Some of you already know what I’m about to dive into. Others of you may be wondering what dirt I’m going to dig up from my past to share with you, and why. Others of you may be thinking of your own “filthy rags” right now… perhaps things you’ve done in the past that you’re not very proud of.
You may be surprised to learn that God uses this term- “filthy rags”- in the Bible not to describe our sinful acts, but our “righteous” ones! Read 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.”
When held up to God’s Perfect Holy Standard, even our most “righteous” human works look dirty. NONE OF US is clean and holy before Perfect God. You may feel you’re cleaner than the next guy, but you’re still filthy by God’s Standard because you still have sin- you may not stumble at the point that guy does, but you stumble. We ALL do. And by sinning just ONCE, we are considered lawbreakers! Consider these verses-
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” – James 2:10-11
We “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12
No one does good- not even one! No one is righteous and never sins! If we can swallow our pride and get our head around this truth, we may come to understand why submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not only the Key to Salvation, but why we were created in the first place.
Contrary to one of the popular notions that it is our own human goodness that gains us entrance to Heaven, God makes it clear that NO ONE IS GOOD in His Perfect eyes- Our BEST works cannot erase our sin nature!- they are like filthy rags to God! Only God’s Son Jesus Christ is perfect, and since perfection is required for admittance to Heaven, it is Belief in His Son Jesus Christ alone that opens the door to eternal Life with Him! For Perfect Christ was the Only Sacrifice acceptable to God to pay the price for our sin. We could not pay our own debt, but HE DID for us! He is our Perfect High Priest Forever! —
“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” – Hebrews 7:24-28
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
Yes- Heaven is a GIFT from God Almighty! We ALL deserve Hell because every one of us has sin! God knows that even the best we can do is like filthy rags to Him- nothing even close to His Glory- so He provided us with the Perfect, Stainless Covering to atone for our sins…. His Son Jesus Christ- the Perfect Lamb- the Only Acceptable Sacrifice! The ONLY WAY to Heaven! Consider the following verses.–
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:14-16
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” – John 3:36
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27-28
“…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:11-12
Whoever does not have the Son of God does NOT HAVE LIFE! God leaves no room for question on the issue of what happens once we die. There are only two possibilities for each of us- Heaven (Joyous Eternal Life through Christ) or Hell (eternal punishment/death with Satan). God gives us the Key to Eternal Life through His Son Jesus Christ! The alternative is unimaginable, but God gives us a glimpse of what the place of eternal punishment is like.–
“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” – Matt 13:41-43
“He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matt 24:51 [context: v.45-51]
“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” – Matt 25:30 [context: v.13-30]
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” – John 15:5-6
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Rev 21:8
With these descriptions, should anyone NOT be concerned about where they will spend eternity?
We also see in these verses some clear descriptions for THOSE BEING SENT TO HELL– They are those who “reject the Son,” “do evil,” are “hypocrites,” a “worthless servant,” “cowardly,” “unbelieving,” “vile,” “murderers,” “sexually immoral,” “practicers of magic arts,” “idolaters,” and “liars. — Now you may spot yourself in just this handful of descriptions by God!… I can tell you that I see my “old self” clearly in almost every category!! Here is the beautiful amazing thing that happens when you accept Christ into your heart and surrender your life to Him– HE MAKES YOU A NEW CREATION!!! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
No longer a slave to sin, Christ is our Master!!–
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” – Romans 6:14
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:22-23
NOW we have a righteousness that is FULLY ACCEPTABLE to God- based on our FAITH in His Son Jesus Christ!!–
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” -Romans 1:17
[Abraham’s faith] “..was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Romans 4:22-25
We no longer have filthy rags to offer God!- for NOW our good works are the result of God’s Own Grace, Preparation and Empowerment!– Perfectly spotless, beautiful and acceptable to Him!! —
“being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 [context: v.1-6]
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
Beautiful Bottom Line- Our Marvelous God does NOT LEAVE US in our futile state of sin!!!! He does NOT DESIRE TO CAST US INTO HELL, but to wrap His loving arms around us and rescue us from our tragic condition!!!
And when we make that most important decision of our lives >>> accepting God’s Incredible Gift of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ>>>, our sins are washed away by His Blood of Forgiveness!…EVERY LAST ONE of them!!! Contemplate–
“Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” – Romans 4:7-8
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 [context: Rom 7:21-8:4]
“…he [the Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9b [context: v.9]
Yes, THE CHOICE IS OURS! God gives us THE FREE WILL CHOICE to be rescued by His Mighty Hand through Christ Jesus and be made new by His Spirit- which is a deposit GUARANTEEING US HEAVEN (2 Cor 5:5)- or to continue walking in the sin-stained ways of our flesh- offering up our filthy rags to God- which GUARANTEES US HELL .
There are TWO CHOICES. Which one will YOU choose???
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