by John Greene
In the religion of Christianity, there exists a cruel falsehood that multitudes accept for truth: “Your righteousness is as filthy rags.” I’ve heard this ‘truism’ at least several times in the sermons of pastors in my early life. Most believe, according to official dogma, that because of original sin, we cannot produce any righteous acts. Because of this emphasis, many professed Christians make little or no effort to live righteously by the Word of Elohim [YHWH]. They believe that YHWH cares about their acknowledgment of belief in the sacrifice of Yahshua [Jesus] rather than their personal conduct. What have you been told? What do you believe? More importantly, what does scripture say? (Matthew 5:6, 16, 16:27; Acts 10:38; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; “Doctrine Is What You Do“; “Victory Over Wickedness“)
“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O Elohim [YHWH}, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we have all become 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. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O Yahweh, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” – Isaiah 64:4-8, WoY
Isaiah was writing about the wretched state into which the covenant people of YHWH had descended at that time. Being delivered from Egypt with great signs and wonders into a new land wasn’t enough. Israel had turned to false gods. (Isaiah 42:17) Jerusalem had become a harlot like Sodom. (Isaiah 1:21, 3:9) Many pretended righteousness as they secretly burned incense on strange altars. (Isaiah 65:3-5) As a nation, Israel had rejected YHWH. Isaiah said directly that they were defiled, as dirty rags used for menstrual flow and disposed of outside the camp of Israel. The nation was unclean in YHWH’s sight.
Professors of this theory have taken scripture out of context, applying this philosophy of “dirty rags” taken from verse 7 and applying it to Christians. In this way, these professors have demoted Christians to the same unsaved state of the world, putting disciples under the authority of the world. (2 Timothy 2:15) In verse 5, Isaiah says simply that YHWH intercedes for him who rejoices and does righteousness, those that remember Him. YHWH acts for those that wait on Him. (Isaiah 29:13-16, 64:4) In the face of Elohim of Hosts, all have sinned. Not one of us can save ourselves. However, when you are actively involved in personal ministry and lifestyle for YHWH, you are made righteous, justified through repentance and by your trust in Elohim through the shed blood of Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah. (John 10:14-15, 14:6; 1 John 3:7, 10; Philippians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18; Psalm 15:1-2; Proverbs 24:16) Without question, your Heavenly Father comes to aid, to be with those that love Him and prove that by their love. (Isaiah 64:4-5; “A Hidden Lifestyle Message from Messiah“; “YHWH’s Track of Righteousness“)
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that Elohim is no respecter of persons [shows no partiality]: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.’” – Acts 10:34-35, WoY
When taken in context, Isaiah admits that all are potter’s vessels to be used for the purposes of YHWH or dashed to pieces as unsuitable vessels. (Jeremiah 18:1-12, 19:1, 10-15; Isaiah 64:8; Ephesians 5:26; Romans 9:21-23; Psalm 127:1; “What Is Washing By The Word?”; “Disciple: The Pattern of Your Life“) Today, through Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah, disciples meet with Father YHWH’s approval through His covenant love.
Clearly, the “dirty rags” philosophy couldn’t apply unless you turn away from YHWH’s truth (as the Jews did) and continue to sin without repentance and forgiveness. (Matthew 6:12, 14-15, 24-33; 2 Corinthians 7:1; James 4:4) We don’t want to be like the Pharisees, or the unrepentant, living arrogantly apart from YHWH. (Romans 3:13; Psalm 5:11-12) We cannot gain favor through religious efforts of legalism or through ritual, for this kind of behavior cares nothing about YHWH, the power of the sacrifice of Yahshua [Jesus] or the living power of the Holy Spirit. Legalism and ritual don’t make you a friend of Elohim. (Romans 4:6-8; Psalm 32:1-2)
The works of every man or woman are imperfect, but your Heavenly Father smiles on your acts of kindness and conviction through Messiah. You cannot be delivered into YHWH’s Kingdom without displaying Elohim’s love or the fruit of that Spirit. (John 5:29; Colossians 1:10) This doesn’t change the loving-kindness or grace of YHWH, since personal salvation is a gift through covenant with Him. By imitating Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah, each disciple is able to reflect the joy that salvation and forgiveness bring in an imperfect world. Your acts of love towards others are not dirty rags, but a white prayer shawl of praise, love and commitment, bought with the blood of Yahshua [Jesus]. (Revelation 6:11, 7:13; “YHWH’s Prayer Shawl of Protection“)