This is a sequel to the last blog. Read the last blog first please.
In my last blog, I talked about how God wants us to be truly beautiful people. I spoke of the inspired words of Peter speaking of the beauty of the inward parts, of the heart (1 Peter 5:1-4). We saw how God sees not as a man sees, looking on outward appearances, but on the heart. Jesus said the Pharisees were like beautiful, freshly painted tombs outwardly – but inside, were full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27). Ouch! That’s not where we want to be, so why do we strive so hard to put a fresh coat of paint on the outward tomb? Or perhaps we can compare it to the makeup being put on to a corpse. We died spiritually. We have a new life in Christ. That is where the true beauty is.
But as I re-read my own blog, I realized I didn’t explain enough about HOW one becomes spiritually beautiful, as God regards true beauty? Are there things WE have to do? WHO makes us beautiful? I hate it when I’m told to be or do something, but no one says HOW.
I think some may have misunderstood this part from my last blog. I hope you will dig out your Bible and study in your own Bible all the verses I point to in this blog.
Can you make yourself spiritually beautiful? Can you?
In Isaiah 61:10, we are clothed with the garments of yeshua (salvation) by Yah! By the great God. Those garments are compared to the adornments that a bride and groom put on before their wedding, but it’s clear WHO puts them on us or at least who provides the clothing.
I will greatly rejoice in YHVH, My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For HE has clothed me with the garments of salvation (yesa in Hebrew – same root to yeshua),
HE has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
In ancient weddings, the one putting on the wedding provided exquisite garments for the guests. If they did not put on what was provided for them, it was considered the highest insult, as we read in Matthew 22:1-14, especially verses 11-13. The one without a wedding garment in that parable was the one who simply refused to change his soiled, cheap garments and put on what the King had provided.
You see, we might think we are OK as we are. We are not. We need to let Him give us garments of His righteousness to change into. Many scriptures tell us HE gives us the garments of His covering, His righteousness, but we put them on. We need to take off the filthy rags of our own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6), which simply do not measure up to the requirements of the righteousness of God which He offers to us, by faith. So we take our spiritual clothes off – but spiritual nakedness is not acceptable either. That was the Laodicean problem. God is not into public nakedness. They were naked. Laodiceans had gone only part-way. They had removed their own clothing but had not accepted HIS righteousness, HIS garments of salvation -- and so they were still spiritually naked (please study Revelation 3:17-22).
My point in this blog is this: to be beautiful, we look to God who is the one who knows how to make all things beautiful. He is the One who gives us, who shares with us His beauty, HIS salvation, His glory – and our job is to believe, accept it, and put it on with utmost gratitude.
There’s so much more. Please read the rest of this blog to find out what our part is and what God’s part is. What about “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? You’ll be surprised, but all to the glory of God.
I can’t – by myself—make my heart or “inward man” – beautiful. I can’t. And you can’t either. But we can, and we MUST, accept whatever HE wants to do in us, for us and with us. We have to accept His invitation – but HE provides the beautiful wedding garments and the wonderful food at the wedding banquet. But we do have to respond. We do have to be open to what He is doing. He wants to make you beautiful – and our job is to say “thank you, Master” and submit to His work in us and then display the fruit of HIS righteousness (Philippians 1:11; John 15:4-5), like a good branch attached to the Vine does. The Vine produces the fruit. The branch holds it up and displays it – and puts it out there for others to eat of it, and benefit from the work of the vine or tree. We are saved by HIS grace, not by our own works, so that no one can boast. See Ephesians 2:8-10. But don’t’ miss verse 10 either.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand that WE should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 gives us the whole story in a nutshell. HE saves us. Our conversion and obedience by HIS power and HIS might is proof of His saving work. Our life’s works change now. The changing going on is “HIS workmanship” (v. 10), so we can walk a new walk, in good works, that HE prepared for us. And it says “that we should walk in them”. We do have to have a new, changed walk - - meaning our way of life does change. Our life now proves our love for Messiah by letting Him live again in us, this time obediently.
“If you love me, keep my commandments”, the Messiah himself said in John 14:15 and John 15:10, 1 John 3:3-6. But it has to be Christ in us doing it, by faith, or it’s our own works and that won’t cut it!
So Paul clarifies later that our old self dies in baptism and the life we now live we live by the faith of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20), for if righteousness were possible just by us striving to keep the law, “then Christ died in vain” (Verse 21). Paul calls our life – “Christ who is our life…” – see Colossians 3:2-4. Are we getting it? It’s the resurrected Christ in us who is now perfecting and completing us “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). I ask you to re-read slowly – Philippians 3:9-11. Read it several times. It is now HIS work, HIS righteousness we receive by believing, by faith. We can’t strive to become perfect or strive to qualify for the kingdom. We are in Christ, and he is perfection. He has qualified and therefore He has qualified us in him (slowly read Colossians 1:12-14). And He in us continues to live obediently.
Are we getting it? It’s HIS work. It’s Him living again in you and me. It’s us now living by the power of HIS resurrection, as Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:9-11. HE needs to be living in us now. And Jesus will live in you now the way He lived the first time: joyfully, humbly and obediently. But it is HIS life, HIS beauty, HIS spirit, HIS heart – now in us.
Now THAT is beautiful. Now when Abba our dear heavenly Father sees you – He sees you in Messiah – He sees us as ONE body, the Messiah’s perfect, holy and beautiful life. THEREIN is also your eternal beauty – in HIM.
Even the often quoted verse that says we are to work out our own salvation goes ON to say who does it and HOW it is done. But verse 13 is rarely quoted. This time, let’s read all of it.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU both to WILL [the desire] and TO DO for HIS good pleasure”.
I’m suspicious of people who won’t read verse 13 in Philippians 2. Or they won’t ever quote Gal. 2:21, though they love Gal. 2:20. We have to be honest with God’s word and preach ALL of it.