Many unbelievers (and sadly some self-proclaimed Christians) in the world today believe that Christianity is all about being really good as the means of gaining God’s favor. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Furthermore, the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
In John 3:18 the apostle John said: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already…”
Paul also writes, in Ephesians 2:8-9 “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.”
The Bible (both Old Testament and New) makes it very clear that our own goodness will not get us into Heaven. We have already been condemned because of our wickedness. We have absolutely no hope at all outside of Jesus Christ.
We were shapen in iniquity (Psalm 51:5) and have no chance of escaping our just penalty through our own goodness. If it were possible, we could stop sinning today, give all we have to charity and do good for the rest of our lives and if we rely on that good work to save us, we have false hope and will end up in hell for eternity.
Hell is what we all deserve, no matter how nice we are, how many good things we do for others, how often or how intensely we pray, how religious we are, how often we attend church services, or whether we’ve been baptized or not. We are bad and God is good. We are criminals to God and God is the Ultimate, Just Judge who will judge all men on a future day of judgement (Hebrews 9:27).
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
The deceitful heart of unbelievers cause them to come up with false gods in their minds (idols). Often times their god is not just, as is the One True God. Their false god is not good because a god who does not punish evil, deserves punishment himself. That false god is not the God of the Bible … the One True God, and does not exist.
God is Love, but God is also Just.
So what DOES the Bible say then? What IS Christianity all about?
Simply put, God wants us to take Him at His Word, to agree with Him that we are filthy sinners… criminals to God. We are to turn from our sin, taking Him at His Word. (Knowing we’ll never be perfect while in this sinful world, but wanting to be perfect in our hearts.) We are to trust in Jesus Christ as our own Savior, the only One qualified to pay our sin debt, and the only One who DID pay our sin debt!
This is faith.
If you truly believe, not only in your mind (even the devil believes in his mind – James 2:19) but also in your heart, what God has made very clear (that you are a condemned sinner with nothing good to offer) then you can trust what He said as he hung from that cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). If you truly believe in your heart that you are condemned with nothing to offer, then it is YOU who He referred to when He said “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Is Christianity about being really good? No. Christianity is about agreeing with God that we are the exact opposite of good and trusting alone in Jesus Christ as our substitute. The moment in time that we have this heart faith, we are changed (John 3:3). True faith, does however, result in good works and a legitimate desire to be perfect, though we know we will never be perfect before death.