servants (employees) always had more than enough food, clothing and shelter. And so he made up his mind to go back and ask his father for a job. He believed that he could no longer enjoy a father/son relationship. He knew that what he had done and said to his dad had ruined any hope of restoring that type of relationship.
You see, he had wanted his inheritance before it was time so in effect by asking for it, he was telling his dad that he would rather have him be dead. In essence he was saying, “Dad, I really wish you would go ahead and die so I can have my money”. That was really the thought behind what Jesus tells us in these first few verses of this story.
Now, I don’t know about you but telling your parents that you would like for them to die so you can have their money is not a great way to have a lasting relationship. And on top of all that, losing all that money on prostitutes, drugs and drinking is also not a great way to keep you in the family line.
This young man knew that he had blown it. Wishing his father to be dead and wasting all that inheritance on prostitutes killed any hope in his mind for a nice family reunion.
But he still knew the family business and believed that he could be a good enough worker to be hired so he started walking back to ask for a job. Perhaps his father would be kind enough to give him a job so that he could at least have some bread to eat and a place to sleep at night. He had been a hard worker before and he knew he could at least do that.
Well, as you read the story you know that the Father does more than that. He interrupts his son’s well rehearsed speech and gives him back three things that were only given to sons – a ring, a robe and a pair of shoes. The father was interested in having him come back as a hired hand but as who he was – His Son.
That Story is Our Story – It is the Story of All Humanity. We all have been down the path of sin – we all have ended up in all kinds of different hog lots of sin – lying, stealing, treating others badly, saying the wrong things and in general just disobeying God.
In other words, we all have broken more than one and more than once God’s Laws. There is no one here today that has not sinned. Maybe in our minds we have not sinned much, but the question is not quantity nor quality but actuality – we all have sinned and are short of the Glory of God. That is a fact.
But rather than throw us away our Heavenly Father does the exact opposite. Our Heavenly Father is like this Father in our Story who runs out to meet us, greet us and welcome us home. We find that our God is One who accepts us not as a hired hand but as a son and daughter. We find a God who loves us, rescues us, redeems and restores us.
And He gives us a new robe to wear. A New Robe called a Robe of Righteousness – or a Robe of Right Standing. A Robe that signifies that we have been Born Again; that we have received His Mercy and Grace and have been transformed from the Inside Out.
It is a Robe that we cannot earn nor do we work in order to keep it. Salvation is a gift from God. From its beginning to its end salvation is a gift of God’s Grace. It is the birthright of Us being Born Again. God does not give us a Robe of Righteousness because we earned it like a hired servant or because we do servant like things afterwards. Our Robe of Righteousness – Our Robe of Being Born Again is 100% gift.
At times we may be tempted to believe otherwise.
For example: When we have had a great week spiritually we may agree with this young man in verse 19 when he felt like there was a time he was worthy to be called this man’s son. He thought he was living in such a way that he deserved to be called this man’s son. When we do things right for a few days we might come to church and feel that we are worthy to walk in here and wear our Robes of Righteousness. After all we had a great week. We didn’t do anything wrong so we walk in and feel great. We feel like we belong. We have earned the right by our behavior to belong and to wear our Robes of Righteousness.
Other weeks we may feel the exact opposite. We may have had a tough week. A week that we said or did the wrong things, didn’t read our Bibles or pray enough and we walk in hoping and praying for God’s grace. We don’t feel like we have earned the right to wear a Robe of Righteousness and we hope our spiritual condition doesn’t show.
Want to know the truth?
Whether you have had a great week and feel like you are starting to have a halo shine above your head or you have had a tough week and are just praying for some grace none of us can ever do enough to earn our salvation. We are allowed to wear our Robes of Righteousness because of God’s Grace.
There are no hired servants in God’s Kingdom. There are only sons and daughters. We cannot earn or nor can we be worthy enough to earn the right to wear a Robe of Salvation; a Robe of Right Standing or a Robe of Righteousness.
Our robes – these robes of salvation and holiness are ours because of grace; pure grace. Not grace earned because we can’t earn grace. Our Robes are Grace Robes; and they have always been Grace Robes and will always be Grace Robes.
+The reason you are saved and I am saved is that Our LORD JESUS paid our debt of sin on the Cross of Calvary.
+The reasons you are saved and I am saved is because of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood.
+The reason you are saved and I am saved is that we have been born from above through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
And it is because of all of that we can wear God’s Robe of Righteousness. Because of that we can have right standing before Our LORD. Because of that we can enter into His House with thanksgiving and praise. Because of Him; because of Jesus we are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
II. Now, the Devil will Lie to You About Your Robe
In the Old Testament there are two famous men named Joshua. One of course is Moses’ assistant who later became the mighty warrior Joshua. Think for a moment of the battle of Jericho. This is the same Joshua who has a book named after him and who is responsible for such great sayings as:
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." NIV – Joshua 24:15
The other Joshua you may not be all that familiar with this morning. We find his story in the book of Zechariah chapter 3. This Joshua was the person who was given the privilege to be the first High Priest after the Jews return from their Exile in Babylon. He was the first person who would be allowed to go into the Holy of Holies in the Reconstructed Temple.
In Zechariah chapter three, we have a vision that was given concerning all of this. The vision is one that involves this Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD or as we know today the Pre-Incarnate Jesus. He is also standing before Satan. Satan is doing his best to accuse Joshua and God’s People.
Satan is loudly protesting Joshua’s ability to be High Priest. It is Satan’s contention that Joshua and therefore any Israelite is so full of iniquity (evil, sin) that no one can be High Priest and therefore no human worship of God can be allowed. Humankind must be rejected and be unable to worship or come before God’s Presence. Satan is very careful to point out that the robe that Joshua is wearing as a representative of holiness is a robe that is filthy.
The Hebrew word used there is ???? (tsôw) and is used to describe an article of clothing that has been soiled with vomit and excrement (human feces). It is not a pretty picture by any means, but a great illustration of how dirty, putrid and filthy our human sins have made us in the sight of God. Not only are we filthy but everything we wear to hide our nakedness is filthy by touching us.
Satan believes that in Joshua he has a rock solid case. Joshua, the High Priest, the so-called holiest man in all of Israel and therefore all of humanity is nothing but an imposter. His clothing gives him away. He is so dirty ( i.e. Sinful) that he can do nothing more than vomit on himself and soil his clothes. That is the best humanity can do when it comes to holiness. The best symbol of our human holiness is like human vomit and feces. Again, this is not a pretty picture.
But as much as Satan accuses and wants to discredit Joshua and the rest of the human race we see that the LORD rebukes Satan. The LORD agrees that Joshua’s clothes are dirty but the LORD has an answer. His answer is Grace.
+God commands that Joshua’s filthy clothes be removed. That the filth be thrown away forever. All that stained Joshua; every sin, every wrong committed is to be removed.
+And in its place let’s give Joshua, therefore giving humanity a New Robe to wear – A New Robe of Righteousness. A Robe that reflects God’s Honor and Glory.
It is not by accident that on the right hand of God stands Jesus; here in His Pre-Incarnate State and later in His Post Resurrection State. Today, we may have a robe full of sin; full of our own sinful life of vomit and excrement.
But we don’t have to continue to wear it. Jesus has for us a New Robe of Righteousness. Just like the one that He gave this Joshua there is one for all of us. We can be washed anew and we can wear a New Robe of Righteousness.
Now, the Devil will accuse us and He will do his best to remind us that our own righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags. And in that respect that prophet Isaiah would agree:
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
But just like this Joshua we have another Joshua who is All Powerful and who in the Greek was called Jesus. This Joshua, this Jesus came and took upon Himself our Robe of Filthiness and gave us His Robe of Righteousness.
On the Cross, Jesus took upon Himself the dirtiest, filthiest garment that ever existed and He took upon Himself every sin, every lie, every theft, every immoral act and every disease and sickness since time began and paid the price for all our salvation. Jesus took on all the Shame, all the Condemnation, every Addiction and all the Evil that mankind had done and would ever do.
He took all of that on Himself. And He paid the Price for our Salvation. That price was His life – He died so that you and I this morning could be clothed in His Robes of Righteousness instead of our sinful clothes. He rebuked the Devil and even today in our behalf He rebukes and casts out the Devil. Jesus died so that today we can be here not just in our natural clothes but in our spiritual clothes; clothes of holiness and of righteousness that we have through Him. Clothes no longer full of sin but full of the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
III. Finally, We are to Wear Our New Robes Well
When Jesus spoke to the Church of Sardis in Revelation chapter three, He warned them about being a dead church. He warned them about being a Church that had a reputation for being alive but in reality was dead.
In other words, it was a church in name only. There was very little if any at all of the moving of the Holy Spirit. There was little praise and worship. There was little prayer and when they did pray they didn’t believe that God would hear and answer their prayers. There was very little evangelism at all and while the congregation could keep the doors open there was no Spirit, no joy, no love and no peace.
Jesus tells them to repent. He tells them to come back and wear the robes He died for them to wear. He tells them to pick up their Robes of Righteousness and wear them. That is He tells them to wear and live out a life of Right Living. And he tells them to make sure that they don’t allow the world to soil their robes.
What did Jesus mean here?
What was He saying?
There is only one way we can keep our Robes Clean and Holy. That is by living every day under God’s Grace. That is by allowing the Holy Spirit to be in charge of Our Heart, Mind and Soul. That is by allowing the LORD to cover Us with His Grace.
When the Devil tries to tempt you to soil your Robes of Righteousness; you must resist. When you mess up; you repent. It’s that simple.
You make sure that you don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. You do that by being open and obedient. You do that by each day surrendering your mind, your heart and your soul to the Holy Spirit. You do that by becoming One with God’s Holy Spirit. You do that by doing your best to live a holy life.
And you live as a Robe of Righteousness Wearer.
You walk with Christ. You walk in Victory. You walk in Love. You walk in Peace.
You walk as the Apostle Paul shared with the Church of Colossae in chapter three of his letter:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you much forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12-15
You see this morning we may not be able to earn our Robes but we can in and through the Holy Spirit wear the Robes of Righteousness that Jesus gives us.
+We can be a people of righteousness because we can be a people living under God’s Grace.
+We can be a people of righteousness because we can allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, lead us and seal our souls.
+We can be a people of righteousness because we can walk in the Spirit; we can daily be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
This morning as we close our service, I want to invite you to the Lord ’s Table – it is also an amazing gift of grace. It is a reminder that God so loved us that He gave us His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Jesus as Savior and LORD will experience everlasting life.
We come to the Table by grace and through grace. We come to the Table to receive God’s grace. We partake of the broken body of Our LORD for healing and we partake of the blood of our Lord for the remission or removal of our sins. We come to the Table in Unity as One with God and with One Another.
And we come to the Table knowing that the LORD will enable us to wear our Robes of Righteousness this morning both here in His Church and in the World.
Sharing the Lord’s Table/Holy Communion/Prayer/Blessing