Dressed to Live

March 01, 2020, Rev. Kurt Lantz, Pastor
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Dear people whose sin is covered,

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

You have to get naked before you get dressed. It is the simple reality of a daily routine. I know that there are some days when we would like to stay in our pyjamas. Perhaps Sunday morning is one of those days. We feel comfortable in those soft, loose clothes. They give us the option of crawling back under the covers and drifting off for another nap. But they also isolate us, prevent us from going out, and make us hope that no one drops in for a visit.

 

When you are lounging around in your sleepwear and you hear a car pull into the driveway, the sound of the car door and steps coming up to the porch, you peak out through the curtains or carefully spy from some darkened corner to see who it is without letting them see you. You quickly duck down out of sight, hoping that they will go away.

 

There are Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes, evading the visit of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3). They don't want to be caught in their fig-leafwear. They are ashamed. They are focused on themselves and how they feel. They don't want Him to know or to see or to be with them right now. They want to be left alone, isolated, hidden away from His sight. They don't want to go out into the beautiful world, not with Him, not now. It is more than the fig leaves they are wearing. It is how they feel. They are sick with something like a virus that has them quarantined. They can't go out.

 

We know the feeling. Lounging around in pyjamas for a little while might be comfortable, but as time wears on, there comes a point when we need to get out of those clothes. They start to feel icky. In our sickness we recognize that they have become a trap for us. We are not getting any better by laying around in the same old covering. It gets dirty and starts to smell. At some point you have to get washed and dressed.

 

Adam and Eve, in their sin were hiding from God, wearing nothing but fig leaves. God came and called out to them. They could not hide. They had to confess their transgressions unto the LORD. And He forgave the iniquity of their sin. “Also, for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). He did not want for them to spend the rest of their lives in the shame of their fig leaves. He dressed them.

 

That physical clothing, at the cost of a living thing's life, covered their naked bodies. It covered their shame as God's forgiveness covered their sin. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). God has that same forgiveness and covering for you. Along with King David in the psalm (32:5), we say, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

 

God forgives and clothes when we stop hiding and confess. Yes, we must get naked in order to be washed and clothed by our loving heavenly Father. We must stop hiding behind the curtains and bare our conscience before Him. We must come to Him uncovered, sins showing in our confession, in order for Him to wash us with His mercy and cover us with the sacrifice of His Son.

 

Confessing our sins is very much like getting naked before God. We feel shame and rightly so, for we know the difference between good and evil and we know that good is what we have failed to do and evil is what we have certainly done. We know better than we want to know, for what we have come to know about ourselves brings us shame. That is the curse that has spread from that forbidden fruit. We see ourselves completely bared, all of our sins showing. Our feeble attempts to hide them under the fig leaves proves to be of no avail. We thought we could be comfortable denying and hiding, but when God comes walking up the path, we realize that there can be no lasting comfort unless we let Him clothe us.

 

God's holy Law strips us down to the old sinful flesh. But our heavenly Bridegroom doesn't stand there gawking at us, or ridiculing us, or laughing at us. Instead He has compassion on us. He washes us and clothes us. He pours upon us the water of Holy Baptism to sanctify and cleanse us from every spot and stain, that we might be presentable, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:26-27). And He clothes us with the righteous robe of His own dear Son, who has resisted every temptation of the ancient serpent and remained faithful and true without sin.

 

Jesus didn't seize hold of the forbidden fruit, making stones into bread (Matthew 4:1-11). He didn't question the Father's love by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple. He didn't follow the dictates of the devil, but worshipped and served the heavenly Father through obedient trust. Jesus did not sin but defeated the ancient foe who tempts us with that which tantalizes, and leaves us to desperately try to cover ourselves. We do such a poor job of it and the coverings are so flimsy, that we have to remain hidden from God and the world, lest anyone see our shame.

 

But Jesus, sinless as He was, took on our sins, our transgressions, our iniquity. He took the shame of all of mankind's sin and was stripped bare before God and the world as He hung upon the cross to die naked and cold. The soldiers took His clothing. The onlookers gawked and ridiculed. The heavenly Father turned His face away. And Jesus died exposed as one of Adam's flesh.

 

But this Son of Adam, Son of Man, was the long promised seed of the woman to crush the head of the tempter (Genesis 3:15). By His sinless death on behalf of all sinners, Jesus ground the head of that serpent into the dust. “For as by the one man's disobedience [Adam's] many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience [Jesus'] many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Jesus, through His naked death, has provided for our sin and shame to be taken away.

 

By the sacrifice of Jesus, His body offered up on the cross and His blood shed upon the ground, our sins are forgiven and we are covered, clothed in Christ Jesus. The old sinful flesh is stripped away and we put on the new man, in holiness and righteousness before Him. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

 

This clothing of Christ, not only covers our iniquity, our guilt and shame, it is also a protective armour against the further assaults of the devil. It allows us to walk with confidence in God's love and protection, to be out in the world without fear of hurt and harm. The whole armour of God equips us to stand against the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6:11), knowing that there is forgiveness in Christ Jesus, that He has us covered and we can trust in Him to save us from the wily foe.

 

There is no need to hide away in some self-imposed quarantine. Jesus has set you free. “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). You are baptized into Christ. He has clothed you in protective garments that gleam with His glory. He has covered you in His righteousness.

 

You don't have to be ashamed to get naked before the one who has boldly pledged His love for you in a permanent union of covenant faithfulness. Husband and wife don't have to hide themselves from each other. They know that they have pledged their love to one another and have publicly, before God and man, promised to stay with each other unto death. Built on such a commitment of unique love, they can trust one another to look with love, to forgive the flaws, to cover the shame from any prying eyes outside of their marital union.

 

God has betrothed you to Himself. Your relationship with Him is not as complete and full as it could be until you are willing to bare yourself before Him by confessing your sins, especially those for which you feel the greatest shame. You can trust the one who has pledged Himself in love to you publicly. He hung naked on the cross to testify of his love for you. He had Himself stripped bare in order to cover your shame and guilt. He has clothed you in His own righteousness that you might not only stand unashamed, but stand firm and protected from those who would tempt you away from His love and care.

 

In the midst of your shame and disgrace, you can say those words of the psalm to rehearse His undying love for you in order to give you strength to bare your sins before Him: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” And you will know: “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

 

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.