Recently, as I was expounding on the evils of “Worm Theology” and refuting the idea that we are all “wretched” and “worthless” creatures in God’s eyes, someone asked me what I thought about the verse that says:
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” [Isaiah 66:6]
First of all, I need to point out what this verse is NOT saying: It is NOT saying that we [as human beings] are “filthy rags.” It’s saying that “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” Big difference.
My attempts to become righteous by my own works are equal to a “filthy garment”, and that word in the Hebrew is literally the term for a “menstrual rag.” [Hold that thought for a moment and we’ll come back to it, I promise].
So, very simply, this verse is telling us that our own efforts to achieve righteousness based on our own “good works” are equal to a menstrual rag.
God is not calling you or me or anyone else a “filthy rag” here. That’s not what is being communicated.
Got it? [Good].
Let’s go back to the “menstrual rag” metaphor. Why use this image in reference to our own attempts at righteousness? Because a woman’s period is when the un-fertilized egg is expelled from the body in an issue of blood.
It’s a mental picture of a failure to conceive new life within the womb.
That’s key to what we’re about to see next.
In the New Covenant scriptures, Jesus says something astounding along these same lines:
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” [John 17:3]
This is a direct inversion of the Old Covenant scripture referenced above about “filthy rags.”
Because the word Jesus uses here for “know” is the Greek word “Ginosko” which is the term for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.
Stay with me here. The prophet Isaiah tells us in the Old Covenant that our attempts at righteousness are like a menstrual cloth: A failure to fertilize an egg and produce life. Then Jesus tells us in the New Covenant that eternal life is when we have an intensely intimate connection with God which conceives new life within us.
That’s the mic drop.
Our attempts to become righteous by our own efforts are like a failed birth cycle which results in a menstrual period.
Actual life is only possible when we have such an intimate knowledge [Ginosko] and connection with God that it conceives new life within us.
So, that “filthy rags” image is not only NOT about us being filthy creatures in God’s eyes, it’s actually a much more profound picture of how we can only find real life and experience true transformation by drawing nearer to God in an intimate relationship of lover and beloved.
You are loved.
God, who is love, created you to be loved.
When we finally embrace our identity as God’s beloved and fully immerse ourselves in an intimate connection with this Divine Love, we suddenly discover what we were always intended and designed to experience: Love unending and Life abundant.
Now, go and “know” this God who loves you wider, longer, higher and deeper than you can possibly imagine.
You’ll find new life, and so much more, if you do.
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