One way to begin presenting the Gospel is by asking someone why they think God 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.