Several years ago, the women of my church got together to sew dresses for children in Southeast Asia and Africa who are cared for in a ministry called Homes of Love. The children who were orphaned or abandoned are brought into a home where they are loved and cared for by their house mother. [For more information about Homes of Love and the wonderful work that they are doing, see their website at homesoflove.org/] The homes undertake a marvelous work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Homes of Love motto is “Creating Families for Life”. The ladies in our church wanted to help by creating and sending some much-needed clothing. Look at the impact that having new clothes can make in a child’s life.
At the time this project was undertaken, I was still employed full time, so I was not able to join in this effort. Now, however, retirement has given me some time during the day that I could do something like this,, on a smaller scale of course, but I didn’t even think about it until Christmas when my husband surprised me with a new sewing machine.
I have now completed three dresses for the precious little girls.
They are not professionally done, that’s for sure, and I know where the mistakes were made and remedies attempted; but, they were made because of love for our Lord and for His children.
This project has prompted me to consider the relationship between clothing and our spiritual well-being.
Dr. R. C. Sproul, in the Renewing Your Mind broadcast entitled “Clothed in Righteousness,” comments on the first covering mankind had. [You can access this broadcast by going to renewingyourmind.org and then accessing the archive listing for January 16, 2018.]
Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, scripture says:
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
Prior to their sin, the first couple did not know embarrassment; they did not have feelings of shame because they were naked. They were in perfect union with each other and with God. Their bodies certainly were not shameful; they were made specifically by God for each other. In fact, each evening the Lord would come and walk with them through the garden. No clothing, no shame, nothing to interfere with their enjoyment of their God.
But all that changed in an instant, when they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree; their eyes were opened, and Adam and Eve now felt embarrassment, shame, guilt. They sewed fig leaves to make themselves a covering, to help them hide and when they heard the Lord, they ran for the trees to hide themselves from their God. Note that their fig leaves were not clothes – they were coverings. The intent was not to exchange nakedness with fig leaves; the exchange was between innocence and obedience in sharp contrast with sin, shame and guilt.
We are like that too, are we not? When we have disobeyed God, or even merely our parents or employers, we are shameful, and we hide ourselves. Guilt and shame are powerful agents for hiding, trying to disappear so that our actions will not be found out or, if they become known, at least we will not be around to see the consequences.
God, of course, knew where they were and what they had done. He didn’t need them to provide information to Him – He needed them to understand the full ramifications of their actions. So, after they admitted what they had done, God punished them, issuing curses on the serpent, the woman and the man. Then God said something miraculous, and indicative of His love for His creation. In speaking to the serpent, God said:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This is known as the “protoevangelium”, a fancy word meaning that it is the first gospel, the first good news found in Scripture, and it comes in the third chapter of the first book in the Bible. It pronounces the curse on mankind because of Adam’s sin but God does not stop there … He goes on to tell of His provision for a Savior who would take the curse upon Himself, thus relieving His people from their sin. Think of it — even though God cursed Adam and Eve because of their disobedience, their actions did not take God by surprise! Genesis 3:15 tells us that God had already a plan in mind for a Savior who could restore the relationship between mankind and God, the Savior known as the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is good news indeed, but for Adam and Eve, they were still in the trees with their fig leaves. God could have told them to get out of the garden, to leave everything that He had given them, and get out! Go roam wherever you want but you are not welcome here, under my shelter, under my protective hand. You disobeyed, and you brought this on yourself.
But instead, the Lord provided tangible evidence of His love and care, despite their disobedience.
“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
Before He cast them out of the garden, God himself made garments of skins for clothing of the man and his wife. Dr. Sproul calls this “God’s first act of redemption,” and the first act that required the spilling of blood. God did not cover Adam and Eve to hide them, He clothed them with skins. Just as blood was shed when God clothed our first parents after they sinned, He offers to clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ because of the shed blood of our Lord and Savior.
Scripture says that our best works, our best clothes, our best words and actions are as filthy rags before the Holy God. So, we, like Adam and Eve, need clothes from God so that we can stand before Him.
The prophet Isaiah said it this way:
“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.”
Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Lord has clothed us in His righteousness. Praise His Holy Name!
Hear now the song “Clothed in Righteousness” as presented on the album entitled Glory to the Holy One. The lyrics are presented below so you can follow the words as they sung.
Clothed in Righteousness, Lyrics
Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy Holy Name
Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within
Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate
Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race
No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone
Father, I pray that the words of this post and the music presented here would be used by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who read the message and hear the music. Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit and for Your love as You clothe us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.