A Curious Paradox

All Our RighteousnessPhoto by A Man Called Martyn

Here’s a curious paradox:

Of ourselves, God requires everything,

Of our righteousness, He requires nothing.

Why is that?

Because “our righteousness” is the very thing

that keeps us from Him.


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to A Curious Paradox

  1. TEP336 says:

    Quite the thought, is it not? Our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Our righteous living means we are congruent with God’s desire of us. It is the haughty self-righteousness that is the evil condemned as exhibited by the Sadducees and Pharisees and scribes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. numrhood says:

    praise the lord of the mercies
    with my mouth will i be know
    thy faithfulness to all
    isaiah 89:06


  4. Without getting too gross, the “filthy rags” referred to something unclean in the Law, something that made a barren woman unclean on a regular basis. These rags were evidence that there was NO LIFE in her womb. For a life to begin, a relationship with a husband was needed. Without a relationship with the LORD, all our efforts at righteousness are as futile as a woman thinking she can produce life by spending nine months wearing maternity clothes, knitting baby booties, fixing up a nursery, etc. At the end of nine months of her own efforts she will produce (drum roll.. ) filthy rags. Our “righteousness” without that relationship is like an unclean thing, but not like a dead body, which was also unclean. I think Isaiah chose this image because it’s a symbol of barrenness – not death of something that was once alive. With our “righteousness” there was never any life there in the first place.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Nice exposition, Annie.

      Liked by 1 person

    • TEP336 says:

      Agreed. In the original Hebrew, the words for filthy rags reference something defiled in the Levitical sense, as well as the menstrual rags the women used. How profound it is to know that all of your most righteous deeds will still only amount to that before the Lord without the blood of Jesus Christ. It certainly puts things into perspective, especially when you encounter people who insist that they’re going to heaven because they are a “good person” and because God “knows my heart”.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    The Buddhist Heart Sutra moves along a similar idea by practicing emptiness.

    Meaning…”no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind, no realm of sight…no realm of mind consciousness.”

    With nothing to attain, suffering is decreased, the mind is “de-cluttered” and hindrance diminished. Opening the door and increasing receptivity to whatever greater thing than ourselves is out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thank you, Stacey. I get the appeal; I was attracted to Buddhism for a while before becoming a Jesus follower. Ultimately, however, I found that my heart did, in fact, long to be filled with something: the One with whom it was created to be filled (John 17:3).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh, yeah, I understand. Not pulling a missionary moment here at all, lol
    I actually was just holding the ideas up side by side to show the similarity and the fact that Buddhism (and much of spirituality) contain the same core ideals and beliefs.
    In short: we’re not all so different as much as very similar.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alan Kearns says:

    Excellent point Mitch! Our righteousness leads to disaster, but it is His Righteousness that saves us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, nothing truer than this. Very well said.

    Liked by 1 person

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