Question: I get discouraged when I think of trying to be good enough to become a Christian. How could I lead a perfect life like people in the Bible?
Answer: Many have been surprised to hear they will NOT EVER be good enough to enter heaven! The Bible tells us so. God does have a much better way, though, to admit us into heaven as His family so we can enjoy His presence forever. Read on to hear how God unfolded and revealed His miraculous plans.
God gave His laws to Moses to teach them to the Hebrews as a standard for people to strive toward. However, no one could live “righteously” or right and never disobey most of them. It’s why God required a blood sacrifice, once yearly, of a lamb, goat, or dove which was judged to be perfect in appearance to atone or pay the penalty for the sins of each family. Then, each member of the family would be forgiven until the sacrifice the next year. These were just a shadow of God’s future design to send His perfect Son Jesus into the world in order to become the final sacrifice by His shed blood for the wrongs humans committed against God. If Jesus had never died on a cross to pay the penalty that was due, people could never be right with God and come into His presence in heaven after death. Remember, on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished!” He knew He had just paid for sins past, present, and future for anyone who is willing to accept this free gift He offered. He wanted everyone there to hear that no other sacrifice would be needed again…ever.
“Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to His lips. When Jesus had tasted it, He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then He bowed his head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:28-30
God planned since the beginning of our existence on earth to have Jesus be that ultimate sacrifice. Even in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned and lied to God about it, God Himself killed an animal to make clothes to cover them because of their disobedience. It was the first blood sacrifice needed to cancel the debt of sin. God sent His message through prophets that He would send a Messiah to save His people from eternal death due to their wrongdoing. Here’s the description of the role Jesus was destined to play, written many years before He was born into the world as a human baby in Bethlehem:
“He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no stately form or majesty to attract us, no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely, He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.We all like sheep have gone astray,each one has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:2-6
People who led perfect lives? You will not find them in the Bible, except for one: The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus. His is the example to follow. Begin reading in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. In this book alone, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and then lied to Him about it. Noah drank too much and ended up putting his sons in a difficult situation. Abraham was so afraid someone would kill him to steal his beautiful wife that he lied that she was his sister – twice – and one king briefly took her into his own harem until the truth was revealed. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, rather than moving to a better and safer area, profited from running a business in a city filled with people known for practicing sexual sin. Then, he offered his own 2 daughters to men who tried to break down his front door one night. In another case in Genesis, Judah, who was known for seeking out prostitutes, was tricked by his own daughter-in-law when she disguised herself, posed as one, and became pregnant with his child. And there were more – many more examples of people whose lives were a wreck – but God used every single one of them to accomplish His eternal purposes. He still does that today for each one of us!
We certainly need God, through His Son Jesus, to save us from ourselves and the messes we make of our lives. See if you can relate to what God led Paul the apostle to record about the truth of our terrible human nature:
“As the Scriptures say, ‘No one is good—no one in all the world is innocent.’ No one has ever really followed God’s paths or even truly wanted to. Everyone has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one. Their talk is foul and filthy like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are loaded with lies. Everything they say has in it the sting and poison of deadly snakes. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They are quick to kill, hating anyone who disagrees with them. Wherever they go they leave misery and trouble behind them, and they have never known what it is to feel secure or enjoy God’s blessing. They care nothing about God nor what he thinks of them. So, the judgment of God lies very heavily upon the Jews, for they are responsible to keep God’s laws instead of doing all these evil things; not one of them has any excuse; in fact, all the world stands hushed and guilty before Almighty God. Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law [of Moses] commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; His laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by ‘being good enough’ and trying to keep His laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says He will accept and acquit us—declare us ‘not guilty’—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins. For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to end all God’s anger against us. He used Christ’s blood and our faith as the means of saving us from his wrath. In this way He was being entirely fair, even though He did not punish those who sinned in former times. For He was looking forward to the time when Jesus Christ would come and take away those sins. And now in these days also He can receive sinners in this same way because Jesus took away their sins. But isn’t this unfair for God to let criminals go free, and say that they are innocent? No, for He does it on the basis of their trust in Jesus who took away their sins. Then what can we boast about doing to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.” Romans 3:10-27
Do you recognize that God knows you are incapable of making yourself “good” for Him, that you can only enter His presence because of what Jesus has accomplished on your behalf? If you have never acknowledged this to Him, say or pray this right now:
Jesus, I thank you for preserving your timeless truths in the Bible so I can know for sure how to be made right with you. I understand from your scriptures I will go to hell when I die to pay for the wrongs I have committed unless you forgive me. I confess now, I have done wrong my whole life and need you to forgive me. I can’t change my ways by myself because I’ve tried and failed over and over. I know that I can’t enter heaven unless you do. I understand that you, Jesus, died to take the punishment for my sins, and I thank you for it! I am ready for you to come into my life and lead me from this day forward. I trust you with my future and look forward to spending eternity with you and all the others who will enter heaven before me.Thank you for setting me free from the sinful life I’ve led until now and the terrible punishment waiting for me in hell. Thank you for wiping my sin record clean and giving me this new beginning with you, the King of the Universe! Amen!
“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ And Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.’” John 14:6-7