I woke this morning with a picture in my mind.
The picture was of a man, beaten, bloody, dirty, covered in sores, tattered clothes, and filth. A man lost and without hope, worn down, and devoid of anything good.
And yet it was not.
As I looked on, the image of his body flashed to that of a man finely garbed, clean, standing upright with hope, light, joy, and peace in his countenance.
The image flashed back and forth in my mind.
I could only think of but one passage as this image faded into the background of my wakefulness.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV): 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Abba, when we look at ourselves, often we only see the decaying man.
Our sins, failures, and filth scream at us from the forefront of our minds.
It is easy to see our impatience; our discontent with our status in life
It is easy to see our irritability and crankiness when we fail to obtain the desires of our hearts
It is easy to see that we often desire many others things more than we desire you.
It is easy to see the envy and jealousy that rises in our lustful and greedy hearts.
It is easy to see our resentment, anger, and bitterness at the treatments we receive from the hands of others.
It it easy to see the selfishness that we elevate over the needs and cares of others.
It is easy to see the lust of the flesh that desires its own satisfaction at any cost.
It is easy to see the greed that leads us to foolish choices with devastating consequences.
It is easy to see the attachments of this world that rob us of our joy in you
It It is easy to see the idolatry of our hearts in elevating created thing to the place of ruler in our lives.
It is easy to see the decaying man.
And we groan with sorrow, grief, and despair over that reality.
For the new man you have put in us longs to be free of the old man with its ways and its filth.
Yes, we are all too focused upon those failures at times and all we see is death and decay and it leads us to despair.
But that is not the image you want left in our minds.
For you, Abba, see us very differently.
You see us clothed in the righteousness of your son.
Jesus, in all your perfection and righteous beauty, you died and rose again in order that YOUR righteousness will be imputed, imparted to us and that we our filth might be covered with a righteousness owned by another; You.
Upon our repentance and faith, your strip us of our filth, cleansing us with your shed blood, washing us clean and taking your clean garment of righteousness and reclothing us with your beauty and worth!
The beauty and glory and such a gift…..it’s too much, Abba! It is overwhelming and outrageously extravagant! To be clothed in your righteousness, Jesus….to be indwelt with your presence, Spirit, and to be loved with Your love so rich, Abba…
Who are we? Who are we that you would love us so and give so much to us!?
You are ever working in us to drive out the old man with its filth and stink of death. You are cleansing and sanctify us to be in practice what you have already made us to be in position before you. You are not yet done with us but continue this work of righteousness in us, making us in practice what we already are in position before your presence!
Abba, we see only filth and death at times.
May we see, and be humbled by, the righteousness you have granted to us through Jesus.
May we not treat lightly upon the forgiveness and grace you have extended to us, taking for granted that it is easily accessible to us through Jesus. May not treat it lightly, using it as an excuse for sin since we know your forgiveness is but a breath away.
Paul’s horror at such an attitude screams at us from Romans 6.
May we rest in the confidence and hope that we are garbed in your righteousness, Jesus. And may we strive, by your presence and power, Spirit, to live righteously knowing that every sin we commit was part of that old man which you have stripped us of in order to clothe us in the righteousness of Christ that we now carry.
And may this reality of what you have done for us, fill us with hope, joy, peace, and worship that today drives us towards you with thankful and humble hearts to walk worthy of so rich a gift.
We love you, Abba.