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February 2012 - Satan Rebuked, You Clothed

Satan Rebuked, You Clothed

The prophet Zechariah writes of a vision he was given:  (Zechariah 3:1-4 ESV) 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.  (2)  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?"  (3)  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."

            Martin Luther comments: “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan!” This is a very wonderful and sweet comfort.  Everything is contained in the fullness of this comfort, so neatly has he arranged all his words, as if to say: “From now on, Satan, stop opposing the priest.  The Lord orders all things cursed which you inspire the timid priest to think about and which frighten him from his task.  You are causing him to be downcast before God and to dare nothing before men. You are acting as if the Lord had completely rejected Jerusalem. But the Lord has not done this. On the contrary, He has chosen it and loves it as His own possession.”…

            Everything in this vision is revealed in such a way that the vision declares and reveals God’s will to the priest.  It strengthens the priest so that he no longer doubts that God will approve of his ministry, that his filthy garments have been changed, and that his sin has been taken away.  Now he wears new cloths, that is, a happy and joyful conscience which no longer flees God but hopes for every good thing.  Thus the fresh clothes do not mean works but grace and faith.

            So it is for you children of God.  Satan can rightly accuse you before God for you are by nature sinful and unclean, committing all manner of sin and rebellion against God and harm toward your neighbor on a daily basis.  Indeed, the devil constantly whispers accusations of your guilt to you as well.   Like Joshua, he would weigh you down and cripple you with guilt.  Are there not times when all you can see is your guilt, feel nothing but shame and failure before God?  The accuser would love nothing more than have you focused inwardly on yourself, for there is nothing there but sin and weakness.

            But your loving Lord says: “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan!”  And He does!  Because of the blessed work of Jesus upon the cross, your sinful guilt has been paid for in full and satan can accuse you of NOTHING!  In the blessed waters of your baptism, you have been given extra assurance that you have been washed absolutely clean in Christ, indeed, you have been clothed in His very righteousness.  Galatians 3:27 ESV  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.   Again, like Joshua, your filthy, sinful garments have been removed, and instead you have been clothed with “pure vestments”!

            Remember, no matter what the devil may say to you or try and discourage you, know that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV)  You are clean in God’s eyes, given His grace, strength, and Spirit and thus enabled to serve the Lord with gladness – namely, loving your neighbor with the same love you have first been shown by your Lord.  “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan!” Fire that salvo off whenever the devil begins to attack, for he is rebuked and defeated in Jesus!    

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