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Rags


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Even though the people of Israel collectively and overwhelmingly rejected their Messiah, his work carries on. Paul sorrowfully says that his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3) were “ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (10:3). They failed to grasp the truth that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (v. 4). In other words, they did not understand that they had no ground on which to stand before God and no possibility of earning his favor with their own good works. They therefore did not see their need for the servant’s sacrifice on their behalf. Had they believed, the perfect righteousness of their sinless Messiah would have been imputed to them (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Instead, they chose to clothe themselves with their own self-righteousness. By refusing God’s righteousness and trusting their own, they made themselves supremely offensive to God.

In fact, Isaiah casts off all the normal rules of genteel discourse in the way he describes the guilt of those who trusted their own good works. He says it was as if they were dressed in used menstrual rags. That is the literal meaning of the Hebrew expression in Isaiah 64:6: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

Like all self-righteous sinners, they imagined that God was less holy than he is and that they were more virtuous than they were. So they came to God on their terms, not his. An inadequate view of the sinfulness of sin kept them from understanding why the Savior died.

Those who don’t understand the glory of divine righteousness will never see the necessity of atonement.

—John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 81.



Posted 2019·03·14 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John MacArthur · The Gospel According to God

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