or Righteousness and Self-righteousness
All sinners need a Saviour to make it possible for them to avoid the wages of sin; which is death. Death is the automatic result of sin. This is told in Matthew 25:46; John 4:36; Romans 1:32; 6:16, 32; Proverbs 11:19; Isaiah 3:9; Ezekiel 18:4.
Now, Jesus died to save all sinners from their sins and from the automatic result of sin which is eternal spiritual death as John 3:16 – 18 reminds us. Jesus does not save us from a physical death. He did raise Lazarus from death, but in due course Lazarus eventually died as did the Twelve Apostles, and all the disciples of Jesus. This is because we have all sinned. In Genesis 2:16 – 17, God makes it clear to Adam that if he ever eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it will become certain that (eventually) he will die (physically). The moment he sinned he was already dead spiritually.
In that we have all sinned, we are all deserving of death, both physical and spiritual. For this reason we all go to destruction at the death of the body unless someone with the power to halt that automatic process intervenes and saves us from that second and final death; the death of the spirit. Actually, as soon as we have sinned we are dead spiritually. John 3:16, 17 tells us that the good news is that if we repent we can be re-born spiritually. This brings us into right relationship with God through Jesus The Saviour.
But you might ask, “What about good people? Doesn’t God automatically save good people from death?” Well, God would not have to save a truly good person from death because such a person would not die. If any person can live a whole life without sin he would never earn death which is the wages of sin. The trouble is ALL have sinned. Yes, All mankind have sinned as we are told in Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Romans 3:10-12. 5:12; Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1-3.
All have sinned except Jesus who is the Son of God come to save us from our sins.
The thing is that even one sin, no matter how unimportant it may seem to us, makes us deserving of destruction. Should God allow a sinner into Heaven? God cast out Satan and his followers so that there would not be sin in Heaven.
We have all fallen short; we have all sinned. The willing sacrifice of Jesus who did not sin atones for the sins of all who repent and turn again to God.
There are those who claim that once saved, always saved. This is not so. We are warned that hypocrites will be cast into the outer darkness with fornicators and liars. You can find these passages in Mathew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30, Galatians 5:19-21; Revelations 11:2, 3:18; Ezekiel 5:11-14. In Galatians 6:7, Paul tells us that God is not fooled.
Repentance is the needed element that makes salvation available to us. We must repent. That is, we must turn away from our sin and turn again to God and His Righteousness. In all humility we must ask for forgiveness, we must acknowledge who Jesus is and what He has done; we must honour God in all we do and say from that time forward.
Now, because we are all human, we still stumble from time to time. If we do so and then realize what we have done we must go right to The Cross in repentance asking again for forgiveness. If we do so God is graceful and again washes us clean. We are restored into right relationship with God. Do not be fooled thinking that we can therefore sin and intend to go later asking again for forgiveness. Such is hypocrisy, and you will be cast into the outer darkness as we saw above. God is not fooled; he knows our hearts.
It is not that good works will save us; we are saved by Grace. It is that we must honour God by our words and actions as an outward sign that we have indeed been saved and are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Such work will continue for the rest of our natural lives and is a gradual process as we are refined from base ore into fine and precious metals. Little by little The Holy Spirit brings to our attention those things in our lives that are not as they ought to be, and which we must work at with the help of The Holy Spirit in order to become the people we ought to be.
A brief account of a day in my own life may help you see more clearly what I am getting at here. It happened one day some months after I had received Jesus as my Saviour, and begun my new walk with God. I was reflecting on the days and weeks gone by, and considering how God had reformed me from being an accomplished and habitual liar into a truth teller who loves the truth for its own sake. There had been many other things too, such as learning not to look at women with eyes of lust. I thought, “At last today I am living without sinning.” The Holy Spirit then began to show me the great many ways I had fallen short that very day. I was appalled and quickly prayed that He might stop at once for I could not bear it. The weight of it all, and the impossibility of living perfectly, crushed me completely. I asked if by Grace God would just bring things to me little by little as I could work on them with His help. That continues to this day as He makes me a better man, less of a sinner but infinitely far short of the glory of God.
Some may also argue that their good works so far outdo their bad works that this ought to earn them passage to Heaven. This is self-righteousness and misses the point that one can never make up for a wrong, and just one wrong is enough to disqualify one from Eternal Life. We have all done wrong.
Babes in arms cannot do wrong anymore than they can do right. Until they develop the facility of reason they cannot understand right and wrong. We may train them to behave as we want them to, but we cannot call them evil if they muck up.\
Again, God is not fooled; he knows the heart of man (humankind). He knows our very thoughts and will guide us into all righteousness if we will heed Him.
If you have never prayed, “The Sinner’s Prayer”, follow me now.
‘Lord, my God, I come to you in humility acknowledging that I have sinned and not lived as I ought to live. Please come into my life and save me from my sins. Lord Jesus, I know that you are The Son of God, and that you came to die for repentant sinners that we may be saved. Please come and be my Saviour; clean me and change me into the person I ought to be. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!”
I f you prayed this in a heart-felt manner meaning what you say, then you are now a new creation. God has adopted you as a joint heir with Jesus. Go and sin no more.
Seek the face of God in your life by reading and studying His Word, The Bible. Regularly meet with other believers, and be sure to have a public Baptism. This is an outward sign of the new inner reality.