Why Our Works Are As Filthy Rags

Today we are going to dive into the topic of works and righteousness we have as Christians. I’ll give you a hint – we don’t have any because our works are as filthy rags.

It’s only through the finished work of Christ on the Cross that we have any righteousness at all. Thank God for His salvation and His Son!

Let’s dive in and look at Isaiah.

What Does Filthy Rags Mean?

Everything we do in this life is like a filthy rag. Sure, we might do some good things and even be useful for God’s will, but at the end of the day we all still need a Savior.

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

Jesus was our ultimate sacrifice and it is through his blood alone we have righteousness and the ability to have a relationship with our creator.

Our sin is our bondage and Jesus is our salvation from that sin.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:23

Not a few, not a lot, not some… but all.

That means even us Christians are just a bunch of sinners.

There is no difference between the pastor of a church and the homeless bum on the corner who is a drug addict.

Once you have Christ, you have salvation and inherit that righteousness found only in Him.

The bum will need to repent and turn away from his life of sin, but he is of zero difference in comparison to the pastor when it comes to the glory of God.

Both have fallen short.

Salvation does not come by works, it comes by the grace of God and is a gift. There’s nothing you can do to be saved outside of choosing Jesus. And once our name is written in the book of life, it cannot be removed.

I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
Revelation 3:5

What Can I Do?

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

This passage in Galatians illustrates to us the redeemed life.

We are to live out our redeemed lives.

The byproduct of salvation.

Does it mean we’re perfect? No. There’s no perfect person, look again to Romans 3:23, it states, ‘we all fall short.’

So what do we do with Jesus’s righteousness we find his blood? We let our light shine.

 By their fruit you will recognize them…
Matthew 7:16

I love the illustration the Scripture uses, “fruit.”

Fruit is perfect, because it helps illustrate the point that there must first be a tree, branches and leaves.

our works are as filthy rags tree

That means the tree must be nurtured, fed and taken care of.

I like to think of the feeding of our tree as prayer, bible study, church and focusing on doing what we think is right and aligned with God’s will.

These godly habits won’t save us, but they will assist us in living out our Christian faith.

The best part about the “fruit” is the fact it is a byproduct and end result of the tree.

It’s after tending to the tree, the fruit is then produced.

Let’s identify the fruit we are to be looking for in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Do these fruits show up in your own life?

You can’t help but look over the list and mull them over in your mind.

The truth is though, you shouldn’t let your mind and heart try to make the judgement call.

Go to the Lord in prayer and discuss with Him.

Fruit trees, if you look at them, come in all sizes.

Some have a crazy amount of fruit while others have an okay amount.

It’s all about the perspective you take, and in the end, it’s only the Lord’s perspective of your fruit that actually matters.

Don’t confuse the fruits of the spirits with works, they aren’t the same.

Fruits come from the spirit of God that lives inside of you as a born again Christian. He causes you to grow and the fruit to spring forth.

Works are an ill attempts at earning grace with God.

The problem with “works” is when we think we are actually doing something in our own power. Fruit, and good works that honor God are a byproduct of a faithful Christian and God’s work inside him or her.

Our Works Are As Filthy Rags, But God’s Work Is Perfect

While our works are as filthy rags, we can rest assured that God’s works are always perfect.

As you focus on God and grow in your understanding of His love and the depths of who He is laid out in Scripture, I encourage you to abide in Him. It’s the sure-fire way to keep on the straight and narrow path.