How Good Do You Have To Be?
By Mike Gendron
As we share the Gospel with people we meet, we often ask the question, “Do you know where you will spend eternity?” The most frequent response is, “I hope I am good enough for heaven.” People who respond this way do not know the Bible and are convinced that God will grade their lives on a scale. They have a foolish notion that as long as their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, God will let them into His heaven. That is the furthest thing from the truth because no one can ever be good enough. God’s standard is beyond human achievement because He requires perfect righteousness for entrance into heaven. Furthermore, God does not save us because of any righteous deeds we have done (Titus 3:5). We can never boast about our salvation because it is purely of God’s grace, not of works or anything else we can do (Eph. 2:8-9).
Christ’s Righteousness Is Man’s Only Hope
Since our Holy God created us, He has the right to set the standard by which we are to live. It was God’s perfect man and man’s perfect God who declared, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 5:48). Clearly, no one can meet that standard because “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). When man realizes he is hopeless to obey the law perfectly, the law may become his tutor to lead him to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The Lord Jesus Christ is man’s only hope to all who have faith in Him. Those who believe His Gospel are credited with His perfect righteousness (Rom. 3:22). In the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith so that the righteous man shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17).
Paul Exchanged His Righteousness for Christ’s
If anyone had reason to boast in his righteousness, it was the apostle Paul. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. He wrote, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:8-9). Paul knew his righteousness would fall short of God’s perfect standard.
Zeal for God Without His Righteousness
Paul’s fervent desire and prayer to God was for the salvation of his fellow Israelites. They had a zeal for God, but they did not know about His righteousness. Out of ignorance, they were trying to establish their own righteousness. They did not know that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:1-4). Tragically, there are many who are on the wide road to destruction because they are trusting what they must DO, instead of what Christ has DONE. From the cradle to the cross, Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the law so that His righteousness can be credited to those who trust Him (Rom. 5:17).
Man’s Sin Exchanged for Christ’s Righteousness
The greatest exchange in human history took place at Calvary’s cross for everyone who repents and believes God’s Gospel. It was at the cross that God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Our great God and Savior took all of our guilt, shame, sin and punishment, and in exchange, He gave every believer His perfect righteousness. To Him be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever!