Why are all of our righteous acts considered filthy rags?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 64:6). This passage...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Grant Abbott Child of Father, Follower of Son, Student of Spirit
This question references Isaiah 64:6 and the context of this chapter is Isaiah, a prophet of God, interceding for his people, the nation of Israel. Isaiah is confessing their sin, asking God to forgive and save their nation.

After many years of warning his people to confess and repent of their sins, God finally executed his judgment and the Babylonians conquered Israel, took the people captive and destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple.

In their pride and independence, the Israelites had turned their back on God, forsaking the justice, righteousness, mercy and love contained in his laws. Instead, they indulged their sinful desires by worshipping idols, oppressing the poor and needy and similar sins. 

In my view, the lesson and warning for Christians today is two-fold. 

Firstly, do not allow our religious activity, Christian service etc. To lead to pride and independence, because then our righteous acts will be like filthy rags in God’s sight.

Secondly, do not allow unconfessed sin to take hold of our lives to pollute the temple of our bodies that the Holy Spirit has sanctified and made holy. In the same way, our unconfessed/unrepented sin contaminates our Christian activity so that our righteous acts look like filthy rags in God’s sight.

So does that mean God doesn’t care whether we live righteous lives? Absolutely not. The bible is clear that the foundation of God’s throne is justice, righteousness and mercy expressed through love. We were saved by God so we could be used by God to advance his kingdom on earth, so that through the conduct of our personal lives as Christians, the world we see and understand God’s justice, righteousness, mercy and love.

But it is only as we daily surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and walk in step with his Holy Spirit, will our righteous acts shine out like the dawn and push back the darkness like a blazing torch. 

King David expressed this truth so beautifully in these words “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, you God, will not despise.”

September 12 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
It is why Jesus gave us His righteousness when we accepted Him as our only savior. We are not righteous. We are not holy. But the spirit of God that lives in us is holy and that is why we are saved. Without the spirit of the Lord there is no salvation.

When we received the Holy Spirit of promise the minute we trusted Christ to save us, God can now look on us as perfect, even though we are not perfect. Our salvation rests on Him and not on what we do or do not do.

We are born in to the family of God by faith alone. We are given His righteousness at that point and can never be lost. We do not trust in our own righteousness but in the righteousness of God that lives in us. Compared to His righteousness all our righteousness is filthy rags.

How do we know we are saved? We know we are saved because we believed John 3:16. If we say we know we are saved now because we gave up some little sin or something we do, that has nothing to do with salvation, our salvation rests on what Jesus did for us and that we believed on the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved, we have eternal life through him who saved us by grace.

February 19 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Internet image Ben Jones Retired Professional Photographer
The world says that our hearts are "good." How many times have we heard someone say "He (or she) has such a good heart" or "a big heart" or "a heart of gold"? How many times have well intentioned people said, "Just follow your heart," meaning that whatever your heart tells you to do is the right thing to do? But what did Jesus Christ say about the human heart prior to the regeneration and washing by the Holy Spirit? Matthew 15:19: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." Hmmm, He left out "goodness”! Why? Because unsaved mankind does not have a good or righteous heart. 

The Apostle Paul added to the list of what is in the heart of the unsaved man in Romans 1:29-32: "... being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Paul agrees with Jesus! Unsaved mankind is basically rotten to the very core.

But you say, “I know of lots of good things that my unsaved friends do: they give money, they volunteer when disaster strikes they help little old ladies crossing the street and and…” But what is their ulterior motive behind doing these good things? To look good in front of others, or maybe to influence God so He will cut them some slack on judgment day? Jesus said in Luke 6:43, "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit." The born again Christian does acts of righteousness because he has the very righteousness of God! The unsaved person has absolutely no righteousness within their heart of hearts hence their "righteousness is as filthy rags."

March 18 2022 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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