If you go into a Christian bookstore or visit an online Christian vendor you might see some Christian clothing. What I mean is that you will see hats, shirts, or jackets that have Bible verses or Christian sayings on them. Things like these are available for purchase in many places. I am not speaking against them, they are one way in which a Christian can share his or her faith. If you wear one of these items you never know who may be reading what is on them. You might be helping to plant a seed in another person’s life; the message may find its way into their heart.
But there is another kind of Christian clothing as well. It is spoken about in Scripture and believers are commanded to wear it. This clothing consists of spiritual qualities and they are for all believers. As Christians we have a responsibility to clothe ourselves with these qualities, but we cannot buy them, or supply them, for ourselves. We have to get them from God. Jesus and the apostle Paul spoke about these things in the New Testament. In the remainder of this article we will take a brief look at some of the qualities that believers in Christ should clothe themselves with.
One of the best known passages about Christian clothing is Ephesians 6. This is the chapter in which Paul wrote about the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Every believer is to put it on and be ready for conflict because we are in a spiritual war. The powers of darkness are hostile toward us and will attack us when they have the opportunity. In view of this we need to protect ourselves at all times. However, the armor we wear is not physical armor, nor is this armor of our own making. These are things the Lord has provided for us so that we can stand, and win, in this spiritual conflict. The pieces of our armor include: truth and righteousness (Eph. 6:14), “the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16 NIV), “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17 NIV). If we continually avail ourselves of these resources that the Lord has provided for us we will do well. This doesn’t mean that we will have an easy time, but it means we can be victorious. After all, the Lord’s power is superior to ours and to the devil’s!
The believers in the church in Ephesus were not the only Christians that Paul instructed to use their spiritual armor. He made a brief reference to it in Romans 13:12, though he did not go into any specifics. He also referred to it in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 mentioning only two items, “faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (NIV). He told the believers in both of these churches to put this armor on.
But spiritual armor was not the only thing that Paul told believers to clothe themselves with. He instructed them to put on some other virtues as well. He made reference to clothing themselves with Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). In Galatians 3:27 he said that those who are in Christ have clothed themselves with Christ. In Romans 13:14 he said that believers are to clothe themselves with Christ. What does that mean? I think the Romans 13:14 text gives us a window of understanding into what he was talking about. In this verse he instructs the Roman Christians to clothe themselves with Christ and not think about how to satisfy their sinful nature. This seems to draw a contrast. Paul’s message is basically, don’t follow the way of sin, instead pursue being like Christ. Stated differently they were commanded to be holy. We are also to follow these instructions.
Some of the other texts Paul wrote about “clothing” confirm that we are to pursue holiness, being like Christ. In Ephesians 4:24 he instructed the believers to “put on the new self” (NIV), the purpose of which is to cause Christians to have “true righteousness and holiness” (NIV). In Colossians 3:10 he told the believers in Colossae that they had “put on the new self” (NIV). Because of this Christian virtues were to be part of their lives. Paul mentions a number of them in Colossians 3:12, they are “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (NIV). These are clearly qualities that Jesus demonstrated during His earthly life. None of the spiritual qualities with which we are to clothe ourselves are optional items or nice accessories, they are essential. The same is true of the final item I will mention.
The last item I would like to mention in this article was one spoken of by Jesus. In the last chapter of Luke’s gospel Jesus told His disciples not to leave the city of Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 NIV). We know from the book of Acts that He was referring to the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). This experience with the Holy Spirit was to equip Jesus’ followers to reach others. It is also for believers today. As we are “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 NIV) we can minister to others so that they too can become Christians. When they do they must also clothe themselves in the ways mentioned in this article. If you are a Christian make sure you are properly clothed, clothed in the ways the Bible says you should be. Your character and spiritual power are important; your life depends on them and so do the lives of others.
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.