Filthy garment: so many teachings or doctrines and sermons have been built around this term. The word filthy garment can also mean filthy rag. It’s apt to say that the filthy garment is a representation of something because it is not a stand only. Plainly, it means a garment that is dirty. But when it is connected to someone’s character the meaning changes. Then, it connotes dirty character or unrighteousness. Prophet Isaiah used it this way;
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
The stipulation of the above verse indicates that filthy rags or garment is used to qualify the righteousness of man. It means that, the righteousness of man in the sight of God is very dirty. Also, it implies that no matter how best man tries his righteousness worth nothing before God. Those who put on filthy rags or garment are those whose characters are dirty before God. Here putting on filthy garment means an identity. It is because the individual in question has been identified with it. On the other hand, it means a declaration of unrighteousness on someone who bears the tag.
Filthy Garment And The Believer:
In addressing believers in Christ sometimes the usage of the word filthy garment has been misconstrued. This erroneous approach is as a result of the misinterpretation of these verses below.
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.”
From the verses above, many sermons and teachings have been written indicting believers as people putting on filthy garments. The right doctrine is that no believer in Christ is putting on filthy garment. This is because the believer in Christ is not Joshua the High Priest and vice versa. There is a big difference between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of Christ. Let’s see what Apostle Paul said in this regard.
“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
The Righteousness Of The Law:
The verse above indicates that there’s what is called the righteousness of the law. Also there’s what is called righteousness which is of faith in Christ. Joshua the High Priest operated on the scale of what is called the righteousness of the law. The righteousness of the law is obtainable by the level of obedience of an individual to the Law. This law is called the law of sin and death. In the same vein, the righteousness obtainable by faith in Christ is buttressed by the law of Spirit of life in Christ. Let’s see how Apostle Paul established this fact in Romans.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The reality is that under the law of sin and death, which produces the righteousness of the law, no one was able to obtain righteousness. This was because no one was able to fulfill its demands. The lack of the ability to fulfill its demands is attributed to the weakness of man’s flesh. Let’s see how Apostle Paul puts it again in the same chapter in Romans.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Jesus Fulfilled The Demands Of The Law:
However, the only person that was able to fulfill its demands is Christ. As a result of this, the potency of the law of sin and death over man is made null and void. Therefore, the potency of the law of Spirit of life takes precedence over the law of sin and death. Now the believer is someone who has believed in the finished work of Christ. This implies that he is someone who has identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Simply put he is someone who has put on Christ. See Galatians 3:27.
Putting on Christ implies putting on the righteousness that is according to faith in Christ. The believer is found in the righteousness of Christ not in his own righteousness. The believer has no righteousness because it wasn’t his own righteousness that saved him. Apostle Paul describing the nature of the believer before God states thus;
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.”
2 Corinthians 2:15
The believer’s image is concealed in Christ. One cannot put on Christ and a filthy garment is revealed. The identity of the believer is rooted in Christ and therefore, the nature of the believer is established in Christ. There is no filthiness in Christ! A believer is not filthy. Again, Apostle Paul puts it this way;
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Filthy Garment Is Taken Away By Christ:
Jesus was delivered for the offenses of the believer and then He was raised for the justification of the believer. The believer has been justified by the reason of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The believer has put on Christ not filthy garment!
About The Author:
Pastor Chukwuemeka Asiegbu is the Pastor of Saved In The Lord Evangelical Ministry Inter’l. He has authored many books and he’s behind several online Christian articles.
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