Millions of people – perhaps billions – believe they can win God’s approval and earn eternal life by “being good” – even if they’ve “been bad” in the past. Their ultimate hope is that they can do enough good to compensate for their previous disobedience.
That misguided strategy reveals just how ignorant they are when it comes to the power of sin.
Let’s say your parents go away for the weekend and trust you to stay home while they’re gone. They give you one simple rule: no parties while they’re away. OK, that sounds reasonable enough. That’s not asking too much. For lots and lots of reasons, that makes pretty good sense.
Guess what you do?
Yep, you throw a rager. You pull out all the stops. I’m mean, your soiree makes Woodstock look like granny’s tea party! In other words, you were as disobedient as you could possibly be. The one single thing you were asked to not do…you did!
But it gets worse. Just before the cops showed up for a second time, one of your friends ran through the house with a lit tiki torch and accidentally set your mom’s collection of fur coats on fire. Eventually, the entire house burned to the ground. I mean, ain’t nothing left but the foundation, the pet gerbil, and part of the birdbath out back. Everything’s gone.
We can all agree that you were “being bad,” right? Well, that’s what the Bible calls sin. You intentionally did something you knew you weren’t supposed to do and now everything’s ruined.
But…you hatch a plan! You’ll just start “being good” from this moment on. Like, what if, before your mom and dad get back…you mow the law? Come on! They’ll be stoked that you took the initiative and cut the grass, right? Or, what if you washed mom’s minivan for her? That’s huge! She’ll love it. I mean, there’s not really a garage for her to park it in anymore, but those are just details…. Or, what if you brought in the mail? They’re always asking you to go check the mail for them. Surely if you have the mail waiting on them when they pull in the ash-covered driveway, they won’t even notice that their house is missing!
Yeah, that’s not gonna cut it, is it?
There is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can do to undo burning down the house. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that you can do to undo your sin. That’s the tragic reality of sin. When you sin, it’s like burning down the house. If you could live a hundred lifetimes, you could never undo burning down the house.
Sadly, millions and millions of people think to themselves after they sin, “Well, I’ll just be good from here on out.” OK, good luck with that. Dude, you burned down a house! You’ve got a sketchy track record, at best. What’s the chances you can be totally perfect from here on out?
But let’s say you actually could live perfectly from that moment on. You never sinned again. Ever! That would be legitimately amazing! But guess what? You will never be perfect because you burned down the house that one time. And God’s standard for eternal life – Heaven – is perfection. Perfection isn’t “doing a lot of good to cover up the bad.” Perfection is “never doing anything bad to begin with.”
None of us can do that. None of us can ever be perfect. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, God freely offers eternal life to everyone who puts their faith in His Son, Jesus! Check it out:
Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:28)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…. (Ephesians 2:8)
So the choice is yours. You can spend the rest of your life trying to undo your past sins and fail…or ask Jesus to forgive your sins.