If you were to ask a number of people on the street, “Do you think you will go to Heaven,” a majority would say yes. If you followed that up with, “Why do you think so,” they would most likely answer, “Because I am a good person.” When people give this type of answer, the Devil smiles. The reason he smiles is because he knows that this answer keeps them on the path that leads straight to his front door.
Romans 3:20 can’t be more explicit about how wrong it is to believe you can be good enough to go to heaven. It says that “by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” The works of the law means using your own ability to try to be a good person. It is a life that lives by the Ten Commandments and works really hard to not break those laws, so that God will think they deserve entry into His presence. This strategy is destined to fail. The bottom line is that you can’t do it, no human can do it. You cannot turn the law of God into a ladder and climb it to Heaven’s gate. This ladder leads down, not up.
Too many people, Church goers included, don’t understand what the purpose of the law is. The law of God is not to give you a list so that you can achieve or earn your salvation; it is to show you your sinful condition. The law displays your fallen nature, your wickedness, your rebellion, your depravity.
Think of it this way, when you go to a doctor, the doctor puts you through a series of tests to see how your body responds. Your response is evidence as to whether there is something wrong with you. If your body responds wrongly, the doctor knows that you are sick and you need medicine. This is how the law works; God gives us the law and we see how our hearts respond. For example, if you think you are going to heaven because you are good ask yourself if you have ever coveted. Guilty. How about taking the Lord’s name in vain? Guilty. How about dishonoring your parents? Guilty. How about lying? Guilty. This is the tip of the iceberg, but these transgressions of the law point to one conclusion, we are sinners, and no matter what, we will never be justified before a perfectly Holy God by our works. We need someone to save us from our sinful condition. We need a cure for our disease.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:24-25
The bottom line is that the law exists to point us to our need for Jesus. We must humble ourselves and stop trying to earn our salvation and accept the work of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The blood of Christ is sufficient to justify us in God’s sight. Jesus + nothing = Everything.