Of Garments and Bad Apples
By Eli Stutzman
July 1, 2011
If we had a few barrels of apples and put them into cold storage at perfect temperature and humidity, sooner or later one apple would rot. Then another and another until they are all affected. As you have heard said, one bad apple will rot the whole barrel.
Pure, perfect holiness is hard to define because I have never seen it. Nor have you. Like the wind, we can only define what it does. Think of the barrels of apples all being perfect and without the enzyme that brings on rotting. Then the batch would last for 25, maybe 50 or even more years. Or even eternally.
Heaven is kind of like that. There can be no imperfection in heaven. That is what is taught in the passage below.
Matthew 22: 11-12; "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless."
I am sure his garment was the best he had, but it would not do for the wedding. The parable's real meaning is that we cannot enter heaven on our own righteousness, but we have to have the garment of righteousness that is supplied by the master of the house. When I look at your righteousness, I may very well be impressed. Yet like an apple that looks good now, does not look good when it rots. That tiny imperfection that begins the process of rotting will in due time consumes the whole barrel. If heaven allowed slight imperfections, eternity would be at risk.
This brings us to the meaning of the garment. Jesus lived a perfect life. He is willing to cover our lives with His if we will allow Him to take over. The downfall of Adam and Eve looked hopeless since man was now incapable of perfection and holiness. It looked like Satan had won. The best we could do was obedience to a degree. We could obey the law and hope that the good would outweigh the bad. The problem is any bad is too much for heaven. Even one small sin will spoil our eternal life.
James 2:10, "for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all".
Holiness cannot live alongside with mine and your best efforts. And we know that God is holy. Nothing impure can be in his presence. So we need a righteousness that cannot be earned. It can only be imputed to us. The German word for "imputed" is "gerechnet." It's a lot like the word "reckoning", a term used in accounting. The translation actually renders the Greek word "elogisthē" as "reckoning" in some places and "imputed" in others. We might ‘reconcile' our check book against the bank statement. The end result of reckoning is reconciliation.
If I reckon that I have $25 in my pocket, it will do me no good unless I can pull it out and spend it. A bank statement is a good way to describe how it works. If a wealthy man were to put a large sum of money into your account, you would reckon it to be true. Thus you would treat it as such and spend it. Reckoning reflects a truth. Now that you understand the word "imputed" lets look at the following:
Romans 4:20-25 "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
So now we have Jesus coming into the picture. Think of it; how would you feel having a record of righteousness as high as that of Jesus? That is exactly what is being offered when we call upon the name of the Lord. That is the only way to be truly holy enough to stand before a holy God. Anything less will not do. Are you dressed in the wedding garment that God offers?
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