Over the next few posts, I wanted to take the time to address a number of common theological misconceptions held by non-Christians and nominal Christians. The first misconception I would like to address is the thought that, “If I am a good enough person God will allow me into heaven and accept me.”
Like virtually every theological misconception they start with a wrong foundation. Like any strong building if the foundation is poorly done the building will eventually decay and be destroyed. The foundational issue here is one that is asked regularly in our society but mostly answered incorrectly. Is man inherently good or is he inherently evil?
The Old Testament is clear in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” In the New Testament the Apostle Paul deals with this issue in Romans 3 quoting portions of Psalm 5, 10, 14, 53, 140; Proverbs 1 and Isaiah 59.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – Romans 3:10-18
Paul later says in Ephesians 2:1-3 the plight of men without Christ. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Mankind according to Paul is by nature children of wrath. One might say this is a hopeless plight! There is no way that we can be accepted by God. You would be right in and of themselves man cannot be accepted by God. God must intervene and perhaps two of the greatest words in all of scripture appear right after this statement in Ephesians 2:4…”But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.“
God intervenes and provides a way for sinful men who were once objects of God’s wrath to be forgiven and reconciled to God. By sending His Son to be the object of wrath in our stead, by faith in substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ + nothing else we may have life.
Romans 3:21-26, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”