Searching the internet for topics on grace, I found this Our Daily Bread devotion on ‘False Hope’. In it was a statement I have heard many times in my life, and at one time would have believed/said myself.
Many people today have false hope that they can earn a place in heaven by working at being good or by doing good things. God’s standard of perfection, however, requires a totally sinless life. There’s no way any of us can ever be “good enough.” (Italics mine for emphasis.)
First, I quite agree we can never be ‘good enough’. I don’t want to take away from God’s work. But, for whatever reason, this middle statement brought me up short and grated on me. Has God ever really made it a standard that we would have to lead a perfectly sinless life in order to be saved? This almost sounds as if God was in the Garden of Eden, just after Adam and Eve had eaten the apple and he thinks, ‘Well, now they need to be perfect if they are going get back here with me. Wait, I have an idea! I will send my son to die so that they don’t have to do that. Tough break for everyone until that happens.’
OK, slightly oversimplified. I don’t want to deny the work of Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, but is that really all that’s keeping us from having to trudge it on our own? What does that reduce Christ’s work to? Has God actually made it as simple as ‘believe in Jesus or never sin’? (Actually, Paul claimed to be blameless under the law, but that rarely gets talked about at any length.) Did God actually expect us to hold to that standard?