googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Isaiah 64:6: Filthy Rags

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Isaiah 64:6: Filthy Rags

"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 taken us away." Isaiah 64:6

The Bible always has an especially vivid way of painting pictures with words. For many years, I had heard this passage and always pictured my “good” works seen as rags. But it dawned on me recently that it’s more than that.

You see, when I was growing up, we used to save old t-shirts and sometimes use them for rags. We used them to wash cars, dust furniture, clean up paint brushes, etc. They were actually quite useful. My family used to refer to wash cloths as “wash rags” and dish cloths as “dish rags.” I even would buy boxes of rags for use in my garage. I’d use them to wipe off my oily hands after I’d worked on the cars or to clean up spills in the garage.

But Isaiah didn’t refer to our “good” works as rags. He referred to them as “filthy rags.”

A rag is only useful when it is clean. A filthy rag is worthless. When I was done working on the cars, I would wipe off my hands with a rag and then put the rag in a box to be cleaned. If I tried to clean up with a dirty rag, I’d just get myself dirtier. And if a rag was especially dirty, I would simply throw it away. An oily rag in the washing machine would only make all the other clothes dirty too.

If you’ve ever tried to “clean up your act,” it’s not likely you’d have a lot of success. Even the best we can do doesn’t make us clean before God. If we try to make up for our past sins by being good, we’re just wiping ourselves off with filthy rags.

The remedy for our sins is not a wiping off with our own filthy works. Rather it is through repentance and turning to Christ.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

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