Recently, I read a post by a friend who told her son to be good, because if he was very good, he would go to heaven. It set me thinking. If that’s so, how good must we be to go to heaven. What standard of goodness must we reach? How do we know when we’ve hit the mark? How do we know when we fail? Most importantly, who decides this standard of goodness? If we are our own standards of goodness, aren’t we being arbitrary and extremely subjective? For example, a chronic alcoholic can claim he’s made the mark because he doesn’t beat his wife or because he gives her some money to live on instead of using it all up. Another person might think that he or she hasn’t made it because they spoke harshly to someone today.
To my mind, setting ourselves or someone else up as standards of goodness and truth will ultimately fail. Besides being subjective, and ever-changing like a seesaw, it sets up great pressure within us to perform. To keep doing. There is also the unbearable tension and fear of never knowing if we’ve done enough.
It seems therefore, that we need an absolute standard of Truth and Goodness: one that never changes with circumstances, cultures, time, distance or space. There is only one who never changes: God. His standard or Law is an absolute, unchanging one, a plumb line to rely on. However, can it be reached by human effort? The Jews in Jesus’ time certainly thought it could. It made them proud, arrogant, boastful, rude and intolerant of others who didn’t meet their standards, among other things.
In His word (the Bible), God says it a little differently. He says that all our deeds of righteousness (good deeds) are like filthy rags before him, (Isaiah 64:5-7 Amplified Version). Elsewhere he says, there is no one righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10). Speaking through the writings of the apostle Paul, God says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” He also says, “But now, a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness comes from God and comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21).
God knew that human effort alone could not meet his standards. Besides, being a righteous and holy God, He cannot tolerate sin. The wages of sin is death. Thus sin has to be dealt with, before man can enter heaven. Entry to heaven is only on God’s terms because He owns heaven.
God solved the problem when He sent his Son, Jesus to become a sacrifice for us on the cross. Jesus is the only Man to have lived a perfectly sinless life in all his 33 1/2 years on this earth. He died on the cross, in our place as the substitutionary, once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of all mankind – past, present and future. There is no sin so terrible that His blood cannot cleanse us of, that God cannot forgive, if we ask for it and accept this sacrifice.
If we believe and trust that Jesus is indeed God, the only God, the only Way to heaven. If we accept his substitutionary sacrifice and ask Him to come into our lives to rule and reign as Lord, then Romans 3:21 comes into play. We are reconciled to God, we are now friends with Him. What’s more, we are his beloved children with free access to Him at all times, and our sins are all forgiven. We never need wonder if we’ve done enough, if we’ve been good enough to merit heaven. It’s not our merit, but His which has secured us a place in heaven forever. If we sin again (as we probably will), all we need to do is ask His forgiveness and help to overcome that sin. Forgiveness and help comes, on His terms. Remember, He is Lord. However, Jesus never forces his way where he’s not invited or asked. He’s given us free will, which He will never violate.
So, why don’t you go ahead and ask Him to forgive your sins, and invite him to be the Lord of your life? You could pray something like this. “Lord Jesus, I know that you are God, the only true God. You’re the only way to heaven. Forgive me for trying to buy my way in through good deeds. I acknowledge that there’s nothing I can do to get myself to heaven. I accept your death on the cross for me. I ask you to come into my life as Lord and Master. Forgive me my sins, lead and guide me into all your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
If you’ve prayed this prayer, ask God to help you connect with a local, Bible believing church so that you can grow in your knowledge of Him and learn to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Check First Steps out to help you get to know God better.