Dealing With Dirty Laundry

Jeff Forgiveness, grace

In your heart there needs to be an assurance of a right standing before God.  Guilt in our hearts produces doubts in our minds which can, over time, undermine the prospect of joy and reality of spiritual potency in our lives.  Zechariah was an Old Testament prophet who, 2500 years ago, received a series of intense visions from God.  In the verses below we learn some of how Satan works against the people of God by provoking in us an unhealthy focus on our “dirtiness” before God.  Depending on your temperament, church affiliation, childhood or other influential forces, you likely lean towards either easily focusing upon what is wrong with you or easily focusing upon what is right.  For those with sensitive hearts, struggles with feelings of unworthiness or perpetually guilty consciences there is fertile ground for Satan’s ministry of accusation. The scriptures portray Satan as a deceitful angelic being who utilizes lies and accusation as a potentially lethal weaponry against the followers of Christ.  Below in Zechariah 3:1-5 we see that he accuses the High Priest, Joshua. In Job 1:6-11 we catch a rare glimpse of Satan being allowed in the presence of God whereupon he accuses Job to God.  In Revelation 12:9-10 we learn that Satan does not change his tactics even unto the end of the age as He is seen to be the accuser of the justified.  Joshua, Job and the justified…maybe those of us with names beginning with J should be concerned.

“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.  And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.” – Zechariah 3:1-5

If we constantly focus on our unworthiness before a holy God we will not sense the reality of His overcoming grace to us nor His lavish acceptance of us as His own children.  As we read the words of Zechariah we should joyfully receive the display of God’s devotion to and defense of His chosen ones.  He rushes to our aid and puts our guilt-accusing enemy in his place.  Notice the 3-fold slapdown of Satan in the form of a 3-fold advocacy of the accused Joshua:  the Lord defends Joshua, the angel of the Lord defends Joshua and Zechariah even comes to Joshua’s aid in before the passage ends. Clearly, the lies of our enemy against us are able to be countered with the relentless grace of Christ through the lavish work of the Gospel. Christ has done for us in a final sense what is pictured here in Zechariah’s vision.  Our guilt is permanently removed as were Joshua’s visibly stained garments.  We are then clothed in a righteousness that cannot be undermined or condemned just as Joshua was not left unclothed but given pure robes in place of the previously removed dirty ones. Lastly, a clean turban was placed atop Joshua’s head as if to crown the entire process with unarguable affirmation.  Here’s another amazing factor: Joshua did not utter a single word in his own defense.  He could not claim innocency because his stains were real.  Though they were real, they were not lasting because God saw to it that His child was defended and justified.  You need not answer Satan’s accusations with self-assertion, comparative reason, or moral arguments- he has the facts correct in that we are sinners.  What is incorrect is Satan’s lie that our sins have the final say.  They do not because God’s grace abounds above our sin (Romans 5:20).  We declare that we are indeed unworthy of God’s love and grace but, like the humbled Joshua, we leave our defense to the One who has spoken over all the ages with words of grace and forgiveness. Notice also that Satan goes silent once Joshua has been justified by God.  He may try to answer us if we lift up our own arguments but the enemy has nothing to say to our pardoning Father because the pardon is final and authoritative.

Remember today that our God has dealt with ALL of our guilt through the payment of Jesus.  Your robes are white before the Lord.  Your slate is new.  Your past guilt is cast away, your present imperfection is met with abounding grace and your future is sealed by the very One who began this whole process in the first place.  Do not assign credibility to that lying voice which wants to take you back to your dirty laundry and remind you of your stains.  You have washed, my friend.  Washed thoroughly and eternally by pierced hands which are holding you in their strength.