I have heard people argue “…I am a good person; I don’t need God”. This is the same as saying, “I am righteous enough on my own”. I suspect this is because we are comparing ourselves with the people around us. The thieves, rapists, murderers and so on. I can understand why someone who has no criminal record, keeps the law of the land and so on would say these words. Firstly, this is erroneous because we are judged by God’s standards, not human standards. God repeatedly says: “Be holy, as I am holy” [Leviticus 20:7, 1 Peter 1:16]. That changes things because God’s standard is perfect righteousness. Therefore, unless your entire life is perfect, it is not good enough for God and anyone who isn’t perfect is a sinner. God takes sin seriously because the Bible says: “there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood” [Hebrews 9:22] and the punishment for sin is death [Romans 6:23].
Secondly, when we die, we will stand before the throne of God. The books about our lives will be opened and we will be judged according to how we lived [Revelation 20:11-12]. God sees everything we do and nothing is hidden from Him [Psalm 139:7-12], so those books would have captured every thought, word and deed throughout our lifetime. Anyone whose name isn’t written in a particular book, the book of life, will be thrown into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:11-15]. I don’t know about you, but I know I haven’t lived a perfect life. Therefore, I am heading for the lake of fire which is the second and permanent death, if there is no alternative.
Thank God, there is an alternative in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He came and lived a perfect life. He then offered up His life as the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins [1 John 2:2]. He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary, taking upon Himself the wrath of God we deserved for our sins. We are not righteous of our own accord because we are all sinners [Romans 3:23] and no sinner will enter heaven. So, Jesus offers those who believe in Him His righteousness [2 Corinthians 5:17-21] which is good enough for heaven. This is why we can’t earn eternal life in heaven through our deeds because our righteousness isn’t good enough. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God [Isaiah 64:6].
In the gospel accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, there was a prisoner named Barabbas who was most likely on death row. He was a murderer who had also caused an insurrection in the city. As Pilate in vain tried to negotiate the release of Jesus, he offered the crowd the choice to release one prisoner, Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd chose Barabbas and he was freed. So, Jesus died in Barabbas’ place. We are all Barabbases. Jesus died in our place because His sacrifice on the cross was once for all [Hebrews 9:24-28]. Therefore, we are told: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life [John 3:16 NIV]. This means that for those who place their faith in Jesus, there is no permanent death.
Lastly, God the Father has appointed Jesus to be the Judge on that great day of judgement [Acts 17:31]. Those who have believed in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will have their names written in that book of life. They will have the perfect righteousness of Christ. Imagine the indescribable joy of a defendant who owes an insurmountable debt, if, during his trial, he hears the judge say: “It’s ok, I have paid your debt in full. There is no punishment for you. You are free to go.” This is what it will be like on the day of judgement for those who have faithfully followed Jesus. They will be free to enjoy heaven and God’s presence forever in a place where there will be no more tears, suffering, pain and death [Revelation 21:1-4].
Therefore, if you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, then take some time today to say “thank you, Jesus”. If you have children who don’t understand the significance of today, take the time to teach them. The forgiveness of your sins and your salvation was purchased at a great price, a price you could never pay. On the other hand, if you haven’t made Jesus the Lord of your life or you are someone who confesses Him as Lord in words but you deny Him by your deeds [Titus 1:16], then repent and turn a new leaf today. You do not want the Judge to say to you on that day: “away from me, you evildoer. I do not know you” [Matthew 7:23]. For as Jesus put it: “on that day, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” for those who stand before Him with filthy rags [Matthew 13:42].