There’s a story told about a beggar who was walking down the road when he saw the king approaching with his entourage. The beggar was awestruck. Then the king looked down on the beggar and said, “Come, sit on my horse with me.” The beggar was astounded. “Why would the king do such a thing?”

The beggar laid his questions aside and mounted the king’s horse. They rode to the palace together and as they entered the royal residence, the king said to the beggar, “Today I have chosen you to live in my palace. I’m going to give you new garments to wear and all of the sumptuous food that you can eat. I will make sure that all of your needs are met.”

The beggar thought for a moment. All that he had to do was to receive from the king what he had promised to give him. This was too good to be true. He didn’t deserve this royal treatment. It just did not make sense. How could the king accept him and meet all of his needs when he had done nothing to deserve it?

From that time on, the beggar lived by the king’s provision. However, the beggar thought, “I think I should hang onto my old clothes just in case the king doesn’t really mean what he said. I don’t want to take any chances.” So, the beggar hung onto his old rags…just in case.

When the beggar was old and dying, the king came to his bedside. When the monarch glanced down and saw the old rags still clutched in the beggar’s hand, both men began to weep. The beggar finally realized that even though he had lived his whole life with the king in a royal palace, he had never really trusted the king. Instead, He had chosen to live his entire life under a cruel deception. He should have lived like a royal prince.

Sometimes we do the same thing. We give our lives to Christ, but we insist on hanging onto and trusting in our works and the good things we do, “just in case.” However, trusting these “dead works,” instead of placing our entire confidence in Jesus Christ, is like hanging onto filthy rags. The Bible tells us that even the best “good works” we do to please God are like filthy rags compared to His goodness. …All our righteous acts are like filthy rags… (Isaiah 64:6).

The Lord does not receive us because of our good works. No, God receives us only because of faith in His Son Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the cross. We are righteous by faith in Him. (Rom. 5:1-2) We do good works because our Lord has accepted us already, not to be accepted.