New. That word is refreshing, isn’t it? When you think of all new clothes…how great does it feel, just to step into them? Doing so brings about a new sense of self, even though the only change is an external one.
The remarkable thing is that the same fresh feeling we get from new clothes is part of God’s plan for our inner selves. Zechariah 3:1-4 “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
If we look closely, this passage isn’t about physical clothes at all. It is about the removal of our old ways (filthy clothes) and being granted a new self in exchange (fine garments). As we begin a new year, our thoughts often settle on the things about ourselves that we wish were different. Perhaps the prior January, we’d resolved to be different by the following one, yet here we are, entering another year in the same old filthy clothes. But this does not have to be.
The truth is that we can dress ourselves up any way we like to appear put together on the outside, while our souls are dying a slow death of hopelessness and despair. That is just it. “We” are the problem.
When we rely on ourselves, our abilities, our ideas, our efforts to bring about change, change may come, sure, but the deep, soul-level change that makes us new from the inside out can only come from the source from which it was originated…God Himself.
This passage of scripture also provides a vital reminder. We have an accuser…Satan. We often underestimate him because he does not show up in obvious, cartoon-like ways, like in a stretchy red suit with a pitchfork and horns. But rest assured, he is very real and he is more dangerous to our souls than any weapon can ever be to our bodies. Those nagging, ugly, unkind little things you think you are telling yourself? Yep. There he is. Whispering. Accusing. Constantly. He wants nothing more than to convince us that we are destined to a lifetime of only filthy rags. If we live life defeated, we are nearly useless for being used by God for the better good. If we live life defeated, and miss out on God’s goodness, we won’t glorify God and share His Holy ability to transform us from the inside out. If we stand for this, which is a choice we make, we lose…every…single…time.
But, God. But GOD! When we look back at this scripture, we see that God is right there to defend us. God is right there to rebuke the ugly author of lies who has us pinned down like a burning stick in a fire. But all is not lost. God is there, watching, waiting, wanting. There is only one thing we need to do before He can do the rest. We must turn back to Him and acknowledge our sin. The story leading up to this passage is Zechariah tells of this turning back to God, returning to Him. And then, with that turning, God instantly moves.
In my life, in your life, what filthy clothes of the soul really need to go this year? What will happen if the only thing “we” do this year is turn back to God, get out of our own way, and truly allow him to remove the sin that entangles us? One thing is sure. Doing the same things will result in the same things, which leads to defeat, and around and around we go. May 2016 be a year of real, deep, inner refinement as we turn back to the One who promises to make us altogether new, dress us in fine garments, and lead us to victory like we have never known.