"Filthy rags?" or "Well pleasing!" The Septuagint records that Enoch was "well pleasing" to God. Here is the testimony of Noah -"Noah was a righteous man, being perfect in his generation. Noah was well pleasing to God." Does God really view all our works as "filthy rags?" Not according to the New Testament! "The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who serves Christ in these things is well pleasing to God and approved by men." Not only are acts of service not viewed as filthy rags, they are actually described as well pleasing sacrifices -"but doing good and having fellowship do not forget, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
The very reason we are to be strong in grace is to serve acceptably - "therefore, since we are receiving an unshakeable kingdom, let us have grace through which we serve well pleasing to God with reverence and godly fear." Paul made it his personal ambition to be well pleasing to God -"Therefore we also make it our ambition, whether being at home in the body or away from home, to be well pleasing to Him." This is what he also urged the saints to seek -"I urge you therefore through the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed through the renewing of your mind in order that you may prove what the good, perfect, and well pleasing will of God is."
To the believers in Ephesus, Paul wrote - "Walk as children of the light, for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, proving by testing what is well pleasing to The Lord." Filthy rags? - Not in the New Covenant for those who hope in Christ! Everyone who hopes in Christ purifies himself from anything displeasing to God. In this way we become just as Christ Jesus is IN THIS PRESENT WORLD! How do we become like Jesus? Through God at work in us we are conformed into His image and become children of whom God can say -"these are my beloved children, with them I am well pleased!"
Children who obey parents are told -"this is well pleasing in The Lord." Is it well pleasing in The Lord for our earth born natural children when they obey us and yet filthy rags when we as God's spirit born children obey Him? John had no greater joy than to hear his children were walking in the truth - I am sure this was because he knew this was well pleasing to The Lord. Filthy Rags? NO! FINE LINNEN WHITE AND CLEAN! - THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS OF THE SAINTS! All made possible through Christ in us and us in Him!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon