Michael P. V. Barrett, Complete in Him: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Gospel (Greenville, SC: Ambassador-Emerald International, 2000), 141–42 (formatting added):
A vivid, divinely given illustration of this [i.e., God’s positively imputing Christ’s righteousness to us] occurs in Zechariah 3.
- The passage begins with a judicial scene in which Joshua, the high priest, is standing before the Angel of the Lord and is being accused by Satan.
- As the high priest he is serving as man’s representative, an accurate picture of how every man on his own stands before God.
- He stands silently, dressed in detestably filthy garments with no self-defense before the Judge. This scene graphically pictures how man appears before God in all the filthy rags of his own righteousness.
- Seemingly out of the blue God rebukes Satan and rescues Joshua as a brand plucked from the burning. Joshua is accepted before the Lord and allowed to stand in His presence.
The text highlights two essential elements of that acceptance.
- The Lord graciously pardoned sin. This is pictured by the removal of the filthy garments and explained directly: “I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee” (3:4). The guilt and, therefore, the liability for punishment and penalty was removed.
- The Lord provided righteousness. Not only were the filthy garments removed, but they were replaced with costly and glorious clothes which represent that robe of righteousness, the garment of salvation, that renders the wearer presentable before the Lord.
In justification, God both pardons sin and imputes the righteousness of Christ.
- R. C. Sproul, The Priest with Dirty Clothes (Nashville: Tommy Nelson, 1997; 2nd ed. illustrated by Justin Gerard, Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2011).
- Michael Barrett Collection in Logos
- Michael Barrett preaching on Zechariah 3
- Iain M. Duguid, “No Condemnation: Zechariah 3,” in Heralds of the King: Christ-Centered Sermons in the Tradition of Edmund P. Clowney (ed. Dennis E. Johnson; Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 131–45.