We hear from various churches and denominations of those churches that a Christian has to do certain things, act in a certain way that shows their conduct is line with biblical teachings. But how do we deal with this struggle? How do we know what is ‘right’? How ‘good’ does one have to be in order to be in God’s grace and maintain their salvation?
C.S. Lewis once wrote; “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” (Mere Christianity page 163). I can tell you from my own experiences this statement speaks an irrefutable truth. I think all Christians, and I would have to imagine even non Christians (for reasons not concerning the things of God) struggle with this question of how good we should be in this life. I can remember when I came to faith, I worried that my face to face meeting with the Lord would result in Him saying, “well, you did this right and that right, but not this or that so, you can’t come in” As absurd as that may seem, I ask you who are reading this if you have had or struggle with this same question?
I honestly believe that one will not get a statement from God saying “… so you can’t get in” that is based on a technicality. Now I realize, that that opens up a much larger line of questioning such as “What is a technicality” ? Is murder, rape, theft a technicality? That’s a whole separate discussion that is not relevant to the main questions here- How Good do we have to be? What do or can we do? And the biblical answer is this. There is nothing we can do on our own, by our own methods that will suffice. Go to church and pray as many times as you want. Devote you life to helping other people when ever you can. Give to the poor with an unselfish attitude. None of these things by themselves or even together will ‘get you in’ or fulfills the requirement of being ‘good enough’.
God’s own word addresses this very issue. First He tells us;
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:8-9
Our salvation is a gift of God. Not by anything we do. Now, does this mean all things mentioned above about going to church, helping people are not important? Should we be doing these things?- Absolutely. A truly saved soul will do these things because they are a result of the good works that come with being saved;
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10
When Jesus comes into our lives, when the Holy Spirit takes over and the death of our old ‘selves’ occurs and the renewing of our new lives
starts, these good deeds mentioned here will show themselves.
We need not worry about the details of are we ‘good enough’? We’re not. The Lord’s word assures us, that once our salvation is granted and His work of creating our new life begins, that He will not end His work in us until He has made us as good as we can be made;
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
The struggle we encounter is from the spiritual battle we have to deal with. One thing that does in fact happen, when one comes to faith, is after being convicted of our sins by the works of the Holy Spirit, you become very aware of everything you do, think and say. This is supposed to happen. I like to think it’s the Lord’s way of keeping us honest.
So know that these things that are occurring within you are all part of God’s great molding and changing of your life. To become what He wants, not what we want. So keep a firm grip and know that you will have these questions, but make sure you don’t dwell on them to the point of letting them control your thoughts;
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:10-12