Dear radio friends,
The Word of God that I would bring to you today is found in Isaiah 61:10. There we read, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Coming to this verse we see that it is the personal acknowledgment of thanks for God’s amazing goodness: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation.”
We need to ask the question immediately, “Is this true of you and of me?” In Isaiah 61, the prophet Isaiah speaks of all that God has done and will do for His covenant people, the people of His grace. The magnitude of what He will do and has done for them is observed by the world. And they, too, must acknowledge it. In verse 9 we read that all that see them, the covenant people of God, shall acknowledge that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. The prophet is saying to us that even the world, when they see all that God has done, must confess that God loves His people, that God is good to them.
The chapter tells us that the goodness of God to us is found in the spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ. The chapter begins with a prophecy of Jesus Christ: “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” From Luke 4, where the Lord went up to the synagogue in Nazareth, we find that this Scripture was indeed a foretelling of the work of Jesus Christ. For the Lord read those verses that day. When He finished reading, He said, “This! day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears. I am the One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord has come and I am the One through whom God will bring all of His wonderful promised blessings of salvation.” Those blessings, which are for us, work in us an everlasting joy. So the text that we are looking at, Isaiah 61:10, captures the heart of the child of God in expression of praise for all that God has done.
Now, the verse does more than that. It not only tells us that children of God rejoice in all the greatness and goodness of God to them, but the text tells us specifically what God has done in Christ for them. That is the heart of it. The heart of it is justification, righteousness in Christ. In the words of the text: “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” The great good that God has performed for His people is that He has justified them in the blood of Jesus Christ. That means that He has made them righteous. He has imputed to Christ their sin and guilt. And he has imputed to them Christ’s righteousness and obedience. Through Jesus Christ the child of God is now right with God, accounted perfect before God in Jesus Christ. We are justified before God, by grace, in Jesus Christ.
Over that great blessing, the child of God erupts in joy. Now, the interesting thing in the passage is that the figures to express this truth are borrowed from marriage, borrowed from the joy and the union of marriage. “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” He uses the imagery of marriage. God’s supreme gift, then, in the covering of the righteousness of Jesus Christ is presented to us as a costly robe of righteousness adorning the believer. Just as the bridegroom is adorned with a beautiful robe on his marriage day, and just as a bride is decked out or adorned with jewels and is adorned in a beautiful way, so God has made His people beautiful. He has made them beautiful in the work of Jesus Christ. Because of what Christ has done, God’s people are beautiful. T!hey are fitted out with a whole wardrobe in Christ. They are made to appear beautiful in His eyes. They are given clothing which is durable, which will never wear out.
Therefore as a bride and bridegroom rejoice on the day of their marriage, so the believer rejoices in all that God has done. He hath clothed me with righteousness. He has covered me in the blood of His Son. He has washed away all my sins. He has given to me the jewels of eternal life. We are justified.
Now, let us look at that truth of justification, that truth that the believer, by grace, is made righteous with God through the work of Jesus Christ. Since the figure was used here of marriage, let us apply the truth of justification to marriage. Have you ever thought of that? Have you ever thought of how two people who, by grace through faith, believe that they are right with God, how they ought to live with each other? That you are justified before God, forgiven your sins and made righteous in Christ – what does that mean for you as a husband? As a wife? If you are right with God, do you know how to live in the right way with a fellow believer?
The first application that comes to mind, then, is this, that we must marry one who is justified. We must marry someone who also, by grace, seeks his righteousness before God not in himself, but in the work of Jesus Christ, one whose soul is burdened with the question: “How shall I stand before God?” and who, by faith, knows the answer to that question: “Only in the righteousness of Christ.” You must not marry someone whose great question in life is: “How do I stand before the eyes of men? What do they think of me? What about my social standing? What about my money?” No, you must marry one whose question is: “How shall I appear before God?” and who knows the answer: “Clothed with the righteousness of Christ.” Only justified believers can have godly fellowship one with another.
So it tells us, first of all, that we must seek our marriage partner in those who are justified of grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ and nowhere else. But it also teaches us how we are to treat each other in marriage. We are to treat each other as those who have been robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. How does God treat His bride, the church? Well, the answer is, He treats them on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ, on the basis of the righteousness that Christ has earned for them. We could study the Scriptures and bring out many wonderful things about this. Because the church, His bride, God’s wife, is justified in the blood of Christ, He does not permit an evil word to be spoken against her by the world. Read Numbers 23, about the wicked prophet Balaam, who was hired by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel. Three times he tried to climb up a mountain and present sacrifice to God in an effort to bring a word of curse and condemnation upon the people of Israel in the valley below. But he could not. Why could he not? Because God said, “This is the people whom I have justified in the blood of My Son. I see them in the blood of Christ. And I will not permit a word to be spoken against them.”
Because God sees His church justified in the blood of Christ He is very jealous for her and He protects her and He delights in her and He shows His loving delight in her. If you want to read of that loving delight, you should read Isaiah 62. There He says, in verse 5, “For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” He rejoices in the justified church.
Now if God treats His church that way, on the basis of the work of Christ in justifying them, then how ought two married believers treat each other in their marriage? That means that we must speak to each other, as husband and wife, in the consciousness that our spouse is also given the robe of righteousness in Christ. Derogatory, sharp, cutting words – do you speak that way against one whom God has justified? Yes, in our marriages we are to correct each other and we are to rebuke each other in the love of God. But there is no place for rancor, for sarcasm, for belittling of your wife or husband. Do you do that? As believers, do you do that to each other?
Men, are you convinced in your heart that what you say about your wife, or what you say to her, you are saying to one who has been covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Does that govern how you speak about her and to her? That also means that as men and husbands we will have a jealous protection of our wife in the Lord. How we deal with each other, then, is going to reveal whether or not the truth that we have been purchased in the blood of Christ is really registering in our hearts and souls. Then we will see our wife not as an object of lust, but someone we are to care for and to handle even as Christ cares for and handles the church. We will delight in our wife, and the heart of our love for one another will be that we want more and more to see what God has done for us.
Only when they will not see the robe of the righteousness of Christ as their only covering, only when they lift themselves up in their own pride, only then can they condemn the other believing spouse. Rather, when we are married one to another in the faith of Jesus Christ and in the faith that we are righteous in Christ, we will forgive and we will have conversation and communication with each other. You see, justification opens the doors of fellowship. When God justifies us, He takes us into His fellowship. On the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ, He says, “Come in your prayer. Enter into the holy place. I will reveal to you the secrets of My heart.” God, you see, did not just justify us so that we could have our separate existence away from Him and escape the flames of hell. God justified the church in order that He might embrace us and bring us close to His heart. So also when you are married in one faith in Jesus Christ and you confess that all your salvation, all your righteousness, is in Christ alone, that means that you also will embrace each other. You will open your hearts to each other. There will be fellowship one with the other in your marriage.
And your marriage will emit a song of praise to God. You will say, “I will rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God,” even as we read in Isaiah 61:10. “I will greatly rejoice, I will be exuberant in my joy and praise of what God has done for me.”
God, of mere grace, has made the believer righteous in Christ. He has covered us with a robe of righteousness. He has adorned us in the beauty of Christ even as a bride is adorned for her husband and as a bridegroom is decked with a robe of righteousness. Apply that to your marriage today. That will tell you how you have to live with each other. That will tell you how you must treat each other – not on the basis of your feelings at the moment, but on the basis truly of what God has done for you.
Then you will have joy. You will have joy in financial hardships. You will have joy in the days of rearing your children. You will have joy if God visits your home in death. You will have joy in sickness. You will have joy in old age. Even when you are crippled, you will have joy. Your heart shall rejoice in what God has done for you. And you will have words of encouragement for each other. When your wife is distressed, or when your husband is burdened, you will be able to say, “Honey, we are rich! We have everything! God has given to us, of grace, a robe of righteousness. We are reconciled with Him in heaven. We have an eternal inheritance in Jesus Christ. We are rich. It doesn’t matter whether we must sacrifice to get by. We have all things in Christ.”
Then you will have a happy marriage – because the only true happiness in life is the joy of justification. The only reason for rejoicing is to know that one’s sins are pardoned, that one’s guilt has been removed, and that one is accounted of God, of mere grace, to be righteous before Him. That is the only reason for happiness. Any other happiness built upon any other thing is folly, utter folly. This is true happiness: God has clothed me with a robe of righteousness.
Then, in the marriage of two believers, there is reason for great joy, wonderful joy, victorious joy, comforting joy. Then you will live, as husband and wife, as those who have been robed in the righteousness of Christ.
God grant this word to be a blessing unto our hearts.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy holy Word. We pray that we may grow in an understanding of it and grow in a love for it, and that we may be conformed not to the world, but to the power of Thy Word. Amen.