JOSHUA WAS CLOTHED
Zechariah 3:1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
It is of utmost importance to understand that God caused Joshua’s iniquities to pass from him by clothing him in righteousness! All human efforts at pleasing God by morality apart from the new birth are useless and without success! Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. It is by the imputed righteous of Christ alone, that enables us to be righteous before God! 1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
And that “whosoever” refers to that new creation birthed within the believer, just as the physical birth brought forth the natural man! John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is (being) flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is (being) spirit. For you can expect righteousness from that which is born of God, and nothing but iniquity from that which is born of man! 1 Corin. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
And as we have stated, one is only made righteous by divine imputation, or by God’s depositing into our hearts the very “righteousness of God,” in the same way that he deposited to Christ’s account the legal responsibility of our sin! 2 Corin. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
God didn’t just get up one fine morning and decide to acquit us of our sin, just because he had a good feeling! To have done so would have made him to be an accomplice to our sin, and therefore rendered him unjust! Christ’s righteousness only becomes our righteousness as he becomes responsible for our sin! Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
The need to understand righteousness – In this passage in Zechariah we have been presented with unrighteousness by Joshua’s filthy garments. Therefore let us see another passage in the Revelation that continues this picture.
Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
The effectual invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb is regeneration! For everyone who is called and chosen to be there is given a wedding garment. Anyone without that provided garment is cast into outer darkness! (Matt. 22:11-14). And we clearly see it stated that the fine linen garment is the righteousness of the saints! Therefore righteous, as a garment, is provided by Christ alone, his gift as the Bridegroom of the Church, to his Bride!
Righteousness always includes morality! But morality is oftentimes without true righteousness! And this is the dangerous thing in christendom today. For right-wing, conservatism, and the spirit of American patriotism are widely being mistaken in our day for true righteousness! And they are not! These may be possessed with true righteousness, but solely of themselves they are in no way a substitute for Christ’s imputed righteousness! They are, of themselves, as stated above, filthy rag righteousness!
Righteousness cannot be lightly considered! It is not a light matter, accepted as a simple matter-of-fact by those who practice religion! We must incline our inner ears unto wisdom and apply our heart unto understanding to delve into this great provision by God! Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
For righteousness is involved with the limits of the atonement! Christ, who knew no sin, was required to be legally constituted sin for us, and then – NOT the righteousness of religious morality, – but the very righteousness of God to be imputed to us! And as the country boy said, “That ain’t no light matter!”
Dear Reader, the forgiveness of sin is directly connected to the atonement! Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: And the true believer will spend a life time working this out with fear and trembling!
For the experience of imputed righteousness dwelling in one who still has remaining corruption provides a lifetime of struggles! There will needs be a life long attending to the spiritual preaching of the gospel, a lifetime of prayer, a lifetime of fellowshipping with others in this same battle, and a coming to whatever light God provides in order to ascertain that his religious deeds are wrought in God! (John 3:21).
A true believer needs to hear the preaching of God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation in order to understand that there is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! For it is God who has justified us, who then can condemn us?
Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
These reasons that there is now no condemnation, must be re-preached again and again to the ears and hearts of those needing to understand righteousness! They must be transformed by the renewing of their minds! (Rom. 12:2). And the gospel preached – not just some sing-songy emotional prat set forth – by the Holy Spirit through a genuine called man of God alone sets this forth! Listen to these verses! Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Imputation! – Condemnation! – Substitution! – Incarnation picturing Regeneration! – Can you see these in those verses? These are the strong sword of the spirit by which the believer vanquishes the foes of doubt and darkness from the Devil! These form the very shield of faith by which believers quench the fiery darts of the Wicked, when he trys to cause crippling doubt in the mind of the believer! God have mercy on the American church!
Pastor Gene Breed
December 8 2010