Here is a classic example of people taking a phrase out of context and changing the meaning to match some preconceived doctrine.
Some Christian sects want to prove that good works does not count for anything. The proof they use is :
1. Righteousness /good works is like filthy rags as stated in Isaiah [used by Divegeester and Hinds]
2. Christ imputed righteousness into all believers therefore they are righteous nothwithstanding their subsequent sins [used by JosephW]
3. Believe in Christ and only then you do good works [used by KellyJ]
I paraphrased so the above are not exact. I will deal with #1 now and the others in other threads. I can show clearly that Isaiah is definitely not advising anyone
- not to do good works, or that
- good works is of no value, or that
- good works does not count in the day of judgment.
Without even trying to analyse this statement in Isaiah it should be clear to any Bible reader that a life of righteousness and good works is what the entire Bible is about. Every single writer in every age since Adam condemned evil and applauded righteousness. Its only in this age of apostacy did the Christian Church find ways to twist the meaning of the Bible and to preach that 'mouth worship' which is condemned by Christ is the way to eternal life.
Now the Isaiah passage is making a comparison between two things.
* What God has done
* What man can go
.. stating as well how different the two are. Here it is"
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:4-6)
What God has prepared for man [as passage repeated by Christ] ie the beauty and glory of the Kingdom or New Jerusalem [Revelation 21 and 22] in which man will live in bliss, is nothing compared to the paltry duty of man to live in righteousness and do good works as Christ himself instructed us to do.
Its like a rich uncle gives you a Ferari worth $200,000 and all you need to do is to pay for the legal work to transfer it of $500. [lets say]. What you get in return for your paltry contribution of $500 is a $200,000 Ferari. Your contribution or the cost to you can be justly described as filthy rags or nothing of value. But the $500 transfer fee is still essential nontheless for you to get the Ferari. No transfer fee means no Ferari.
Furthermore Isaiah himself says in the previous verse to the one with 'filthy rags'... "Isa 64:5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness".
God meets those that worketh righteousness .. END OF STORY.