I remember vividly how I used to think that if I kept as many of the Ten Commandments as I could, I'd be good enough to get to heaven. I would compare my life to others lives and justify that I was better than them, so I was ok. I thought God would let me off the hook because I was good "most of the time".
But how good is good enough?
Where does God draw the line?
Romans 3:20 tells us plainly "No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are." God didn't give us the Ten Commandments so we would obey them. He knew we couldn't. He gave them to us so that we would see how sinful we truly are and how desperately we need a Savior!
"What then, was the purpose of the law (the 10 Commandments)? It was added because of transgression (sin) until the Seed (Jesus) to whom the promise referred had come...Is the law, therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness could have certainly come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."
When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus said "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself." I can honestly say that even if I get all the others right, I fail miserably in this area. I mean, if I were honest, I would tell you that God is not always first in my life. I want Him to be, but life gets in the way. I get stressed. I worry. I fear. I doubt. And when I do this, I break this commandment.
We cannot be good enough in our own power to impress God. He is Holy! And that means that even if the only sin we ever commit in our entire lives is to have one raunchy thought, then we still have too much sin to be in relationship with a Holy God. Holy is perfect. We are nowhere near that. But God's deepest desire is to have a relationship with us, so He made a way for that to happen
Romans 3:23-26 clearly lays out God's plan to restore us into a right relationship with Him...
For everyone has sinned. We all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood...God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.
So this means there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Jesus Christ is more than willing to be the sacrifice for the sin in my life that keeps me from a relationship with God! He told us that the only work that God requires is to believe in the One He has sent (John 6:29). That is Jesus! God sent Jesus to do the things we couldn't do...so we could be restored through our faith in Him to do what we are completely incapable of. There is Hope!
The bad news is that if I insist on trying to work my way into a right relationship with God by trying to obey the law, I will fail. I must recognize my inability to get it right without Jesus Christ - and this takes humility. Pride will keep many people from coming to Jesus because we hate admitting when we are wrong or helpless. This is heart breaking to God.
Imagine offering your child something and they refuse it - even though it costs them their life - because they don't want to admit they were wrong. (ouch) As a mom, that thought is unfathomable. But God loves us and will pursue us. And when we seek Him with all of our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
When I finally realized that I didn't have to try so hard to be good, but that I had to trust Jesus Christ's righteousness in my life, I realized that little by little and day by day my life is changing as a result of my faith in His righteousness, not my works. I finally learned to rest in Him. I began to have faith that I am forgiven, I am a new creation - I am redeemed. Some days I don't feel like it, of course. But thank God faith is not a feeling. It's faith - something we believe even when the feelings we have don't necessarily line up.
When I trusted Jesus, I stopped trusting in me - and trust me, that was the most freeing feeling I've ever experienced! I know how undependable I can be. But I also know that I can completely depend on Jesus Christ, who gave His life for me. When God sees me, He sees Jesus - not the undependable, always failing woman I used to be. And that, my friend, is the greatest gift I've ever received!
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege, where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. (Romans 5:1-2)
FREE BOOK! If you want to study more about this, please send me your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you a free copy of Andy Stanley's book "How Good is Good Enough." It is my gift to you - no strings attached. It can help you see the truth, from a biblical perspective. (Or you could read Romans chapter 3 and the book of Galatians in your Bible or at www.biblegateway.com).