Have you ever thought if you died today and God asked you why he should let you into his heaven, what would you say? “Because I’m a pretty good person?” “My good deeds outweigh my bad deeds?” “I’m better than most people?”
Well, if you think like this, you’re not alone. Many today are banking on the hope that a just God will consider their good deeds to have enough redeeming value to offset the guilt of their bad deeds. But people who think like this make two dangerous assumptions that are inconsistent with the Bible; they misjudge God’s justice, and they misconstrue the value of their own righteousness.
By the way, do you know what the word righteous means? The word “righteous” in the Bible basically means perfect obedience; a righteous person is one who always does what is right. This statement assumes there’s an external, objective standard of right and wrong. That standard is the universal moral will of God as given to us throughout the Bible. It’s the law of God written on every human heart. It is the standard by which each person will ultimately be judged!
Our problem is that we’re not righteous. As the Apostle Paul put it so bluntly,
There is none righteous, no, not one… there is none that doeth good, no, not one.Romans 3:10, 12
That’s strong language. We may quickly protest that we’re not so bad. After all, we don’t steal, murder, or engage in sexual immorality. We usually obey our civil laws and treat each other decently. So how can Paul say we’re not righteous?
We respond this way because we fail to realize how impossibly high God’s standard actually is. When asked, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang tall the law and the prophets.Matthew 22:36-40
None of us has even come close to fulfilling either of these two commandments. Yet Paul wrote,
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.Galatians 3:10
“All” is absolute. It means exactly what it says; not most, but all.
If we applied this same standard in the academic world, scoring 99 percent on a final exam would mean failing the course. A term paper with a single misspelled word would earn an F. No school has a standard this rigorous; if it did, non one would graduate. In fact, professors often grade “on a curve,” meaning all grades are relative to the best score in the class, even if that score isn’t perfect. We’re so accustomed to this approach we tend to think God also grades on a curve. We look at the scandalous sins of society around us, and because we don’t engage in them, we assume God is pleased with us. After all, we’re better than “they” are.
But God doesn’t grade on a curve. The effects of Galatians 3:10 is to put us all under God’s curse. And while it’s one thing to fail a course at the university, it’s altogether something else to be eternally damned under the curse of God.
To sin is to miss the mark of God’s standard. So while we may not commit “scandalous” sins, but what about our pride, our selfishness, our greed, our lust and a whole load of other sins?
So we have to agree with Paul. None of us is righteous, not even one. We’re all justly cursed and damned by God.
Is there then no hope for us sinners?
Nay, there is hope. That’s the good news of the gospel. God Himself provided a Savior – Jesus Christ, who is perfectly righteous and sinless, to save sinners. Jesus Christ is not just a good man, a great example, a great teacher. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was God manifest in the flesh. He is God as well as man. Jesus Christ died to save sinners, He was buried, and He rose again on the third day. All who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior will not experience that curse of God.
Dear friend, the answer to God’s question is not to be thought about only at the gates of heaven. That will be too late. You must know the answer to the question NOW! A guilty sinner is like a criminal on the run. You will never outrun the arms of Divine Justice. Go to the Lord Jesus Christ this day because He alone can save you from your sins.
Extracted with editing from Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington, “The Bookends of the Christian Life” (Crossway Books, 2009), p. 19-21. Used with permission.
Scripture taken from King James Version.
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