“I might not be perfect but at least I never killed anyone or cheated on my wife.”

One way to begin presenting the Gospel is by asking someone why they think God878548_f520 should allow them into Heaven? Most people, including most Catholics, would respond with something like, “I try to be a good person” or “My good outweighs my bad.” I’ve heard Catholics try to justify themselves even further by admitting, while they weren’t perfect, at least they never murdered anyone or cheated on their spouse.

But let’s examine that last statement a little more closely by posing a hypothetical scenario:

On his wedding day a certain man enters into a marriage “covenant” with his bride and vows to love and honor her and to forsake all others until “death do us part.” Decades later, on his 50th wedding anniversary, the man looks back with immense pride on his record of complete “faithfulness” to his wife. But what is the spiritual reality? How does God see it?

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7.

While it’s true the man may have never physically committed adultery with another woman in those fifty years, he committed adultery in his heart almost every single day. Who can possibly count the number of times he desired another woman besides his wife while watching television or movies? At a crowded beach? Walking the mall? At the office? Surfing the internet or leafing through magazines? Uh-oh, even at church! The man protests, “Well, of course! All men sneak a peek now and then. It’s not the same thing as physically being with a woman!” Oh, really? God disagrees.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28.

The man claims he was obedient and faithful and to all outward appearances he was. But God sees the heart and this man’s heart, like ALL men’s hearts, was filled with lust and covetousness. He was certainly not “faithful” according to God’s standard.

When we appear before God we will have no excuse, no alibi, and no plea in and of ourselves. All hidden thoughts and desires will be revealed. So who then can live up to God’s standard of righteous perfection? The answer is no one. But God so loved us that He sent His Son, the ONLY One without blemish or spot, to die for our sins.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Only those who accept Jesus the Savior and His perfect righteousness can stand before God. There is no other way to come to God than through the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Trying to be “good” won’t cut it. Trying to be “faithful” won’t cut it. Trying to uphold your end of a religious “covenant” with God won’t cut it. All of our “righteous” acts that we present to God in trying to merit our salvation are like “filthy rags” in His eyes. – Isaiah 64:6.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:2

Question from a confused eleven-year-old Catholic child: “If we get to Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments and religious rules as the church teaches, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”

The “Good News” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ was the joyous message of the early church. How then was the Gospel of simple faith in Christ twisted into this Catholic religious system of ritual sacramentalism, legalism, and salvation by merit? That’s a topic for a future blog.

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5 thoughts on ““I might not be perfect but at least I never killed anyone or cheated on my wife.”

  1. sdcharg,

    I actually agree with about 95% of this post. Much of what you believe is in agreement with Catholicism.

    First of all, you and I agree 100% that Scripture is the inspired word of God. When you stress the importance of Scripture and when you quote Scripture you’re actually endorsing the book that Catholics refer to for their own beliefs. Your interpretation of it raises many questions of course, but that can be a topic for another day.

    Secondly, you and I both agree that salvation can only happen as a result of God’s grace through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins.

    Third, you and I both agree that we are all sinners. We both agree that if we say we are without sin, we are liars (1 John 1:8). It’s all too easy to sin. Sin happens. The type of sin and the consequences of choosing sin are a matter of further discussion of course.

    Fourth, you and I both agree that God wants to forgive us of our sins. I believe that’s why He gave us the Sacrament of Confession, whereas you believe confession is unnecessary (?). Either way, we both believe God wants to forgive us, and we appeal to His mercy and Christ’s sacrifice for us.

    So… we agree on all these major points. Where then is the basis of your argument? You say “Trying to be ‘good’ won’t cut it. Trying to be ‘faithful’ won’t cut it.” Okay… so then we shouldn’t try? If Catholics wholeheartedly agree that salvation comes through grace, then what is the position you’re trying to advocate here? Embracing sin if we can’t entirely avoid it? Is the only way to retain our humility to not bother trying?

    Here’s a way to look at the Catholic perspective of sin: in Christian tradition, Lucifer’s words to God were “non serviam” or “I will not serve”. They are the rebellious words of self over God. If someone chooses self over God, then God will not force them to serve Him. They are allowed to make the choice that Satan did. If someone chooses sin but afterwards wants to return to God, He receives them with open arms. If we really want to serve God, but we keep stumbling, He forgives and keeps encouraging us and helping us through His grace to do better. I’m not saying that someone can keep a relationship healthy by sheer force of will apart from God’s grace. I’m also not saying that we can’t ever mess up. But we MUST TRY to avoid sin. It’s part of being a Christian.

    Jesus Himself gave us some very motivating words…

    “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

    So, whether you’re a Catholic making excuses for sin, or a non-Catholic making excuses for sin, you’d better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    -Ben

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ben, You quote Matt 5:48 as a proof that people MUST strive to be as perfect as God in order to earn their salvation. I would refer to the same verse and several other verses in Matthew 5 as Christ’s teachings on how God’s standard of righteousness is so much higher than our own that we cannot possibly attain it. The Pharisees also thought they were obeying the Law most of the time with a sacrifice mixed in here and there but Jesus’s clarifications in Matthew 5 put that concept totally beyond the realm of possibility. I get the idea that you think of Evangelical Christianity as some type of easy-believism where a person prays a short prayer asking Jesus to save them and then they’re free to do whatever they want. Genuine faith in Christ isn’t like that.

      You want to know what particular Christian denominational brand I espouse? Catholics are preoccupied with structure, authority, hierarchy, law, etc. But the Holy Spirit is like the wind and works wherever He will. I’m comfortable worshipping in any Christian fellowship where the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone is preached. That leaves out Roman Catholicism. My brothers and sisters in Christ are scattered across denominational (and non-denominational) boundaries but we share a bond in Christ that works-righteous religionists could not possibly understand. The “sanctioned” religionists of Judea at the time of Jesus were also proud of their structure and “divine” authority. A ragtag rabbi like Jesus who preached repentance and acceptance of Him by faith threatened their entire system and they could not possibly stand for that.

      What thoughts go through your mind when you read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14? There’s no doubt Jesus used some thought-provoking examples to make His point; the Pharisee as a self-righteous religious person earning his way to Heaven through “faithful obedience” while the tax collector has absolutely no plea except in God his Savior. Christ was teaching the difference between self-righteousness versus humbly seeing yourself as a sinner without any hope outside of Christ. Where do you see yourself?

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      1. sdcharg,

        You said, “Ben, You quote Matt 5:48 as a proof that people MUST strive to be as perfect as God in order to earn their salvation.” That’s simply incorrect. What I have been trying, apparently unsuccessfully, to explain to you is that Catholics DO NOT believe that we can simply earn our salvation. Please stop misrepresenting Catholicism. It’s not right. What I’m trying to explain is that God expects us to take up our crosses and serve Him to the best of our ability, and He equips us with His grace to obey Him. *To choose disobedience or to not bother trying to obey Him is bad news for us.* That’s my point.

        What exactly is “Evangelical Christianity” to you? In a way, I am also an Evangelical Christian as a Catholic Christian who feels the necessity of evangelization.

        You said “My brothers and sisters in Christ are scattered across denominational (and non-denominational) boundaries but we share a bond in Christ that works-righteous religionists could not possibly understand.”

        Actually, I understand exactly what you’re saying, because I used to be just about right where you’re at. It’s fascinating to hear a version of myself from a few years ago telling me that I can’t possibly understand where he’s coming from. You say “But the Holy Spirit is like the wind and works wherever He will.” Yeah… it’s all fun and games until you sit back one day and realize that either the Holy Spirit is very confused, or many of the people who claim Holy Spirit guidance while disagreeing with each other could perhaps be less guided by the Holy Spirit than they thought.

        Here’s the deal… I believe the Holy Spirit does indeed guide us in many ways. I believe He guided me to the Catholic Church. The big thing I realized though is that I’m misunderstanding the concept of Holy Spirit guidance if I believe that He’s guiding me to establish doctrine. Basically, when it comes to doctrine, the Holy Spirit guides the Church, and the Church teaches us. The Holy Spirit does not promote doctrinal anarchy.

        You ask me my thoughts on the parable found in Luke 18:9-14. I see myself as choosing the path of humility, such as when I realized that I’m not qualified to establish doctrine for myself according to my own personal interpretation of Scripture. And as a Catholic I’m blessed to have access to grace found in the sacraments that can help me be less prideful every day.

        -Ben

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  2. Dear sdcharg,
    Your reference to Catholics as responding, believing as you stated in your thread, can be said of many people from many different christian churches. However, your comments are a poor and inaccurate characterization of what the Catholic Church believes and has taught for 2000 years. Nor is it true about what most well formed Catholics believe.

    What you stated about Christ and his teaching is also taught and lived by many who choose to celebrate Christ in his body, the Church. You are confused. I am grateful for the many graces you have received. I pray that God will continue to enlighten your heart and mind to be open to the whole truth that was given to and guarded by the Church, the bride of Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

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