A man was standing in a valley and he looked up and saw a sheep standing on a hill grazing in a patch of green grass. He thought to himself, “Wow, that sheep looks white next to that green grass.” All of a sudden it started to snow, and the hill was quickly covered with fresh white snow. The man looked up and saw the sheep standing in the snow. He then thought to himself, “That sheep looks so dirty compared to that white snow.” The man’s point of view was based upon his comparison. In the same way, many people compare themselves to others when considering the issue of righteousness. If we compare ourselves to other people, we may look very good. But if we compare ourselves to the standards of God, we will always fall short. We may be good people according to societies standards, but we have a big disadvantage when it comes to being good in God’s eyes.
Don’t all good people go to heaven? Many would answer yes to this question. Many people believe that there are numerous ways to get into God’s kingdom, and if they believe in hell, they think that only bad people go there. “I will go to heaven because I am a good person.” The problem is that there are no good people, everyone is bad. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that seeketh after God. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12). Many compare themselves with others, so they measure their level of “goodness” against other people. However, God does not compare us to others, he judges our level of righteousness against his own standard. God’s standard for being good is perfection, and there is no one that can stand before God and be declared to be perfect because of their conduct. Why can’t we ever be perfect?
We have to lay the foundation of this article based on the condition of all mankind. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). And we also read from Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Mankind had a start, God created one man, Adam, and from Adam he created one woman, Eve. Adam and Eve sinned, and Adam’s sin passed down to all of his descendants. The only exception was Jesus Christ; because of his virgin birth, the sin of Adam did not pass on to him because he did not have an earthly father. By all people being born in a state of sin, all mankind is born separated from God. We are born sinners, we do not become sinners because we sin. Also, we are born under the wrath of God. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36, NIV). The scripture does not say that the wrath of God will come upon them, it says that the wrath of God will stay on them. We are all born sinners and under God’s wrath. Because we are sinners, we face the penalty of sin, spiritual death.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The penalty of sin is spiritual death, and this penalty must be paid in full. God is the supreme judge, and he cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The penalty for sin, death, must be satisfied. There is no way that we can earn or work our way out of this debt. Doing good works or being a good person will not cancel this debt, only death can. This is one of the defining teachings of Christianity, God’s wrath is only lifted from a person when the penalty of death is completely satisfied. But there was someone who satisfied this requirement, someone who died on our behalf, and his death satisfied the penalty of sin.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and his death completely satisfied the wrath of God. We can be in right standing with God because of his sacrifice. We receive salvation through Jesus Christ. To be saved, or to receive salvation, means that you have been forgiven of your sin and God has given you a new spirit. You are born again spiritually into God’s family. Just as Adam’s sin nature was passed to us by our physical birth, Christ’s nature of righteousness is passed to us, spiritually, through the new birth. As the scriptures teach, we must be born again.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace is God’s favor that is not earned, it is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves because of no other reason than his love for us. God offers us eternal life, but we must receive it by faith. God will not automatically apply Christ’s sacrifice to us, we must come to him in faith. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10). We receive God’s forgiveness by the confession of our mouth and the belief of our heart. We do not work for it, we cannot inherit it, and it is not applied to us by association. So, what is the bottom line?
God wanted to bring humanity back to himself. The only way that he could do this was to take on human form and die in our place. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. He was resurrected after being dead, in a tomb, for 3 days. His death satisfied the penalty for our sins, God took his wrath out on Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is God, is the only way to God. By believing in him, we are then considered to be good because we are given his goodness. The righteousness of Jesus is “imputed” to us, and we are no longer subject to the wrath of God.
Prayer for salvation
Dear God, I know that I was born in sin because of the sin of Adam. I also know that I myself have committed sins. Because of sin, I am separated from you, and I am spiritually dead. God, I know that Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, was and is God. He lived a sinless life, and he died on the cross for my sins. He was buried, and then he rose again on the third day so that I could be brought into your family. God, I ask you to forgive me of my sins, I receive the gift of salvation that you have given me through Jesus Christ. Save me, put a new spirit within me, and bring me into your family. Father thank you for saving me.