Sunday, August 2, 2015

Clean or Filthy

Clean or Filthy
August 3, 2015
Isaiah 64:6  "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."

If you surround yourself with enough people who fill your head with what you want to hear, it will become your reality.  If you can find five people to tell you that you smell like roses, then you must clearly smell like roses, right?  What if those five people couldn't really smell anything, but you didn't know it?  Would it still be true that you smelled like roses?  There are many presumed preachers of the Lord's Word who would espouse doctrine not perfectly aligned with Scripture.  Yet, they can convince you of their truths and lead you astray.  One such teaching is that your best is good enough and the Lord will only hold you accountable if you are not doing your best.  Your best, my best is not good enough, no matter what someone might tell you.  There isn't a single human being out there who smells like roses even if someone tells you that.

Scripture teaches that there is not one righteous.  It actually says that a human's best righteousness is likened to filthy rags.  The literal translation in the Bible to those filthy rags is actually quite vulgar.  You can take a clean dish rag and scrub your pots and pans with it, turning the rag brown, but that is not what this is talking about.  Sure the rag would be dirty, but it is just lightly soiled from the dishes.  Filthy rags in the Bible's literal translation of the word, in specific context, is a woman's bloodied menstrual cloth.  In the Bible, there were specific rules regarding a woman's menstrual cycle and her relative cleanliness.  She was to go through a specific cleaning process each monthly cycle and a priest could not touch her, nor her husband have relations with her during that cycle.  The Lord was trying to prevent the spread of blood born pathogens and requiring these rules reduced infection.  Regardless of the science behind it, even today a bloodied menstrual cloth can be considered disgusting.  Our best righteousness is likened to something that is disgusting.  If you wanted to translate it today, in keeping with the vulgarity of the Scriptural reference, you might suggest that our best righteousness is like used toilet paper.  It doesn't smell like roses.

So, I would ask you a question.  If five people told you that you smell like roses, would it be true?  The Bible says no.  Your best isn't good enough.  This isn't meant to depress you but shed light on anyone who would presume to be arrogant.  If you always thought you smelled like roses, then you wouldn't need a savior.  Thankfully the Lord has provided a way for us to be made completely righteous and pure, but it requires acknowledging that our best is likened to filthy rags, being humbled enough to accept the work of a Savior.  It requires a person to deeply reflect on his or her actions, realizing there is sin in there and many flaws, imperfect regardless of effort.  You might intend to do the right thing, trying your best, but it will fall short of what the Lord would have done.

Unless you are Jesus, your cleanliness is filthy.  Please hear why I express these truths so deeply.  It is not up to you and me to determine right or wrong.  It is not up to you and me to decide what is good or bad.  Hold all your actions against the canon of the Bible.  If it falls short of those teachings, then it is clearly short.  If you cannot find a parallel in Scripture and it falls into a gray area, then realize if it is up to you to decide, it might not end up smelling like roses, despite finding five people who might agree with you.  There is no human jury that can decide righteousness, no person who can determine what is right.  Error on the side of caution and just presume to be less than perfect, even if it is your best, then accept the Savior's forgiveness for the rest.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Romans 3:10 & 23

No comments: