Introduction: If all of your life you have acted wisely by generally
obeying your parents and God, you are at a distinct disadvantage in
one important area: righteousness by faith. There is nothing like
tumbling into a terrible sin to teach the important lesson that we
have nothing of ourselves that will save us. We may be better than
most of those we know, but we are absolutely lost unless we depend
completely on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection on our behalf.
With this lesson we begin a new series that focuses on the symbolism
in the Bible that teaches us of our need for a Savior. Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and consider what Jesus’ robe of
righteousness means!

  1. Unworthy of Our God

    1. Read Isaiah 64:1-2. The Bible says that God is like fire
      and we are like twigs and water. What does fire do to
      twigs and water? (It changes their form. It moves their
      molecules! It destroys them.)

      1. Are we God’s enemies? Or, is Isaiah writing about
        someone else?

    2. Read Isaiah 64:4-5. How is our God unlike other gods? (He
      helps us. Other gods want humans to help them. In this,
      our God is most unique.)

      1. What caused the rift between us and our helpful God?
        (God wanted to have a partnership with us in which
        we would “gladly do right.” But, we failed in that
        task. We sinned against God’s ways and we continue
        to sin. )

    3. Read Isaiah 64:6. How bad are we? (Our best acts, our
      “righteous acts” are (I am not making this up, this is
      what the Hebrew means) like a used Tampax pad – a cloth
      that has been used to absorb a woman’s menstruation.)

      1. When I went to my twenty-year high school reunion,
        my thinking was a lot clearer about relationships.
        Now I knew that everyone in high school had feelings
        of inferiority – while thinking that everyone else
        (or, at most others) felt confident. We all had the
        wrong attitude in high school – an attitude that
        made life more difficult! What kind of attitude
        should we have about our righteousness being “like
        filthy rags?” (I struggle with sin and am disgusted
        with my weakness. It is a great relief to know that
        this is the norm, even among those who desire to do
        righteous acts.)

    4. Read Isaiah 64:9. What was the Old Testament hope? (We
      are God’s people. We hope that He will not be too angry,
      we look to Him for rescue from our sins.)

    5. Read Psalms 14:2-3. How many people does God see who are
      righteous when He looks down from heaven? (None – at
      least among the men!)

    6. Read Psalms 14:7. What does this text say is the hope of
      corrupt humans? (This text gives us more detail about the
      rescue: our hope is that God will restore our salvation.)

  2. The Restoration

    1. Read Romans 3:9-12. Have we read this somewhere before?
      (Yes! Paul is quoting language from Psalms 14 – the one
      we just read.)

    2. Read Romans 3:19-20. What are our odds of becoming
      righteous by obeying God’s law? (Zero!)

      1. What then is the purpose of the law? (Simply to make
        us conscious of our sins.)

    3. Read Romans 3:21. What is the only source of our
      righteousness? (God.)

      1. Has the law anything to do with our righteousness?

        1. If so, what is its role? (Our righteousness is
          “apart from law.” However, the law “testifies”
          to the fact that our only source of
          righteousness is God.)

          1. How is that true? (Be honest. How is your
            obedience to the law going? The fact that
            you are struggling to obey is the law’s
            testimony that righteousness comes only
            from God.)

      2. How do the prophets testify that righteousness comes
        only from God? (Consider your Old Testament
        heroes. How many of them committed sins that you
        thought you were smart enough to avoid?)

    4. Read Romans 3:22-26. How to we acquire this righteousness
      from God? How do we participate in God’s rescue for
      corrupt humans? (By faith in Jesus.)

      1. How did Jesus make this righteousness available to
        us? (“God presented Him as a sacrifice of
        atonement.” This brings to mind the Old Testament
        sanctuary service in which the blood (death) of an
        animal was presented for the sins of the human. The
        theory was that the human did not have to die
        because the animal died in the human’s place.)

        1. Under the Old Testament system, did the human
          earn forgiveness of sin? (This is an important
          point: at no time in the Bible was sin ever
          taken away by righteous works. Never. The basic
          concept of the system has not changed. We now
          have a heavenly sanctuary and Jesus as our
          sacrifice. See Hebrews 9:11-14.)

      2. Notice that Romans 3:22 says “there is no
        difference.” What kind of differences is it talking
        about? (Differences in our righteousness. The level
        of our supposed obedience makes no difference. We
        are all lost without the grace of God. We are all
        lost if we do not accept the righteous substitute of
        Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.)

  3. The Robe

    1. Read Matthew 22:1-7. What should happen to us based on
      our sins? (If we reject God, the penalty is serious.)

      1. This is a parable. What do you think is symbolized
        by “a wedding banquet for his son?” (Adam Clarke’s
        Commentary answers, “the economy of the Gospel,
        during which men are invited to partake of the
        blessings purchased by … the incarnation and death
        of our blessed Lord.”)

    2. Read Matthew 22:8-10. Notice that the prior servants did
      not “deserve to come.” Did this new group “deserve to

      1. If this is the “economy of the Gospel,” what does
        this teach us about who deserves to come to
        salvation? (Those who do not care and who are
        hostile do not deserve to come. Those who accept the
        invitation, even if they are “bad,” deserve to

    3. Read Matthew 22:11-12. These people came straight off the
      streets. How could they have wedding clothes? (Adam
      Clarke’s Commentary explains that the person who invited
      the guests prepared a garment for them. “To afford
      accidental guests clothing suitable to a marriage feast,
      was a custom among the ancient Greeks.)

      1. Why was the man without a wedding robe speechless?
        (That is how we are when we have no reasonable
        excuse. This is further proof that the king provided
        the robes. Otherwise, the man’s first answer would
        be “I was shopping at Walmart and was told I must
        come right away!”)

    4. Read Matthew 22:13-14. How can the king say “few are
      chosen?” Who did the choosing? (The king chose to toss
      the man out of the wedding.)

      1. What was and was not the basis for the king’s
        choice? (He did not choose based on who was his
        friend – those who were first invited. He did not
        choose based on whether the guest was good or bad.
        He based his choice only on who was wearing the
        wedding garment.)

        1. Does this mean that bad people are saved?

        2. What does the symbolism of the wedding robe say
          about the character of those who are saved?
          (Whatever these guests wore to the wedding
          (which was certainly not wedding cloths because
          they were all shopping at Walmart), their own
          clothes were covered up by the wedding garment.
          Our defective character is covered by the
          perfect robe of Jesus’ righteousness!)

    5. We started with Isaiah. Let’s go back and read Isaiah
      61:10. Is righteousness by faith (by robe) a New
      Testament concept only? (No.)

      1. What, exactly, is the nature of the robe given to us
        by God? (The covering of salvation and

    6. Friend, will you put on the robe of righteousness that
      our King Jesus offers to us? Or, will you be speechless
      because you think that your own clothes are good enough?

  4. Next week: From Exalted to Cast Down.