“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6
What is “RIGHT?” There is that which man would say is right, and that which God says is right. The difference is like the distance of the heavens above the earth. On the one hand, “right-ness” from man’s perspective has its origin in the depths of human nature. On the other hand, the eternal concept of “right-ness” has its beginning and realization IN GOD. In our “modern” manner of speaking today, we hardly ever use the word, “righteousness.” And yet, the meaning of this word has eternal ramifications. What does “righteousness” truly mean? It is first and foremost that which is declared RIGHT in the sight of God. He sets the standard, for He IS the standard.
At one point in the life of Abraham, the Lord led him outside at night, and told him to look up into the sky. When he looked at the innumerable stars in the sky, God said: “So shall thy seed (descendants) be.” (Gen. 15:5) Then the word of God declares: “And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and He (God) counted it to him for righteousness.” God gives to Abraham a promise, a declaration of His will. Abraham simply responds by specifically, and whole-heartedly, believing God. This is the RIGHT thing to do in the sight of God. I believe it was Henry Ironside who put it so simply: “God said it; I believe it; That settles it.” Why is this God’s way? It is for two reasons. First, in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote, “…Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Rom. 3:4) It is NOT the right thing in the sight of God to believe in the words of a liar. Why? Because the fallen nature of man has nothing to do with the holy nature of God. This is why God declares, “We are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousness (“right-ness”) are as filthy rags.” Our concept of a holy God is skewed if we believe that true “rightness” can come from any other source than the Lord Jesus Christ. The second reason that FAITH alone is God’s way, is simply, that it is a gift of God. He deals with us out of His grace, and gives faith to those who seek Him for it.
In Isaiah 55, the Lord’s word to Israel is a most wonderful one: “… EVERY ONE that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that has no money; come, and buy, and eat: yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price…listen diligently unto Me…Incline your ear, and come unto Me…hear and your soul shall live.” (v.1,2,3) What is God saying here? True “right-ness” in His eyes is that which He gives. It is not earned…nor bought with the things of this world. Rightness is responding to Him according to what He declares.
Dear Father, we thank You that Your ways are not those of man…they are so very high and holy, and yet, so simple that we can understand. You give faith when You speak, and you speak to us in Your word. Give us abundant grace today to understand what You are saying to us, and grace to take our stand by faith upon the promises. In Jesus’ name, Amen.