Romans 10: Of Filthy Rags and Transformed Hearts

Read Romans 10:5-18

Of Filthy Rags and Transformed Hearts

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your
heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it
is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it
is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
~Romans 10:9-10

Digging Deeper: You cannot be saved by your good works, because no matter how hard you try, your “good” is not good enough for the perfectly holy and completely righteous God who alone grants salvation. Nor can you be saved by your moral perfection—no matter how moral or how perfect you are.  As the Old Testament prophet Isaiah points out, your righteousness is about as good as a “snot rag”. (Isaiah 64:6). I have actually cleaned that up a bit, because the Hebrew phrase for filthy rags, ukabeged ehdim, literally means, “like as rags of menstruation.”

Sorry if that disgusts you, but it’s Scripture—so blame Isaiah.  The point is, both our acts of righteousness, and the quality of righteousness that we hope they produce, are disgusting to God.  So if you are disgusted by Isaiah’s language, think of how God, who inspired Isaiah to choose those coarse words, is repulsed by our efforts to get him to save us.

So what hope, then, is there for our salvation?  Well, frankly, no hope resides within us. None whatsoever.  Ephesians 2:1 says “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” That’s how hopeless we are apart from God’s work to save us. You see, all a dead person can do is lay there and be dead, let alone try to be righteous before God.

No, our righteousness—and let’s be clear, we do have to be righteous to be acceptable to God—comes from Christ alone.  And here’s how that is possible: God sent his Son to die on the cross, to hang there as our sin, in order to pay the just punishment for sin that we deserved.  That is our only hope, that Jesus became sin—our sin—and in so doing, he likewise became our righteousness.    II Corinthians 5:21 says it well,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him
we might become the righteousness of God.”

How dishonoring, then, it is to God’s grace and to Christ’s atonement when we try to save ourselves by our acts of righteousness and our efforts at moral perfection.  The sooner we realize that, the sooner, we’ll join Paul in saying,

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them
[our best efforts] rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness
that comes from God and is by faith.”
(Philippians 3:8-9)

It is only through the power of Christ’s resurrection and our death to self (Philippians 3:10-11) that our heart—the core of who we are, that which represents every fiber of our existence—will get transformed.  And it is out of a transformed heart, and only that, that our tongue can confess Jesus is Lord.

Then, and only then, are we saved.

So relax about trying to be righteous and morally perfect!  Jesus did it for you.  God accepts Christ’s efforts on your behalf as good enough, so you don’t have to be good enough.  All you have to do is accept it, believe it, and conform your life to it!

“When the will of God crosses the will of man, somebody has to die.”
~Addison Leitch

This Week’s Assignment:

  • Re-read Romans 10:1-21
  • Memorize Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
  • For Your Consideration: Read these verses, as well as the immediate context (Romans 10:5:13) from several different translations (I would recommend the NIV, The Message, and the New Living Translation). Why are these verses such a centerpiece to the Christian message?  How does your own view of salvation line up with what Paul has written?  Do you think your Christian friends have a good grasp on what it takes to be saved, and if not, how can you engage them in a spiritual conversation about this matter?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Romans 10: Of Filthy Rags and Transformed Hearts

  1. Awesome article.

    “Our righteousness is like filthy rags before Him.” What does it mean?

    God showed me what that meant.
    It is explained in this parable below.

    A backdrop the wedding clothes are coverings. Imagine Jesus legally purchased all the dust back from under the fall, our flesh that makes up a bodily covering for our souls.

    One set of dust is cleansed and made new, and in His nature. The other “garment” is like the nature of Cain, wrestling with the ground to produce “the best” and “the worste” of mankind’s nature.

    Coverings, clothes, and garments, also in the law mentioned are garments made of two fabrics, this is a prophetic command for judgment against “divided hearts.”
    See Laodecea in Revelations. And I encourage you to study these words in the Bible for more understanding.

    At the Resurrection He eventually … (in two stages, I just mentioned for clarity purpose only.)

    Eventually all bodies are returned to each disembodied soul. Disembodied souls since the fall, these wander lost is the hopelessness and brokenness of man in the Hell in the middle of the earth.

    Jesus was the Bread who was broken for us, in order to make us whole again. This is Salvation. In case you ever wondered “saved from what?”

    So in the end when everyone has their bodies is returned to them, those not cleansed and made new through the work of Christ will be “as filthy rags” which is actually referencing “menstrual rags” (note: which is a state of being barren)

    And those have to sit outside. Where it is written in Revelations, He says “outside are the dogs immoral etc… ”

    The whole Bible is one string, one author, one purpose, one direction, literally one beginnining to end!

    If you understand it by His revealing it. So in your own righteousness no matter how man mwasures, before Jesus you will not be dressed appropriately for His wedding feast!**

    Matthew 22

    1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying,
    2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
    3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
    4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’
    5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
    6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.
    7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.
    8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
    9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’
    10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.**
    11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,
    12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless.
    13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
    14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

  2. My father's name is Ray Noah. He just turned 80 years old. He is a faithful Christian and experienced a miraculous healing five years ago. On 2-14-13 my dad suffered a stroke immediately following open heart surgery and coded. He was gone for 7 minutes. He suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with dementia. After six months in several hospitals he was sent to a nursing home. He did not know us, he could not walk, he could not even eat. We began to fast and pray as a family for God to bring our Dad back to us. In August 2013, my dad "woke" up. He knew all of us and got up and walked! He came home several weeks later fully restored. This past five years my dad has shared his amazing testimony to anyone who would listen.

  3. During this time we lost my mother and a month ago he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. His kidney was removed and part of his bladder. They did not get all of the cancer but my dad has opted to not do treatments. I thought you would enjoy knowing another Ray Noah that loves Jesus too. If you would like to follow me on Facebook I have my dad's pictures and lots of updates on his progress. God is amazing and he has not changed. He still is working miracles today. I so enjoy your blog. May God continue to bless your life. Peggy Noah Ernspiker

  4. Thanks for sharing. You have a beautiful family…I guess this makes it a little easier to do the Christian Walk. For some, life is a hodgepodge of unfortunate events. You will hear some quote, " Life for me ain't been no crystal stair". I visited a church this past Sunday that was filled with broken people (literally) who were poor and … If I say more I become too judgemental. So the point that I need to make is that we have to remember that there are so many people that have very little even here in America. Our righteous acts don't even begin to level the playing field or bring contentment to people who are so downtrodden. Our best efforts seem to not be enough. I pray that God will show Believers how to best serve those who have been disenfranchised and neglected. We have to share the Gospel with the world daily and remember that only the Righteousness of Christ can replace our Filthy Rags. Thanks for your article. Blessings!

  5. I do have a question. You wrote:
    So what hope, then, is there for our salvation? Well, frankly, no hope resides within us. None whatsoever. Ephesians 2:1 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” That’s how hopeless we are apart from God’s work to save us. You see, all a dead person can do is lay there and be dead, let alone try to be righteous before God.
    And then you wrote:
    All you have to do is accept it, believe it, and conform your life to it!
    Don't you find those statements contradictory? How does a "dead person" accept, believe and conform his life (which by the definition of dead he doesn't have)? It seems to me we try to minimize our contribution by saying, "all you have to do" but then we add our requirements. While it is less than the 600+ laws the Pharisees had, isn't it still a list? If we are adding something to our salvation, are we really practicing – Soli Deo gloria?
    I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I am trying to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.I am saying that as I think Paul meant it, we as Christians are to do that together and so I ask for your help.