The Royal Robe of Righteousness

Isn’t it interesting how much time and attention we give to what we wear? We spend a lot of money and energy on our physical appearance. I wonder if we give as much consideration to how we appear spiritually, both to God and to the world around us?

One of my favorite shows used to be “What Not To Wear.” A person was usually nominated by their friends who felt they needed a major makeover in their choice of clothing. It was kind of embarrassing at first, as they were required to model their favorites in a three-way mirror that exposed all their poor choices. The fun began, however, when they were taken through clothing boot camp by the two hosts and shown all the ways they should and could improve their appearance by making a few simple adjustments in the style of their clothing. They were shown what NOT to wear, and then given some generously loaded Visa cards to go shopping for a NEW wardrobe. I was always amazed at the transformation when they modeled their new look at the end of the show.

The method to facilitate such outward and obvious changes were simple. They had to “put off” the old, and “put on” the new.  That show is a great analogy to the spiritual transformation that happens to followers of Jesus, as we submit to the wisdom and instruction of the Holy Spirit.  

First, we must recognize and admit how our current “wardrobe” isn’t working, This takes place at salvation as we repent of our sins and by faith and enter into a covenant relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. My Bible study group just started a new study on “Covenant” and this week we learned about a particular Old Testament covenant custom that illustrates this New Testament truth.

In 1 Samuel 18, Jonathan, the son of King Saul, makes a covenant with David, who will become the rightful heir to the throne, essentially taking Jonathan’s place. To signify his great love and commitment to David, Jonathan removes David’s cloak and replaces it with his own royal robe. This simple act has great meaning and points to a greater covenant – the New Covenant Jesus fulfilled for us.

One writer expresses it this way:

Because Jonathan was the royal son the offspring of the first King of Israel, he was dressed in the finest royal robes.  The riches of the kingdom were at his disposal and his wishes were others’ commands.  But he desired one thing – for David to have everything he had.  Jonathan was so intent that he was willing to change places with him and to be all that David was.

David, on the other hand, was only a shepherd boy.  He came from a meager home and was a servant to King Saul.  He wore a simple cloak, which likely smelled of sweat and sheep.

Can you imagine how David must have felt when Jonathan began to remove his worn and rugged cloak and to place his own on David’s back?  This passage attests to the love Jonathan had for David.  This covenant was based on Jonathan’s love, not on David’s.  David’s love for Jonathan is never mentioned in this passage.

Now, go back and change the names in the paragraph describing Jonathan’s exchange with David:

Because Jesus Christ was the royal son the offspring of the first King of kings and the Lord of lords, he was dressed in the robe of righteousness.  The riches of the Kingdom of God were at his disposal and his Word held the power of creation.  But He desired one thing – for us to have everything He had.  Christ was so intent that He was willing to change places with us and to be all that we were.  We, on the other hand, are only sinful flesh and blood, stained with guilt and shame.  We came from a meager home and were servants to sin.  We wore a simple cloak, which was stained with blood guiltiness and the filth of this world.

Here we have the complete picture:  You and I stand cleansed and pure and whole before Him wearing the robe of righteousness that Jesus took off His own back and placed on us while He wears the blood-stained vesture as a memorial to the sin and shame He took upon Himself but also as a memorial to the VICTORY He won over death, hell, and the grave. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Most High God, sought us out, loved us, and entered into a covenant of exchange with us.  He bore our bloodstains and we stand dressed in the clean and unspotted garment known as the Robe of Righteousness.  We could never earn such an undeserved exchange, but His love for us compelled Him to embrace us and covenant with us in the Greatest Exchange.

Jesus gave us a spiritual robe of righteousness that God sees. Now our job is to choose wisely our earthly “wardrobe” (our words, actions, attitudes, etc.) appropriate to someone wearing the royal robe of a child of God.

What NOT to wear… we put off the sin of our old man that was crucified in Christ!

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

What we SHOULD wear … we put on the new man, made in the image of Christ!

Ephesians 4:22-24 – That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Daily, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to take us into the mirror of God’s Word and show us what we need to take off and put on so that Christ can be seen in us.

Have you been given the royal robe of righteousness?

What will you wear today?

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