Satan Silenced and the Sinner Saved

(Zech. 3)
THE picture at which we are invited to look, is that of a poor sinner, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him, or be his adversary (verse 1). And although it is Joshua, the High Priest, nevertheless he stands before us as a representative man, and every unsaved sinner may see in him a picture of his own moral unfitness for God, until cleansed and saved. Thus we have three persons prominent. The angel of the Lord, and the devil, and between thein a poor defiled sinner.
There is one thing that characterizes this man which is very noticeable. He is silent. He has not one single, solitary word to say in his own defense. As he listens to the dreadful accusations of Satan, he is like the man without the wedding garment, when the King came in. to see the guests, "He was speechless” (Matt. 22:1, 21And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, (Matthew 22:1‑2)). And why? Because he knows it is all true.
Would to God many more felt their wretched and defiled condition, and would take the place of silence in the presence of God, then He would gladly undertake their cause and save them, and silence Satan forever.
My reader, has this picture no voice for thee? Does thy sleepy conscience not begin to wake up, and loudly proclaim thy guilty, ruined, and defiled condition? Perhaps not! May be it is one among the multitude of "smothered consciences" there are in this world to-day, consciences that have been, one may say, spiritually chloroformed, or drugged to death, in order that their possessors might not be incessantly tormented with them.
Oh, remember there is a day coming when they will awake. They shall be heard, though their voice may be drowned in the meantime. They will be felt, though seared as with a red hot iron, just now. Then with a voice of thunder they will make every corner of the sinner's heart reverberate and echo back the excruciating, agonizing, and tormenting words, “Thou art the man. A defiled, polluted, depraved and guilty sinner. A despiser of mercy, a lover of pleasure, a brand only it to be cast into the fire.”
In Rom. 3:1919Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Romans 3:19), man's terrible guilt is manifested in order that “every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." The man in the picture before us has got to that point, he is "mouth, stopped.”
Dear reader, are you?
God never undertakes the cause of a man who has a single word to say for himself. Never! But if there is a poor sinner with broken heart, conscious that all laid to his charge is quite true; not seeking to justify himself, but looking to God, it is the delight of His heart to undertake for that man, and justify and save him.
Now to whom does the Lord speak first? Is it to the poor, defiled, self-condemned sinner? No. It is to Satan, to silence him. “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" (verse 2.) What a sound to fall on the ears of Satan and the sinner. Silencing Satan, encouraging the sinner.
And has He nothing more to say? Oh, yes, listen! “Take away the filthy garments from him; "then He turns to the sinner, and says, “Behold., I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee" (verse 4). What relief! Yea, what joy to the sinner! The very thing which caused the accusations, and brought in all the fear, all removed by the Lora Himself, and the sinner justified. And if Satan points the finger and says, “It is not just, look at his defilement, his terrible sins," the Lord replies, “I have caused his iniquity to pass from him.”
We learn in Rom. 3. how God can be just, and yet justify the believer in Jesus. And how is it? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus " (verse 24). Jesus came in grace and took our sins. “He was delivered for our offenses." " The Lord hath, laid upon him the iniquity of us all," So that the penalty has not been set aside in any way, but borne by Him; and now God can justify the man who believes in Jesus, seeing that He has borne his sins and suffered in his stead. And nothing delights the heart of God more, than to get silent, self-condemned sinners before Him, and tell out to them what He Himself has done for them, and thus justify and save them. Yea, when He does the work, He can challenge, heaven, earth, and hell, and say, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth" (Rom. 8:3333Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (Romans 8:33)). What matchless grace, to graceless and worthless sinners! And each believing one can say—
“Wonder and joy become my heart,
And praise and thanks my tongue.”
We have heard the Lord speaking on behalf of this silent sinner, and declaring that He has cleansed him, while his enemy has been confounded. But the heart of the Lord could not rest if the sinner were only cleansed. He must have him clothed. And Satan must be a silent spectator of this marvelous act of grace on the Lord's part. He may gnash his teeth with rage, or inwardly curse the grace shown, but he dare not utter a word, and there he stands to witness God's own joy in clothing the sinner He has cleansed. Then we hear the Lord saying, “I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (verse 4).
It reminds one of that lovely scene in Luke 15, where the Father's heart is having all its own way. The prodigal has been kissed. The prodigal has confessed. And now we hear the gracious command, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him." Then he is robed, and taken in and feasted.
What covering have we as sinners? Only “filthy garments!" What covering do we receive when our filthy garments are taken away? Christ Himself as our righteousness. God has made Him to the believer—righteousness (1 Cor. 1:3030But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)). “In the Lord have I righteousness" (Isa. 65:2424And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)). And that risen Christ in the glory of God "who was raised again for our justification," is the believer's ever-subsisting righteousness. And as God looks upon us He sees us in Christ Covered with Christ. "P erect through His comeliness which He has put upon us” (Ezek. 16:1414And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:14)). “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:1717Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17)). What a covering! What a robe! Christ Himself. Cleansed by Christ and clothed with Christ, so that “we are complete in Him" (Col. 2:1010And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:10)). We look at ourselves and see nothing but imperfection. God looks at Christ and sees nothing but perfection, and we are in Him.
Arrived at this point our hearts might well say. “He has given us so much. Surely there is nothing more now." Ala., yes there is. And God says, I have cleansed you, and clothed you, now let me complete all these blessings by crowning you. “And I said let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head" (verse 5).
In Ex. 29:66And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. (Exodus 29:6), we learn that the High Priest wore the miter with the golden crown on it. How sweetly this speaks to us of Jesus, our great High Priest, who has passed into the heavens, and is now crowned with glory and honor. But God has given the believers also the place of Holy Priests, and we can go in and “offer up our spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." And also go out as Royal Priests to show forth the virtues of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." So that our present position as priests is Holy and Royal (1 Peter 2:5-95Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:5‑9)). We cannot say We are crowned yet, but by-and-bye the crowning will take place. And what shall we do with our crowns when we get them? Why, take them and cast them at His blessed feet, and tell Him that “He is worthy" and He alone.
Oh, what privileges are ours. And I am sure that the more we know what it is to be cleansed, clothed, and look forward to being crowned, the fuller our hearts will be to enter into His presence to worship and praise, and go out in testimony and service for Him in the world, "Men wondered at" (verse 8).
Yes, "Men wondered at." Standing miracles and monuments of grace. Seeking to carry out our responsibilities (verse 7), not to obtain favor, but because it has been shown us in our unworthiness. And if even now we are "Men wondered at," how much more shall we be so when we return with Him, when He comes “to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe, in that day" (2 Thess. 1:1010When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:10)); "And throughout the eternal ages be shows the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us by Christ Jesus " (Eph. 2:77That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)).
The Lord give you, my reader, if unsaved to see your own condition in this picture, and may you "lay your hand upon your mouth,” and let Him justify you. W. B.