Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grace in a Pile of Rags

When God's righteousness is mentioned in the gospel, it is God's action of declaring righteous the unrighteous sinner who has faith in Jesus Christ. The righteousness by which a person is justified (declared righteous) is not his own but that of another, Christ. ~Martin Luther

I opened the laundry room door and was assaulted with the pungent blast of strong cleaning agents. No wonder! My rags had been soaking in a mixture of bleach and detergent. A few hours later I was folding clean, white rags -- smiling.

Well, smiling until I got to the two orange-oil stained cloths. The two that won't come clean no matter how long I soak them. As I stared at them, I was reminded of the filthy rags Isaiah talked about: We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.

How often do we try to bleach our way into righteousness? We look like a Christian on the outside, but what about our heart? We compare ourselves to the sinful lives of others and declare ourselves righteous.

Our Heavenly Father does not compare us to those around us, but to His own righteousness. It is who He is -- holy and just. Our access to Him would be impossible except that in His great love for us He offered grace.

I kept my oil-stained rags because I saw them as useful, even though in my best plan they would be white. God's best plan was that we would be sinless, righteous. Consequently, in His grace, He made a way for us. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are (Romans 3:22).

Regardless of how many good works we perform, how we look or what we profess, it is only through Jesus that God sees us as sinless -- righteous through the blood of Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins. 
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Christy Willard said...

Pamela: Really appreciate this word picture — the stained rags and our sinful hearts. I'm so thankful that God sees us "white as snow."

Christy @ A Heartening Life

Christy Willard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

I do not comment often, but your posts are always nourishment. Thank you!

Denise said...

Amen my friend.

Margie Clyde said...

A good post-so thankful for the righteousness of Jesus on my part.

Shannon Wallace said...

Isn't it amazing when an ordinary thing in our life (laundry) can be used to illustrate God's Word? :)

Today there are far too many religions (that proclaim to be Christians--of course, that's up to God is they are saved or not) that focus on their good works. I remember blogging once about that, and that what is the "magical" number? What is your life is cur short, such as the death of a child, and they didn't have enough time to do that specific number of good works? Then what? They're doomed? NO!!!! I love what Les Feldick emphasizes over and over...Faith + Nothing! Doesn't mean we sit on our rears and do nothing, but that when we have accepted Him into our hearts, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we want to do those good works. Not for us or our glory, but for Him.

Terra said...

Nicely said, and I always enjoy reading your posts, which give me pause to think.

Ceil said...

Hi Pam! And it's so wonderful that God can still use us, even though we are 'stained', isn't it? I'd much rather be perfect, but I can't attain that.

Even imperfect I can help the Lord. What a wonderful God we have!