Three of the four gospels contain an account of the young man who asked Jesus a very important question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). A ruler with great wealth, he considered himself a moral man because he had kept the Lord’s commandments.
However, he was operating under the false assumption that good works bring salvation. He seemed to be asking Jesus what else he had to do to secure his place in heaven—besides all the good things that he had already accomplished.
This is what I refer to as the “great deception”—the false belief that eternal life can be earned through our own efforts. If we give credence to this lie, then we do not understand the problem of our sin and how it separates us from God. Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Rom. 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sins.
If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6).
When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly bodies will perish, our spirits will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we’ll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matt. 25:34, 41).