I’ve been pondering Isaiah 64:6 for several days and how our world has gotten so mixed up on this point…we’ve been taught that our ‘performance’ is necessary to earn God’s favor when He tells us clearly that OUR righteousness is as filthy rags.
Isaiah 64:6 (AMP) For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction]. [Lev. 13:45, 46.]
We ‘know’ it’s all about Jesus and not us. After all, how many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s not about me”…but our actions don’t seem to line up with our knowledge. Deep down there is still a belief that I can earn His favor with the things I do.
Romans 10:3 (ESV) For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
Consider this mindset with these examples as quoted from Mary Burleson:
If I have a quiet time in the morning, I will have a good day.
This ‘guarantee’ is held by many. They might not say they hold it as a guarantee but their many comments would indicate that they do:
- I wasn’t surprised that happened to me today. I didn’t have my quiet time.
- It was such a bad day. I didn’t have my quiet time.
- The devil got to me today because I didn’t put my armor on in my quiet time.
- I goofed. I read the newspaper before I read the Bible. My bad.
- God lets me know that He’s disappointed in me when I don’t have my quiet time.
- If I don’t have my quiet time in the morning, it doesn’t count.
- Oops. I forgot to pray for so-and-so in my quiet time. That wouldn’t have happened if I had prayed. I’ve apologized.
- If I don’t spend at least thirty minutes in bible reading and prayer, I’m not spiritually ready to meet the day.
Those are just a few of the comments I’ve heard over and over and have had many of them said to me and taught to me as scriptural truths.
None of the above are guarantees. In fact, if you look closely at most of them, you will see that the emphasis is on what I do so that I can guarantee a result. That’s just not true in scripture. The New Covenant teaches me that because Christ has done it all, I can be free and enjoy all the benefits.
The day that I realized that if I never have another quiet time the rest of my life that God will still love me and be close to me and never leave me and that was one of the most freeing days of my life. Then I could have a quiet time because I wanted to and enjoyed it and if I missed having one, nothing changed. Wow, what freedom is that?
There’s a big difference in you have to or you are invited to. Another way to say this is this is an opportunity, not an obligation.
The above quote came from a blog post in 2008 and it changed my way of thinking on a lot of things back then….however, our subtle enemy then creeps in with more deception in more subtle ways. That’s why we must stay on guard! But I love the way she put it…..”we have ‘opportunities’ that will surely deepen our relationship with the Lord, but not ‘obligations’.”
We can’t increase His love for us by anything we do, but we can increase our personal intimacy with Him! It’s like any friendship….the time you spend getting to know a friend, the better you know them and the deeper the relationship becomes. Sometimes a friend doesn’t respond the way you would like, but Jesus is the perfect friend! These verses sum up the desire of my heart for my relationship with Him:
Exodus 33:11 (ESV) Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses (Ann) face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
James 2:23 (ESV) “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham (Ann) believed God, and it was counted to him (her) as righteousness”–and (s)he was called a friend of God. “
I want to be His friend, but it won’t be because of my righteousness, but because of His. However, it WILL be because I make a choice to ‘believe Him’.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
I’ve chosen to believe that my works (righteousnesses) are as ‘filthy rags’, but I love Him so much that I’ve also chosen to ‘diligently’ apply myself to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). And this takes us back to ‘Christlikeness’. God’s will for us is Christlikeness…is that your highest aim in your walk with the Lord?