I have a book I read to my daughter called The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul. It’s a story about a priest who was given the chance to preach his first sermon before the king. He just received his priestly garments and he was very eager for this opportunity. But on the way to preach, his clothing became dirty with mud, and he couldn’t get them clean in time. When he got to the castle, the people stared and the court jester ridiculed the priest and told him he wasn’t fit to stand before the king with such filthy garments. The king agreed but told the priest to come back next week with clean garments; only then would the king allow the priest to stand in his presence. But even with a week’s time, the priest couldn’t get his garments clean. They were ruined. Neither could he get a new set of garments. The bishop only gives out one pair. What could the priest do? He would never be able to stand before the king in such filth. Fortunately, someone told the priest to visit the king’s son, the prince, because he could help. So, the priest went to the prince and, after hearing his dilemma, he agreed to help the priest. All the he had to do was show up the next week to stand before king and the prince would take care of the rest. The priest was afraid, but he trusted the words of the prince. When the priest arrived at the castle, he stood before the king once more in his dirty clothes. Once again, the people stared and the jester railed at the priest. The king asked him why he didn’t clean himself up, that he wasn’t allowed in the king’s presence displaying such filth. Just then, the prince entered the room. He approached the priest, took off his robe and put it on him. It was the most beautiful robe anyone had ever seen. Now, the king would allow the priest to preach in his presence because he was clothed in the robe of the prince and his filth was covered. And he was promised that any time he came to stand before the king, the priest could wear the prince’s robe.
Friends, that little story illustrates an important biblical truth. Because of sin, we’re like the priest with dirty clothes. We can’t stand before God the King because our lives have been defiled by the stains of sin. And Satan (the Jester) would never allow us to enter God’s presence without hurling his charges and accusations against us. But God’s Son, the Prince of Heaven, will give us the robe of His righteousness if we only trust in Him. Then and only then, once we’re clothed in the righteousness of Christ, can we stand in the presence of the Father. This is why Paul would later say that his desire was to be found in Christ, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Friend, whose righteousness are you trusting in to stand before God? Your own or Christ’s? How you answer that question will determine your eternal destiny. The Bible says we’re declared righteous before God by faith. And “Faith” says Sproul “means that we place our trust in Christ and his righteousness. We do not trust our own righteousness because we do not have any.”
Thanks for reading!
Brandon Sutton (Pastor2334@gmail.com) is the Lead Pastor of Blue Ridge CU Church and New Life Church. Check out both at Blueridgecuchurch.com and Newlifeshelbyville.org.