WHITE CLOTHES TO WEAR

(Trumpet Ministries,Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

WHITE CLOTHES TO WEAR Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

From the time of the Garden of Eden the Bible has much to say about nakedness and being clothed. God had placed the first two people in the Garden in a shameful condition. They did not realize they were living in a shameful condition, but God understood their state and intended to do something about it.

By disobeying God the first man and his counterpart found out, before God was ready to clothe them, that nakedness is shameful. The knowledge of good and evil, necessary for a son of God, became death to them.

The blood of the Lamb is not our robe of righteousness. Our personality is cleansed by the blood, just as clothes are cleansed by soap, but the soap is not our clothing. It is the righteous nature of Jesus Christ expressed in our person and behavior that produces our white robe.

WHITE CLOTHES TO WEAR

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18—NIV)

"White clothes to wear." Precisely what are the white clothes we are to wear?

We know the "gold refined in the fire" is our faith that is purified by being tested in the furnace of life. We know the "salve" to put on our eyes has to do with our ability to escape deception and see matters as God sees them. The believers in Laodicea were poor, naked, and blind but they did not understand the wretchedness of their shameful condition.

Our minds go back to the Garden of Eden. The first people were unclothed. The Bible in several passages refers to nakedness as a shameful condition. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden in a shameful condition. He knew they were naked and assuredly did not intend to leave them that way.

But in what manner did God intend to clothe them?

There were several trees in the Garden of Eden. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the garden.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8,9—NIV)

It is evident that the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were not trees as we know them. Perhaps the other trees were actual fruit trees, although there is a passage that suggests they all were allegorical.

Which of the trees of Eden can be compared with you in splendor and majesty? Yet you, too, will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth below; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. this is Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 31:18—NIV)

I think there were real fruit trees there and, as is the case in other descriptions in the Bible, we have a mixture of symbolism and actuality. The new Jerusalem seems to be an example of this kind of mixture.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15—NIV)

Let's go back and think for a moment about the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Obviously these were not fruit trees as we know them. What kind of fruit from a physical tree would give us eternal life or the knowledge of good and evil?

My own thought is that the tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the eternal moral law of God, the law inscribed however faintly in the conscience of every person.

By eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Adam and Eve indeed did become like God in that they could perceive they were naked. But they had no way of coping with such knowledge. They hid from the Presence of God because of the guilt of disobedience plus being ashamed of the fact they were naked.

God then removed their fig-leaf aprons (or else they did) and clothed them with the skins of animals. Even at this early stage the innocent animals had to die to cover the nakedness of man. Or perhaps God created skins for them to wear.

How would God have clothed them had they not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? We cannot find out until we come to the new covenant.

The Lamb of God was slain from the creation of the world because God knew what Adam and Eve would do. God did not make them commit sin. God knew what Satan would do and how Adam and Eve would respond. He just waited until the inevitable took place and the great tapestry unfolded that would reveal to man and the angels the folly of disobeying God.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the (Revelation 13:8—NIV)

"The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

When we come to the new covenant we find several passages that refer to our being clothed.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9—NIV)

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18—NIV)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14—NIV)

The verse immediately preceding is of particular interest because it reveals that we have to wash our robes if we would be given the right to eat of the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the holy city.

Compare:

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14—NIV)

So the idea of being clothed is an important scriptural concept. We Christians teach that we are covered with the blood of the Lamb. I myself have often taught this. I know without the shedding of blood there is no remission of our sins. I know also that we overcome through the blood of the Lamb.

Furthermore, we are called to live by the body and blood of the Lord Jesus just as He lives by the Father. I emphasize this fact in my teaching. So we are not minimizing in any manner whatever the role of the blood of the Lamb in our redemption.

But a thought has occurred to me as I have pondered the nakedness of Adam and Eve, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. I think we have a misunderstanding of the role of the blood atonement. We are picturing the blood of the atonement as a covering over us, a robe if you will, such that God cannot see our nakedness. We say that God sees us through the blood, or sees us through Christ. I do not believe this is the case.

We speak often of being covered with the blood, or God how sees us through the blood, or God sees us through Christ. This means even though we are not living the life of victory in Jesus there still is no penalty. We will be rewarded as though we had lived a righteous life.

But the New Testament offers no such assurance.

I know the Passover blood is a sign so when the angel of judgment passes over us we are shielded. I realize this and teach this. But I do not believe the blood of Jesus itself is the white clothes with which God intended to clothe Adam and Eve, with which God intends to clothe us who are seeking to live the victorious Christian life.

Notice again:

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14—NIV)

When we wash our clothes we use soap. We are not clothed in the soap, the purpose of the soap is to get our clothes clean. Is this correct?

Well, if those who come out of the great tribulation wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, then the blood itself is not our robe. It is the righteous nature of Jesus Christ expressed in our person and behavior that is our white robe.

This may seem like a trivial or academic point. But it certainly is not. Either the blood of the Lamb is our clothing, or something else is our clothing and the purpose of the blood is to make our clothing clean. The blood of Christ washes our personality until it is clean, but it is the righteous Nature of Christ produced in us that is our actual white robe.

The reason this point is not trivial or academic is that we tend to make the covering of the blood (there is no New Testament verse I know of that states we are covered with the blood) a way of dodging around our sinning. We say we know we should not sin but if we do we are covered with the blood. If this is not a true concept then we Christians are in trouble today.

And we are! We are using Divine grace as an alternative to righteous living when it is supposed to be the wisdom and power to convert us to righteous living. What a vast difference there is between these two concepts!

If the blood of the Lamb is not our white clothes but the means of keeping our clothes white, then what precisely is our white clothing.

Our white clothing is our righteous behavior that has been created as we have been forgiven through the blood atonement and then proceed to walk in the Spirit of God until Christ is formed in us. In the meanwhile the blood keeps us reconciled to God as we are being transformed morally.

The enormous, destructive error of Christian thinking is that the blood itself is an eternal robe such that God will see us only through the blood for eternity, thus making moral transformation unnecessary. God brings the unchanged Adam into Paradise on the basis of ascribed righteousness, we suppose, where he is sure to repeat the original disobedience.

Such is the destructive teaching of our day. We in America have an immoral culture to show for it, because the Christians are not being clothed in righteous behavior.

Now, where does it state clearly in the New Testament that our white clothing is our righteous behavior?

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)

"Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints." Think of it!

Notice it does not say that the fine linen, bright and clean, is the blood of the Lamb. It could say that, you know, if it were true.

Rather, the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb is clothed in her own righteous behavior, not a righteous behavior proceeding from a religious adamic nature but the righteous behavior growing from the personality that has been crucified with Christ and has risen to walk with Him in newness of life.

The Kingdom of God is composed of new creations, the old sinful nature having passed away and all things of the new being of God. This is the end result of the new covenant.

Let us think now about Adam and Eve. As I said before, I believe the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was the Lord Jesus Christ. He still is the Tree of Life and still is in Paradise.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7—NIV)

Do you know of any other "tree" from which we can eat and gain eternal life?

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:50,51—NIV)

Compare:

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22—NIV)

Compare:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NIV)

Eternal life was lost in the Garden of Eden. Eternal life is gained through the Lord Jesus Christ. From my point of view Christ is the only source of eternal life. How do you feel about this?

Let us say Adam and Eve, having no inherited or acquired sin, had eaten of Christ, of the Tree of Life. Then they would have received into themselves a portion of the Life of God. As it was, they were just fleshly creatures, made from the ground, although, unlike the animals, they had the potential to become the dwelling place of the Lord.

God referred to them as "dust."

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19—NIV)

We know they had a spiritual nature that lives on after physical death, even though they did not have the eternal Life of God in them. We know this because the witch of Endor was able to bring up Samuel from the dead. There is life after death that is not the eternal life given to us under the new covenant.

Perhaps when God said Adam and Eve would die if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil He meant physical death only, not the extinction of their personality. This seems assured from the Scriptures.

If such were the case, then, when the Lord said if they ate of the tree of life they would live forever He was referring to immortality in the body, since after physical death their spiritual personality would continue to exist in the spirit realm even though they had not eaten of the tree of life.

If Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life they would have had the Life of God in their personalities and immortality in their bodies.

Then what? Then the Lord could have covered them with skins and at the same time told them that nakedness was a shameful condition. They would have had the strength of Christ in them and would have been able to handle this information. Then they would have been on their way to be strengthened and taught concerning other evil in the universe.

Perhaps this would have been the scenario. In any case, this is the way it works under the new covenant. We receive the blood atonement and our sins are forgiven. Then we are given a portion of the eternal Life of God.

Next, if we keep looking to the Lord, He begins to lead us by His Spirit into an awareness of specific sins in our personality. Now we have the confidence and strength to confess our sins and receive, in the spirit realm, the robe of righteousness. In other words, after we have partaken of Christ, of the Tree of Life, we now are able to be fed from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We now have the spiritual life and strength to reject the evil and embrace the good.

We are to keep following the Spirit, keep putting to death the deeds of our body, always making certain our heavenly robe is clean. If we do this, when the Lord Jesus returns He will bring that robe with Him and cover our nakedness.

If instead we as a Christian choose to live in the flesh, our heavenly robe becomes filthy with unconfessed sin. There is no passage of the New Testament that tells us even if we keep on walking in the flesh the Lord will keep on washing our robe. It is only as we walk in the light of God's will that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

If our robe in the heavens is filthy, then, in the day of resurrection, we will be clothed with a filthy robe. We will reap the corruption we have sown. Then we will be in an agony of remorse and despair as we realize we have not served the Lord and are not fit for His Kingdom.

Those who participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns, will have kept their garments clean through the blood of the Lamb. They will be clothed in their righteous deeds—the righteous character that has been formed in them as they have put to death through the Spirit their carnal nature and have been given to eat continually of the body and blood of Christ.

When the Lord instructed the members of the church in Laodicea to buy white clothes so the shame of their nakedness would not appear He was speaking of the righteous character that comes as we keep living in His crucifixion and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, as we know, suffered much during his lifetime. Paul stated that his tribulations were creating for him an eternal weight of very great glory.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17—NIV)

Because of what Paul said immediately after mentioning the eternal glory of great weight, we believe this "eternal glory that far outweighs them all" is our house, or robe from Heaven.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3—NIV)

Paul is saying here that our tribulations, when we respond to them correctly by continuing to follow the Lord Jesus, are creating a house from Heaven of a great weight of glory. Since we are going to be clothed with this house I think we can consider the house to be the same as the robe that is mentioned in other passages.

What perfect justice this is! We are going to be clothed in our own conduct.

One can see immediately how different this is from current Christian teaching. Current Christian teaching is that God does not see our sins because we are covered with the blood of Christ. While this may be true at the beginning of our salvation, there is no scriptural basis for our believing it continues to be true throughout our discipleship.

If it were a fact that no matter how we lived we still would participate in the Kingdom of God, being glorified when the Lord appears, then numerous passages of the New Testament would be bringing a false message. How many times did Paul and the other Apostles warn us about the peril of continuing in ungodliness, about the penalty for not becoming the slave of righteousness?

The Lord Jesus had very harsh words for His servants, as expressed in the Gospel accounts. He said if we do not bear fruit we will be cut out of the Vine. By fruit the Lord means the fruit of the Spirit, the moral image of Himself. If we do not experience moral transformation we will be removed from Christ.

The Lord Jesus said if we do not keep full of His Life we will be as the foolish virgins who had the door closed in their face.

The Lord Jesus said if we do not use the Kingdom abilities that have been given to us we will have our gifts taken from us and given to another, and we ourselves will be placed in the outer darkness.

These are very harsh punishments indeed! Today's Christian teaching does not allow for these punishments. The claim is made that when we take the "four steps of salvation we are "covered with the blood"; God sees us only through the blood of Jesus. If this is true throughout our discipleship, then what do we do with the harsh statements of the Lord Jesus?

Do the many warnings of Christ and His Apostles apply to Christian people or do they not? I think we need a hard, straight, scriptural answer to this question right away. Numerous believers are counting on the "covering of the blood" to conceal their behavior from God's sight. I am saying this is a false, unscriptural hope.

If the blood of the Lamb conceals our behavior from God's sight, why, in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, does Christ keep telling the churches that He knows their works?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! Revelation 3:15—NIV)

Well, does Christ actually know our deeds? Is He troubled about our deeds? I think it is time we Christian believers throw out our traditions that are not in line with the unchanging Scriptures!

If I am correct, condemnation is resting on the majority of the believers in America. I think God sees our behavior only too clearly and is telling us to start keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. If we do not our nation is in danger of being brought very low.

Am I correct or not? What do you say? Are you willing to go to the Lord Jesus and ask Him if the majority of the Christian believers in America are under condemnation because they are not turning away from their sins? And if the Lord Jesus tells you this is the truth, what are you going to do about it?

Will you be as Nehemiah who left his life of luxury as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes and traveled to the ruinous dwellings of the Jews as they sought to build the walls of Jerusalem? Will you seek the Lord to see if He would have you leave your comforts and help with the rebuilding of the wall against sin?

Our walls have been torn down by the false teaching that God sees us only through Christ (totally unscriptural) and we need have no fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. No, we have no fear, only of being cut off from Christ; of having the door shut in our face when He returns; of having our talent taken from us and given to another and we ourselves placed in the outer darkness. These are the only fears we have and they are nothing to worry about, are they?

The Lord Jesus said deception would abound prior to His coming. Our grace-rapture-Heaven doctrine is one such deception. It is unscriptural. It is leaving multitudes of believers unprepared for the age of moral horrors we are entering.

Let us review briefly what we are saying in this brief essay. We are explaining that the idea of nakedness and clothing are major concepts of the scriptures. We are suggesting that if Adam and Eve had eaten first of the Tree of Life that God then would have clothed them with skins and begun to instruct them concerning evil, and also would have given them wisdom and strength to embrace the righteous ways of the Lord and to renounce and reject unrighteousness. Little by little they would have been clothed spiritually with the righteousness of Christ, not an assigned righteousness but an actual righteousness proceeding from a transformed moral nature.

Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil revealed to them that they were shamefully naked. This reminds us of the Apostle Paul who said he was not concerned about his covetousness until the Law of Moses underscored the sinfulness of covetousness. But, like Adam and Eve after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Paul found no way to cope with the covetousness. No doubt Paul attempted to stop coveting just as Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves with aprons made from fig leaves.

The believers of the church in Laodicea were counseled by Jesus to buy white clothes to cover the shame of their nakedness. We have been teaching in Christian circles that it is the blood of the Lord Jesus that covers our spiritual nakedness.

But as we study the New Testament we find no passage that states the blood of the Lord covers our spiritual nakedness. Rather we discover the purpose of the blood is to wash our robe. But we are not told what our robe is.

It is obvious if the purpose of the blood is to wash our robe, then the blood itself is not our robe.

What then is our robe? Our robe is a house presently situated in Heaven that is being prepared as a result of our behavior on earth. Tribulations add a great weight of glory to our house in Heaven.

When we sin we are to confess our sin and turn away from it. As we do, the blood of the Lord washes our house in Heaven so it remains spotless.

If we continue to walk in our sinful nature, not confessing our sins or turning away from them, the filth accumulates in our heavenly house.

In the day of resurrection we will be clothed with our house from Heaven. If it is a radiantly white robe, sparkling with purity, we will be part of the royal priesthood. But if it is a filthy robe, then we may be turned away into the outer darkness.

We are being taught today that these things are not so. Rather we are saved and on our way to Heaven on the basis of an unconditional grace, a Divine forgiveness unrelated to our conduct.

One of these two understandings is incorrect. If it is not true that in the day of resurrection we will be clothed with our conduct, then the worst that will happen is we lived a godly life without it having any effect on our condition at the time of our resurrection from the dead.

But if it is a fact, as we are teaching, that we indeed will in the day of resurrection be clothed with our conduct, and we as a Christian have continued to live according to our sinful nature, then we are facing a truly horrible, frightening future.

I know the ministers today are assuring their congregations they need have no fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. They are mistaken. They are leading their congregations astray. They are crying "Peace! peace! when the Lord is saying "Turn from your evil ways before I bring calamity upon you."

I think the wise reader will weigh what we have presented in this essay and search the Scriptures. If he does I am confident that he will be as I—absolutely appalled at how far Christian teaching has drifted from the New Testament.

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. (Ezra 9:3,4—NIV)