Wedding dresses across our cultures vary greatly, but one thing that is true for most of our cultures is that what the bride and groom wear is important. In China the wedding dress is expected to be a vibrant red. In India the bride wears multiple lavish outfits, one for each of the various ceremonies. In the U.S. a bride is expected to wear a white gown. If she walks down the aisle in a black cocktail dress or a pair of jeans, certain attitudes are conveyed and the crowd (at least the women) will think she is not taking her commitment very seriously. They won’t see her as a bride, just a girl at a party.
Today, let’s take a look at our wedding garments and what they mean to us as believers.
Man and woman were created without sin, they walked with God in a perfect relationship. There was nothing hidden between them. Genesis 2:25 reads,
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed
There was nothing at all hindering a completely open communion between them. There was no sin, so there was no reason for shame. But then sin entered the world. The man and his wife were deceived, they listened to the perverted words of the serpent and disobeyed God and they fell out of that perfect union with the Lord. When their eyes were opened after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first thing they noticed was their nakedness, their bareness and their first reaction was to cover it up and hide (Genesis 3:7-8). The Lord knew what they had done. He knew where they were but He responded in love, He called out to them, not with wrath but with gentleness and what were His first acts after they confessed? He gave them names. He named Adam and Adam named his wife, Eve. Genesis 3:21 records the act that accompanied their new names,
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
This is a simple verse but it holds more than first meets the eye. The Lord spilled blood, He sacrificed an animal and made the couple garments and covered their nakedness, their shame with the clothes He had made. This was a loving act of forgiveness.
Our old garments represent our sinful state. Zechariah 3:3-5 reads,
Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 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.” 5 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.
No matter what we do on our own, no matter how clean we pretend our clothes are, or how many righteous acts we do, we can’t do anything about our iniquity. Isaiah 64:6 reads,
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
The first man and woman tried to cover their own sin by making their own clothes. Their act was inadequate. The Lord had told them the consequence for sin would be death (Genesis 2:17) and death entered the world that day. It took a death, it took blood to forgive their sin and restore their righteousness.
The garments God gives us represent righteousness Isaiah 61:10 describes the garments as wedding clothes.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
These garments are required for salvation. We can’t be in a relationship with God based on our own goodness. We can only be in a relationship with God based on the righteousness He gives us. Revelation 19:6-9 describes The Wedding Feast of the Lamb, Our Eternity in perfect and complete union with the Lord, Jesus Christ the Bridegroom,
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”--
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
The bride was ready, she had clothed herself with the proper attire. Blessed are those who are invited, but not everyone who is invited will be admitted. In Matthew 22:2-11 Jesus tells the story of the Wedding Feast. The story ends with the people who answer the invitation enjoying the wedding, but one man had come and chosen not to wear his wedding clothes. Verses 11-14 of that passage read,
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
We can clothe ourselves in Jesus’ righteousness, with the garments He gives us, or we can clothe ourselves with self-righteousness, pagan religions, and good karma. Zephaniah 1:7-8 says it this way,
Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
and consecrated his guests.
8 And on the day of the Lord's sacrifice--
“I will punish the officials and the king's sons
and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
What does that mean for us practically? How do we clothe ourselves in the beautiful pure linen wedding garments? It begins with sincere repentance. Repentance is not merely saying, “I’m sorry” it is an understanding that breaks the heart and is demonstrated genuinely,
Joel 2:12-14 describes repentance like this,
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?
We tear our hearts, not our outer appearance. We take the garments of righteousness from Christ and let Him give us new hearts. And He does. Isaiah 61:1-3 describes what Jesus does for us,
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified
So once we’ve repented and God has given us these beautiful new clothes, what does that look like? Paul describes it in Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The righteousness of Christ is revealed in faith. We have faith in the power of God for our salvation, for our sanctification. Our lives lived in faith destroys Satan. Revelation 12:9-11 reads,
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
How can faith do that? Because faith is not faith unless it is expressed. I can shout all day long that I know the bridge won’t collapse, but unless I walk across it, my faith is not real. James said our faith is revealed by what we do. James 2:14-18 reads,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Is your faith evident? Are you wearing the garments God gave you, the garments of Jesus’ righteousness or are you trying to get by with clothes that might look good enough? Are you ready and dressed for The Wedding Feast of the Lamb?