The Garments of the Believer
March 16th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
THE GARMENTS OF THE BELIEVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-16-58 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Garments of the Believer. In the twenty-second chapter of the first gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable, saying:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.
[from Matthew 22:2-3]
Then in the eleventh verse of the twenty-second chapter of Matthew:
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
And he saith unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" And he was speechless.
Then said the king to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
For many are called, but few are chosen.
So in order to stand before the great King, we must be clothed in special garments, and that is the subject of the morning message: The Garments of the Believer; that is, one who hopes some day to stand in the presence of God.
There are two kinds of garments spoken of in the Holy Scriptures. The first are garments we are to put off, cast away. Second, there are garments that we are to put on. Those classifications that you find in the Bible are also described in another way. There are garments that are manmade. There are garments which are God-made, and the Holy Scriptures say that the first kind, the manmade garments, we are to put off and cast away. And the second kind, the God-made garments, we are to put on, and they are for us raiment of glory and holiness and beauty. Now that’s the subject of the message this morning.
Now, we begin with the story of the first couple in the third chapter of the book of Genesis. First of all, see what Satan does to the man: he strips him naked. Satan always does that. He strips him naked; he takes away his garments of innocency and glory [Genesis 3:1-7]. You have that same thing illustrated in the story of the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and thieves fell upon him and beat him and wounded him and stripped him and left him naked and half dead. That’s what Satan does to the unfortunate man [Luke 10:30]. That traveler, with his back toward the city of blessing and his face toward the city of curses, fallen among thieves and beat, and stripped, and left for dead. That’s a picture of man’s helpless condition. That’s how Satan leaves him. You have that same thing in the story of the Gadarene demoniac. There he was, filled with a legion of evil spirits, crying in the tombs day and night, cutting himself, and without clothes – naked, unclothed [Luke 8:26-33]. You remember the end of the story? When he was saved, and the legion of devils cast out of him, he was at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind [Luke 8:34-35].
So you have here in this story, you have the man stripped of his raiment of innocency and blessedness, and he’s left there in his nakedness. Well, what does the man do? Well, they’re all alike. There’s hardly any exception. I don’t suppose there is an exception. What does the man do? Well, as they all say, "I do the best that I can." And so he tries to cover up his nakedness. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons" [Genesis 3:7].
That’s what the man does: he tries to help himself. Stripped, wounded, helpless, he tries to do something for himself – tries to cover himself. He does the best that he can, as he says. So here they take fig leaves [Genesis 3:7]. That in itself is a picture. A fig leaf, pretty and shiny, and the very minute he plucks it, death sets in it. There they’re covered with fig leaves that are drying and dying and fading away. "Sowed themselves fig leaves together and made themselves" – and the Hebrew word there translated "aprons" means "something to gird themselves with." How different that is when Ephesians speaks of being girded with truth [Ephesians 6:14]. There they are girded with their own efforts: sewed fig leaves together [Genesis 3:7].
I want you to see one of the most remarkable things in this earth right here in that story. There they are, covered over with garments made by themselves, the sowing of fig leaves together. "And they heard the voice of the Lord God as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day . . . and they hid themselves" [Genesis 3:8]. Now isn’t that strange? "And they hid themselves." And when the Lord God says, "Why is it that you hide yourself," Adam said – now look – "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself" [from Genesis 3:8-10].
Why, he wasn’t naked. He had covered himself with an apron, a garment of fig leaves [Genesis 3:7]. But that’s what Satan does to us. He persuades us that in our self- righteousness, we’re all right: "You can stand before God. You don’t need to worry about what that Bible says. You don’t need to pay any attention to what that preacher says. You don’t need to be covered with the garments God provides. Why look at you! You are just so fine and beautifully covered, and when the great day comes and you stand before God, you’ll be there in your own righteousness with garments made with your own hands. Don’t you worry!" Satan persuades you that. Then when God comes and you stand in His presence, you’re naked! That is, that’s what the Book says.
Adam, with all of his covering, when God came to visit, he fled and hid himself. When the Lord said, "Adam, what you hiding for?" he said, "I am afraid because I am naked" [Genesis 3:9-10]. The garments that you cover yourself with won’t do. They don’t cover.
So what did God do? God provides garments to cover the sin, and the want, and the lack, and the nakedness of man. "And Adam – and for his wife and for Adam did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" [from Genesis 3:21]. You look at that. With the first dress, God had nothing to do [Genesis 3:7]. Now look at the other side of that: and with the second dress, the man had nothing to do – nothing [Genesis 3:21]. The righteousness of God is not a man-kind of righteousness, and the covering God provides for His children is something with which they have nothing to do. God does it altogether. "Our righteousnesses," Isaiah says, "are as filthy rags" [Isaiah 64:6]. They are dirty in themselves. But the God-kind of righteousness in the blood, the Christ-kind of righteousness, these are the garments that God gives the believer, and they hide our sin, and they cover our iniquity, and they clothe us in beauty and in holiness.
The garments God hath provided for the believer, they’re in Christ; they’re in the faith and trust and mercy of Jesus. And as long as a man is looking to himself and his own fine goodness, and his own ethical standards, and his own walk of morality, and his own pride and boastful goodness, as long as a man does that, he’s naked in the sight of God [Matthew 7:21-23]. For his own goodnesses, in God’s judgment, are like rags that are dirty [Isaiah 64:6]. But the God-kind of righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:8-9], and that’s the kind that covers over and hides away the sin, and iniquity, and nakedness of the man [Colossians 2:13-14].
Now, may I point out the garments that we are to throw away, we are to cast away? All of these man-made garments we are to dispose of, we are to put off, we are to be done with – we’re not to wear them any longer.
Now, look. When the Lord God made coats of skins to cover over the man and his wife, do you suppose they put those garments God provided over those old fig-leaf aprons? No! They cast off those fig-leaf aprons, and they put on the garments God had provided. They cast the old away.
When you read the story of Elisha and Elijah, the Scriptures say that when Elijah was taken in a whirlwind up to glory and his mantel fell down by Elisha, the Scriptures say: "And Elisha took his raiment and rent it in twain, and picked up the mantel of Elijah" [from 2 Kings 2:12-13]. The old garments are rent. They are cast aside, and the new garment, the mantel of the prophet, now clothes Elisha, installed in his office as the messenger of God [2 Kings 2:13-15].
Do you remember reading in the story of blind Bartimaeus when Jesus called him? [Mark 10:46-50] The Scriptures say: "And casting aside his garment, he arose and went to Jesus" [Mark 10:50]. That beggar’s cloak stood in the way – rid of it that he might come to the Lord.
Do you remember reading in the story of the prodigal son? [Luke 15:11-32] When he came home in his rags and in his dirt and in his filth [Luke 15:15-20], the father said, "Bring the best robe, and put it on him" [Luke 15:22]. Do you suppose he put that robe over those old rags? No. Take them out and burn them up – old rags of the old life. A new day and a new life, put this new robe upon him.
Isn’t that exactly what the Lord Jesus taught when He said: "No man puts a new patch on an old garment"? [Luke 5:36]. You have to have a new garment. You can’t patch up the old one. A new suit, a new dress, a new raiment and cast the old away: And that’s what God does for us. For His children, He has new raiment, new garments, new clothing, and the old is cast away.
Look at the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah. There are two passages there that I never had seen before until the preparation of this sermon. In the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah, look what Jesus does at Nazareth. Jesus quotes this, and applies it to Himself, and says He came to fulfill this passage [Luke 4:16-21]. Now look what Jesus says:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord . . .
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.
Now, I want you to look at that. In the first verse: "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" [Isaiah 61:1]. Now, the middle of the third verse: and He provides for these captives that are now liberated. He provides new garments, new raiment, and He gives them the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness [Isaiah 61:3].
In prison, in dungeon, slaves of Satan, we are clothed in rags, in heaviness, and in darkness, but when Jesus opens the prison doors to the captives and He proclaims liberty to these who are incarcerated, He gives them new garments: the spirit of praise and of glory, the garments of life and of beauty. We’re to change our clothes, and God gives us a new change and a new raiment when we come into the light and liberty of the Son of God.
You remember the story of Joseph? Down there in the dungeon and in the prison, when Pharaoh called for him and he stood in the presence of the king, it says, "And he changed his raiment" [Genesis 41:14]. Do you remember the story of Jehoachin, the king of Israel, when he was carried off into Babylonian captivity? After a while the Babylon king, in mercy, liberated him [2 Kings 25:27-28]. And it says, "And he changed his prison garments: and did eat bread" [2 Kings 25:29]. That’s what we’re to do. Wearing the old clothes of the old life, dirty clothes, clothes of self-righteousness, of pride, clothes of egotism and worldliness, dressed in the garments of this life, yet in prison, a slave of Satan, following and panting after him, but in Christ, we are liberated. We’re out of prison. We stand in the presence of the King, and He gives us a new clothe, a new raiment. All things are become new [2 Corinthians 5:17]: the garments of the believer.
Why, bless your heart, when we stand before the Lord – and I haven’t time. I haven’t time here to follow all of these pictures that you will find in the raiment of the Levites and the priests as they stand before the Lord – but all of those stories back there and all of those commandments and precepts there in the tabernacle, whenever the priest came to wait upon the Lord, he put on the garments of holiness and of beauty [Exodus 28:1-43]. And when the Levites came to worship before the Lord, they washed their garments [Numbers 8:21]. And when they came into the Holy Place, they were dressed in linen [Leviticus 16:4], pure and clean and white: the garments of the believer, the garments of those who wait and serve before the Lord. Nothing of ourselves – that’s cast away – and all of the righteousness of Christ: His grace, and His love, and His mercy, and His goodness – clothed in the righteousness of the Lamb [2 Corinthians 5:21], washed in the blood of the Lamb, dressed with garments of His provision.
Now, we have time for one other glorious thought. I want us to look at the garments that God provides for us. What kind are they? And how do they do? And what are they like? And how do they last?
See these shoes I have on? Why, by and by they’ll wear out. Surely as you live, I’ll have to by me another pair of shoes. See this suit I’ve got on? It’s already worn out. See this old tie I got on? I haven’t had a new green tie in a generation. I had to dig this out of the attic. Old things wear out, old things: no count, old things – out of style like some of these women’s hats, you know.
I think, "My, my, why, that’d be so fine a hat."
"Oh," she say, "that’s just like last year’s bird’s nest," and goes out here and buys another hat: these garments that we have.
Well, are God’s raiment like that? Are God’s garments like that? Let’s look at what kind of garments God provides for us. In the third chapter of the prophet Zechariah, you have a wonderful story that begins what I want to say, if I can encompass it in this little bit of time that’s left. In the third chapter of the prophet Zechariah: "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" [Zechariah 3:1]. Brother, that’s always true. When you stand up for the Lord, there’ll be Satan standing at your right hand to resist you:
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?" –
Talking about Joshua there –
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. –
That’s the way all of us are in ourselves –
And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying –
the Angel said –
"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."
And I said –
and the Angel says –
"Let them set a fair mitre upon his head." So they set a beautiful mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by –
to see that it was all done just like God wanted it done, clothing this saint with the garments of the Lord.
[from Zechariah 3:2-5]
Isn’t that marvelous?
All right, what kind of garments are they? All right, now let’s look at them. In the twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy and the fifth verse, here are the garments of the Lord: "And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot" [Deuteronomy 29:5]. They’re going to last. Isn’t that what I said? They’re going to last.
Dr. Fowler here has been a Christian for a hundred years, more or less. The Lord God gave him some garments when he became a Christian and was saved, and he’s still wearing those robes of righteousness. They haven’t worn out yet. You haven’t had to change them, have you? Amen, amen. They last forever. They don’t ever wear out. They last forever.
And I’ll tell you another thing about them: you can wear them into the fire. And after those three Hebrew children had worn those garments of glory and beauty into the fire, Nebuchadnezzar, when he looked in there and saw four of them, commanded them to be brought out. And those three Hebrew children, clothed in the garments of the Lord, they didn’t even have the smell of fire upon their raiment, it says [Daniel 3:20-27]. They’ll go through the fire, the raiment God gives for his children.
Now, we must hasten. Look again. What kind of garments does the Lord God give His children? In the ninth chapter of Second Chronicles, look at this: "And when the queen of Sheba," reading at the third verse now in the ninth chapter of Second Chronicles: "And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he’d built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel" [2 Chronicles 9:3-4] – you notice she notices that. Why, she said to the king:
It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom:
Howbeit I believed not these words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, not a half of the greatness of thy wisdom and the glory of thy house was told me.
Happy are thy men, and happy are thy servants, which stand before thee.
[2 Chronicles 9:5-7]
These garments God gives us glorify the Lord. When the queen of Sheba saw the ministers and the servants who stood about Solomon and their apparel, it says that twice, "and their apparel," she said, "the half was not told me" [2 Chronicles 9:6]. That’s what I mean when I say and the garments God provide for His children glorify the Lord, not us, not us – they glorify God.
When you see a man walking around, strutting around in his own glory, magnifying himself, that’s not honoring God. Those aren’t the garments of the Lord. But when you see a true believer walking in and out before us and the angels of glory, and his raiment magnifies God, that’s the providing of the Lord. That’s the righteousness of the Lamb.
Now, look again, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, the raiment that God gives us is for warfare in this life and in this world. Then you have that famous passage here describing the whole armour of God [Ephesians 6:10-18]. We have our loins gird about with truth, not with fig aprons, and we have on the breastplate of righteousness, and our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. And we have the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
And last of all, we have those beautiful and glorious garments that are going to adorn the saints of the Lord and glorify Him in that ultimate and final fellowship in glory. Jesus says in the third chapter of Revelation: "Now these names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; they shall walk with Me in white . . . He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; I will not blot his name out of the book of life" [Revelation 3:1, 4-5]. And in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, in the sixth and following: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia, Hallelujah: the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" [Revelation 19:6-7]. With fig leaves? Made herself ready with all of those garments of the world and of this life? No, sir. She had made herself ready, and she was "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he saith unto me, ‘Write, "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb’"" [Revelation 19:8-9].
Are you ready? Do you have on the wedding garment? Not one of your own providing and devising, but one provided by God, received from His blessed hands, the righteousness which is by faith in Him [Romans 3:22] – the garments of the believer.
Well, blessed are the folks who listen to the Word, and blessed are they who clothe themselves in the holiness, and righteousness, and glory, and beauty of God.
Now, we sing our song this morning. And while we sing it, if there’s somebody you to give his heart to the Lord or put his life in the church, one somebody or a family somebody, while we sing this song, would you come and stand by me while all of us stand and sing together?
THE GARMENTS OF THE BELIEVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. To stand before the King we must be clothed in special garments
A. Garments to put off – manmade
B. Garments to put on – God-made
A. Satan stripped man of his garments of innocence (Luke 10:30, 8:27, 35)
B. Adam, Eve seek to remedy their condition (Genesis 3:7-10, Isaiah 64:6)
C. God’s provision (Genesis 3:21)
III. The change of raiment needed
A. The old thrown away (2 Kings 2:12-13, Mark 10:46-50, Luke 15:22, 5:36)
B. The need for a change
1. He provides new garments for the liberated captives (Isaiah 61:1-3, Genesis 41:14, 2 Kings 25:29)
2. Garments of the priests, Levites
C. The garments God provides (Zechariah 3:1-5)
1. They last forever (Deuteronomy 29:5)
2. They stand through the fire (Daniel 3:20-27)
3. They honor the Lord (2 Chronicles 9:3-7)
4. They are for warfare (Ephesians 6:13-17)