Flithy Rags Continued . . .

On the previous page, we discussed what Isaiah meant when he wrote, “…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” —Isaiah 64:6. Before you continue, you should read the information on the previous page. If you have not, click here.

Now what are those filthy rags? The Hebrew is וכבגד עדים (ukabeged ehdim, literally, “and like as rags of menstruation”). The words come from these roots: בגד (begged, rags, cloth, etc.) and עד (‘ehd, menstruation or menstrual flow). Sorry to be graphic, but that is what the Bible says here. What we have then, is that our righteous acts are as cloth soiled with menstrual flow. All of those acts that seem to be righteous to us are like soiled menstrual cloths in God’s eyes.

Before we delve more deeply into Hebrew mindset of this statement, let me use an illustration that will bring home what God thinks of the righteous acts of people:

Suppose there is a jewelry store owned by someone near and dear to you. The owner loves you so much that he mortgages his whole estate to buy a precious jewel just for you. He wishes to make it a gift to you. But you, because of your wish to earn the jewel, fill up a sack with soiled menstrual napkins and tampons and you take that sack to the jeweler and offer it to him as payment for the nearly priceless jewel he wishes to give to you. Would you do that? Heavens no!

Well, that is exactly what a person does when he tries to work his way into heaven. He tries to pay for his salvation with a sack of soiled menstrual napkins and tampons.

Disgusting? You bet! It is just that disgusting to God the Father when a person tries to substitute his own work for the work of Christ, His Son, at Calvary.

However, it is even worse than disgusting. Let us investigate the matter of a woman’s monthly cycle in the light of the Old Testament Law.

Leviticus 15:19-24 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. {20} And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. {21} And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. {22} And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. {23} And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. {24} And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.

This passage is speaking about the monthly menstrual cycle. The word rendered ‘separation’ is בנדתה (b’niddataya, literally ‘in her menstruation’) from נדת (niddah, menstruation). Note that the woman is to be set apart from the congregation for seven days. During her period, everything she touches becomes unclean and no clean person may have contact with her or it. It anyone touches her or anything she has touched, that person is unclean until evening. If a man lies with her during her period (strictly prohibited by the Law, (Leviticus 18:19 & Leviticus 20:18 ), he is unclean for seven days. He may not set foot back into the camp for seven days. (The word flowers is another KJV rendering of an inflection of niddah, or menstruation).

Leviticus 15:28-30 But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. {29} And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. {30} And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness.

After the menses have concluded, the woman is unclean for seven days. Then she must offer the sacrifice of two animals, one for a sin offering, and one for a burnt offering that pleases God.

The Israelites took the menstrual cycle very seriously. It would have disgusted them if a woman, in the midst of her monthly cycle, were to intermingle in the camp. They would avoid women during that time. A respectable woman of that time would never mingle in public when she was in the midst of her monthly cycle.

Please note that the rules mentioned above about the menstrual cycle are in keeping with the Mosaic Law. They do not apply today. We are under a New Covenant. With His sacrifice, Jesus repealed the clean/unclean Levitical laws (see Acts 10:10-15). We are observing these verses strictly to learn what God thinks about our attempts to work our way to Him.

The Israelites viewed uncleanness with much gravity. Unclean objects were never touched; the people shunned, avoided, and put them outside the camp. Unclean people were outcasts, like lepers and those with skin lesions: Leviticus 13:45-46, “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” The ten lepers that approached Jesus for healing kept their distance according to law (Luke 17:12-14). Unclean animals were never to be eaten. The Israelites had such an aversion to unclean things that they might become ill at the thought of eating them. Unclean things were absolutely loathing to the Israelites.

Soiled menstrual cloths were unclean because menstrual fluid, which was unclean, was upon the cloths. They were loathing to the Israelites. Because God compares the good works of men to be like those soiled cloths, it is obvious that those good works of men are also repulsive to Him. They are unclean and must stay outside of His presence. They could never be pleasing to God because of His revulsion to them.

God is repulsed when men and women attempt to please Him with their good works. Again, our works are an unclean thing. When a woman, unclean because of her monthly cycle, finished the cycle, she had to offer a sacrifice before she was again clean and allowed back into society. By the same token, since our works are unclean and compared to soiled menstrual clothes, a sacrifice must be made to cleanse them. Since all of our works are like soiled menstrual cloths, then our own works cannot cleanse them (if it seems circular, it is, because it is impossible for our works to cleanse our works). The sacrifice of our own works is insufficient.

Since our works are unclean, they have the exact opposite effect than the effect we desire. Instead of pleasing God, which would allow us into His presence, (in our way of thinking) they actually deeply offend God. Those works disgust Him. There is no way He will accept them.

So, if you are trying to compile enough good works to make up for your sins, forget it. If you wish to make sure your list of good works is longer than your list of bad works, you are in trouble. It will not happen. You are trying to put your good works in the Good Works Column in order to make that list longer that the one in the Bad Works Column. Since your works, good or bad, are as soiled menstrual cloths, and therefore bad in God’s eyes, they are actually all going in the Bad Works Column, making it longer and longer. The point here is, you can never do enough good works to get into Heaven. Indeed without Christ you can do no good works. If all your works are as soiled menstrual cloths, the more you accumulate, the worse the stench gets in God’s nostrils. If you are going to church occasionally and doing a good deed or two once in a while and hoping those things will get you into Heaven, you are out of luck. It will never happen.

Let us harp, for a moment, on the Easter “Christians”. (I understand that Easter is a pagan word from Ishtar and that we should celebrate the resurrection of Jesus instead of Ishtar, but that is another subject for another study. This is for an example only.) In many, if not most local churches, Easter Sunday brings the biggest crowd of churchgoers. Many churches prepare for overflowing crowds at their facilities. We cannot actually know the hearts of those individuals who come to church once a year. Nevertheless, the odds are that many of them think that their one pilgrimage to church per year keeps God happy with them. It is reasonable to suspect that these folks do good deeds throughout the year hoping to add to their yearly good deed of going to church. Unfortunately, because those good deeds are as soiled menstrual cloths, they are really unclean and displeasing to God.

The truth of the matter is that the great majority of humans on this earth are involved in a quest to have more good works than bad so that when they die, they may eventually receive rest. In some religious beliefs it takes many lifetimes, or incarnations before folks can accumulate enough good works to be at rest. Many believe that in this lifetime, they must do enough good works to please God so that they can be at rest after the death of their bodies. In any case, the majority of humans on earth are trying to accumulate more good works than bad in hope of heaven. Sadly, there is no hope of heaven in our own works.

Remember that the woman who has finished seven days after her period must also present a sin offering. If you want to make your works clean, then a sin offering must be made. If you took a turtledove or a pigeon and slaughtered it, that would only provide temporary atonement under the old covenant. Under the new covenant, all you would do is to kill two birds. Nothing else would happen. However, God has provided a perfect sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus Christ, was a perfect and sinless man who died in our place, which can take our sins away. When we believe on Him—that He died and rose from the grave three days later and is alive today—we are saved. His work was perfect while our works are filthy. Now, after He saves us, the works we do are no longer as filthy rags. They are then good works that earn us rewards.

Why is that so? It us because God credits the saved with His own righteousness. He credits His righteousness to the accounts of Christians. A Christian has no righteousness of His own; he has the righteousness of Christ. Because of the belief of Christians, God credits them with righteousness. It is just like Abraham. Genesis 15:6 “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (See also Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23). Just as God imputed or credited His own righteousness to Abraham, He also imputes or credits it to us when we believe in Christ. Once God imputes His righteousness to us, then the works we do in that righteousness are good and righteous works. Before salvation, we do no righteous works; they are all unrighteous and unclean. After salvation, all of our good works are righteous and clean in God’s sight.

Christians are still human and can still do bad works. But their salvation is not dependent upon a list of good and bad works. Their salvation is based on the Priceless Good Work that Christ did at Calvary. When Christians do bad works, which are really sin, then the blood that Christ shed at Calvary covers their sins and they are forgiven their sins. Conversely, when Christians do works that are good, those works are acceptable to God.

If you are not a Christian, that is, if you are not saved, then any and all attempts you make to please God actually displease Him. If God is displeased with you, you will never get into Heaven. Stop bagging up soiled menstrual cloths to present to God in hopes that He will let you into heaven based on those bags. It is not going to happen. You are wasting your time doing good works without Christ. They will do you no good.

If you realize that what is written here is true and you feel some pressure to get your life straight with Christ, that is the Holy Spirit calling you. If the Spirit is calling you, then put your faith in Christ and become saved. Once you are saved, then your good works will count.

How can you be saved? Believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He was, the Son of God. Believe that He was God in the flesh, and that He was killed for your sins and that God the Father resurrected Him on the third day and He now sits at the Right hand of the Father making intercession for our sins. The only way you can really believe this is if the Holy Spirit reveals it to you, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:5-9). The flesh mind cannot know the things of God so man, with his flesh mind can only understand the things of God if the Holy Spirit reveals those things to him. You can understand the things necessary to receive salvation when the Holy Spirit imparts that knowledge to you. The Spirit of God invites men to receive salvation. Unfortunately, many men reject the invitation (Matthew 22:14).

How do you know if the Spirit has invited you or that He is calling you to salvation? You know because you can feel the tug of your conscience telling you that you need to “get right” with God. If you know that you need to make peace with God but you are making excuses not to, that is the calling of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit calls today, you need to respond because there are two things you cannot know. You cannot know if the Spirit will ever call you again, and you cannot know that you will live long enough to make the decision if you put it off now. You may die tonight, tomorrow, or ten minutes from now. You may never get another chance to heed the call of the Spirit. If He is calling, you need to heed Him now. Let down your guard and trust that: Christ is who He said He was, that He was God in the flesh, and that He was killed for your sins and that God the Father resurrected Him on the third day and He now sits at the Right hand of the Father making intercession for our sins. You need not pray a sinners’ prayer, but you may certainly pray to God, telling Him that you believe and trust Him. The prayer will not save you, but the faith will. If you feel the invitation of the Spirit, just do it—believe now!

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