Clothed with Christ
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“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful 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 with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”—Isaiah 61:101
[In Galatians 3] verse 27, Paul tells the believers they “have clothed yourselves with Christ.” This clothing image is a favorite metaphor of Paul’s.2 Here, he likens Christ Himself to a garment.
And this idea of clothing ourselves with Christ implies four amazing things:
1. Our primary identity is in Christ. Our clothing tells people who we are. Nearly every kind of clothing is actually a uniform showing that we are identified with others of the same gender, social class, or national group. But to say that Christ is our clothing is to say that our ultimate identity is found, not in any of these classifications, but in Christ.
2. The closeness of our relationship to Christ. Your clothes are kept closer to you than any other possession. You rely on them for shelter every moment. They go everywhere with you. So to say Christ is our clothing is to call us to moment-by-moment dependence and existential awareness of Christ. We are spiritually to “practice His presence.”
3. The imitation of Christ. To practice the presence of Christ entails that we continually think and act as if we were directly before His face. A similar biblical phrase is to “walk before him.”3 It means to take Jesus into every area of life and change it in accordance with His will and Spirit. We are to “put on” His virtues and actions. We are to “dress up like Jesus.”
4. Our acceptability to God. Finally, clothing is worn as adornment. It covers our nakedness; and God has been providing clothes which cover our shame since the fall.4 To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that in God’s sight, we are loved because of Jesus’ work and salvation. When God looks at us, He sees us as His sons because He sees His Son. The Lord Jesus has given us His righteousness, His perfection, to wear.
So Galatians 3:27 is a daring and comprehensive metaphor for a whole new life. It means to think of Christ constantly, to have His Spirit and His character infuse and permeate everything you think, say, and do. This goes so far beyond the keeping of rules and regulations. This goes even beyond simple obedience. This is to be in love with Him, bathed in Him, awash in Him. A Christian can never need some additional commitment to the law of Moses in order to receive or maintain full acceptance with God. He or she is clothed with Christ.—Timothy Keller5
Clothed in light
“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”—Romans 13:12
You have already passed from darkness to light. You have already been transferred from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of Christ. You are already new creatures in Christ. You are already children of God. What remains is for you to dress like it, to live like it, and to fight like it. The clothes, the fight do not make you a child of the light. They show that you are a child of the light.
This is plain in the flow of the book of Romans. ... First we get right with God by faith in what Christ has done. Then we dress and live and fight like people of the day. But this is even more clear in two other places where Paul talks about putting on the clothes of a believer.
Listen to Colossians 3:12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” You are already God’s chosen ones, God’s holy ones, God’s loved ones. Now, he says, put on the character that reflects your new identity.
And the one other place in all the New Testament where Paul speaks of “putting on Christ” describes it as something already done. Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptism is an acting out of what happens by faith in conversion. And what happened was: You put on Christ, once and for all. Which means that the command to put on Christ is a call to become what you are—a Christ wearer.
So keep in mind as we move forward now that putting on the armor of light or putting on Christ in verses 12 and 14 [of Romans 13] are not instructions to become a Christian all over again. Paul is calling us to be what we are in Christ. You are children of the light, children of the day. Now dress like it, live like it, fight like it. ...
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means put him on as a badge that admits you to all the resources of heaven that you need to do his will. It means put him on as the best intercom system that ever was so that there can be constant communication with the one whom you love above all others and who is himself everything you need. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means trust him, hope in him, cherish him for all these things.
So the night is far gone, the day is at hand; take off the pajamas of sin and put on the armor of light. The Christian life is not just waking; it is war. The armor of light is faith and hope and love. So put on faith in Jesus and hope in Jesus and love for Jesus. That is what it means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.—John Piper6
Clothed in kindness
Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly [be]loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”7 Those are key words when it comes to our interactions with people, regardless of their status or appearance. This is what being a Christian is about.
God needs us to be kind to those we meet. He needs for us to show them that they are special to Him. Our actions speak volumes in making people feel important, valued, and respected. Titus 3:1–2 says to “be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”8
There are also a few verses in Philippians which have been a good reminder to me and have guided me over the years when my nature to be cynical or act proud in the presence of others was stronger than my ability to show kindness and humility. These are from Philippians 2:3–7:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
I have since focused on following Jesus’ excellent example of taking on the nature of a servant. It’s not always easy to be servant-like, but we can trust the one who has called us to empower us by His Spirit to become clothed in kindness and humility.—Toni Preston
Who are you wearing?
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”—Romans 13:149
“Who are you wearing?” That’s a question reporters often ask celebrities at Hollywood red carpet events to decipher which designer brand they are donning. The clothes that we wear can say a lot about us. Clothing can reflect a person’s mood, priorities, socioeconomic status, and even values. Our garbs often make statements about our personalities or a certain way of life—our humor, our social causes, our faith, our favorite sports teams, or our musical interests. Attire can say just about anything these days. The lack of it can also say something!
In the ancient world, clothing had similar expressions. The New Testament uses clothing imagery to describe different aspects of our relationship with God. … To the Colossians, Paul writes:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”10
We are to dress ourselves each day with compassion toward the afflicted, the destitute, and the distressed. We are to put on kindness toward our neighbor. We are to be clothed in humility so that pride doesn’t overtake our ambition.
We are to don meekness so that “under whatever injuries or provocations you may receive,” you are restrained from “returning evil for evil, railing for railing, and from resenting any injury that may be done to you” (Benson Commentary). We need garments of patience to endure unforeseen trials and unexpected hardship, forgiveness to protect us from the exposure of bitterness, and love that the world may know that we are truly his disciples.11
We can’t choose the world that we wake up to each morning, but we most certainly can choose how we will dress for success. Let us choose wisely from the wardrobe with which Christ has fitted us.—Jimmy Larche12
Published on Anchor May 2021. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
Music by John Listen.
2 See Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12.
3 See, for instance, Genesis 17:1; Psalm 56:13.
4 See Genesis 3:7, 21.
5 Timothy Keller, Galatians for You (The Good Book Company, 2013).
10 Colossians 3:12–15 ESV.
11 John 13:35.