Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Who is the Best Dressed?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on October 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

“Hey, I’m not that bad of a person.  I’m no Hitler or Stalin, you know.  Besides, I believe that all men are basically good.”  Such is the response we often hear when we inform our unconverted friends that they’re in trouble with God, that their sin has separated them from God.  “Are you telling me that you are ready to face God in judgment and that you are confident that you’re good enough to be accepted by Him?”  “Yeah, I’m basically OK with God and I don’t see why He wouldn’t be OK with me too.”  There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom 3:18).

How do you want to be dressed when you come to stand before the King?  Isaiah speaks of two garments with which men are clothed.  Which of the two is the best dressed?

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isa 64:6).  Weave a garment out of your own supposed goodness, and you’ll dress yourself with a filthy garment. We are not as repulsed by this picture of a man clothed in filthy rags (KJV) as Isaiah’s readers would’ve been.  E.J. Young informs us that these words refer to used menstrual cloths.  That’s disgusting enough no doubt, but all the more in the Old Covenant culture that viewed everything associated with the birthing of a sinner as ceremonially unclean.  We are born in original sin with a sinful nature and have become like one who is unclean.  In that depraved state, our attempts to be righteous, to be obedient enough to satisfy the perfect standards of God’s Law, to be good enough for God, are comparable to dressing up in a garment of filthy rags.  No doubt, we feel all proud of ourselves, having stitched this garment out of our own self-inflated goodness, but when we come before the King, the truth is made known and we discover that we’re dressed in disgusting filth.

Isaiah speaks of another garment of exquisite fashion in 61:10.  I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Here is the garment of salvation, a garment made by the Lord and placed upon us in grace.  It is a garment suitable for the King’s wedding, that picture of the heavenly banquet of eternal joy.  It is a robe of righteousness, a coat stitched from a perfect human obedience to God’s Law, a sinless compliance to God’s will.  Here is the only clothing for a man to be acceptable to our holy God: the garment of salvation, a robe of righteousness.

The filthy garment is stitched out of our depraved sinfulness, even when we think we’re doing righteous deeds, we’re actually weaving a garment of filth.  But where is this garment of perfect human obedience, this sinless impeccable alignment with God’s righteous Law?  Whose life and deeds can be woven into a robe of righteousness?  Only one Man: Jesus.  His sinless, perfect obedience has fashioned the garment of salvation.  His perfect love of God and love of neighbor, His essential holiness in all that He felt, thought, said, and did, produced the threads of perfection that God knit into the robe of righteousness.  Only Jesus has lived a life that is so obedient, so perfect, and so good as to be acceptable to God.  Only Jesus has lived without sin (Heb 4:15).

Think of that!  Without sin!  Thirty-three years of true human existence and not one second of sin!  Not one thought, not one reaction to provocation, not one glance of the eye, one emotion, one word, one deed – no sin, ever, in private or in public!  Here is a marvel more wondrous than anything on display in any museum, more valuable than any deposit in any bank, more beautiful than any work of art, even anything ever created by God!  Look at Jesus: perfect, sinless, impeccable obedience in every aspect of His true humanity.  What a man!  What a life lived!  Only His life weaves that perfect robe of righteousness. In Jeremiah 23:6 we learn who Jesus is: this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’

The good news of the gospel is that God freely gives every repentant believer this robe of righteousness stitched out of Jesus’ sinless obedience.  The invitation of grace comes to sinners and urges us to take off our supposed goodness, and acknowledge that in the sight of the holy Judge, all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.  Repent of such arrogant self-righteousness.  Then turn by faith to Jesus and be wrapped with a robe of righteousness, Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ obedience, Jesus’ perfection.  Come before your Judge united to the Lord who is our righteousness. With joyful humility and astonished wonder to the praise of Jesus, come before your Judge clothed with the garments of salvation, not with the dress of damnation.

So, who’s the best dressed?  Is he the man who fashions his own garment out of his own supposed goodness, or the man who repents and trusts in Jesus and is wrapped by God in grace with the robe of Jesus’ sinless obedience?  Next time you hear someone tell you that they’re ready to come before God dressed in their own native goodness, tell them about Isaiah’s fashion show and ask them if they really want to be dressed in filthy rags?  Isn’t the sinner clothed with the garment of salvation, wrapped in the robe of righteousness really the best dressed?

Alan Dunn, Pastor
Grace Covenant Baptist Church
Flemington, NJ
  1. Excellent and edifying, brother!

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