Filthy Rags


There’s that often quoted Bible passage saying that “our righteousness is like filthy rags” (in Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10). It’s easy to contrast our goodness with what God must demand –or expect –or want. But really what is it that’s so terrible about those rags?

Many of us who have heard that the rags are a less offensive reference to menstrual cloths. And yes, used pads and tampons are gross. But how are they any more so than toilet paper? –Why didn’t He refer to that (or its equivalent of the time)? Is God picking on women –implying that men aren’t as dirty?

The answer lies in the representations –the intentional symbolism.

Ephesians five is a fair starting point. It’s where the relationship between man and woman is symbolically equated to that of Christ and His church. (If you’d like to read more examples take a look at Adam and Eve.) That being said –with man representing Christ and woman representing mankind– then we all then fall into the category of woman and all of us have the same condition –using menstrual rags.

How so?

It’s understood through the basic female physiology. A woman is born with about 400 eggs that are made available for fertilization on a monthly basis after puberty. If conception doesn’t take place, then they are flushed out of her body with blood.

Symbolically, blood always represents death. Every month a woman sees that a chance for new birth is gone. in effect, a death has taken place. This is all a picture to show us about the limited amount of time that a person has to accept God’s gift of new life –becoming born-again. (It’s that story about Jesus and Nicodemus in John chapter three.)

After 400 offers of new life, there are no more.

I’m not saying that we only have that many opportunities to get saved. Rather, the point is that time is limited. A passage in the Old Testament –which is quoted in Hebrews chapter three– basically says, “As long is today called today, don’t harden your hearts and refuse to enter God’s rest –His salvation.”

Back to those rags…

Every time we refuse to accept God’s new life, we’re claiming that we’re good enough. That’s self-righteousness. It’s covering ourselves with fig leaves. It’s denying our need for the blood from God’s Lamb. Yet there it is staring at us every month.

If you’re a man you see it with the women you know –your mothers, wives and daughters. It’s in the hotel rooms with the special little bags to put those used pads and tampons so they aren’t so disgusting. It’s in the TV ads for those –along with the medical products to take care of “discomfort.”

God is so good to show us that we need Him for life. We are the women –He is the only One in the creation whose seed causes eternal life to take place within each one of us.