Isaiah 64:4-7 reads,
“From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”
Isaiah says God meets him who works righteousness and remember Him in their ways. Under the Old Covenant when people worshipped and sacrificed as The Lord has prescribed, there was peace between them and God. When they had faith in Him there was peace between them. The people sought God through works, but their works were empty without faith. The Lord is happy over good works, yet they are worthless to Him. Verse 6 says, our good works are like a polluted garment. The Hebrew word for polluted is עִדִּים, ed. It means the garments are stained with menstrual blood. The Israelites understood that women were unclean during their menses and that anything touched by menses was untouchable or else the person who touched it became unclean as well.
Good works apart from Jesus do not lead people to Jesus. But when we glorify The Lord through all our deeds, we become a testimony to Jesus. (Hebrews 13:20-21).
We can do countless good works but they mean nothing if we are not doing them in Jesus’ name. Good works cannot save us. Titus 3:4-7 says it this way,
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
We can do amazing great works, prophesy, cast out demons, and even save countless lives but those works do not save us. (Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3). If we count on good works to save us or earn us favor with God, we may as well be wearing robes covered in menses. But if we call on Jesus, He covers us with His blood gives us and gives us His righteousness. Our filthy robes are washed in Jesus blood. (Revelation 22:14). We are no longer clothed in menses covered filth and sin but in Jesus’ righteousness. Isaiah 1:15-18 reads,
“When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
Pilate tried washing the blood from his hands to remove his guilt, but only Jesus can take our guilt away. We can do good deed after good deed to try and erase our sin or balance our “karma” but it will do no good. 1 John 1:8-9 says,
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Good works are good if they are done with the right motive. God does after all meet him who joyfully works righteousness. (Isaiah 64:5). Colossians 1:10-12 says,
“so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
We are not saved by good works but faith. We do good works because we are saved. Ephesians 2:4-10 reads,
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Our good works apart from Jesus may as well be menses covered rags. So Believer, do good works, but do them in Jesus name and for His glory. Do them because they are the natural outpouring of the Spirit and a result of your transformation.