A man ecstatically reaches his hands out towards the heavens

Isn’t it enough to live a good and moral life?”

Many of us are inclined to look at the lives of oth­er peo­ple — peo­ple who mod­el kind­ness, benev­o­lence, tol­er­ance, com­pas­sion — and say to our­selves, That’s the kind of life that that will ensure a place in heav­en.” Our world places a high val­ue on deeds of kind­ness and self­less­ness, and right­ly so. We are con­di­tioned to think of our own lives in terms of what we have done for, or how much we’ve giv­en to, peo­ple in need. Or we often jus­ti­fy our­selves by think­ing, I’m not prej­u­diced.” Or I treat peo­ple fair­ly.” Or I’m an hon­est person.”

The unfor­tu­nate truth is, how­ev­er, that no mat­ter how hard we try, and no mat­ter how much we’ve done for oth­ers, we can nev­er mea­sure up to God’s stan­dard of good­ness.” The Bible states sim­ply, for all have sinned and fall short of the glo­ry of God.” (Romans 3:23) In oth­er words, every­one has failed to meet God’s stan­dard of holi­ness. That includes all those who try to fol­low the path of kind­ness and integri­ty. Here’s how the Bible puts it: But when the kind­ness and love of God our Sav­ior appeared, he saved us, not because of right­eous things we had done, but because of his mer­cy.” (Titus 3:5) Our sal­va­tion — our accep­tance before God — is received entire­ly on the basis of God’s mer­cy, not on the basis of our good deeds. To bypass God’s offer of sal­va­tion through Christ and to place our trust in our own good works is to total­ly miss it!

Here’s how one writer explains it:

This all comes down to one basic ques­tion: If it is pos­si­ble for you and me to attain sal­va­tion by sim­ply liv­ing a good life, why was it nec­es­sary for Jesus to endure the excru­ci­at­ing agony of the cross? Why didn’t he sim­ply lay down a few guide­lines, tell us to do our best and …? Because Jesus knew it would take more than guide­lines to redeem us.

But God has worked his way to us in Jesus Christ. The pun­ish­ment we deserve, just­ly deserve, was suf­fered by him. The only way we can be good” is if we par­take of Jesus’ good­ness which, for­tu­nate­ly, he wants us to have.2

So does moral liv­ing have any val­ue at all? Of course it does. But it can nev­er save us! The strong and clear mes­sage of the Bible is that sal­va­tion comes through Christ alone. We sim­ply have to acknowl­edge that we are sin­ners, believe in Christ’s sub­sti­tu­tion­ary sac­ri­fice and receive his forgiveness!

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