“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags….” (Isaiah 64:6a)
It is a great deception for people to preach, teach, or think that our righteousness will warrant us a place or position in the Kingdom of Heaven. If you think that just because you pay your tithe, help an old lady across the street, or give to charity, that you are secure – my friend, you are wrong.
It is only Jesus Christ and His Atoning Work on the Cross that makes entering into the Kingdom of Heaven possible. It is only when we see ourselves as God sees us, that we are sinners and that all our self-righteousness is as a filthy rag, that we discover just how unclean we really are. Once we see ourselves as God sees us, then we can confess with our mouth that we are sinners in need of a Saviour. Once confession is made, we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith (or The Faith, which is Christ, who is the faith in which we live); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Jesus, in Matthew 5:20 told His Disciples, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Note in Matthew 23 His rebuke of these self-righteous scribes and Pharisees. See also Luke 18:9-14.
To see a picture of what Christ has done for us in the way of giving us His Righteousness and taking away our self-righteousness, let’s look at Jeremiah 52:31-34:
“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison, (32) And spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, (33) And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life. (34) And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.”
We will glean from each verse of Scripture what Christ has done for those who have His Righteousness. We will use the king of Babylon as a picture of Christ. We first notice:
- The king brought Jehoiachin out of prison (verse 31). Those who have been redeemed have been delivered from the prison, or bondage, of sin. (See Psalm 40:1, 2.)
- The king spake kindly unto Jehoiachin (verse 32). (See Matthew 11:28-30.)
- The king set Jehoiachin’s throne above the thrones of the kings that were with him in Babylon (verse 32). This signifies a position of authority. As children of God, our position of authority is in Christ. (See Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10.)
- The king changed Jehoiachin’s prison garments (verse 33). When we were delivered from the prison house of sin, Christ took away our filthy garment of self-righteousness, cleaned us up, and clothed us with His Righteousness. (See Romans 3:20-22; Philippians 3:9; Isaiah 61:10.)
- Jehoiachin ate at the king’s table (verse 33). The king had a place prepared at his table for Jehoiachin; this would be in reference to a place of honor; he is also given favor. (See John 14:2-3; Ephesians 2:6.)
- Jehoiachin had a special diet (verse 34). Our Lord and Saviour is that Bread of Life which sustains the Child of God. It is the inspired Word of God that man lives by. (See John 6:32-33, 35, 48-51; Matthew 4:4.)
What a wonderful Deliverer, a compassionate Saviour, a great Provider, and Sustainer of life. It is only by the Righteousness that is in Christ Jesus that we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no other way.