Garments of Grace; A Garment of Innocence

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:7

As soon as sin began legalism began. Adam tried to cover his shame by his own works. However that did not work. Just three verses after Adam makes his own garment, he tells God he ran from Him because he was naked. Why did Adam feel naked after making the fig leaves? Because in the presence of God we look naked, clothed in our own works. Later in verse 21 God clothes Adam in sheepskins, showing him that for his nakedness to be covered the Lamb of God would have to die. Only the death of the Lamb of God can cover our spiritual nakedness.

 

Many look at the modesty, or lack thereof, issue in the light of sex. As we become more and more comfortable seeing everybody’s flesh, sexual immorality is abounding. There is a greater danger to immodesty than just sexual immorality. To really see the danger of immodesty we must look at it in light of the cross. The greatest danger is not immoral sex, but not sensing our shame and need of a Savior. Thus modesty becomes a salvation issue.

Let’s begin in the Garden of Eden. Contrary to popular belief, while Adam and Eve “were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” it was not exactly like a nudist colony today. Page 311 of Christ’s Object Lessons says, “A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.” 

So they weren’t really walking around naked as we think of the word “naked” to begin with. They had a covering. This is why Adam felt naked when he sinned; the covering had been lost. By his own works he tried to cover his nakedness with fig leaves (his own works) but that did not work.. Likewise today, our good works can never cover our spiritual nakedness. Even after making his own clothes from fig leaves, Adam still felt naked in God’s presence. Only Jesus could cover Adam’s shame. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Here is the whole modesty issue in light of the cross. An animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and shame. Likewise Jesus would have to die naked on a cross in order to ultimately cover our shame. Those who have a sense of modesty and nakedness know they need a Savior to cover their shame. Those who have no sense of shame and modesty sense no need of a Savior.

So more than being a sex issue, proper dress becomes a salvation issue that can only be properly understood, as all other doctrines, in the light of the cross. The fact of the matter is, the further away from God we are the more clothes we take off, but the closer we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, the more we dress properly. In Genesis 3 Adam was naked while running from God. When God found him and presented the plan of salvation and the cross, Adam was then clothed with the animal skins, pointing to Jesus who alone can cover our shame. In Luke 18:27 we find a man wearing no clothes and possessed of devils. However, in verse 35, when he becomes converted we see him clothed and “in his right mind.” Thus, while far from God he had no sense of modesty, but as he became converted and “in his right mind”he began dressing appropriately. This has nothing to do with sexual lust as I seriously doubt such a naked lunatic hanging out in graves would really be a sexual temptation for anyone. So it is today.  The issue today is the same as it was in Luke 18. The man had no sense of modesty when he had no sense of a need for a Savior. Once he sensed his need of a Savior and accepted Christ, he began dressing appropriately as he now saw the issue of dress in the light of the cross.

Now some may say that modesty is a cultural issue. The heathen tribes of Africa all parade around naked because that is their culture. Let’s remember they are called “heathen” tribes for a reason. Also, let’s remember too what Paul says in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” In this verse we see that Paul is crucified to the world. The world would be his culture, correct? So it is now the cross and not Paul’s culture that dictates how he dresses and behaves. We also see in Galatians 6:14 that Paul does not glory in his body but in the cross.

At the cross we see the modesty issue as a human dignity issue rather than a sexuality issue. At the cross, while Jesus was being crucified naked, the women “stood afar off”. This had nothing to do with sex. They were not tempted to lust after Jesus as they were there only to show their compassion. As they did so, they did not want to look upon His nakedness in order to protect His human dignity. At the cross we see the importance of human dignity. And when we appreciate the human dignity of all mankind we will not encourage scantily clad bodies on the beach, or on our magazine covers, or anywhere else. In light of the cross, we will teach modesty in dress to all regardless of their age, gender, or culture, as people of all ages, genders and cultures are human and thus all deserve to be treated with the same human dignity that these women showed Jesus.

The Pier in St.Peterburg

At the Pier in St.Petersburg you can enjoy all the beauty of the water without any of the immodest distractions you sometimes see at the beach. 

 

Even in the medical world, where doctors are not necessarily looking at the body in a sexual way, dignity is still a factor. In Counsels on Health, page 364, Ellen White writes: “There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women. Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians.” Please keep in mind this one paragraph is borrowed from its original context. A balanced view of Sister White’s writings allows us to see that this practice should be followed when and where possible, but in emergencies or extreme situations we may need to be treated by the opposite sex and just trust that they will treat us with the same dignity the opposite gender showed Jesus at the cross. Fact is reality and balanced thinking tells us there are times when clothing or lack thereof is not an option, but let’s let common sense and the Holy Spirit tell us when that is and not our own feelings or even culture.

 

 

Most male doctors will not lust after a female patient as most female doctors will not lust after a male patient. However, lust is not the issue in the light of the cross, but rather human dignity. If modesty and human dignity are an issue in the doctor’s office and at the cross, then would it not also be an issue on the beach, on billboards signs, the silver screen and everywhere else including in the church?

 

Jesus gave His life not only to save us from death but to also cover our nakedness. Wouldn’t dressing modestly be a great way to thank Jesus for dying for us? Likewise, knowing that our brothers and sisters make up the body of Christ, wouldn’t refusing to look upon their naked or half-naked bodies also be a way of treating Christ Himself with the same human dignity that the women showed Jesus at the cross? 

Garments of Grace; A Garment of Innocence

Here is an essay I wrote a while back, which I thought was relevant to this week’s SS lesson. (Download Sabbath School Guides to your cell phone here.)

Many look at the modesty, or lack thereof, issue in the light of sex. As we become more and more comfortable seeing everybody’s flesh, sexual immorality is abounding. There is a greater danger to immodesty than just sexual immorality. To really see the danger of immodesty we must look at it in light of the cross. The greatest danger is not immoral sex, but not sensing our shame and need of a Savior. Thus modesty becomes a salvation issue.

Let’s begin in the Garden of Eden. Contrary to popular belief, while Adam and Eve “were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” it was not exactly like a nudist colony today. Page 311 of Christ’s Object Lessons says, “A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.” 

So they weren’t really walking around naked as we think of the word “naked” to begin with. They had a covering. This is why Adam felt naked when he sinned; the covering had been lost. By his own works he tried to cover his nakedness with fig leaves (his own works) but that did not work.. Likewise today, our good works can never cover our spiritual nakedness. Even after making his own clothes from fig leaves, Adam still felt naked in God’s presence. Only Jesus could cover Adam’s shame. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Here is the whole modesty issue in light of the cross. An animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and shame. Likewise Jesus would have to die naked on a cross in order to ultimately cover our shame. Those who have a sense of modesty and nakedness know they need a Savior to cover their shame. Those who have no sense of shame and modesty sense no need of a Savior.

So more than being a sex issue, proper dress becomes a salvation issue that can only be properly understood, as all other doctrines, in the light of the cross. The fact of the matter is, the further away from God we are the more clothes we take off, but the closer we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, the more we dress properly. In Genesis 3 Adam was naked while running from God. When God found him and presented the plan of salvation and the cross, Adam was then clothed with the animal skins, pointing to Jesus who alone can cover our shame. In Luke 18:27 we find a man wearing no clothes and possessed of devils. However, in verse 35, when he becomes converted we see him clothed and “in his right mind.” Thus, while far from God he had no sense of modesty, but as he became converted and “in his right mind”he began dressing appropriately. This has nothing to do with sexual lust as I seriously doubt such a naked lunatic hanging out in graves would really be a sexual temptation for anyone. So it is today.  The issue today is the same as it was in Luke 18. The man had no sense of modesty when he had no sense of a need for a Savior. Once he sensed his need of a Savior and accepted Christ, he began dressing appropriately as he now saw the issue of dress in the light of the cross.

Now some may say that modesty is a cultural issue. The heathen tribes of Africa all parade around naked because that is their culture. Let’s remember they are called “heathen” tribes for a reason. Also, let’s remember too what Paul says in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” In this verse we see that Paul is crucified to the world. The world would be his culture, correct? So it is now the cross and not Paul’s culture that dictates how he dresses and behaves. We also see in Galatians 6:14 that Paul does not glory in his body but in the cross.

At the cross we see the modesty issue as a human dignity issue rather than a sexuality issue. At the cross, while Jesus was being crucified naked, the women “stood afar off”. This had nothing to do with sex. They were not tempted to lust after Jesus as they were there only to show their compassion. As they did so, they did not want to look upon His nakedness in order to protect His human dignity. At the cross we see the importance of human dignity. And when we appreciate the human dignity of all mankind we will not encourage scantily clad bodies on the beach, or on our magazine covers, or anywhere else. In light of the cross, we will teach modesty in dress to all regardless of their age, gender, or culture, as people of all ages, genders and cultures are human and thus all deserve to be treated with the same human dignity that these women showed Jesus.

The Pier in St.Peterburg

At the Pier in St.Petersburg you can enjoy all the beauty of the water without any of the immodest distractions you sometimes see at the beach. 

 

Even in the medical world, where doctors are not necessarily looking at the body in a sexual way, dignity is still a factor. In Counsels on Health, page 364, Ellen White writes: “There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women. Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians.” Please keep in mind this one paragraph is borrowed from its original context. A balanced view of Sister White’s writings allows us to see that this practice should be followed when and where possible, but in emergencies or extreme situations we may need to be treated by the opposite sex and just trust that they will treat us with the same dignity the opposite gender showed Jesus at the cross. Fact is reality and balanced thinking tells us there are times when clothing or lack thereof is not an option, but let’s let common sense and the Holy Spirit tell us when that is and not our own feelings or even culture.

 

 

Most male doctors will not lust after a female patient as most female doctors will not lust after a male patient. However, lust is not the issue in the light of the cross, but rather human dignity. If modesty and human dignity are an issue in the doctor’s office and at the cross, then would it not also be an issue on the beach, on billboards signs, the silver screen and everywhere else including in the church?

 

Jesus gave His life not only to save us from death but to also cover our nakedness. Wouldn’t dressing modestly be a great way to thank Jesus for dying for us? Likewise, knowing that our brothers and sisters make up the body of Christ, wouldn’t refusing to look upon their naked or half-naked bodies also be a way of treating Christ Himself with the same human dignity that the women showed Jesus at the cross?  

Acts of the Apostles-The Gospel Message in Antioch

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 16.

This chapter is based on Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3.

  It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. The name was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, their teaching, and their conversation. Continually they were recounting the incidents that had occurred during the days of His earthly ministry, when His disciples were blessed with His personal presence. Untiringly they dwelt upon His teachings and His miracles of healing. With quivering lips and tearful eyes they spoke of His agony in the garden, His betrayal, trial, and execution, the forbearance and humility with which He had endured the contumely and torture imposed upon Him by His enemies, and the Godlike pity with which He had prayed for those who persecuted Him. His resurrection and ascension, and His work in heaven as the Mediator for fallen man, were topics on which they rejoiced to dwell. Well might the heathen call them Christians, since they preached Christ and addressed their prayers to God through Him.  {AA 157.1} 

To me, the boldest claim anyone can make is that they are a Christian. When you call yourself an elder you are just saying that you are older. When you call yourself a preacher you are just saying that you speak in public. A theologian just claims to study the Bible, but a Christian claims to be like Christ! Wow! Christ wants to give us His name, but He does not want us to take His name in vain. In sign language the word “Christian” is made up of two signs. The “Christ” sign and the “person” sign. When you sign to a deaf person that you are a Christian what they literally see is that you are claiming to be a “Christ person” or a person like Christ. There is no higher title, label or honor that the Church can bestow than the name that Christ gave you when He calls you a Christian.

you may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.

Keep Your Own Score

 thur-nov-13-08-018

Here I am putting for my par after barely missing a birdie shot.

Keep Your Own Score

 

Golf is a gentleman’s game and as I continually learn the game of golf I continually learn to become more of a gentleman. Golf will test your etiquette skills as much as your athletic skills. In football the opposing team’s crowd will make as much noise as possible to distract the other team’s offense. In golf you must be quiet and considerate of your opponent when he is swinging. In baseball a pitcher will throw at a batter’s head. In golf you must yell “fore!”* if your ball is sailing close to someone else. In football you cheer when the opposing kicker misses a field goal. In golf you keep a straight face or give a sympathetic word when your opponent misses a putt. The list goes on. Golf is a game that will test your manners as well as your skills.

 

I have learned something important this year about golf and about life. I love to keep score. I love to win but more than just wanting to win I am a statistics freak. I have to know all the numbers and I have to know what the score is. As a matter of fact I have logged into my computer every game I have played this year, where I have played it and what the scores were.

 

However I have learned that some do not like to keep score. A while back I was golfing with my older friend Ron who has been teaching me how to golf but more importantly has been teaching me how to be a better gentleman. The two of us set out to start the first hole when a man golfing alone came up behind us. Being the gentlemen that we are we invited him to join us which he did. After each hole I would ask him what his score was so I could write it down with ours. After a couple holes Ron told me not to ask his score. If he wanted me to know he would tell me. The fact that I had to keep asking was a sign he really did not want to give it. I should have known that.

 

Since then I have run into other people who don’t like to keep score. As a statistics freak I have a hard time dealing with that. But here is what I have learned. It should not matter what the other people’s scores are. There is a par for the course which is the standard for the course. Instead of comparing myself to others I should just focus on reaching the standard. I should be matching my performance against the standard and not against my fellow man. Once again the game of golf has taught me something no other sport will. I once saw a t-shirt on a teenager that read, “Inspiration is not when you outdo your opponent. It is when you outdo yourself.” How true!

 

In life Jesus does not inspire us to compare ourselves to others or be like them. Christ inspires us to compare ourselves to Him and become like Him. He is the par for the course and we will never make par while comparing ourselves to anyone else but the Standard Himself. It does not matter what anyone else’s score is in golf or in life. There is a standard to be reached.

 

Like a wise sea captain once said years ago, “we must set our course by the stars and not by every passing ship.”

 

* When someone yells “fore!” most people look around to see where the ball is coming from. The correct response is to quickly cover your head with your arms.

 

Check out my friend’s sports blog. http://bulldogsportsblog.blogspot.com/

Nightmare on the Golf Course

 

 

 

Tom and I golfing in Chattanooga. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I so wanted everything to be perfect. That is the golf match last week between me and an ole college buddy. Last time we played together was Christmas Eve on a course in the Chattanooga Mountains. I scored a 137 in the mountains that day and we did not even have time to finish all 18 holes! But now, five months later, I have been practicing every week on my day off as well as golfing with my church’s small golf group. I have been going online and reading tips and watching instructional videos. I have paid for private lessons and those are not cheap! After five months of practice, effort and dedication I thought I was beginning to get my game under control. I was excited about meeting my friend Tom for a re-match in Chattanooga. I felt confident, as I was more experienced now, and we would be on a course this time that was not in the mountains. I was looking forward to impressing my friend on the golf course.

 

Imagine how my confidence went up a notch when Tom told me he had not played since our last meeting five months ago. I thought surely my five months of hard work would pay off. The rest of this story is a total nightmare. The first hole was a par 4 and I made it in 8. Not exactly what I had planned. Even though I get an 8 every now and then, I was sure I had gotten my “bad hole” out of the way, and I would sail through the rest of the course. Wrong! That day I scored an 8 seven times! On a par 5 I scored a 10! What I had been looking forward to on the entire 9 hour trip up was now turning ugly for me! Meanwhile my friend Tom who had not even played or practiced all year was cruising along just fine.

 

The worse I play the more frustrated I get and then I play even worse. I would get frustrated every time I had a bad hit and would yell at myself, “William!” I then realized I did not need to broadcast my name to the entire golf course while playing so badly. We decided that we could do no more than double par. So on one hole that was par 4, 8 would be the maximum number of strokes I could take to make it. I was at stroke number 8 while still in the middle of the fairway, nowhere close to the green yet! I yelled out to Tom across the fairway, “I am in the middle of the fairway and already have 8 strokes!” Once again I realized I did not need to be broadcasting my misfortune to the entire golf world.

 

On the next fairway I had a great start! I was on track to make par when I hit into a sand trap next to the green. If I could just hit out of the trap onto the green I could still make par. That never happened as my next 4 strokes never left the sand trap. I was so frustrated I did something I have never done before. I threw my golf club into the sand in disgust! I had just planned a vacation and traveled 9 hours just to make a fool out of myself! At least I was gentleman enough to sincerely congratulate Tom, who easily made par on the same hole. He even mentioned how amazingly easy all of his shots just fell perfectly into place. Hhhmmpphh!! Why me Lord? Why can’t I be like Tom? I try so hard! The whole day was not a complete disaster. Besides enjoying a beautiful day with a long time friend, I did get par on the last hole which was a par 5. In the end though, my friend who has not even been practicing beat me by 16 strokes! I practiced hard for 5 months only to get beat by 16 strokes by someone who has not practiced at all!

 

I hid my frustration well, (besides throwing my golf club into the sand) but was very disappointed that I had nothing to show for all my hard work. Then I remembered reading something in the Spirit of Prophecy years ago. It was to the effect that while some people may have a lot of flaws in their characters, some of them are trying harder to live a Christian life than some of the so called polished Christians. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me; “William you are frustrated that Tom saw no evidence of your hard work and effort on the golf course. Meanwhile you are studying and associating with people all around you who are really trying hard to be better Christians, even though it may not look like it to you. Some of the people you get discouraged with are actually putting more effort into their Christian walk than you are putting into yours.” Then I remembered how easily Tom’s par came to him on the same fairway that I failed on, even though I was trying very hard. I realized what I had experienced on the golf course, many struggling Christians are experiencing in real life. Just like I would try my best to do everything right and make the perfect shot, I was missing the mark by a mile. Likewise, just because people miss the mark in the Christian life does not mean God does not know they are trying, maybe even trying harder than the polished Christians.

 

I got the message. I decided instead of being discouraged over my nightmare on the golf course, that I would use this experience as a reminder to be patient with others who are making all kinds of mistakes in the game of life. Just like I wished my golf buddy could have looked past my three digit score, and seen into my heart, and known what I was actually trying to accomplish, I will assume that those around me are trying harder to be a Christian than it may appear to me.

 

When I got home I looked for and found the quote I was thinking about earlier. Here it is from Testimonies Volume 2 page 74 in the chapter called, “Love for the erring.” I recomend reading the entire chapter! “While some are continually harassed, afflicted, and in trouble because of their unhappy traits of character, having to war with internal foes and the corruption of their nature, others have not half so much to battle against. They pass along almost free from the difficulties which their brethren and sisters who are not so favorably organized are laboring under. In very many cases they do not labor half so hard to overcome and live the life of a Christian as do some of those unfortunate ones I have mentioned.”

 

 

 

 

For more studies and pictures please visit my personal website.

 

Check out my friend’s sports blog. http://bulldogsportsblog.blogspot.com/