Am I Too Sinful and “Bad” for God to Save?

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER the old Alka-Seltzer commercials: “Plop, plop…fizz, fizz…oh, what a relief it is!”

The good news of the Gospel is relief in bold-face, all-caps, full-color, digital surround-sound. But I’m convinced that some of us experience only part of the relief to which the Gospel entitles us.

We have it down pretty well that we’re not saved by being good. That’s the legalism that disappears when we really get a handle on “righteousness by faith.” Checklist law-keeping or rule-observing doesn’t get us into heaven. No amount of church attending, Sabbath keeping, tithe paying, healthy living, or other good-deed doing gets us in. Neither does any amount of sin avoiding.

Our way in has been paid before we were born—and our ticket in is a free gift.

True, good works such as those cited above will be seen in the lives of those who ultimately walk the streets of gold—but never as the result of an effort to be “good enough to save.” No, rather, these virtues will spring naturally from our relationship with Jesus. They will be motivated not by fear of being lost, but by love for the One who saves.

But there’s another half to the relief of the Gospel that many have difficulty accepting. For, if we are not saved by being good, then neither are we lost by being bad! But if we accept Jesus as our Saviour, He not only lived a life of perfect goodness to take the place of any efforts of our own to be good—but He also died to cancel out our entire lifetime record of badness.

Listen to this:

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 25.

Jesus died our death—and in God the Father’s eyes, that erased our record of badness. He lived a perfect life—and in the Father’s eyes, that life becomes our life record of goodness.

Do you ever hear voices inside saying things like this?

“You’ve blown it too often—you’ve fallen too far and too deep—you’ve crossed a line so that even God can’t fix it.”

“God hates sin, and you are one huge sinner. How can you possibly think God can approve of you after what you’ve done—and what you’re still doing?”

Who do you think inspires accusing, condemning, hopeless thoughts such as these? Who has, as one of his sorry names, “the accuser of the brethren (and sisters)”?

As a father of growing children, I can tell you that often enough, they did “bad” things (though, of course, you must understand, most of the time, they were perfect!). Today, they’re all grown up and have children of their own. Yet even now, they still do some things of which I may not always approve. But does that mean I write them off? Reject them? Get angry with them? Give up on them? Turn my back on them? Quit loving them?

Never!

I’d give up my own life in a heartbeat for any of my children. And I love nowhere nearly as perfectly as does my Heavenly Father. Not only that, but I’m a fellow sinner right along with my own children.

So again, we’re not saved by being good—and the only logical corollary of that is that we are also not lost by being bad! We can give up any hope of getting into heaven by being good. We can also give up any fear of losing out on heaven because of being bad.

The good news of the Gospel is that salvation does not depend on our goodness—and is not lost by our badness. Jesus took care of both challenges. And so long as our entire hope is in Him, we can be certain of our salvation.

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”—1 John 5:11-13, NKJV, emphasis added.

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