Can’t I just live a good life to be OK with God?

Some believe that when we die, getting into heaven will be dependent upon a sort of weighing of our good deeds against our bad, and most reckon that, actually, they’re pretty good.

But first: what does it mean to be good? We argue that if we haven’t done anything desperately wrong, and we’re not a murderer or a paedophile, then surely we’re OK with God? The Bible teaches differently. We will be judged by God’s standards, not our own. God is perfect – He has never done anything wrong because He is so pure and holy. His character is the standard of perfection. Being honest with ourselves we know that all of us have fallen short of this standard. We have all done things that we know are wrong, however insignificant they may seem to us.

The Apostle Paul, who penned the book of Romans, concluded, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3 v. 23). Let us not compare ourselves with each other, but rather with God.

Secondly, we are aware that we are not the people we should be. We all feel guilty for some things we have done. We know we haven’t met our standards of morality in life, let alone God’s standards. Looking at Jesus’ summary of God’s commands leaves us all condemned: ‘Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength … and love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12:30 – 31) We know we do not do these things. The definition of ‘neighbour’ according to Jesus is literally everyone, including our enemies. Compared to a perfect God we don’t do well.

Thirdly, to God morality isn’t the ultimate standard. According to the Bible, it is our response to God.

God created the world and us. He gives us life, but we ignore Him. That is the worst disobedience. We don’t put God as number one in our lives. He is often not even a footnote in our short existence.

The Bible does not leave us to wallow in our own godless state. Instead, it teaches that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, who lived a perfect life, went around doing good, but then who died on the cross to take our punishment for the wrong of which we are each guilty. We don’t need to try to be good enough. We will never be good enough. We cannot become right with God by ourselves – we have to rely on the only thing that is sufficient to cover our sins – the forgiveness that is offered by Jesus, through His death on the cross. We neglect it at our peril.