Arkiv | 2012/04/04

Our righteousness is like filthy rags due to our INIQUITIES – Isaiah 64:6

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 (Isaiah 64:6)

This is the famous ”filthy rags” verse that sometimes is used as an attempt to support the idea that whatever we do – whether we are agnostics or christians – our best deeds are still viewed as filthy and unclean before God. But this is not what the verse is saying – particularly not if we view it in context. We can read that there are indeed people who wait for God and remember Him, and we can read about people who work righteousness. We can read about the REASON why certain people’s righteousness is like filthy rags before God and that it’s DUE TO INIQUITY. Sins always separate us from our Holy God. This is the entire context:

Isaiah 64:4For 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 him5Thou 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. 6But 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. 7And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, BECAUSE OF OUR INIQUITIES. 8But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. 9Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.

In the next chapter we can see more evidence of that it’s iniquities that cause God to view also our righteousness as filthy rags. There is no obligation to commit iniquities. God doesn’t want people to be rebellious and walk in a way that is unholy to him. We can read below that people walk after their own thoughts, provoke him to anger, offer sacrifices to false gods, make abominable things, blaspheme him, forsake him, refuse to answer him, refuse to hear him, make evil things before his eyes, do things he does not delight in, etc. People couldn’t possibly be predestined to ”choose” something that God does not take delight in, so this must mean that people have a free will to obey or disobey God. The next chapter says:

Isaiah 65: 2I have spread out my hands all the day unto a REBELLIOUS people, which walketh in a way that was not good, AFTER THEIR OWN THOUGHTS; 3A people that PROVOKETH me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of ABOMINABLE THINGS is in their vessels;— 7Your INIQUITIES, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and BLASPHEMING ME upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.—11But ye are they that FORSAKE the LORD, that FORGET my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. 12THEREFORE will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: BECAUSE WHEN I CALLED, YE DID NOT ANSWER; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did EVIL BEFORE MY EYES, and did CHOOSE THAT WHEREIN I DELIGHTED NOT13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:

It also makes perfect sense that God isn’t impressed even with our good deeds if we at the same time perform shameful things in other areas of our lives. (And as we know obedience is better than offerings.) If we confess our sins and REPENT on the other hand, then we are CLEANSED and regarded as righteous before God since we have no sins on our account any more. But we will never be considered ”righteous” as long as we live unrighteous lives. 

Our good works CAN please God IF we live righteously, and then they are NOT viewed as ”filthy rags”:

Matthew 25:21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS, is accepted with him.

2 Pet 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed HIS righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)

Rom. 2:Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

Luke 6:45A good manout of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

The better option is to live holy lives, because then we don’t provide ”filthy rags” before God.

Annonser

King David said ”In sin did my MOTHER conceive me”, but it’s no support for a sinful nature Ps. 51:5

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (Ps. 51:5)

This verse concerns two people – King David and his mother*). No one else is spoken about so we can’t assume that all the people in the world are referred to here. The event spoken of is the conception of David and not the birth of David, and David is not saying that he was born as a sinner but possibly that his mother was in sin when she got pregnant. It could very well be that she was sinning when she conceived him, and a case could be made that this verse is talking about the defilement of David’s mother – because she was previously the wife (or concubine) of a heathen king.

The book of psalms is a poetic book and this means that it can be taken literally or figuratively depending on the context, so we must therefore be careful so we won’t end up starting a new doctrine based on pure poetry. It’s never a good idea to take a verse from Psalms, Proverbs or other poetic texts, to make a doctrine out of it which is contrary to other more clear verses in the Bible. We can reach all kinds of crazy conclusions with such methods. This particular verse in Psalms has often been used as an attempt to prove that David and ALL people under the sun are born in sin, but it fails miserably.

Some facts concerning David and his mother

David had two half-sisters (1 Chron. 2:13-16), and their father was not Jesse but Nahash (2 Sam. 17:25) who was an Ammonite king (1 Sam. 11:1). David’s mother might have been a second wife of Jesse. Perhaps the first wife of Jesse was considered superior to his second wife, because this would explain why David’s half brothers viewed themselves as superior to David and why David was not called before Samuel among the other sons – as he was possibly viewed as an illegitimate child (1 Sam. 16:11). We can speculate further that perhaps David’s mother was not married to Jesse when she became pregnant, or maybe she was still the concubine of, or married to Nahash when she conceived David. Moreover, we can’t rule out that it might be as per this story, reminding us about Jacob and Leah + her sister Rachel. If this story is applicable, then Jesse is indeed David’s father without even knowing it due to a sneaky plan carried out by his wife, and David’s brothers would regard him as an illegitimate and hated son of their mother. Either way, this poetic psalm simply cannot be used as support for that man is born with a sinful nature.

Psalm 69:8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.— 19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.—21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.

David was not blaming his sin on his birth, but he was simply stating that even the circumstances related to his birth were surrounded by sin, and he also says that he was ”wonderfully” and ”marvelously” made by God in the womb (Ps. 139:13-14). David is in Psalms 51 speaking to the Lord but he is not trying to ask God for forgiveness for that he (David) had the nerve to be born with a sinful nature – because that would hardly be David’s fault. On the contrary, sin at birth would be something that he could blame God for IF it were true – which it isn’t.

Psalms 51 starts out saying

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out MY transgressions.2 Wash me throughly from MINE iniquity, and cleanse me from MY sin.3 For I acknowledge MY transgressions: and MY sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

If a person has an intimate relationship and conceives against the law of God, whose sin is it? The person who conceives or the baby that is conceived? Clearly it’s the former since the one being conceived doesn’t have any choice in the matter – which our righteous God is well aware of. We are sinners when we break the law of God, and it’s not a sin to be conceived or to be born into this world – neither is it evil.

Psalms 51 goes on to say:

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice…

Few would read this in a LITERAL sense. Can hyssop really make our sins go away, and can broken bones rejoice? Poetry might speak the whole truth or it might mirror the truth poetically. David was in jeopardy of losing the Spirit, because God had broken the covenant with him:.

Psalm 51:11 ”Cast me not away from thy presence; AND TAKE NOT THY HOLY SPIRIT FROM ME.” 

In Ps. 51:14 David is talking about ”bloodguiltyness”, and it’s possible that he compares himself with his mother who also sinned in a similar way during his conception. This could explain his comparison with his mother in the previous verses.

Also compare with these verses:

Psalm 22:But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

None of the early church fathers the first 250+ years AD (with no exception) taught that man is born with a sinful nature (which you can read in this article with quotes from Ignatius, Irenaeus, etc) and the popularity of the idea of original sin can actually be traced back to Augustine (a former gnostic) and blamed on him. If neither the Bible nor the old church fathers taught original sin, but the contrary, we know we are on the wrong path if we still teach it.

Do read my blog post about Romans 5 (and the non-existent sinful nature) in this article

*) According to Midrashim, King David’s mother was Nitzebet.

The prodigal son went from being alive, to lost, to alive again – Luke 15

Some suggest that since the prodigal son never stopped being the son of his Father, this  means that his life was never in real danger. But is this true? There are parents who have indeed disinherited a child for various reasons. Maybe there are parents out there, hoping their son will return back to them and ask for forgiveness for having rejected them, but if not they might decide to disinherit him. Some also suggest that this parable is about jews/gentiles, but parables can have double meanings. We can learn a lot by this parable:

  • The prodigal son was spiritually DEAD during his absence, but he still made a good moral decision to return to his Father. No one forced the son to return, but he made this own decision.

  • The prodigal son REPENTED and this is what the parable is all about. He realized he had sinned and planned what he would say to his Father when he returned back home, which he also effectuated. His Father accepted his excuse and forgave him which he was always prepared to do. Even if our sins are red as crimson they can be white as snow. Just before the long parable about the prodigal son, we can see the two previous parables ending with:

     7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

  • 10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

  • The prodigal son went from being 1) alive, to 2) dead, to 3) alive again since we can read: ”for this thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN; and was lost, and is found”. His own Father declared his son lost and DEAD while he was away living in sin, so it didn’t help this son at all to still be the physical son of his Father when he was still lost and dead while away.

  • Naturally a person who lives in unrepentant sin, such as fornication and idolatry, can’t be on his way to heaven. The prodigal son obeyed sin, which means he was a slave to sin and thus a SINNER. We are slaves to whom we obey and nothing impure shall enter heaven. Sinning will always separate us from God and the only solution is repentance.

  • The Father didn’t travel around to look for his son or forced him to come back. He stayed at home, hoping he would return. The son was the one who took the initiative to return and not the Father, but when the son did return the Father rushed out to meet him. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth!

  • The other brother didn’t lose anything financially by the return of his brother, because everything that his Father owned was already his. He could have taken the chance to be joyful about the return of his brother and that he came back to life.

  • Surely we must agree on that the prodigal son is a good example of a person who was sowing to his flesh while he was away living in sin with prostitutes? What does the Bible say about the spiritual state of such a sinner? :

 

 

Galatians 6:8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap CORRUPTION; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap LIFE EVERLASTING. 

Corruption is contrary to life everlasting so we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are still saved even though we live according to the flesh. The prodigal son sinned together with harlots, so if he had died while still being unrepentant he would never have made it to heaven. Unless you believe unrepentant sinners can enter the Kingdom of God.

The entire parable

24For this my son WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; he WAS LOST, and is FOUND. And they began to be merry. 

 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; and WAS LOST, and IS FOUND.

Luke 15:10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.11And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The potter acts depending on the clay – we have a free will – Romans 9

Hath not the POTTER power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Rom. 9:21

We are often told that we are like clay in a potter’s hand, as though we have no free will of our own but turn out exactly as the potter (God) wants us to turn out. IF that idea is true, then we can only blame GOD ALONE if we turn out as murderers and thieves. We would be poor victims in the hands of the evil potter since WE didn’t ask to become murderers and thieves, and we apparently have no say in the matter if the case is that the potter alone makes the decisions and also implements them.  CLEARLY this is not the picture the Bible gives us, since all of us are expected to obey God’s commandments which are NOT too grievous for us to keep, and WE are responsible for each one of our transgressions. If God is the one who decides how we will turn out, why doesn’t he make us ALL vessels unto honor? What interest would he possibly have to purposely make some of us into bad vessels? Doesn’t God want us to be obedient and godly human beings? Of course he does. The vessels of mercy are ”afore prepared”, and the vessels of wrath are ”fitted/prepared” for destruction (two different Greek words), which means that the verse doesn’t tell us that God prepared beforehand to destroy a certain amount of people – unless of course they themselves sinned and caused their own demise. People who have chosen to be wicked are those who are fitted for destruction, and hell awaits them for their unfortunate choice to be wicked.

2 Tim. 2:21 tells us that MAN is expected to PURGE HIMSELF from the vessels of dishonor, and if he does he will be a vessel unto HONOR. Man is expected to recover himself out of the snare of the devil, and he can do this through obeying the instructions we can read about below:

2 Tim 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore PURGES HIMSELF from these, he shall be a vessel unto HONOUR, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 

So man is asked to 1) purge himself from the vessels of dishonour, 2) flee from youthful lusts, 3) follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, etc, 4) avoid foolish and unlearned questions, 5) instruct in meekness those who oppose themselves, 6) leading to that they will recover themselves out of the snare of the devil by doing so. Lots for us to DO.

Read also below in Jeremiah 18 that the vessel that the potter made of clay was MARRED in his hands. Is it likely that a potter wants the clay he is working with to be MARRED? Clearly not. A potter hopes the clay will cooperate and turn out as planned. If the clay doesn’t cooperate and refuses to turn out as hoped, then the only rightful place for the clay is on the scrap heap. All useless clay has fitted themselves for destruction, just like a murderer’s proper place is in jail (or in the electric chair). This however doesn’t mean we want clay to be useless or people to turn out as murderers. Read also the many IF:s involved in the text. God reacts depending on OUR actions:

Jeremiah 18
1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4And the vessel that he made of clay WAS MARRED in the hand of the potter: so he made it again ANOTHER VESSEL, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.  7At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;  8IF that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I WILL REPENT of the evil that I thought to do unto them.  9And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I WILL REPENT of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. 11Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.12And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

Below is more information about the clay and the potter, and we can read that men have ”removed” their hearts from God. Bad choice on their part. They will have to take the consequences for their actions. 

Is. 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14Therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

The rhetorical question asked of the prophet is not whether the clay can talk back to the potter, but whether it ought to talk back to him. Surely we must agree on that people HAVE spoken back to God numerous times in history? Both angels and men have even rebelled against God on several occasions, so we CAN indeed speak back against God. The point is that we shouldn’t and WE must then take the consequences for not conforming to God’s will. Romans 9 is about God’s right to bring about his plan of salvation in the way he wants, which means to open up also for gentiles to be saved, upon the condition of FAITH and not the ceremonial law. God therefore has his full right to reject those with no faith and/or bad fruit, and welcome those who have faith and show good fruit. That is his prerogative. We wouldn’t read words such as ”endured with much longsuffering” in this text unless there is synergism involved.

Romans 9:20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

It doesn’t say in Rom. 9:22 that GOD is the one who ”fitted” people for destruction. Some people are in fact heading for hell due to their destructive way of living, and they are then fitted (prepared) for destruction, and that’s their own doing. God hopes that they will repent for their sins and live, so he shows much long-suffering for such sinners, fitted for destruction, not wanting anyone to perish The verse should read: “What if God…who endured with much patience vessels of wrath which fitted themselves for destruction…

Ez. 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for  why will ye die, O house of Israel? 

Ez.33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?