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Updated 6/26/06

Commonly Distorted Verses


OUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS ARE LIKE FILTHY RAGS?

1)  Isa. 64:5-7 - 5You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.

Many people take the statement "our righteous acts are like filthy rags" and distort it into the idea that God sees even the righteous acts of Christians as "filthy rags."  They use this belief to justify sin, claiming that obeying God is not important because "our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God anyway."  Some people even use this verse to make the claim that Christians sin just as much as the rest of the world, and the only difference is that Christians are forgiven for their sins because they are "covered in the blood of Christ."  The problem is that these beliefs clearly contradict the rest of the Bible, and this part of the verse is taken entirely out of context.  In the book of Isaiah, Isaiah the prophet describes repeatedly how Israel has become corrupt and has turned away from God.  In chapter 64, verse 6, Isaiah says "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. . ."  He is describing how bad Israel has become, that even the good they are trying to do is "like filthy rags."  Think about people who try to do good deeds but have selfish or impure motives.  For example, people who give to charities to feel good or enhance their reputation, or people who flatter others for their own benefit.  These people may think and feel like they are doing good deeds, but God knows that their motives are selfish and ungodly.

The second part of verse 6 (all our righteous acts are like filthy rags) further explains the first part (All of us have become like one who is unclean).  Isaiah elaborates on his first statement about Israel by giving an example of how bad they have become.  Also, the Israelites "have become" unclean, which shows that they were not like that in the past.  In other words, their righteous acts were not "like filthy rags" before they had become corrupt.  Another point to consider:  Why would Isaiah follow his statement that Israel has become corrupt by saying that everybody's righteous acts are like filthy rags to God, no matter if we are obeying Him and living righteously or not?  This belief clearly does not fit the context of this passage of scripture.



|  Believe  |  Saved By Grace  |  The Sinner's Prayer  |  Paul Struggling With Sin?  |
|  Our Righteous Acts Are Like Filthy Rags?  |  Galatians  |  Backsliding  |
|  Were The Corinthians Sinful?  |









Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

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