Some of the most graphic language in the Old Testament is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 64:6, he uses an explicit illustration to demonstrate our desperate need for God’s grace. He wrote, “We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.” (NET)
That sounds harsh (imaging how intense Isaiah was!). But think about it this way: Suppose that you crack an egg, put it in a skillet, and start to fry it only to discover that it’s a rotten egg. It is obviously putrid. You can smell it; you can see it. It is clearly a bad egg.
Let’s say that you then decide to overcome the rotten egg by frying five more good eggs with it. You crack five eggs that are healthy and fresh and put them in the skillet, with the idea that the goodness of the five will override the badness of the one.
I’ve got bad news for you. It is not the righteous eggs that will overcome the diseased one; it is the diseased one that will penetrate the good ones, contaminating them and even making you sick. The reason why being the best person you can be does not satisfy God is that the sin in our lives contaminates the righteousness.
That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote these words concerning our new covenant with God in Christ: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
Thank God for His amazing grace!