“No one knows how bad he is until he tries really hard to be good.”
“The Way to become authentically Christian is to take any one of Jesus’ precepts and try to keep it."
These men don’t mean that we would become better believers as a result of doing those things. They mean that if we try to follow any particular teaching of Creator God, we’ll be forced to confess our own sinfulness and the need for continual forgiveness.
“It’s a consoling idea,” wrote Kierkegaard, “that we are always in the wrong.”
Being always in the wrong is a consolation because it highlights the futility of trying to make ourselves good people. Of course, atheists will leave the challenge untried and then castigate Christians for having a negative view of the human race. Atheists will proclaim to anyone who will listen, “I don’t need God to be a good person.” For those of us who exist in reality, there is no better news than to find out that no matter what we try and no matter how long we try it, it’s impossible to become an ethical and morally upright person.
I was at a hockey meeting not long ago, in preparation for the start of this season. At the meeting I heard that out of the hundreds of thousands of kids who start playing hockey each year (and every one of them thinks they’re going to turn pro some day) something like .008 % make it to the big leagues. Hearing that, one dad said, “So there IS a chance!” Ha Ha
If even one person in every hundred million could earn h/her righteousness. If even one person in every hundred million could make h/herself good enough to be good enough for heaven, then there would be reason enough to try. But it’s useless. We’re all total and complete screw-ups. “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations for us.” That is why Jesus came to earth to rescue us. And that, folks, is good news. Read Matthew chapters 5 - 7. That is the standard if you’re trying to enter heaven on merit, and it must be kept right from birth. It’s hopeless. No one can do it. No one even need to try. Why? Because Jesus will do it for us.
For everyone who is willing to humble h/herself and admit the need for forgiveness -
For everyone who is willing to humble h/herself and allow Jesus to become Lord and Saviour of h/her life,
The very Spirit of Creator God will indwell that person and begin a change in character from the inside out.
Why? Because almost anyone can look good to those around them. No one can be good where it counts, in our motives in the sould of our being. That’s why people are surprised when their neighbour or church leader or minor league coach does something evil. Our outsides look all shiny and new while our insides carry the stench of spiritual death.
Without any effort on our part, and only a willingness to obey and to follow, Creator God will first count us as righteous and then, in a process that lasts a life-time, He will conform us and transform into the likeness of Jesus the Christ.
Like being rescued from drowning, the moment we quit fighting, that’s the moment that our Rescuer can save us.