Filthy Rags

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…  Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)

 I started a new job this summer, helping my husband with his property management business. We prepare guest houses and yards for visitors to this beautiful part of Montana.  It is a family under-taking with our kids doing lawn care and household tasks.  My job is to help when there is cleaning.

Each home has a cleaning closet with all the necessary supplies, including a box of clean rags.  One by one I use the rags to wipe the kitchen, dust the living room, and scrub the bathrooms.  I’m always grabbing a new rag to make the house shine.  Sometimes my husband uses one of my damp rags to wipe down the blackened grill outside.  By the end of my shift, I depart with a bucket of grungy rags to wash and return the next time.

The other day I came across this verse from Isaiah about filthy rags.  Whereas I would like to be one of the clean rags in the closet, Isaiah says all my good deeds are like filthy rags to God!  He’s not talking about my sins, he’s referring to the good things like baking cookies for a neighbor and sending a card to a sick person.  My righteousness is like the grimy bucket of dirty fabric I bring home from these cleaning projects.  Oh, what a sobering thought!

The Message Bible says it like this:

We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated.
Our best efforts are grease-stained ragsIsaiah 64:6  (MSG)

With God’s Word telling us we’re no good, what hope do we have?  We have the hope of Jesus Christ!  He promises to wash away all our sins and make us clean and new and righteous, so that one day we can stand before God, not as filthy rags, but as those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb.

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 (NKJV) 

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
      They shall be as white as snow;
      Though they are red like crimson,
      They shall be as wool. “   Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:14 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  As you go about your cleaning tasks at home or work today, remember Isaiah’s words about filthy rags.  Let’s confess our sins to God and let Jesus wash us white as snow.

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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