I’m the woman in the changing room next to you, trying not to cry. What is with those mirrors and lights?!! It’s a conspiracy, I’m sure. Every imperfection is magnified. Well, I’ll show them...I’ll change with my back to the mirror! What a difference a layer of clothes makes!
Speaking of clothes, remember the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen? It’s about a king who was fooled into believing he was wearing clothes when he wasn’t. He ended up prancing through town naked. Funny story. You couldn’t pay me enough to get me to walk around town like that. (I wonder how much it would take to…? Focus, Candace.)
It’s easy to see how ridiculous it would be for someone to be convinced to walk around naked and believe they were wearing clothes. But isn’t it just as ridiculous for someone who is fully clothed to go around acting like they are naked? (Seriously, take a moment and think about it. Better yet, I dare you to act that way tonight around your family. My husband is lucky he’s gone for a couple days. I would so do this to mess with him. Stop feeling bad for the man. He’s blessed, I tell you. Blessed.)
My question for you: Have you been convinced you’re naked?
We have an enemy who tells us we are naked, reminding us of our sin and then heaping condemnation on us. He wants us to feel exposed by holding up a twisted mirror, only revealing shameful things, things that God has chosen to remember no more (Hebrews 8:12). Like Adam and Eve in the garden after the fall (Genesis 3), we are overwhelmed with the filth of our sin, and we want to hide. It’s like when I stand in front of the changing room mirror: I see all my flaws, scars, imperfections, and shortcomings. I want to hide and turn away from my reflection.
As believers we walk around “naked” when we identify more with our sinful past than with the righteous reality we are fully clothed in through Christ. When we are operating out of our shame, we live a life of hiding, covering, fear, and defeat. We are more consumed with ourselves, our nakedness, and our protection than with those God has placed around us. It affects how we interact with God, also. We don’t enter into God’s presence with confidence, as a child does with a parent they know is pleased with them. Adam and Eve used to go walking with their Heavenly Father, but after they sinned they wanted to avoid Him.
Like Adam and Eve, my instinct when I’m feeling exposed, like in that dressing room, is to PUT SOME CLOTHES ON! I understand why they went to the nearest bush and tried to construct some sort of outfit. When my shortcomings are in front of me, when the enemy tells me I am naked, my inclination is to try harder, do more, be better, in turn, trying to cover my “bad” with “good.” Here’s the problem: my efforts are like me trying to dress myself in leaves. (Leaves are in short supply this time of year where I live.)
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6 ESV
Adam and Eve tried to make their own coverings, but their best efforts weren’t enough. Like them, our best efforts aren’t enough either. God stepped in and made them something better. God did the same for us through Jesus.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 ESV
When we put our faith in Christ, His righteousness and salvation are placed on us. We are now covered in something greater than anything our best efforts could provide. We should still do good things, but not as a payment for our sin. Our good deeds are the fruit and expression of our new identity in Christ, not the reason for it.
So we are out of our leaf outfits and grateful to be in the appropriate clothing provided by God. We are getting more comfortable with the feel of it and moving around with it on. Well, there’s another thing the enemy might try to pull.
If you have ever been around teens/tweens, there’s a certain stink that shows up every once in a while. And when that scent is out, it’s hard to miss. (Bless those lil young people and their sweaty body odor. Been there, done that, stunk up the t-shirt.)
A lie the enemy tells us is that even with Christ’s righteousness covering us, the stink from our sins can’t be disguised. He whispers over our shoulder instances we’ve been trying to forget. He’s right, you know. We did do those things. And as believers, we hang our head in shame and shrink back. BUT Christ also did His thing. He also hung his head for our shame. And His actions trump ours. It’s time to get over our big bad selves and begin relaxing into our salvation. We’ve been giving way too much power to our sins, to our stink. It’s time to give that power back to where (who) it rightfully belongs - Jesus.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV
We are clean, Friend. Under that robe, we have been washed and are squeaky clean. We still may have to deal with the natural consequences of our sin here on earth, but before God we are new creatures, holy, and righteous. There ain’t no stank on you, Girl.
I need to ask you one more thing: Are you comfortable in that glorious righteous robe?
I’m no exhibitionist, but every once in a while my clothes are un-com-fort-able! Today was especially bad. I’m not only talking about when we accidentally grab the wrong undies. Those weren’t comfortable, nor was my t-shirt, jeans, or jacket. (My socks were okay.) If the enemy can’t convince us we are naked or stinky, he will do his best to make us uncomfortable in Christ’s righteousness.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3 ESV
This is when we need to renew our minds and focus on things above. There are days when we think we will be more comfortable and free in our nakedness, falling back into old ways. Vengeance, bitterness, self-centeredness, hatred, lust, etc… call to our flesh. Don’t go there. The enemy is trying to get you to disrobe. Keep your eyes on Jesus and stay in the Word. He will sustain you when things get tough. He will remind you that your place is with Him.
When I realize and accept I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness, I have joy in greeting fellow “customers” and experience warm conversations with the “cashiers.” I can focus on others in the freedom found in Christ, and I am more comfortable with myself. I can allow God to use my hands as extensions of His instead of using them to cover myself up. Yup, that's what a difference clothes can make.
And as the person in the changing room next to you, I want to tell you something: My dear Believer, don’t be afraid to turn around and look into that spiritual mirror. You aren’t naked and filled with flaws. You are lovely, cleansed, and wearing the finest spiritual apparel. You know what I see when I look at you - Jesus. So work it, Girl. Have confidence in Christ in you and walk in it.
May we go in search of the unclothed and help them put on the robe Christ purchased for them.
Cleansed and Clothed,
P.S. I would love to take credit for this concept, but my mentor is the one who planted this idea in my head. If you don’t have a mentor, ask God to pick one out for you for Christmas. They’re awesome. No, I’m not going to tell you my mentor’s name. You’ll just call her, because you want to become all awesome like me. Find your own. So thankful for you, Paul! (Not her real name.)
Another thought to consider: Where’s your armor? Did our enemy convince you there wasn’t a battle today, and you didn’t need to wear it?