Filthy Garments

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.... Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. (Zechariah 3:1, 3)

Satan relies on our faults of character as his excuse to demand the withdrawal of Christ's protection from our life.
Satan is the one who has clothed us with filthy rags.
Those filthy rags are called sin and shame and are identified as an attitude of dis-allegiance to God.
Satan's accusations center around the fairness of God.
Christ is the one who causes our iniquity to pass from us and transfers them to Himself.
He puts on us His own robe woven in the loom of heaven.
To be 'in Christ' must be synonymous with being covered with the identity and filled in character with the disposition of Jesus Christ. The robe has Jesus Christ clearly woven into the fabric as its identity; it totally and clearly belongs to Him and not to us, yet He declares that we are to wear His clothes and be filled with His Spirit.

The logic that Satan is relying on in his arguments about us and the type of justice in heaven he is trying to manipulate is rather different than what we are used to seeing here. Evidently his logic must have had compelling force at some point or he would not be still trying to use it. He must be exploiting what appears to be a weakness in the system of heaven, in God's way of dealing with His beings or he would not even try to use such an argument in the first place.

Strongly implied here is the idea that everyone must get what they deserve. That is the basis upon which he demands that we not remain under God's protection from our enemy. Never mind that it was Satan's temptations that lured us into distrusting God; Satan is relying on a principle of reality that heaven respects and uses continuously. What is that underlying principle?

I suspect his arguments have something to do with the very issue of Satan's own lost condition. He became outraged when he learned long ago that he had gone too far to return into the favor of God. At that point he determined to expose God as a fraud, to prove that God's justice was unfair because God seemed to be imposing evil punishment on Satan and his fallen angels arbitrarily. After that Satan determined that no one else should ever get grace from God if he too couldn't be allowed to participate in it. Evidently his accusations and animosity seems to be over the existence of grace and what it really means.

From Satan's viewpoint grace is arbitrary unfairness, a loophole in the justice of God, a fault in the very character of God that Satan is determined in every way possible to expose by hook or crook and by the use of any deception. He contests every single case that comes up for question and especially those who are choosing to embrace God's grace and who are being transformed by it. Evidently, at least at some time in history, Satan's logic and arguments must have carried considerable influence in the minds of thoughtful beings throughout the universe or he would not continue trying to use the same arguments. Evidently Satan has been able to make his accusations stick enough in some minds that God still has to counteract his insinuations with methods and means that will expose the accuser.

Satan is always trying to bring doubt into minds about the integrity of God's character and government. God in response never indulges in accusing Satan, but through the means of the death of Jesus He has created a way by which He can expose the falsity of Satan's claims by having him expose his own true character. Paul notes that the real issue at stake in the universe is the fairness and justice of God and he states that through Christ God is able to be seen as just while at the same time justifying repentant sinners.

A garment seems to be the sign of identity that is seen on a person by those in the know, those operating in the supernatural realms. That identity emanates from the heart and mind and becomes the character that begins to take shape inside. It is somehow important that our own perception of our true identity and value aligns with what God declares about us for this latter process to become effective; otherwise, we are in danger of absorbing Satan's assertions about our identity and will end up absorbing and remaining infected with his claims about our character. This is where the issue of belief becomes so vitally important. What we believe about what Satan or God says about us ends up becoming the reality that shapes and defines us and ultimately shapes our character and destiny.

What about this word iniquity? I have heard it taught that iniquity is the inherited tendencies toward certain sins we receive generationally. If that is true, it is interesting what implications that has on the statement that Jesus transfers our iniquities onto Himself. He not only takes the consequences of our choices to rebel against God, our acts of treason and the pain we have caused in other hearts, but He also somehow absorbs within Himself the effects of the generational curses that we have received.

How does this relate to Satan's accusing us in heaven's justice system in his attempts to steal away the protection of Christ?

Maybe this gives God permission to expose the diabolical nature of Satan himself by simply pointing to what Satan did to Jesus at the cross. Since God will never accuse anyone, not even the great accuser himself, by allowing Jesus, the very Son of God who was totally perfect and never did anything to deserve any sort of punishment, to receive to Himself all the abuse, rage and malice that boils in the heart of Satan, God has created a way to expose Satan's true nature without accusing him directly. Before the onlooking, evaluating, discerning universe of extremely intelligent, free moral beings, God can vindicate His own character and fairness in each case committed to Him on earth, those who choose His salvation, by both reminding onlookers of what Satan did at the cross and the fact that Jesus absorbed Himself all the consequences of the sins of those He is now shielding as His own.

I am becoming convinced that the bulk of God's justice system is based what goes on in the minds of unfallen beings who are so delicately discerning and free of all fear or coercion that even God Himself allows them to question every action and decision He makes. God's method of vindicating Himself has always been and will always be to appeal to the sense of fairness of His created beings while never defending Himself directly. In this way, and only in this way, can He ultimately secure a universe devoid of all sin, all disloyalty and yet totally free without the slightest trace of intimidation, coercion or fear anywhere. Pure love requires pure freedom to love or turn away from it, otherwise it cannot exist in its pure form. That is the kind of heaven that God intends to have for all of us for eternity.

This piece was written as a meditation on the April 12 reading from the devotional book That I May Know Him.


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