Sin 18: Clothing

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 15, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The very first post I wrote for Worldview Warriors way back in January 2014 was titled The Doctrine of Clothing. This is a perfect time to revisit that issue. To recap where this series has been recently, first we have to have a proper understanding of what sin truly is. Sin exposes us as naked and ashamed and our response to that should be brokenness. Once we are broken before God, we recognize that we are dust and will return to dust and with that we must confess our sin as sin before God. When we confess our sin before God with a broken and contrite heart, God in His great mercy and grace will cover our sin. The very reason why mankind, and mankind alone, wears any kind of clothing is because of the issue of sin. It, by itself, is a picture of the Gospel.

Clothing is literally a covering for the most intimate parts of our bodies. When exposed, it is akin to us showing what we really are and who we really are. When we are naked, we expose our true selves, and nothing is hidden. Yet, before the omniscient and omnipresent eyes of God, we are always naked before Him. There is nothing hidden from His sight, not even our thoughts. If parents and teachers can read what kids are thinking before they do it, how much more so can God Himself?

We should be grieved even more as we examine our sin against God, knowing He is such a good and merciful God, because it’s not merely spitting in His face for being God, but spitting in the face of His gift of mercy. That is why we must be broken before God and confess our sin to Him with a broken and contrite heart, grieving over the fact that we have violated and profaned our Maker. Yet, God still loves us and still offers us hope. He covers our sin.

But not just any covering will do. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people try to cover their sin, but they make it so blatantly obvious that they did something wrong. I’m the same. It takes lots of practice with a poker face to put on a straight face when we sin. When that happens, it only shows how determined someone is to sear their own conscience and shut out the voice of the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves the moment they realized they were naked by sewing fig leaves together. They were naked the whole time, but they had no fear of God before. Now, they were ashamed of their nakedness and afraid of God. They tried to hide it. How foolish! I know it’s easy to look back and see it, but we are no different. We’d do the same thing.

The only covering that works is God’s covering. He clothed Adam and Eve with skins of an animal. This is significant because this is the first picture of the Gospel. The penalty of sin is death, and in order for any mercy to be granted, SOMEONE has to die in man’s place. And not just any person – someone who does not have the same sin debt. Adam, prior to eating of the fruit, could have (and should have) died in Eve’s place by standing before God and protecting her, saying, “Take me instead.” But he didn’t; he engaged in eating of the fruit too, and therefore he needed coverage of his own. So, God did what was in His plan all along: He provided the substitution. It was initially an innocent animal that did no wrong, however this would never be enough as an animal, not being a man, could not actually substitute in for man. Only the God man, Jesus Christ, could do that job.

So far this is just the Gospel aspect of clothing and covering. There is a practical side of it, too. As Jesus covers our sins with His blood, when in the context of other believers, we should cover each other’s sins, too. There is a way to do this and a way not to do this. There is absolutely a place for grace and not exposing one’s “dirty laundry” out in public. However, this is NOT allowance for sweeping things under the rug. The Southern Baptist Convention has been in hot water recently because it is now coming out that they were having a very similar scandal as was exposed in the Roman Catholic Church 20 years ago: a cover up of the sexual abuse by pastors and church leaders. The Boy Scouts have been implicated in a similar scandal. It is disturbing that organizations like this would repeatedly sweep things like this under the rug to avoid the shame of it happening and then use “grace” as an excuse for not dealing with it. That is NOT what covering of sin looks like.

Covering of sin will deal with sin in-house, except when there is a legal obligation to report to the government. And frankly, sexual abuse is something that has to be reported. When there is covering of sin, it is not just hiding it or putting it away. It means dealing with it without public humiliation. If a church leader is struggling with pornography or something like that, it is fine for a church to keep that private, but they also need to put that leader into church discipline protocols and deal with and confront the issue. Growing up, when I did things that were wrong and they were in-house, it was dealt with in house; but it was dealt with.

God wants to grant mercy and He offers grace, but it is never without discipline and correction. And that is the next aspect of the proper response to sin: repentance. The covering of sin should be partnered with a broken, contrite, and repentant heart. In the discipline structure Jesus gave, start one-on-one, then bring in one or two witnesses, then bring in the church before a public rebuke. In each of these cases, the ideal is to keep it as much in-house as possible with the goal of restoration, but in none of these cases is there ever to be a mere sweeping it under the rug to ignore it. To cover sin requires confronting it and dealing with it while maintaining that person’s dignity. Part of that process requires repentance.

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