Many people believe that if they live a good life, then they will automatically go to heaven when they die. Is this belief well founded? To find an answer to this question we must look to see what God says about it.
“There is none that doeth good, no not one…” Rom.3:12
What About Good People?
At first we want to reply that we know some people who do good things, even claim to be such a person ourselves. When we consider carefully however, we see that even people who do many good things also do some things they ought not to do.
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23
Yes, but surely our good deeds make up for our bad deeds? Actually, no! Consider a man who has successfully climbed a step ladder. Will that experience save him from calamity if he jumps off a cliff without a parachute?
“By grace are ye saved through faith…it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast” Eph. 2:8,9
“It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” Titus. 3:5
What About Saints?
How about people we thing of as saintly? What of people who spend their whole life doing good things for other people? What of people like Mother Theresa?
“We are all as an unclean thing, all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags.” Isa.64:6
Why Bother Then?
Does this mean we should not bother doing good deeds? Should we just give in to our selfish tendencies? After all God’s word says our prime interest in life should be the salvation of our own soul. Mat 16:26 No! To think in this way is to have missed the point entirely. What we need to understand is the enormity of the gap between a being who is entirely good, whose every action is for the benefit of others, and us. We are like an apple which has the appearance of being wholesome and delicious, but which is rotten inside.
We cannot redeem ourselves anymore than an apple can cut the rot out of itself. We may be cloaked in self-righteousness (showing our good deeds to the world), but we are bound to fail. God’s purpose in making these things clear to us is to save us from the error of thinking we can gain eternal life without concerning ourselves with Him or His instructions.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 When we realize how far short we fall, and how helpless we are to change for the better, then we either love God or we hate Him. If we hate the evil tendencies in ourselves then we cry out to God to save us; and He does.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
More About Good Deeds
We are a New Creature (Born Again)
Once we have spiritual life, having come into a right relationship with God, then He begins His transforming work in us. Over a period of time He helps us deal with those weaknesses of character we have been in bondage to. Selfishness, lies, lust, greed, pride, envy and violence.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17
He Holds Us Up When We Stumble
It is not that we no longer fall into error, but that when we do trip over a loose stone or a hidden root in our path, God picks us up, dusts us off, and sets us back on the path of right living. If we stay on the path He shows us, trusting in Him to show us the way, and not trusting OUR own inclination to find an easier way, then He guides our footsteps. Prov. 3:5,6
We cannot complete our journey in this life no matter how far we travel or how long we live. There will always be something in our character that needs working on; needs improving. As long as we stay focused on Jesus, He will continue His perfecting work in us.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with Mine eye.” Psa. 32:8
Then when we leave this life, we go to an eternity where, “… there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall thee be any more pain.” Rev. 21:4
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
Our final judgement is based on this relationship with Jesus. If we have received Him and kept faith with Him to the end, then because of His redeeming work at the cross, we are counted as righteous. We are then joint heirs with Jesus.
Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life said, that for those who believe in Him, “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Rev. 21:10-27
What The Scriptures Say
“(God) will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for the glory and honour and immortality, eternal life;…..” Rom. 2:6,7
In this scripture we see two important components:
1. We see that in the doing of good deeds, we are honouring God through obedience to His second primary commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12.31; Matt. 19:19b; John 15:10-15. This summarizes the commandments numbers 4 to 10.
2. We see that God promises to reward those who with patience continually do good deeds.
Selfishness and Bad Habits
Now cynics may point out that even in our good deeds we are self-seeking, because we want God to be pleased with us and reward us. Well it is true that even our best acts fall short of God’s perfection, and because of the selfish component involved in our every act even our, “…righteousness’s are as filthy rags.” Isa. 64:6
However, we are not relying on our good deeds to save us from destruction; our salvation is free in Jesus.
We seek to do God’s will out of gratitude and love.
God provided mankind with a beautiful world of great abundance.
Many suffer lack because of the greed of a few.It is the same greed, which is now polluting and over-harvesting the world’s resources.
These are bad deeds.
So What is A Good Deed?
The ultimate Good Deed is giving your life to save someone else. John 15:13
History abounds with records of loving parents, and even of strangers, putting themselves in mortal danger to save a child from injury or death. How many could do this to save a child who continually abused his parent’s love, was greedy, cruel and a liar? Jesus did!
When someone does give, or even risks, his/her life for the sake of another, we call that one a hero. Most of us hope never to face such a situation, and yet to a degree we all face it every day.
The Good Samaritan
Let’s have a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this parable to demonstrate that our neighbour includes all those who think and act differently than we do.It is not just those who look like us or have the same values as us. Luke 10:29-37
The Good Samaritan was someone from Samaria having a different set of beliefs to mainstream Judaism (Pharisees). He did not let differences stop him from helping the man who had been robbed and badly beaten, even though others had passed him by, leaving him to die from his wounds.
If you are not familiar with this story, you should read it. Start at Luke 10:25
Charity Does Not Stop At Home
Charity should begin at home. No one would argue with that. It is universally agreed that parents must provide well for the children. There are always a few very selfish people who spend most of their money on themselves and make their families suffer in want. But most people condemn those few selfish ones.
Beginning at home doesn’t mean, only at home. It is very easy to say that other people’s families are their responsibility, or the Government’s; but many suffer through no fault of their own and God expects us to have compassion for them and to do what we can to help. We may not be able to do much individually, but collectively we can move mountains. Consider a snowflake; how light it is. When there are enough snowflakes, their collective weight can break strong limbs from trees or cave in the roofs of houses.
Religions and Doctrines of Men
The natural thing is to say we should hate our enemies and criminals. God says we must love even our enemies. Now he is not talking about how we feel about such people. He is talking about how we should treat them. In western society we recognize God is right, and this is why we make sure that criminals get a fair trial; it is why we make sure that our jails provide well for their inmates even when they are war criminals. This is the same throughout the bible. Lev. 19:18,34; Deut. 10:1d; Matt. 5:43, 44; 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31,33;; Luke 6:27,35; Rom. 13:9 and many more.
So any religions or doctrines, which say otherwise, are opposing God. In fact God tells us that the most pure form of religion is taking care of orphans and widows. Job 29:13; Ps. 68:5; Is 9:17; Jer. 49:11; 1 Tim. 5:16; Jos. 1:27. And bear in mind that to be an orphan or widow in many places is to be in danger of death or slavery or being forced into prostitution etc.
Now, I said earlier that to some extent we all face the need to put our life on the line for the sake of others. When we send our hard earned money to help orphans and other unfortunates in various places around the world, we are laying down part of our lives. If I work for ten days and then give one day’s wages to help unfortunate people, I am laying down one tenth of my working life for the sake of others. This is precisely what God suggests we do.
God says we should bring all of our tithes into His storehouse so that none should go hungry or in need of clean water, medicines and other real needs.
He promises to give back all that we give, “…..full measure, pressed down, shaken together.” Luke 6:38 In fact this is the one thing that God invites us to test Him on. Check out Malachi 3:10. It is easy to find, being the last book of the Old Testament.
Everyday Good Deeds
Everyone has to start somewhere, and most of you already have. Being friendly in the face of offence. Giving someone a smile when they are down. Opening a door for someone carrying a load. Checking on those older people in your neighbourhood. Picking up timbers or other dangerous items from a road or pathway. Visiting the sick and the lonely. Speaking up for those who can’t protect themselves. Encouraging those who have a hard time. Giving free advice (not criticism) to those who need it. Serving people who need help and can’t pay for it.
All these are good deeds and God will honour you for them.
Praise the Lord!