My first week in the military was kind of interesting. Arriving at Fort Jackson on a chartered bus that had picked up a whole bunch of us in the wee hours of the morning on that October day in 1976, the 'unknown' caused all of us more than a little trepidation. As we unloaded our suitcases and gathered around it became clear this would be a life-changing venture! In rather short order, the orders were being barked out to divide each of us into groups and then serving to usher us off to our temporary housing. The dawn came way too early and those jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts were all exchanged for olive drab shirts, socks, caps, and pants, white undershirts, and black boots. All the same, no one standing out any longer as unique. Those clothes we brought along for the journey were all taken from us, locked away until our final day at boot camp, never to be worn again until we were officially finished 'becoming soldiers'. Why did they insist on clothing us with the same uniform? Why was it we couldn't just wear our jeans and t-shirts? I think it was because they were showing us we 'belonged' to them now!
In much the same way, our 'baptism' into Christ results in an exchange of 'clothing' of sorts. We have all our dirty and torn garments of sin removed and we receive the robes of righteousness in their place. We are marked out as no longer belonging to sin, but to righteousness - to God himself. We might forget this exchange of 'attire' because it isn't like we actually go to the closet and pull out those garments everyday, but maybe we need to begin to think of it that way. Every day dawns with a chance to 'put on' again the righteousness of Christ. It isn't that we are getting 'saved' all over everyday, but that we are reminded of whose we are by the garments we are adorned with for that day's battles. What are our garments? What do they resemble? If you begin to examine them, you might just get a little insight into how much God wants us to see ourselves no longer as we were, but what we have become!
Grace is a garment, effectively covering over our sin and removing it in much the same way an undergarment would cover over the less 'sightly' parts of our body. Truth is like that green cap we were issued in the military - covering over our minds and surrounding them in such a way we are surrounded with what will counteract all untruth. Peace is like the socks and boots we wear everyday, feet protected, steps ordered, the chaos of sin no longer causing us to stumble and fall. Chest protected by God's infusion of fresh faith - heart renewed, spirit uplifted, and emotions brought into perfect adjustment. Freedom is marked by the pants we put on - for they allow us to move unhindered and with agility. There are probably a lot of 'righteousness characteristics' we could use to describe our 'new garments', but these are just a few to get you to thinking about what God gives in the way of 'righteousness garments'.
We don't put on new garments over old. Maybe this is why the military took away all the old and gave us only that which was new - to remind us we were being made into something new. God does something similar in giving us his garments of righteousness - reminding us we are being made into something new. Our part is to give up the old and to adorn ourselves with the new. We might want to return to the old if they weren't removed from us. The old isn't going to 'leave us' unless we let it go. We have to be willing to forsake the old to take on the new. Getting anything new is only of benefit to us if we actually put it to use! Put on the garments of righteousness God has given today. Mind twirling, all manner of noise pestering your thoughts all day - put on truth and observe how well your thoughts begin to order themselves. Heart churning, emotions jumping here and there - adorn yourself with the peace of God and see how settled you become. Put on - but don't forget to allow the old to be 'locked away' so you don't return to that closet any longer! Just sayin!