“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV)
In order to fully understand what Isaiah meant in our key passage, we must carefully examine his unorthodox choice of word pictures. The words “filthy rags” come from two Hebrew words: ed and beged (Strongs #899 and #5708). These two words combined connote a primitive piece of cloth used to shield a woman’s menstruation cycle. We should contemplate Isaiah's crude comparison of the Hebraic Law concerning regulations on personal hygiene to vividly illustrate the worth of our self-righteousness. Trying to earn righteousness through works is like trying to clean yourself with a dirty rag. The more you try to wash yourself, the dirtier you become. We cannot cleanse ourselves nor maintain cleanliness before God in our own efforts. Therefore, we must receive the free gift of righteousness by faith, trust in the finished work of Christ, accept the full forgiveness of God, and believe we are finally righteous once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Along with this, we must become aware of our tendency towards self-righteousness and fall full into the Grace of God. How do we know if we're self-righteous? Here are a few indicators...
You Might Be Self-Righteous If...
…you think you’re better than someone because of something you’ve done.
…you constantly obsess about your spiritual growth instead of Jesus.
…your success stories always start with “I...”
…the faults of others dominate your conversations.
…you can’t forgive someone who hurt you.
…your freedom in worship is contingent on how holy you’re living.
…you get nervous, irritated, or angry when grace is mentioned or taught.
…you are uncomfortable around unsaved or immature Christians.
…your definition of “godliness” is based on the frequency of spiritual discipline.
…you find yourself more often judging others instead of loving them.
...you focus on the faults of others instead of receiving grace for yourself.
…you sneer at grace for someone else’s failures, but love grace when you need it.
…you believe you have something to do with your salvation.
…you think Jesus' finished work isn’t enough and that you must add your works to it.
…your definition of “good o'l gospel preaching” is being hard on people.
…you say (or sing) that Jesus will never let you go, but subliminally you don’t believe it.
…you feel that getting to Heaven ultimately depends on you.
…you think that salvation is Jesus' job but maintaining it is your job.
…you believe Jesus saved you from your past sins but not your present and future ones.
…you're trying more instead of trusting more.
…YOUR love for God is the focus instead of HIS love for you.
…you’re racing to finish Christ’s work instead of resting in His finished work.