How Does the Bride Make Herself Ready?

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints. (Revelation 19:7-8 KJ2000)

 Bride_getting_ready1

And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25 RSVA)

The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. Right away they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to make something to cover themselves. Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow, and the man and woman heard the LORD God walking in the garden. They were frightened and hid behind some trees. The LORD called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?” The man answered, “I was naked, and when I heard you walking through the garden, I was frightened and hid!” (Genesis 3:6-10 CEV)

God created men and women to be naked before Him in perfect harmony and communion with Him, but with sin consciousness came a need in man to cover up and hide. It was the first time that man was aware of his self apart from His Creator. Suddenly he could see both good and evil within himself. What he saw was out of harmony with God for the first time. The wonderful fellowship he once had with God was broken.

We do many things to hide from ourselves, others and God. But we cannot really hide from God because He does not look at the outward, but rather He looks at the heart (See 1 Sam. 16:7). When God looks deep into us, we have one of two options–we can let our sin remain and start trying to cover what is there, or we can confess our need for healing, be stripped of our filthy garments of self, and put on the garment of the righteousness of Jesus Christ His Son. Paul wrote:

For as many of you as have been baptized [immersed] into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character.” – Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”

I think that for most of our lives we have been like Adam and Eve in the garden after they became conscious of their sin – we set out to cover up our nakedness with garments of our own choosing. Some of our shame came on us by evils others have done to us or the evil things we have done ourselves under the influence of the prince of this world (see Ephesians 2:1-6). So, what is our reaction? Many of us try a new persona to cover over that one that is crippled by shame, so we set out to find our identity, but do so again and again without looking to our Father. The mantra of the Hippie movement of the seventies was, “I am trying to find myself.” So we seek an identity and start putting on airs so that others might either find us more acceptable or that we might be “big and scary” enough to keep away people that might want to hurt us again. Some hide inside themselves by putting on gross amounts of weight. Down through life we become like the kid, who being told to change out of his dirty clothes, goes to his bedroom and puts on a new set of clothes over the dirty ones. The old layer has become part of us and it is too painful to remove, so we just add one dirty layer upon another. Is it any wonder that when God starts stripping us of all that is not of Him, we feel like an onion that is being peeled?

Religion is one of those layered garments that people choose so that they look better to others on the outside and thereby find acceptance without being stripped first. Religion is all about outward appearances, but Jesus said the reality of His kingdom is just the opposite. “The kingdom of God comes not with outward observation… behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” It is His kingdom within that He wants to reveal to us and to others, not our religious fig leaves. All the time we are covering, Jesus is bidding us to bare all before Him and to let His light and love be our covering as we are immersed into Him and put on Christ. Jesus wants us to stand before Him naked so we can be clothed in Him. He even is there to help us undress, but we keep putting on more layers, more masks, more veils. Zechariah records such an undressing and re-clothing of a man named Joshua.

 THEN [the guiding angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before [1] the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary and to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Even the Lord, Who [now and habitually] chooses Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [returned captive Joshua] a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel [of the Lord]. And He spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And He said to [Joshua], Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel. (Zechariah 3:1-4 AMP)

Isn’t this a picture of what happens to us as we struggle to be free in Christ? We are like a brand He rescued from the fire. He then strips us of all our filthiness and clothes us with His own rich apparel. None of our own covering can be left. Only He provides our wedding garment. Beware of coming to the wedding feast dressed in your own garments (see Matt. 22:1-14). The righteousness of Christ is our covering, not our garments of shame and self-righteousness. We read in Revelation, “He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5 KJ2000). And how does this happen? Further down in this chapter we read, “I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:18-19 KJ2000). But what is the attitude of the Laodicean church? “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” They had bought into their own prosperity! To them He says, “Know you not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?” (Revelation 3:17 KJ2000).

Paul wrote:

Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
(2 Corinthians 3:16-18 KJ2000)

What a promise! We turn to the Lord and He takes away our veils as well as the veils over our eyes, fills us with His Spirit, and gives us perfect freedom. It is in this state, filled with His Spirit and clothed in Christ, that we are changed as we behold Him. We no longer look in a mirror and see ourselves as broken and shameful, but we see Jesus in all His beauty because we are being changed into the same image from glory to glory.

I have been reading a book by Becky Johnson called, “A Grit and Grace Collection.” It is written like a diary of things she has been experiencing as a Christian sister. One entry is called “The Mud Room.” The “mud room” in a house is the room where we come in from the outdoors in country living and shed our dirty clothes before going on in. Coats, boots, muddy clothes and such are left hanging there. She saw that the mud room is where Jesus has called her to take off all those filthy things that this life had done to her. She wrote:

“Something is happening in the mud room. Suddenly it’s filled with divine light as He draws with a relentless love that moved Him to death. I feel the holy tension that stirs me to do the unthinkable, to walk towards the impossible. I find myself removing all the layers and am now before Him, all raw and shaky. And He fills me with Himself. It’s the only way. It really is the only way.” (page 23)

http://www.amazon.com/Grit-Grace-Collection-Reflections-Tender/dp/1500385042

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16 comments on “How Does the Bride Make Herself Ready?

  1. Carina says:

    Hi brother! Your post really hits home. I’ve been struggling with guilt and shame for a long, long time, and ten years of faithful church attendance did little to permanently remove that feeling of being unworthy. I’ve heard the Gospel preached many times, I “know the theory” but deep down there’s this sense that no, there’s no way this rebellious, stubborn, self-willed, exceedingly sinful me can REALLY be accepted in the Beloved. Basically, during those ten years, whenever I was reading the Bible, praying, doing my homework so to speak, I felt all was well with God, but most of the time I wasn’t, or I was trying and not quite feeling any enthusiasm for spiritual “disciplines”. Since I left the church system a few months ago, this feeling of being lost and condemned has only increased. Now the fig tree has no leaves, and I feel drier than ever. I have little love and even less faith to offer the Lord.

    Today I was reading Exodus 17 and I found the battle of the Amalekites against Israel. The people were hungry and thirsty (and rebellious, and angry against God, just like me) and at the moment of weakness an enemy came to totally destroy them. I thought WOW, that’s me… And just like Moses, my hands are tired and I can’t put up my rod to either praise or pray.

    So while I love the image of the bride getting ready, that feels so far removed from my experience that it’s actually poignant rather than hopeful. Churchianity hasn’t helped and the wilderness is not helping either. I feel I’m going to die here and my whole life seems to be crumbling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Carina, I was touched by your comment. I have been exactly where you are at. It is called “the wilderness,” or “the dark night of the soul.” You are experiencing a deeper purifying work of the Father. As with you I also spent ten years of faithful “church attendance,” but then He called me out of that… in fact HE pushed me out of it. Yes, rebellious, self-willed, stubborn and sinful… that was me, just as Israel were all these things when they left Egypt for the Promised Land and none of them made it except Joshua and Caleb and that is all that will survive in us… Joshua a type of Jesus Christ. He strips us down of all our filthy garments in His mud room, the wilderness, and like Joshua the priest in Zechariah, He does not leave us naked, but clothes us IN Christ as we PUT ON CHRIST with His help.

      I hope you stay in touch. Know that you are in my prayers.
      Michael

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    • Becky says:

      Carina, you wrote this: “there’s no way this rebellious, stubborn, self-willed, exceedingly sinful me can REALLY be accepted in the Beloved.” I believe we are long lost sisters with that remark. I’ve lived much of my 45 years believing that lie and have journeyed these last 7+ years into the truth of God’s abundant love for the likes of me. It’s astonishing. I often waver between the fear and doubt of it being real and true for a rebel such as myself, and absolute trust and confidence in the scandalous truth of it.

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    • Hi Carina, this might be an encouraging read for you… it certainly has been for me, in similar circumstances…
      http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/003665.html

      Blessings in Him, Gordon H.

      Like

  2. kenneth dawson says:

    you have truly hit the bullseye–take off our efforts at right living and put on GODS efforts of rightness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Kenneth. Like Susanne from Germany said, I am pretty much a blank mind (or just lots of random pieces laying around in my case) until He puts them together so I can see what He is trying to get me to understand. He has been taking me through my own stripping process as well in His “mud room.” So, all I can do is rest and let Him do the rest. All I know is that I want to see HIM as HE is and if it means I need to be undone, so be it.
      Love you, my brother!

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  3. This reminds me of an interaction few years ago, when I asked God what it would look like to reclaim what was lost in Eden. The answer that was whispered into my heart was, “To learn to walk naked and unashamed.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Ruth, thank you for your comment. I have also pondered what was lost in the garden and what God has been doing to bring us all back to the simplicity of what man once was in a pure relationship with his Creator. I know that He has shown me that guilt and shame is part of our make-up until we come to Christ and HE washes our feet of all the filth we have picked up along life’s way. Maybe in writing you this response I am also hearing from Him the mystery of what He told Peter that night He washed his feet and Peter wanted to be washed all over by Him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean…” When we have been cleaned by Jesus we are free to walk “naked” before others… walking in the Light as He is in the light… transparency with others who have been washed before the Father and the Son. Thanks again, Ruth, for sharing this wonderful insight He gave you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome article, Michael! Leaves me speechless once again…

    Well done, good and faithful servant! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael says:

    Thanks, Susanne. It blesses me to hear this. Keep sharing from your heart on your blog for that is a blessing for many of us as we read what is going on in your life which is HIS life working in you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Becky says:

    Such a beautiful picture of our relationship with Him. Thank you for your words, Michael, and your faithfulness to write and share truth and grace in Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Becky, I thank you as well for doing the same. The more you see yourself in our Beloved Jesus, the more beautiful are the things you share. As we fix our gaze on Him, all the past hurts and all our own failings become strangely dim for He is not only the Author but He is the Finisher of our faith and HE knows our end (conformed to the image of Christ) from the beginning and what happens in between is only the process that we go through to get there… known as the grace of God. Coming to fully believe that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death”(Romans 8:1-2 RSVA), THIS is where we will find great blessing and freedom as this truth dawns upon our hearts. Thanks for your comment, my dear sister.

      Like

      • Becky says:

        “No condemnation.” Learning to lean into that truth with everything I’ve got. I am finding great blessing and freedom in Him. What a ride, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pat Orr says:

    Getting in on the fellowship of this blog is so heart warming and undeserved. How does the bride make herself ready? It is Christ that we need to be clothed with. How do we buy gold, eye salve,etc as He instructed the Laodicean Church to do. I commonly read the scriptures as the Pharisees heard Jesus. They heard but did not hear. I press on, because as Peter said, Jesus has the words of life. Thank you, especially, for including the Matthew passage about the man who did not have on the wedding garment. That passage now has more understanding to me. My spirit man is encouraged when reading the scriptures, but many times my mind is not.

    Your handling of the word of God is so instructive to me. Thank you, thank you.

    In His love,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael says:

    Pat, you are such a blessing!!! You are welcome and I am so glad you are my sister IN Christ. You with His loving help are being made ready for His coming, don’t ever doubt that, dear sister. We ALL love you very much. Michael

    Like

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