“Stop saying Catholics believe they must obey the Ten Commandments PERFECTLY!”

In a previous post, I answered several Catholic critics who objected to my oft-repeated statement that Catholicism teaches its members must merit their salvation. See here. Some Catholics have also sent in comments objecting to my frequent statement that their church teaches its members must obey the Ten Commandments “perfectly” in order to attain Heaven. I’ll use this post to address their objections.

I happily concede that the Roman Catholic church (RCC) nowhere formally dictates that its members “must obey the Ten Commandments perfectly to attain Heaven,” but the bottom line of its cumbersome religious system is exactly that and I’ll explain why.

Catholicism teaches baptism (usually of infants) into the church wipes away ALL sin. After a Catholic matures, they must participate in the church’s sacraments (confirmation, eucharist, reconciliation), which allegedly dispense grace so that the Catholic is able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and avoid sin. The RCC teaches there are two kinds of sin; major (mortal) sin and minor (venial) sin. MortalMV sin loosely defined is the intentional disobedience of one of the Ten Commandments while venial sins are minor offenses such as the “white lie” a husband tells his wife when she asks if he likes her new hairdoo. It’s not always exactly clear where the dividing line is between mortal and venial sin. One priest might label a sin as mortal while another priest would say it’s venial. Nevertheless, all mortal sins must be confessed to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation to be forgiven or when a person is dying and receives final absolution. Venial sins can be absolved by attending mass and receiving the eucharist Jesus wafer.

With all that said, the theoretical constant goal of Catholics is to be without the stain of mortal sin on their souls; what Catholics call being in a “state of grace.” Catholics are taught they can only attain Heaven if they are in this mortal sin-free “state of grace” at the moment of their death. So how do Catholics attain this “state of grace”? By obeying the Ten Commandments PERFECTLY! But what if they mess up and commit a mortal sin? They must quickly go to confession and receive forgiveness so they can once again be in a “state of grace” or they will go to eternal damnation when they die.

STATE of GRACE – Condition of a person who is free from mortal sin and pleasing to God. It is the state of being in God’s friendship and the necessary condition of the soul at death in order to attain heaven. – from the Catholic Dictionary

Catholics concede that few can live in a constant “state of grace” so they have created confession to receive forgiveness for mortal sins and purgatory as a place where any remaining temporal punishment for mortal sins can be cleansed. Purgatory also allegedly cleanses unrepented venial sins.

Given all the above, Catholics purposely keep the sin hurdle very low otherwise their mortal sin bucket would be unmanageable. Many behaviors evangelicals would definitely consider sinful, Catholics would say are just part of everyday life. Evangelicals don’t differentiate between major and minor sins. Sin is sin. Yes, the Bible speaks of a sin unto death, which refers to the kind of unrepentant sin that leads to an early physical death of a believer, as was the case with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.

While several folks have contributed comments complaining that I’m misrepresenting Catholic teaching, the VAST majority of RCC members could not care less about the issue. Catholic sources show that only 20% of members attend mandatory mass every Sunday and only 12% go to confession at least once a year as they are required to do. That’s a lot of mortal sin piling up. Most Catholics are so disillusioned with their church’s religious treadmill that they’ve become Catholics in name only.

Catholic friend, I break the Ten Commandments either in thought, word, deed, or by omission every single day. Try as I might there are times when I lie, steal (work productivity), covet, and lust. I often put my own selfish needs and desires ahead of God and others. I’m prideful as the day is long. I get angry and hateful with others. Sometimes I gossip maliciously. You can try to rationalize it away, but you commit the same sins, too. You and I cannot possibly attain Heaven by obedience to the Ten Commandments. The only Person who perfectly obeyed the Ten Commandments was Jesus Christ, God the Son. And He offered His perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sins. But He rose from the dead and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sins and accept Him as Savior by faith alone. After receiving Christ as Savior, only then can you follow Him as Lord, albeit imperfectly. Trust in Christ, NOT in your extremely imperfect “obedience.” I’m so joyful that my Savior imputed His perfect righteousness to me. I have no righteousness other than His.

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

In conclusion, I will continue to state that the RCC teaches its members must obey the Ten Commandments PERFECTLY and have ZERO unconfessed mortal sins on their souls in order to merit Heaven, however, I will agreeably make sure to mention the qualifier that according to the complicated Catholic salvation formula, venial sins, while frowned upon, do not remove a person from the mythological “state of grace.”

Evangelicals and Catholics see justification differently…and it matters

Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of JustificationFA
By R.C. Sproul
Baker Books, 1995, 219 pages

I’ve discussed several times how I accepted Jesus as my Savior back in 1983 and worshipped at an independent fundamental Baptist church until 1991 when I could no longer take the Falwellian hyper-patriotism and anti-homosexual harangues. Well, I walked away from the Lord for 23 years but finally returned to Him last year. I was quite startled at how snug some Evangelical pastors and para-church leaders had become with Rome in my absence. Even the young pastor at the Southern Baptist church where we began attending frequently expressed his admiration for several Catholic theologians.

I began reading material on the festering Evangelical compromise with Rome including Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical project, which released its first joint declaration in 1994. ECT argued that, despite some secondary differences, Catholics and Evangelicals shared a belief in the primary doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ so unification was not only possible but desirable in the face of the mounting opposition to Christian “morality” from an increasingly secularized society. See my review of ECT’s first book here.

There were many prominent Evangelicals who vigorously opposed ECT including Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul. Sproul’s “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” is a thorough rebuttal of ECT’s betrayal of the Gospel and the Reformation. The Catholic church concedes that God initiates salvation by the grace provided through its sacraments but it’s then up to Catholics to “cooperate with grace” and do their part to merit their salvation. So Catholics can also say they believe in “justification by grace through faith” BUT they can’t and they won’t say they believe in justification by grace through faith ALONE. Catholics believe they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments to merit Heaven (and go to confession when they fail – repeat cycle). Every born-again believer knows that trying to obey your way into Heaven is a sheer impossibility and denies Jesus’ office as Savior.

Sproul gets deep into the theological nitty gritty and dissects both sides with precision and charity. If you don’t care for theological arguments you won’t care for this book. But every blood-bought Christian must at least believe in the core doctrines of Christianity found in God’s Word. Seeker-emerging-purpose driven churches desire everyone to just hold hands and tell each other how much “we all love Jesus” but no one can really love and follow Jesus if they don’t know what He taught. If anyone believes all or part of their justification relies on being “good” then they have an incorrect (and spiritually moribund) understanding of why Jesus came and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection.

Praise the Lord for R.C. Sproul and many other Evangelicals who raised a red flag when Judas Colson and the other Evangelical signers of ECT (Land, Lewis, Packer, Bright, Guinness, Noll, Robertson, etc.) betrayed the Gospel of grace.

Any Catholics who might be interested in the Evangelical view of justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ ALONE would do well to start with this book.

The 5 Solas Series: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters

As early Christianity transitioned into the state religion of the Roman Empire, simple,FiveS personal faith in Jesus Christ devolved into religious legalism administered by an increasingly powerful and autocratic church hierarchy with their ever-expanding catalog of traditions, rules, and rituals.

Through the inspiration of God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit the 16th-century Reformers sought to return the church back to the simple faith and practices found in the New Testament. The biblical principles that galvanized them and that were subsequently anathematized at Trent later became known as the Five Solas:

  • Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
  • Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)
  • Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
  • Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
  • Solus Christus (“through Christ alone”)

Yesterday, I was excited to learn that Zondervan is publishing the following five books on the individual solas in commemoration of the approaching 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017:

  • Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, by Thomas Schreiner (September, 2015)
  • God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life, by David VanDrunen (December, 2015)
  • God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture, by Matthew Barrett (September, 2016)
  • Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God, by Carl Trueman (December, 2016)
  • Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior, by Stephen Wellum (2017)

Today I ordered the first in the series, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, from Amazon and I’ll be ordering the rest down the road.

Especially in these days of seeker/emerging/purpose-driven churches where doctrine has been replaced by ecumenical, “We all just love Jesus,” kumbaya hand-holding, these books are necessary and vital. Too many brothers and sisters suffered and died defending these Gospel truths to see them flushed down the toilet by evangelical Judases.

See the stories here and here.

Zzzzzzz. Catholic teens catch 40 winks during religious ed class

The Catholic religious ed. teacher in the article below bemoans the fact that all of herdownload (1) teenage students are totally indifferent to her lessons. But who can blame those Catholic kids for being apathetic about their religion? According to church sources, 76% of their parents don’t attend mass on Sunday. And who can possibly blame those parents? Their pope has said even atheists will go to Heaven if they’re “good” so why bother with all of that boring, liturgical rigmarole?

I feel sorry for those Catholic teens. I used to be one of them. Instead of being taught they are all sinners facing eternal judgement BUT that God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to this world to save all those who accept Him by faith, they are taught religious ritualism and how to earn their own salvation by trying to obey the Law and by being “good.”  Yet, God’s Word says many times that NO ONE is good. Christ came to save sinners, not the self-righteous “good.” The overwhelming majority of Catholic teens will abandon their religion the first chance they get but I would argue they’ll be no worse off than zealous Catholics who attend mass every day trying to earn their way to Heaven.

Take a browse through this article and then decide if you’re doing a “good enough” job obeying God’s commandments.


My Students, See Future Ex-Catholics

By Mary Deturris Poust


October 23, 2015


60% of Catholics: “It is not possible to have a personal relationship with God.”

This afternoon I was listening to a podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” radio call-inJes show, originally broadcast on March 13, 2015 on the Station of the Cross, WLOF 101.7FM out of Buffalo, New York. “Father” Dave Baker and moderator, Mike Denz, were mulling over Catholicism between phone calls and complaining that 60% of Catholics agree with the survey statement, “It is not possible to have a personal relationship with God.”

“Fr.” Dave said he introduced a course at his parish to show people how to have a personal relationship with God. He even sets up special sessions of eucharistic adoration for those taking the course so they can “REALLY” get to know God.

What can I say? For centuries Catholics were never taught by their church they needed to have a personal relationship with God. Receiving God meant being baptized and consuming the communion wafer. For Catholics, God was Somebody to be feared. Every detail of their belief system and ritual were meant to assuage a God who demanded and expected perfect obedience. If you wanted some sympathy and mercy you were told to pray to Mary. Most Catholics hoped that when they stood before God their “good” would at least outweigh their bad. But all this Evangelical talk about having a “personal relationship” with God has Catholicism in a dither.

Every sinner who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior has a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can confidently call the all-powerful God of the Universe our Father only because the blood of His Son washed ALL of our sins away – past, present, and future. We can stand confidently before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of His Son. Halleluiah!!!

I walk with Him daily as I journey through this life. He knows me intimately. He protects me. He sustains me. He indwells me. He gives me my next breath. He is my Rock. He is my All. I am nothing without Him. I love Him beyond words. He pulled me out of the deep, dark abyss into the bright sunshine. He grabbed me and pulled me out of the icy sea when I had no strength or breath left. He suffered and died for ALL my sins. He took them all upon himself. Oh, my Lord! Not to have a relationship with Him? There could be NOTHING worse.

Kneeling before a bread wafer is NOT a personal relationship with God. Getting more deeply involved with your religion is NOT a relationship with God. You sit in front of a TV screen and passionately cheer on your favorite football team every Sunday but you can’t be bothered about the eternal salvation God offers you freely through Jesus and the opportunity to have the God of the Universe as your Redeemer, Father, Friend, and the Rock of your life???

Accept Jesus as your Savior. Seek out an Evangelical church where the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ is proclaimed. Devour His Word like your three daily meals. Inhale His Word like oxygen!

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4: 4-7

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me!!!

The Gospel or the “gospel”

People of many denominational persuasions refer to the Gospel (Good News!) of JesusGN Christ. But what is the Gospel? In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul gives us a summary:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

So Paul’s succinct Gospel message is that by “believing” that Jesus, the Christ, God the Son, died for your sins, was buried, and was resurrected you can be saved from the penalty for your sins and have eternal life through Him. Of course, Paul isn’t referring to just an intellectual belief. He’s talking about acknowledging that one is a helpless sinner without one plea before a Holy God and then accepting Jesus as Savior by faith. Evangelical churches preach this genuine “Good News,” that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

But that is not the gospel taught by the Catholic church. Catholicism’s gospel is quite different. The Catholic hierarchy teaches that one must be baptized to be saved. Then one must strive towards absolute holiness by participating weekly in the sacrament of the mass. One must also obey the Ten Commandments perfectly (a ridiculous impossibility) and each time one disobeys they must confess their “mortal” sin to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation only to start the cycle all over again, etc., etc., round and round.

Catholics believe they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to merit Heaven. They believe that, at the moment after their death, if they have even one unconfessed “mortal” sin staining their soul they will go to hell. Catholics talk about Jesus the Savior and God’s grace but ultimately it’s all about if they “cooperated with grace” and merited their salvation. Me? I break the Ten Commandments either in thought, word, or deed every single day and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

A religious system which mandates you must earn your salvation is definitely NOT talking about “Good News.” Catholics chide Evangelicals because we say we KNOW we have eternal life because our salvation is based upon the imputed perfect righteousness of our Savior. Catholics believe no one can be sure they are saved because their salvation is based upon if a person perfectly obeys God (an impossibility) and His Catholic church and that can’t be determined until the moment after they die. But there is absolutely nothing “good” about that news. There’s nothing to rejoice about in that religious treadmill of works.

Well, the New Testament makes it clear there are none who are good. None of us are obedient. None of us have a plea. Christ came to save sinners who reach out to Him in faith, without one plea other than Him, like the tax collector in Luke 18. In contrast, Catholics are like the self-righteous Pharisee who think they are doing a decent job obeying the Ten Commandments. THEY’VE never killed anyone or cheated on their spouse! Their own “obedience” and “goodness” are their plea.

The Gospel of Evangelical Christianity is NOT the ‘gospel” of works-righteousness Catholicism.

“America’s dark and not-very-distant history of hating Catholics”

Contrary to some of the comments I’ve received since beginning this blog, I certainlyrg don’t hate Catholics. Many of my close family members and friends are Roman Catholics. However, as one who came out of Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I object to all religious systems, whether they call themselves “Christian” or not, which teach that salvation must be merited. Catholicism is especially wily because it refers to Jesus as Lord and Savior and gives lip service to “salvation by grace through faith” but every Catholic is required to “cooperate with grace” and ultimately merit their salvation.

I found the article below from a British newspaper in anticipation of pope Francis’s visit to the USA to be quite interesting, more for what it doesn’t say than for what it says. There’s absolutely no doubt that a degree of hatred and prejudice toward Catholics existed in America. But let’s dig a little deeper. Did this anti-Catholic prejudice appear out of thin air as this article implies or was the hatred a reaction to other historical forces?

The history of Catholicism in the Middle Ages and beyond was marked by intolerance, often extremely brutal, toward “schismatics” and “heretics.” Early Americans were well aware of the church’s harassment and persecution of non-Catholic minorities in alliance with civil governments in those countries where Catholics held the majority. Crusades? Inquisition? Catholic hegemony often meant oppression for Protestants in Europe and South America well into the mid-twentieth-century (see Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, interwar Poland, and the Latin American nations controlled by the clerical falangists).

The Catholic hierarchy wasn’t shy about its alleged right to forcefully subdue non-Catholics. Pope Leo XIII went on record defending the Catholic church’s right to suppress Protestants in alliance with civil governments: “Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the state to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness—–namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of religion is necessary in the state, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic states, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engraven upon it” (Encyclical Libertas, 1888).

Yes, Catholics also have a “dark and not-very-distant history” of hatred and to a much greater degree. By the way, the Tridentine anathematizations of the Reformers and everyone else who believes in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone have never been officially rescinded.

There obviously is no danger of a “papist coup” in Washington D.C any time soon. Pope Francis can’t even get the majority of his members to go to mass on Sunday morning. The real danger to Evangelicalism began with the culture battles of the 80s and 90s when Evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in the fight for “morality” in America, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, James Dobson, etc.).

Up until recently, Evangelical Protestants were keenly aware that the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit was at odds with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But the ecumenical push by some Evangelicals to dispense with doctrine and embrace Catholics as “brothers and sisters in Christ” because “they love Jesus, too!” (see Rick Warren) casts those who would defend the Gospel of grace as “haters” and the “fringe.”

Catholics impossibly strive to live a sinless life so that at the time of their death they are in a “state of grace” with no “mortal” sin staining their souls. In contrast, Evangelicals believe no one can possibly live a sinless life and that all must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and His imputed righteousness to be saved. Why are so many Evangelicals now overlooking the difference? Is it charitable to not say a word to Catholics as they continue to strive to merit their salvation?

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20.


“America’s dark and not-very-distant history of hating Catholics”

by Rory Carroll

the guardian.com

September 12, 2015


“Catholics Come Home” to Chains

The Catholic church blows the trumpet and loudly bangs the drum on EWTN’s “Catholics Come Home” and “The Journey Home” shows for “Separated Brethren” who converted to Catholicism Vatican Pope New Year_Schu(2)but what’s the reality?

A recent study from Pew Research (see link below) finds that 2 percent of people coming from an Evangelical background wind up as Catholics while 10 percent of people raised Catholic end up identifying as Evangelicals.

But Catholics in the Northeast, once a Catholic stronghold, already have a strong sense of the reality of the situation as they look around and see their sparsely attended churches either merging or closing while non-denominational Evangelical churches are sprouting up all over. Every Catholic family has a member who became one of those “born-again people” and left the church. What’s going on?

I’ll be the first to agree that church attendance does not redeem anyone (in contrast to Catholic teaching). Sitting in a pew every Sunday does not equal salvation. Genuine Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. It’s repenting of sin and accepting Jesus as Savior. It’s then following Him as Lord. Catholicism talks about Jesus and God’s grace but every Catholic is taught they must ultimately merit their way into Heaven by participating in the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

Sitting in a pew at an Evangelical church won’t make you a Christian. But there’s more than a good chance you will hear the Gospel while sitting in an Evangelical service and be invited to accept Christ. There’s absolutely zero chance of ever hearing the genuine Gospel in a Roman Catholic service. For Catholics it’s all about worshipping a wafer and trying your hardest to be “good” enough to merit Heaven.

The Holy Spirit continues to reach out to the Catholic lost in amazing ways.


Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning…


Many Evangelicals pass a Catholic church on Sunday morning and probably think to themselves, “Sure, Catholics worship God a little differently than we do but we’re all worshipping the same God, that’s the important thing.” But let’s examine that thought. At an Evangelical worship service there’s typically some announcements and singing of hymns and songs of praise for about a half an hour followed by an hour of preaching from God’s Word by the minister. The Gospel is usually presented and the lost are invited to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Catholic “mass” is quite different. At the mass there are also announcements, singing, a couple of very short readings from the Bible and a very short “homily” (sermon). But the main focus of the mass is when the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus. Jesus often spoke about being the bread of life but Catholics interpret those passages in a literalist sense that defies sound exegesis and a spiritual understanding of God’s Word. The priest then offers up Jesus the “host” to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of all the participants and any others who are mentioned. Catholics then line up to take the wafer body and wine blood from the priest and consume them believing grace is imparted to them that will wash away “venial” sins and help them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future.

Catholicism is really an extension of the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system with the priest serving as a mediator between God and the people. The priest is essential to the Catholic sacramental and works-righteousness system. Without his ordained “powers” and role as mediator the people are doomed and the Catholic hierarchy has always desired to keep it that way.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

However, Jesus completely did away with Old Testament sacrificial system when He was crucified and breathed His last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and the veil to the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two, giving all people direct access to God through Christ the Savior. God’s Word says Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of the Father. He’s NOT on Catholic altars as a broken victim, being sacrificed again and again, thousands of times daily all over the world.

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).

Here’s a couple of quotes that should put the Catholic priesthood and the mass in stark perspective for all Evangelicals.

The Faith of Millions by Father John O’Brien

(Nihil obstat; Rev. Lawrence Gollner, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend; March 16, 1974)

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man.”

“The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man – not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo, Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s commands.”

Oy vey! What anti-biblical BLASPHEMY!

So when you drive by that Catholic church next Sunday morning remember they’re NOT worshipping God the Son inside, they’re sacrificing Him on their altars as part of an attempt to merit their salvation. Rather than accepting Christ by faith for their salvation they’re relying on priests, sacraments, “good” works, and “obeying” the Ten Commandments.

“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.