Throughout your life, I’m sure you have known people who you consider to be good, and you have known people who you have considered to be bad. To me, a good person is someone who is honest, thoughtful, kind and patient. A bad person, in my opinion, is someone who is dishonest, mean spirited, egotistical and obnoxious.
I have observed that bad people have at least some good in them, and good people have some bad in them. So, I can say as a human being, that certain people are good, and others are bad. In other words, my idea of righteousness, as a human being, is relative, but God’s righteousness is absolute. It is perfect and uncompromising.
No matter how good we appear as human beings, and no matter how hard we try to resist sin, the fact is that we are imperfect and can never attain God’s perfect righteousness on our own. We have a flawed and corrupt nature. If we do good works to please God in an effort to get into heaven, and this is what religion does, our efforts are in vain because we have done nothing to attain a righteousness like God has.
In Matthew 6:33 the Bible tells us to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” If you think you have obtained sinlessness in your life Saint John the Apostle disagrees with you:
“If we (believers) say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we call him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1: 8- 10)
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
It is absolutely necessary for man to have a righteousness that is equal to God’s righteousness to live forever with God in Heaven. God demands this. Man must be perfect, blameless, spotless and incapable of producing any sin whatsoever. Man cannot achieve this absolute righteousness on his own by doing good works, because he possesses a sin nature, and sin must be paid for by death. In addition, God has to be satisfied that man has this absolute righteousness before he is allowed to enter heaven.
Perfect righteousness had to be provided by someone who was qualified to be our substitute, in accordance with God’s perfect justice, for the punishment of sin.
“For he (God the Father) made him (God the Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin (as a substitute) for us, (on the cross) so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (Christ) (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Now, we have this righteousness available to us, but we have to do something to obtain it. What would you suppose that is? Singing in the choir? Wearing a Jesus T-shirt? Giving money to the church or poor people? How about repenting, and turning away from your sins? Would that make you blameless and righteous? If a mass murderer says he is sorry and won’t kill anymore, does that make him guiltless and perfect?
God’s condition to become righteous or in other words, to have all of our sins past, present and future forgiven, is to believe in the one who has taken our place and paid the death penalty of sin as our substitute. Believing is an act which has no merit. It is simply accepting a gift. The Gift of Jesus Christ.