Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Filthy Rags- Fine Linen

Isaiah 64:6a  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment………………

ed=polluted/filthy                                                                                                                                                            From an unused root meaning to set a period; the menstrual flux (as periodical); by implication (in plural) soiling: - filthy.
beged=garment/rags                                                                                                                                         A covering, that is, clothing; also treachery or pillage: - apparel, cloth (-es, -ing), garment, lap, rag, raiment, robe, X very [treacherously], vesture, wardrobe.
It can be said that the Word of God often gets down to the “nitty gritty” of life. There are many illustrations to be found throughout scripture where the Lord uses the most graphic language, and/or the most heinous of sins to further His plans, and to get His point across. The Levite and his concubine in Judges 19; Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38; and of course David and Bathsheba’s adultery and murderous acts serve as examples of this.                                                                                                                                     
The above passage from the prophecy of Isaiah is also a most excellent “word picture” in this same vein. I find it interesting that the professing evangelical church today chooses to avoid these passages in the main, for fear of giving offense to the more sensitive listeners in the congregation. In other words, men are more concerned with their “holy ears” being offended (which by the way is a great representation of a “polluted garment”), but deem it okay for a Holy God.                                                                                                 All of this being said, Isaiah’s declaration here begs further study.

“We have all become like one who is unclean”

Leviticus 15:

19  "When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.

20  And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean.

21  And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

22  And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

23  Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.

24  And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

Since the Lord, through Isaiah, is using the imagery of a soiled menstrual cloth, that then must be carried through the entire statement.
We all are unclean, as the woman in her period is unclean, and everything and everyone that she come into contact with becomes unclean as well.
Why then is our uncleaness described in this manner?

 “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment (soiled menstrual cloth).”

The best works that man can muster are viewed by God to be on the same level as a used menstrual cloth.
Why this type of allegorical expression?

A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

What then does the soiled cloth represent?
Quite simply, it reveals that there was no union of sperm and egg, and therefore gives evidence of the absence of new life; nothing has been conceived.
Our “righteousness” is not life producing in any way, shape or form. Only the righteousness of Christ produces new life. (Romans 5:12-6:5; 1 Cor 15:45)

You might ask; what about the righteous deeds of the saints mentioned in Revelation 19:7-8?
First we must remember that these righteous acts are the material of which the ‘bridal gown’ is made. These are described in detail in Ephesians 2:10 and James 2:14-26.
Faith is given to the saints by God through Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2), and the works of faith which are righteous works come by that faith. Not only is the righteousness of Christ imputed to the saints, and thus we are both fully justified and sanctified; the faith which produces the good works predestined by God for us to accomplish, is also a gift from Him as we do not possess such faith on our own. We are incapable of conjuring it up within ourselves.
The righteous acts of the saints are evidence that they are regenerate, i.e. walking in newness of life; and thus they are not like a soiled menstrual cloth. These righteous acts are not part of a wasted attempt in self-justification or self-sanctification. They are seen as “fine linen, bright and pure”. These predestined, righteous works decreed by God, as performed by the saints, do not bring us to Christ, but proceed from Him.

Titus 2:
11  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

12  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

13  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 3:

4  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,

5  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own

mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

6  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

7  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

8  The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have

believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent

and profitable for people.

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