By Kristi Woods
“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20
I used to think “being good” made me a Christian. After all, aren’t God’s people supposed to make kind and right decisions, follow rules, go to church, and be all-around “good” people? Isn’t that what determines whether or not we enter heaven?
I believed in this philosophy, so I worked hard and followed the rules. I attended church. I put on a smile. I offered nice words to people. I sang all the right hymns, and I even accompanied on the piano at a variety of area churches. Whenever folks inquired if I was a Christian, I’d nod and offer a healthy, “Yes!”
But that belief brings a problem.
Nowhere in the Bible does God offer salvation based on following rules, checking off accomplishments, or being a “good” person. Everyone sins, even “good” people. Scripture says when we sin once, we’re guilty of breaking the entire law and need to be reconciled to God. Only through Jesus Christ are we saved from hell.
Following rules and being “good” depend on the works of man, not the love and grace of Jesus Christ. He lived, died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven to conquer our sin and pay the penalty we deserve. When we ask Jesus to be our Savior, to forgive our sins, and make us right with God, the passageway to heaven opens.
Being a Christian isn’t about being good. It’s not about going to church, making good decisions, or following rules. Those things often accompany the life of a believer in Christ, but they don’t determine our destiny. That comes through Jesus alone.
Take a few minutes to remember your gift of salvation—that time when you believed in Jesus as your Savior. If that moment hasn’t come, consider your opportunity today. Simply talk to Jesus. Let Him know you believe in Him. Ask Him to forgive your sins. Once you’ve done that, celebrate because heaven awaits.
Kristi Woods, a Wholly Loved Ministries team member and former pew sitter, longs to see women transform from Sunday pew sitters to Monday through Sunday worshipers. Kristi, a writer and speaker, blogs regularly and offers faith-building tools for walking deeper with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes monthly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul publications. Kristi, her husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle, and have set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.
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Originally published Thursday, 30 June 2022.