Required to honor the father that had given Joseph the coat, they funneled their resentment, jealousy, and anger to the brother who’d received the extravagant gift. Younger and brother of a different mother, Joseph was everything they were not. Chosen, beloved, trusted. A dreamer and his father’s favorite. As time passed and their bitterness grew, it was easy for the brothers to traverse the short distance between hate-filled thoughts to murderous plans. Therefore, when Joseph showed up in the pastureland on an errand for his father, his brothers plotted how to do away with him. As the plan to kill him and blame it on a wild animal attack began to congeal, one brother suggested putting him in a pit instead. Another thought they should at least make a profit off of him, and so the final verdict resulted in Joseph’s being sold into slavery. The first step in unfolding their plan, however, was to strip him of the colorful coat his father had given to him.
Like Joseph’s brothers, we have an enemy whose greatest desire is to “kill, steal, and destroy” us (John 10:10). He can’t get to the Father, so he funnels his venom to us. As he plots our demise, he is eager to rid us of our coats that proclaim our Father’s favor. Anything that sets us apart as chosen, beloved, and trusted, Satan wants strip away. He knows the exposure will leave us more vulnerable for his next steps, slavery and death. Sometimes, he even uses our “brothers” to do his dirty work. Thankfully, we’ve been given outer garments that prevent his getting to our skin, the layer that covers our heart.
Scripture instructs us to be clothed with humility, to put on a garment of praise, and to wear a robe of righteousness. This is the apparel that first comes under enemy attack. If Satan can get us to exchange humility for pride, then our arrogance will cause us to fall. Failure brings with it shame. Without praise as a covering, our spirit is vulnerable, becoming laden with heaviness. The bad sabotages the good, and before long, we are dragging shackles of disunity, depression, anxiety, and fear as we shuffle into enemy bondage. Our robe of righteousness, protection provided by Jesus Himself, results in right-doing as we are led by His Spirit. It is grace-given perfection measured by Christ’s excellence and granted to us. It is our identity based on Jesus’ character. But, if we begin to count our own efforts as the standard for doing well, or if we permit our will to lead us instead of submitting to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, then we remove Jesus’ righteousness as our garment. We lean into self and angle away from Jesus. We are left with our own righteousness, which God views as filthy rags. Consequently, the enemy has us in a defenseless, exposed place with our identity shaken and uncertain and our hearts vulnerable to his devices.
In time, Joseph learned the value of a garment over his tunic. Whether robe, cloak, or mantle, it was outerwear that provided him protection against Potiphar’s wife and her seduction. Because of his garment, she couldn’t get to his skin or to the inner man within. Joseph was able to flee from her advances and keep his integrity. While she was left holding all he stood for, his soul remained unscathed, and before long, he was arrayed in new vestures of royalty as he ruled beneath Pharaoh.
To keep our coat of distinction intact and to save our spiritual skin, it’s imperative that we maintain Christ-centeredness. If we look to Him, then we aren’t likely to succumb to self-focus that invites pride, discontent, or carnality. The gift the Father has given us isn’t tarnished. Clothed in garments that provide protective parameters around the brilliant display of God’s favor in our lives, our faith won’t waver, we will remain secure in the Father’s love, and Jesus’ work of grace will be shielded from the devourer. Instead of experiencing the destruction the enemy has planned, we can raise our heads in assurance that our hearts are completely guarded. Like wearing fuzzy blue and shiny brass, we can face what comes our way fully prepared and gloriously dressed; free to boldly dream our dream; confident in the certainty that we are chosen, beloved, and trusted; eager for the day when we will rule and reign with Christ.
Tip/Tidbit: Evaluate your vulnerabilities. Are you leaving God’s work of grace exposed to enemy attack?