A New Life
“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.” Zechariah 3:4
Those of us who have been enslaved by our destructive behaviors have come to know the futile but tempting fantasy of wishing for a new start. Unable to break free from the pathologic behavior that poisons us and our loved ones, we long to go back in time. If only I could begin again. I’d do it differently. We’d probably make the same mistakes, but still, we tell ourselves that we’d do anything for a do-over. Addicted to our broken appetites, we feel the shame and condemnation of the world, and we just want out.
In today’s passage, Zechariah tells of this new life for which we long. In the passage, Zechariah describes a vision in which he sees Joshua – representing God’s people – on trial before Satan, the accuser. Joshua is guilty, clothed in filthy rags – representing the guilt of his sin – when God changes everything by simply replacing his clothes. Just like that, God forgives Joshua’s guilt and Satan is left with no case against him. Just when Joshua’s condemnation seemed certain, he’s forgiven, free, and given a brand-new life.
This new life is exactly what God offers to each of us. No matter what horrific choices we’ve made, we can know the liberating power of God’s grace and mercy. Like Joshua, we can throw off the old rags and put on the pure God-given clothes for which we were made.
This doesn’t mean that all earthly consequences are immediately undone when we come to Christ, but when we stop causing our own destruction, he allows life to return. This also doesn’t mean that all of our destructive appetites are immediately removed. We may come back out with clean clothes eventually, but we can still return to the mud, suffering painful consequences. God doesn’t force us to follow him.
What this new life means, is that we now have the freedom to follow God to a new life every day. If we choose, we can always go back to the old life. But, if we truly want it, we may now know the fantastic new life of faith and recovery for which God made us.