Many people believe that in the end we are all going to the same place, but the Bible does not teach that. Revelation 20:15 says, “And if anyone was not found with his name written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:27 identifies the ones who will be allowed into the holy city: “There shall in no case enter into it anything or the one doing abomination or making a lie. Rather those having been written in the book of life of the Lamb.”
How do you get your name written in this book? How do you keep your name from being taken out of this book? The tragedy is that in this modern world there are so many in the last generation who will think they are going to be saved, but they will learn at the end that they are lost.
In this article we will study about our eternal destiny. We will begin with a prophecy concerning the spiritual condition of God’s people just before Jesus comes.
In Matthew 22, we read about the man who did not have on the wedding garment; he was not allowed into the wedding. The prophecy in Zechariah 3 shows that we do not have on the wedding garment. It is a most startling prophecy, because nobody can go to the wedding feast without having on the wedding garment, a garment of character that has no spot or wrinkle.
“And he showed me Joshua the great priest standing before the messenger of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.” Zechariah 3:1. The word Satan is one of the few words in the English language that is a direct transliteration from the Hebrew word satan. The Hebrew name Satan, which means “the adversary,” was given to Lucifer after he fell. He is God’s adversary, and if you are a follower of God, he is your adversary. The different names Satan has in the Bible are significant.
Jesus said that the devil was a liar, but when the devil came to the angels in heaven and to Adam and Eve, he mixed error and truth together. To really be effective at deception, one must tell the truth most of the time. What we see in Zechariah is that the accusation the devil brought was true! “And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah gives a rebuke to you, Satan. Jehovah, the one who is choosing among Jerusalem, rebukes you. Is not this a brand that is plucked from the fire?” Verse 2.
Who is this brand that is plucked from the fire? It is you and me. What does it mean when it says that it is “a brand that is plucked from the fire”? That means this is a person who, because of his or her sins, is about to be destroyed, but the Lord says, “I am going to pull you out of the fire.”
Joshua had been pulled out of the fire, but notice his condition in verse 3: “And Joshua was clothed in filthy garments.” Now, stop right there. Can you go to the wedding feast in filthy garments? No, you cannot, but this is a description of God’s people. Ellen White wrote much about this. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 467–476, “Joshua and the Angel.”) Those in filthy garments apply with particular force to God’s people at the end of time, right before probation closes.
We can cover ourselves any way we choose; we can make ourselves look as nice as possible, but God knows what is in the heart, and He tells us that our garments are filthy. You see, all through Scripture, from the fig leaves to the Book of Revelation, garments symbolize character. (See Revelation 19:7, 8.)
This is the crux of what is known as the shaking. The shaking occurs when we realize that we have on filthy garments, and if a miracle does not happen in our lives, we are lost.
“And he answered and said to those standing by him, Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, ‘See I have caused to pass away from you your iniquity, and you shall be clothed in a royal robe.’ ” Verse 4. Taking away the filthy garments means that our iniquity is taken away. (Continue to read through Zechariah 3:7.) God’s children are to have their filthy garments taken away.
Cause of Defilement
What is it that causes God’s people to be clothed in filthy garments? Obviously, a garment that is filthy is a garment that is not pure. It is a garment that is polluted, defiled. In the law of God is spelled out the cause for a man or a woman to become defiled or polluted. That is the first thing that is done in the Bible. The first five books of the Bible explain that explicitly, so we will not make a mistake.
If we are clothed in filthy garments when probation closes, we will be lost. In Revelation 22:11, 12, it says that the one who is filthy is going to stay that way, but those that are saved will have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14.
We can be clothed in filthy garments because of the way we eat. Leviticus 11 details the clean and unclean foods, and in verse 44, the Lord said to the children of Israel, “You are not to defile yourselves by eating these things. I am holy so you are to be holy.”
Our Protestant friends may say that this is not in the Ten Commandments, and the law was nailed to the cross. Well, the clean and unclean foods in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 have nothing to do with the ceremonial system of the sanctuary. It has nothing to do with the Levitical priesthood.
Isaiah 66:15–17 talks about the time when the Lord is going to come to this world with wrath to judge the people because of their wickedness. It talks about different classes of people that are going to receive God’s wrath, and it mentions that those who are eating swine’s flesh and the mouse are going to receive the wrath of God.
We need to understand that we can be clothed in filthy garments because of what we eat.
Leviticus 18 talks about lewdness, immodesty; it takes in everything having to do with pornography in all its forms—whether dress, music, reading, or whatever it is. Leviticus 18:24 says, “Do not defile yourselves in any of these things, because in all these things the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.”
We are living in a time which has become more and more deeply involved in lewdness and immodesty and pornography of all kinds. All such things cause a person to wear filthy garments.
There was a time when Seventh-day Adventists did not believe in going to the movies.
There are several things wrong with watching drama—whether it is movies in the theater, on the television, or on the video or DVD, or attending a live dramatization in a theater or elsewhere.
Dramatization involves people acting a part. The person who is acting is actually telling a lie. If we watch movies or other drama presentations, we are watching somebody act out a lie. It has become so bad that men take parts where they are acting the part of Jesus Christ. Think about the blasphemy! They take parts as well where they are acting the part of evil spirits.
The movie industry has played a significant part in our society in introducing more and more immodesty of every kind. The people who watch this and who listen to the music with immoral lyrics are clothed in filthy garments.
In Exodus 32, God said to Moses, “Your people have corrupted themselves.” “Moses saw the people, that restraint was removed, because Aaron had removed the restraint.” Verses 7, 25.
What restraint was removed? It was the restraint that God ordained should exist between men and women. Men are to keep their hands off women. Ellen White wrote that it is permissible for a preacher, or anyone else, to shake a woman’s hand. But, she cautioned that a woman’s hand should not be held too long or she could be caused to sin. Even the minister or other individuals could sin. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 598.)
The restraint that God ordained should exist between men and women was removed in the experience in Exodus when they were dancing around the golden calf. It is removed in the dancing that is done today.
Familiarity in speech and in touching is causing God’s people to be clothed in filthy garments.
In the Bible, the Lord talks about the stones that we have in our bags. (See Deuteronomy 25:13–15; Leviticus 19:36; Proverbs 16:11; 20:10, 23; Micah 6:11.) In ancient times, when individuals went to buy something, there would be a scale; upon one side of the scale the seller would place his or her weight, and the buyer, on the other side, would place whatever was being bought so the scale would balance. Of course, people who did a lot of buying and selling learned how to work things to their advantage. They had two bags of stones—the heavy bag was used for buying; the bag filled with stones that were light was used for selling.
The Lord counseled that we are not to have two kinds of stones in our bags—a heavy bag and a light bag. We are to have a just weight and a just balance. In other words, we are to be strictly honest.
If we take advantage of one another, we are clothed in filthy garments.
Revelation 21:27 tells us that no one will enter into the holy city who works an abomination. An abomination is something that is hated, especially something that God hates. In Proverbs 6:16–19, Solomon identifies seven things God hates: a proud look, a haughty look; a deceitful tongue; hands that shed innocent blood; a heart devising wicked plots or plans; feet that hurry to do evil; a deceitful mouth, a false witness; and one who brings about strife among brethren.
The people involved in these kinds of things have on filthy garments.
Anger, Lust, Hatred
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed that the filthy garment begins in the heart. Even if we do not say or do anything, we have hearts that are filthy and polluted.
For example, in Matthew 5:21, 22, we are told, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, you shall not murder, but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.” Jesus was not telling us that we could be angry if we have a cause, but if we do not have a cause we cannot be angry, because almost everybody who gets angry has a cause! (See Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 55–57.)
In Matthew 5:27, 28, we are cautioned against lust. Lust has to do with the mind. That is where sin begins. I have heard some people say that we can think whatever we want, just do not do it. That is one of the devil’s lies. Jesus tells us that if we are lusting in our minds, but we do not ever take action, we are still in filthy garments.
Then, in verse 43, Jesus spoke specifically of hatred: “You have heard that it is said of them in old time to love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” Hatred comes from the heart.
If we have a problem with anger, lust, or hatred, we are in filthy garments.
Take Them Away
What does it mean to take the filthy garments away? It means to have our iniquity taken away. It happens at the end of the Day of Atonement.
The Lord says, “In my ways you will go. If my charge you will keep, you will govern my house and keep my courts. You will be men wondered at.” Zechariah 3:8. Those who will be wondering are the people who are not saved, who do not have on the wedding garment.
You see, some of the people who are not saved are claiming today that having on a garment without spot or wrinkle is not possible. But, according to the Bible, there will be some people who have on a garment or character without spot or wrinkle, and they are the only ones going to heaven.
“To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ Matthew 22:12. Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper’ (cf. Luke 14:24).
“As they are separated from the loyal ones, Christ looks upon them with deep sorrow. They occupied high positions of trust in God’s work, but they have not the life insurance policy that would have entitled them to eternal life. From the quivering lips of Christ come the mournful words of regret, ‘I loved them; I gave My life for them; but they persisted in rejecting My pleadings, and continued in sin.’ ” The Upward Look, 301.
Friends, the filthy garments must be removed.
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.