I have once believed that to die and enter heaven someday, I need to do good. I have to be good in this life so that in my life after death I can meet God. Over the years, this is what I was led to believe by people around me. I grew up trying to do my best to be good. I obey my parents (though, most of those times, it was by sheer obligation), I treat others kindly as best as I could (though, surely, there were many times, I knew, it was not kind enough), I share what I have (though, I never intended to share as much as they need), I go to church every Sunday (though, I remember there were many times, I don’t want to be there), and so many other good works I tried. The truth is, as much as I could remember, all these good works I believe I have done in the past would always come with “thoughs” and “yets” because even though how much I try my best to do all the good I can do, I still fail. I hurt people, I hurt myself, and I fall short in many ways.
The fact of life is none of us could be good. We always say that we are just humans and we are bound to fail. That is true. The Bible even teaches us that. We can never do good, so much good, or perfectly good to make us enter heaven when we die someday. Why? Because we fail even in trying to be good. The Bible speaks truthfully and justly, “There is none who does good. Not even one.” – Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10. And, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”– Romans 3:23. We even fail in doing good.
Where does this lead us? It leads us to God. When we fully realized the significance of this truth, we understand that we need God. We need God to be good. We need God to live in this life. The Psalmist have realized this truth long ago, “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”” – Psalm 16:2. And Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5. Jesus makes it plain and clear. Apart from him, we can do nothing. We cannot even bear fruits of goodness in our life by our own.
What does it take to get to heaven? Surely, not good works from unrighteous persons. Not our good works! The only answer then is Jesus! “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” – Romans 5:8-9. We are called ungodly and sinners before we came to know Christ and receive him in our life in faith. Yet, even when we were ungodly and we were sinners, Jesus willingly gave up his own life and shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins of all mankind. “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” – Romans 6:10. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:12-14. Jesus died once, a single offering, and he died for all. We who are in Jesus Christ, who believe in him in faith, are justified by his death on the cross. When we believe in Jesus by faith, he makes us righteous through his own righteousness and not through the faulty righteousness we try our best to portray. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21. We are cleared of our sins, cleared of our debts, cleared of our guilt because Jesus justified us through his death. He died because God made him to be sin even if he is sinless for he knew no sin as the Bible says. We are the sinful ones and we are the ones who deserved the death he took in himself. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23. But as we believe in his name we are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
What does this mean now? Whatever righteousness we have now is all because of the righteousness of Jesus in us. We are made righteous through his death and we can now go to the Father through Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6. The good things we do are results of the newness of life in Jesus because we are set free from a life of sin. “For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” – Romans 6:7-9. This is the reason for living righteously, not because we want to be saved. We live righteously because we are saved. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.