In part 1 we spoke of the significance of Christ's life for our salvation. In part 2 we saw that we have a great High Priest who has been tempted as we are yet without sin. Today I want to go back looking at why our righteous deeds are as "filthy rags" apart from Christ and see the significance of Christ as our High Priest making his righteousness our own.
In Isaiah 64:6 we read that apart from Christ our righteous deeds are as "filthy rags." Why? Because of the fall in Genesis 3 all of humanity is under the curse of the law. The law is not the law of the land but rather God's perfect, holy law given in Scripture. All people are born under this law. The problem is we are unable to perfectly obey the law because we are born into sin (Ps. 51:5). We are natural born sinners through Adam. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Here lies the greatest problem with our best deeds apart from Christ: they are for the glorification of self not God. This pride lies at the root of all sin. We want the glory for everything we do. Sure it can be easy to say we are sinners when we have been caught telling a lie or cheating in some way but we can miss the fact that giving to charity can be for the wrong reasons. Sin is more than visual action; it is an issue of the heart. We can look selfless giving to charity but in our hearts we are patting ourselves on the back saying, "Look at me, I've done a good thing." We sin by robbing God of his glory. Our righteous deeds cannot bring glory to God apart from Christ. This is why we need a great High Priest.
Jesus, as the great High Priest, not only removes our "filthy rags" but gives us his perfect robe of righteousness. In Christ we are able to do good deeds for the glory of God. This is the point of our good works so others may see them and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). We will not do this perfectly in this life but because of Christ the Father looks down and sees the perfect life of Christ not our sinful souls. This is the very reason Paul says, "Let the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:31).
We have no reason to boast but in the life and death of Jesus Christ. He took the form of humanity becoming our perfect High Priest. We now can have fellowship with the Father through the mediator Jesus Christ. It ought to humble us daily to know that our best is filthy to a holy God. But God graciously sent Jesus to rescue us by covering our sins with his blood. Jesus came and lived the life we could not live therefore we who trust in him are given his perfect righteousness. We could never attain this on our own.
Grace upon grace,