God plainly told Moses – “Here’s the kind of underwear that must be worn. Anything else and the penalty is death.” In Exodus 28:42-43, He spoke to Moses about the garments of the high priests saying,
You shall make for them linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs. They shall be on Aaron and his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when the approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die.
Why would it matter what kind of underwear the priests wore? It’s because of what it symbolizes. Old Testament matters often point to New Testament truths. If God’s instructions weren’t carried out exactly as He said, the type (illustration) would be lost. So what’s the importance of the priests wearing linen underwear? The answer revolves around two things:
1. The linen underwear points to a powerful message for living in Christ.
Underwear illustrating the grace walk? It seems almost irreverent to suggest such a thing. But the fact is that the underwear of the priest represents our true identity. Nobody sees your underwear but you. The very mention of your underwear is personal, intimate and private. The “breeches” refer to what you are in the secret place of your own life. A priest may appear to be fully dressed, but be naked underneath. Some people appear to be spiritually dressed, but God knows they are spiritually naked!
What does God see when He looks at you? Are you fully dressed or do you have everybody else fooled except God? God sees who you really are! Your true identity is determined by who you are at the deepest level of your life. If you are wearing the underwear of His holiness, that’s who you are regardless of how dirty your shirt and pants might be. On the other hand, if you aren’t wearing underwear, God knows you are naked regardless of how well starched your shirt might be and how sharp the crease in your pants is.
Another aspect of the underwear is that it covers a part of you which should never be publically exposed. The Bible word used to describe independent, self-sufficient living is flesh. The word “flesh” in the New Testament generally isn’t describing skin, but is a word used to describe the techniques a man lives by when he isn’t trusting Jesus Christ to animate his behavior.
At salvation, God clothes us with the holiness of Jesus Christ in order to cover our flesh. As a Christian, we have flesh, but it is to remain covered by the holiness of His indwelling Life. Romans 13:14 says, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh. We all have flesh, but we don’t have to expose it! Nakedness is a condition which exists when our flesh is showing. Paul said, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Do you see the powerful message of the priest’s underwear? God wants to change you at the deepest and most personal level of your being. He wants to give you His life to cover the nakedness of your sin so that you’ll never have to be ashamed again!
2. The linen underwear points to a particular method for living in Christ.
Note that the underwear the priests wore was made of linen. Why did God care what kind of material was used in making this underwear? Leviticus 16:4 said about the priest, He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash, and attired with the linen turban (these are the holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body and put them on.
The priests had to be bathed… made clean; then they were to wear these linen garments. Why linen? Ezekiel 44:18 answers: Linen turbans shall be on their heads, and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat.
God’s plan is that those who serve Him should never sweat! Do we serve? Yes. Do we work with zeal? Of course. The grace walk is not a passive lifestyle, but it is a lifestyle in which we are never to work to the point of sweating because we aren’t depending on our own strength to serve. Instead we are trusting in the strength of Jesus Christ who indwells us..
All of our self-efforts to do things for Him are dead, meaningless works anyway! Exodus 28:42 teaches that if we minister in the holy place without wearing the underwear of His holiness, nothing will come of it except death. Ministry out of the flesh will always result in death. It may look good, but it is still dead.
Are you depending on your own self sufficiency or living from the strength of His life? Let God change your underwear today! Stop trying to manage your own life and allow Him to give you His holiness at the most intimate, personal level. He never intended that you should work to the point of exhaustion. That’s why the priests couldn’t wear anything that caused them to sweat.
We aren’t to sweat the Christian life. We simply rest in Christ and know that He has clothed us with everything we need to effectively serve Him.
This devotional is taken from Steve McVey’s teaching series, “The Garments Of Grace” and may be obtained from our web site at www.gracewalk.org or by calling 1-800-GRACE-11.