There is a major misconception in our culture about the effect of good works in a person’s life. Many people believe that good works will result in some kind of spiritual blessing or eternal reward. They believe that good works cancel out bad works…that one day, God will pile each person’s good works on one side of a large scale, and all the evil works on the other side, and hopefully, the good works will weigh more than the evil. Thus people can earn their way into heaven. Sometimes I ask a person if she knows for sure she will go to heaven when she dies, and she answers, “I hope so!” Usually this is an indication she is depending on her good works (or some religious works) to cancel out her bad works.
But God says, “There is none righteous (good), no, no one: they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10,12). The Apostle Paul declared, “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:18-19). Again, “For we ourselves also (are) foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” No, we are not good, and even the “good works” we try to store up are tainted with sinful motives! For example, even when we are doing good works to cancel out evil works, we are motivated by self-interest.
Since heaven is a place where the holy God lives, sin cannot be tolerated there—not one little speck! In addition, God had already decreed that the penalty for sin is death…not just physical death, but eternal separation from God in hell. Therefore, unless God intervenes, we will never be able to be good enough to say we are sinless, and therefore prepared for heaven. God knows this, so He offered Jesus, who WAS absolutely good, who NEVER sinned, to pay the way for all humans who could never qualify on their own. When Jesus died on the cross, He shed His blood and suffered the separation from God that every human being deserved. Remember His cry from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Now he offers a PASS to get into heaven, to be considered as sinless as HE is to anyone who will believe and receive this gift personally.
Today, if you have been depending on good works to get you into heaven, please consider abandoning such a hopeless plan, and reach out to receive the GIFT of eternal life. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5)
So why should a Christian do any good works if they won’t get a person into heaven? Good works are a blessing to other people (Titus 3:8). We only have one life in this world, and we can be a blessing to everyone within our sphere of influence. Good works also glorify God to others. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
What place do good works have in your life? If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to stop trying to do enough good works to earn God’s favor and a place in heaven. Receive for yourself the gift of eternal life through believing that Jesus Christ already paid your way. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, do your good works bring glory to God and bless others?
Devotional submitted by:
Carole A. Vawter
BFLW Board Member