All Our Goodness is as Filthy Rags

Isaiah 64: 5-6 “You meet him who rejoices and works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways. Behold, You are angry, for we have sinned. In those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”

All our good deeds and right actions are just a dress-up to masquerade as ‘worthy’ of God’s approval.It is not enough to put on an outfit to appear as something we are not. All of our ‘goodness’, as great as it may be, is not goodness if it is not a reflection of our communion with God. If we are in rebellion against God, we are automatically evil. Any performance on our part is reduced to just that: a performance; a show of our good impression of ourself. 

Goodness is defined by God. If we live our lives in rejection of Him, we are judged as having rejected Him and will remain separate from Him eternally. For the purpose of judgment, our good deeds serve nothing to alter our eternal condition, because the fact of our rejection of God has not changed.

God knows our frame, that we are flesh. He knows we will tend to fail on our own, when our desires and urges hold stronger influence in us than His Spirit. While He judges sin, He extends mercy to those who love Him on the basis of our faith in Christ. Rather than leaving us bound by the weakness of our flesh; He has freed us from our flesh through His grace, and extended peace and joy and eternal life to us through faith rather than our good deeds.

We cannot work our way into God’s presence. How would He judge us by works? What works are good enough? How many good deeds would we have to do? How often would we have to do them? What works are bad enough to cancel all our good ones?

God’s standard is perfect righteousness and purity. We can never meet that standard by our own efforts, but God can countenance no other. How shall any be saved from condemnation if our deeds alone must save us? Indeed, none would be saved.