A Dark and Deadly Belief
Habiliments of the dead
“I have grasped you
by the hand; I formed
you, and set you as
a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of
the blind, to bring
out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon,
those who live in darkness.”
Hope beyond measure! Listen
“to bring out prisoners from
confinement, and from the dungeon,
those who live in darkness.”
How many of us live in the tomb
from which Christ called Lazarus!
Bound by our fears, our shame, all
the sins that we have spun around
us like winding cloths upon the
dead, binding us to the point of
paralysis, throttling our voices,
covering our eyes — smothering us
to life, we are as the living dead.
The mess we have made of our lives!
The sins of which we are guilty!
The shame that burns on our faces!
We dare not approach the exit from
the tomb, dare not venture out into
the light, but like leprous dead
we tie the cords around us more
tightly with every passing year
Prisoners of our Guilt and Shame
Is there a fate worse than this?
A greater mutilation? A death more
terrible? To die before we die?
To imprison ourselves in our
guilt when God Himself calls us
out? The light, we fear, will
do more than blind us who are so
accustomed to darkness and death
— it will reveal us — uncover
all our shame, our guilt, our lies,
our deceit, our sin!
long-cherished and deadly belief
is the pain worse than the living
death; it is this
pain, this mistaken anticipation
of greater pain still,
that keeps the rock across the exit
of our tombs!
But what has God told us?
“Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be made as white as snow.”
(Isaiah 1.18) You are forgiven!
Forgiven! It is past, done,
forgotten, erased. They are
“Behold, I make all things new!”
We who live in the dungeons we have
carved out of the guilt and sin
in our lives; we who dwell in darkness
that knows no light because it knows
no forgiveness — this week begin
to understand that the Light has
come! It bids us come forth! It
calls us to leave the death we have
chosen, to sunder the cables of
sin that lacerate our hearts! To
throw off the habiliments
... habiliments of the dead that
have no place upon the living.
Yes, you were once dead in sin —
but no more! If the Son of Man sets
you free, you are free indeed! If
He forgives, who can condemn? If
He remembers no more, who will recall
Do not look at men! Do not look
at those surrounding the valley
of death in which you have set your
tomb — fix your eyes upon Him Who
stands in the middle of it — at
the very gate of your tomb ... and
calls you out! He sets you free!
When you emerge all the burial clothes
that you have wound so tightly around
yourself will fall to your feet
... and you will step out, and know
Life — for Christ Himself calls
you forth from the dead!
There are two deaths of two deaths.
One is holy and one is not.
There are those who, for the sake
of God, die to themselves for the
Kingdom, while yet alive, and
live... these are the the
holy. And there are those who, for
the sake of men, die before they
die, never knowing life, and while
yet alive are dead. This
is the ugliness of sin that mutilates
us and brings corruption even to
to living flesh!
Do not worry if your are found naked
when the shroud falls to the ground:
you will be clothed in new life.
In Jesus Christ Himself —
in Whom death is no longer ...