Many people think that by trying to live a good life, they are guaranteed a ticket to heaven. They may say things like, “I’m a good person; I don’t steal, lie, cheat, or commit adultery, as other people do. I’ve never been to prison, and I always work hard and contribute to society. So why shouldn’t I deserve to go to heaven?” Notice that the focus is on “what I do.”
This is actually a false idea used by the enemy as a way to deceive people. The truth is that God does not accept anyone based upon works, and the reason is simple: Salvation doesn’t depend on anything we can achieve. Nothing you or I do can earn it. We are saved solely on the basis of what Jesus accomplished when He died in our place to set us free from the power of sin and death. That’s what salvation is about.
To truly know the heavenly Father, you need to be right with Him. Yet not a single one of us is righteous on our own. Each of us has sinned over and over, not only in words and deeds but also in the contemplations of our heart. We can’t boast of righteousness, even if we can boast of “good works.” But at the cross, Christ was dealing with our sin problem, not our works.
We came into this world as sinners, separated from the Creator by our self-centered nature. Jesus, through His grace, took the punishment we deserved when He went to the cross as our substitute. In that way, He makes it possible for everyone who trusts in Him to be made righteous. By receiving Him as the Savior, anyone can begin a new life as God’s child (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4-9).