May 27, 2020

Day 3: Shouldn’t we have to do something to be saved?

The prophet Isaiah made a startling announcement about human righteousness.

Yesterday we looked at one of Jesus’ names, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. We saw that he was called this because he kept all the commandments in our place—as our substitute. We also saw that all his righteousness can be credited to us.

This doesn’t seem fair. It seems we should be righteous ourselves. After all, shouldn’t we have to do something to be saved?

The sobering news is we can’t. The prophet Isaiah made a startling announcement about human righteousness. He said,

“We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

Isaiah 64:6

Isaiah wrote this in the Hebrew language. What he wrote in the original Hebrew is even more striking. He literally said our righteousnesses are like used menstrual cloths.  

Why did the prophet describe them in this way? It’s because sin contaminates everything we do. We help somebody only to have it tainted with pride. Or think of our motives. We can’t do anything from a completely pure motive. And sin doesn’t just stain our motives and thoughts. It also corrupts our words and actions. We pay our taxes, grumbling throughout the process. We grudgingly obey our superiors. On and on it goes.

Sin contaminates everything we do.

What makes it even worse is that we have trouble seeing this. We like to minimize sin and not call it for what it is. So worry becomes part of human nature. Hurting someone with our words become a mistake. Not helping my neighbor becomes a poor choice.

Minimizing sin is deadly. It’s like a man who denies he has cancer. So, he doesn’t look for a cure. Minimizing sin deludes us into thinking God wants us to add our righteousness to Jesus’ righteousness. In fact, it often goes further. It makes us think it is all up to us to fill the heart with plus signs. It gives Jesus credit for washing away our sins but no credit for the plus signs.

That’s deadly. Because our “plus signs” are really minus signs. They are nothing but filthy rags.

It’s essential, and so comforting, to know that Jesus is our righteousness.  For only his righteousness is acceptable to God.

Friends, place all your trust in Jesus.

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