“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
– Romans 3:23
Many people believe that they can work their way to heaven. But no amount of good deeds can ever save us from God’s judgment because our hearts are corrupted by sin. Unless God gives us a new heart we cannot be saved.
Think of it this way…let’s say I offer you a glass of water. You look at the glass and notice that it looks dirty.
You say: “You know, this glass looks dirty.”
I respond: “Oh, the glass is contaminated with deadly bacteria, but don’t worry, it’s filled with spring water.”
Would you drink it? Of course not, because it doesn’t matter how pure the water is, the glass has contaminated everything within it.
Think of the glass as our hearts and our deeds as the water which fills the glass. Some people lead very bad lives — they fill their glass with ditch water. Others lead average lives — they fill their glass with tap water. Still others lead, by human standards, wonderful lives — they fill their glass with spring water. But it doesn’t matter whether your glass is filled with ditch water, tap water, or spring water, the glass is dirty. In the same way, the good deeds you offer God to earn your salvation are contaminated by sin and He cannot accept them.
But God will give a new glass to any one who asks.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
– Ezek 36:26
What did our Romans 3:23 say? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But Romans 3:24 offers us hope because God offers to “justify us freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
While our hearts are contaminated with sin, Christ’s heart is pure, and His work is pure. He has lived the life we could not. To those who call on Him, He offers to credit His life to their account. They are now “justified by His blood” and “saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom 5:9)
Our good deeds, then, are not done to earn our salvation but done out of appreciation of our salvation.
God doesn’t take good people and make them better, nor does He leave bad people without hope. God, through Jesus Christ, takes sinners and makes them a new creation, forgiven, able to stand blameless, able to be called children of God.