(Article for publication week of 6-13-2012 AD)
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have carried us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
Dear reader, do you realise what our text says about you? All of your best deeds do not impress God! In fact, the best you have ever done is only filthy rags!
Now, I am sure that a few of you would recognise that your sins are loathsome to God, (although very few even recognise such a thing as sin any more), but you need to understand that your best obedience is also filthy to God.
Note well, the text says ALL our “righteousnesses” (plural). The most noble act ever performed by a descendant of Adam is, as far as God is concerned (and His opinion is all that really counts), a filthy rag. All the great charitable acts performed by us are to God nothing but filthy rags. All of a man’s religious acts are nothing but filthy rags to God.
I am labouring for the eternal good of your souls. I want you to see your desperately lost condition so that you will flee to Christ as a poor sinner to be saved His way. As long as you entertain any idea of your own personal righteousness, you will not come to Christ, and you cannot be saved.
Look again at the text. The text says that we are all personally “unclean”. The word brings to our mind a poor outcast leper, loathsome to himself and everybody else. As far as your personal standing before God, this is what God thinks of you- a loathsome wretch. The Bible completely abominates the modern teaching of “self esteem.” You have no reason to have any self-esteem, because God esteems you as a filthy thing. You cannot be saved until you renounce all your self-esteem, and confess you are a filthy thing to God.
You are personally filthy, and if you are trying to justify yourself before God, then it is like trying to cover your leprous flesh with filthy rags. This is what our text is telling us; we are filthy, loathsome sinners, and our best deeds of “righteousness” are, as far as God is concerned, “filthy rags.”
Dear Reader, if you will ever be saved, you must renounce your sins. A few of you may believe that. But my text says, you must also renounce your personal righteousness. This is the reason so few are saved; they vainly imagine that they are actually a pretty good person. Oh! That you could see yourself as God sees you!
Now, dear reader, your good deeds may be of some temporal benefit to yourself and others, and it is worse not to perform them, but I am talking about what good they do as far your justification before God and the eternal salvation of your poor soul. “The best obedience of my hands dares not appear before Thy throne” (Isaac Watts).
Renounce your sins, and repent before God! And renounce your righteousness, and flee to Christ and ask Him to give you the robe of His righteousness to cover your nakedness. Ask Him to heal you of your filthy leprosy. I pray the Lord will have mercy on some.