But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
We all have that one golf towel. This towel stays in the golf bag and is rarely (if ever) laundered. It dries and cleans our golf ball whenever needed even though it is usually both damp and dirty. My golf towel is so dirty I feel sorry for the playing partner who kindly picks it up for me as we exit a green. It’s ironic we use something so foul to clean something of importance. I guess it has something to do with degrees of dirtiness but I rarely see a golf towel that has been used for more than a round worthy of anything sanitary.
The prophet Isaiah was rather harsh when he compared the “good works” of the Israelites to “filthy rags.” I would rather not mention it, but the meaning of “filthy rags” gives us great insight of what the prophet actually compared to man’s righteousness. Literally translated, the “rags” referred to certain female hygiene products. Further, it wasn’t our bad deeds which were deemed worthless and polluted. It is our righteousness that is unclean. If our seemingly “good deeds” are worthless, just imagine how God views our unrighteousness. We try to lessen the degree of which our God hates sin.
The saved soul is enlightened to the fact that our actions and desires are indeed filthy. A close relationship with Christ enables us to clearly see our guiltiness. As good and refreshed as we might feel each morning, we soon realize the fading “as a leaf” referred to by Isaiah. This slow fade continues through the rest of our life. Sin is literally killing us. Spurgeon preached that all of our prayers, our tears, and our good deeds of which we once gloried are all merely “filthy rags.” Part of our enlightenment is the realization that no other sacrifice other than that of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse the stains of our sin.
Conviction upon a lost soul brings about a recognition to the person as to his or her broken attempts of righteousness. Our strength fades and our hopes through man have all been dashed when we ultimately recognize our need for a cleansing. This purification can only have be accomplished by salvation through Jesus Christ.
If our righteousness fails to measure up, it is difficult to imagine the degree to which our God is repugnant to our sis. When we become aware of our insufficiency, we can place a greater faith and reliance upon God. This close relationship is what God has desired from the beginning. Yet, man has continue through the ages to place faith in other devices and creeds.
The longer the golf towel is used, the quicker the holes start to appear. The dampness and dirtiness expedite this process. Such is true with the human body and the effect of sin. Our inequities “have taken us away.” This realization should bring us closer to Christ who has cleansed and washed away our sin-stained soul. Our Savior Jesus Christ is worthy of being glorified and worshipped. It is through only Him we find our righteousness.