Over the years it has become increasingly popular to simply do away with the need for a savior by believing that we can earn our salvation by living out good lives. People who hold to this view don’t see the need for Jesus in their life because after all, they’re a ‘;good person.’ Additionally, this is the typical message of religion which teaches that we can reach up to God by our good works and be granted entrance into heaven.
While this view may do well to help us feel good about ourselves based off our actions, by taking a few moments to make a short and simple examination of the conclusions of this belief, it becomes quickly clear that this worldview simply does not work.
Problem: Salvation By Works
The problem with holding to the belief which states that ‘;you can earn your salvation’ is that it is entirely wrong. Before even going into scripture on this issue I think we need to stop and just contemplate for a few moments. If the forgiveness of our sins is attained by outweighing our bad deeds with good deeds, how many of us actually think we have or can do so? Let’s try testing ourselves. For example, how many negative thoughts have you had today? Did you fail to love your neighbor? Did you use God’s name in vain? Did you lie today? Did you slack off at work? Did you exceed the speed limit? Did you lust after anyone that walked through or past your office? Most importantly, did you acknowledge Christ as Lord of your life?
Now let’s take the answers to those questions and weigh them with our good deeds. It doesn’t take long to see that our good deeds will never outweigh our bad. But this is all besides the point. While God is loving, he is also just and doesn’t simply forgive the evil things you’ve done if you’ve done more good than bad today.
Look at it this way, I may be a flawless citizen of America who has never once committed a crime and often volunteers at the homeless shelter, but if one day I murder someone in cold blood, I don’t expect the judge to forgive me just because this is the only bad thing I have ever done in my life. Talk about unjust! Or what if it was your best friend that I murdered, would you let me walk off unpunished because my record shows me to be a pretty good guy? Of course not! We all inherently know that crimes demand punishment and it is God who put that understanding within us because it is the same way he looks at things regarding us and our sin.
Solution: Salvation By Grace Alone
So how is it that we attain salvation and forgiveness of our sins? Well, in Romans 3:10-11, we are told that no one is righteous, no one understands and no one seeks for God. Again, we read that everyone has sinned and fallen out of a right standing with God (Romans 3:23) and the punishment for that is eternal death (Rom 6:23). In other words, we’re all in bad shape.
But while we were stuck in this state of damnation, God, in his love, came and died in our place (Rom 5:8) because that is the only way we could spend eternity with him (Jhn 14:6). But in order for us to do so, we have to accept and believe what he has done for us (Rom 10:9) and understand that our salvation has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God (Eph 2:8). If we even partially grasp what this means, we will strive to turn from our lifestyle as slaves of sin and towards being slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:19, 22).
Every faith I have taken even a cursory look at teaches that salvation comes by doing good deeds. But if there is one thing I cannot repeat enough it is that religion says that good works should result in salvation, but Christianity says that our salvation should result in good works.
From where do we get our salvation, but from Jesus and him alone?