ISAIAH’S FILTHY RAGS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BY WORKS

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Edward O’Hara…

When Paul spoke of his righteousness that came from his blameless law keeping in Phil.3:6 he said that it was both “dung” and “loss” compared to knowing Jesus. And when Isaiah spoke of the righteousness of the Israelites as “filthy rags” he was not speaking of bad behavior as some have been led to believe. He was speaking of their keeping the law blamelessly just as Paul did. It was because they thought that the righteousness they gained from it was the righteousness that made them acceptable to God that it was filthy rags to God. Because works have never been the means for the righteousness that makes men acceptable to God. Righteousness unto eternal life has always been by grace through faith. Even though while under the Old Covenant it was also necessary that Israel keep the law.

What Does Philippians 3:6 Mean?

Both Paul and Isaiah were writing about the righteousness of works in their references to it as filthy rags, dung, and loss. The righteousness that comes through blameless law keeping. So my question is why would anyone teach as so many do now that it is from the righteousness Jesus gained through perfect law keeping being imputed to men that they are made acceptable to God? Because as Isaiah and Paul both said, the righteousness that comes through blameless law keeping is “dung”, “loss”, and “filthy rags”. So it can not be the righteousness we need to be acceptable to God. And since this is true then why would it make any difference whether it is the man or Jesus that keeps the law? Because as Paul plainly taught, “No flesh shall be justified by the keeping of the law.”

“Oh, but it’s different when Jesus does them” they say. “Because when He does them they’re not our works, they’re His works. And because it is His works and not ours, and they are imputed to us and not earned by us, His imputing His blameless law keeping to us is the grace of God that makes us righteous.” 

But, don’t you see that whether we do them or Jesus does them these are still the works of the law that Isaiah and Paul both said were “filthy rags”, “loss”, and “dung”? They did not teach that the works of the law for righteousness are only filthy rags, dung, and loss when anyone besides Jesus does them. And wasn’t Jesus fully man so He could be tempted in all points just as we are? Heb.4:15 says He did. And didn’t Jesus lay aside His power as God so that He could do this? Phil.2:7 says He did. So to believe that righteousness is when Jesus’ blameless law keeping is imputed to us is a rejection of what we have seen that Isaiah and Paul said about works. 

Hebrews 4:15–16

Paul taught “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

So God’s grace is not His treating us as if we have not sinned because Jesus’ blameless law keeping(works) is imputed to us. The Bible does not define grace that way. 

The Bible defines grace as God’s love in action. And because law keeping, no matter who does it, is filthy rags in regard to righteousness, then grace can not be Jesus’ works of blameless law keeping being imputed to us. The grace of God is God acting in coming as a man to join with man in our mortality. So that by His death and resurrection we could join with Him in His immortality. And it is when we trust in Him as Lord and God as He trusted in the Father that God’s grace considers us to be righteous. And has nothing to do with the payment of a penalty for sin in our place that brought Jesus to die on the cross. 

Consider Jesus in His life as a man. He fought off temptation with the word of God (Mt.4). And when He had desires that were different from what the Father’s plans were for Him He said “Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done” in Luke22. This then is how we are made righteous. Not by ours or Jesus’ blameless law keeping. And not by Jesus’ blameless law keeping being imputed to us. But, by trusting in Jesus as He trusted the father so that by the faith of Christ we are righteous just as Jesus was. This is what John was teaching when he wrote “As He is so are we in this world”. We are righteous just as Jesus is because we trust in Him as He trusted in the Father. This is what Paul was teaching when he wrote that we are righteous by the faith of Christ in Gal.2:16 and Phil.3:8,9. 

This is why Paul said in Eph.2:8,9 that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Here Paul is telling us that salvation has nothing to do with Jesus’ works being imputed to us to make us righteous. And that it is not by our own works that we are made righteous. But, that because we have believed in Jesus just as He believed the Father we are righteous just as He was. By grace through faith and not by works. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 "Saved Through Faith" Inspirational Art ...

So if you have been deceived to believe that Jesus’ works being imputed to you are what make you righteous then turn from that false teaching and receive the righteousness of faith that alone can give you eternal life. Believe in Jesus as He believed the Father saying nevertheless not my will Jesus, but thy will be done, just as Jesus said to the Father. And in doing this you will be righteous and a child of the living God. Joined to Him by birth and heir to His kingdom. 

If you have not believed in Jesus as He believed the father, but instead in His works for righteousness, then pray with me now so that you can have eternal life. Don’t let the legalists rob you of the gift of life that God has for you. 

Dear Jesus, thank you for showing me who you are. Thank you for showing me that works save no one. Thank you for showing me what by grace through faith really means. So that I can be righteous just as you are righteous by faith without works. By the same faith you had in the Father and not by any works that you have done. Thank you for delivering me from the legalism of the Pharisees into the grace of God. help me to live in your grace from now on. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

See you there or in the air!

This message can also be herd at YouTube

Edward O’Hara

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