The Tale of a Good Person
John would be considered a model American citizen. As a 42 year old paramedic, he was in the business of saving lives and received various awards for his stellar character and work ethic including Paramedic of the Year, Rookie Medic of the Year, Community Service Award, Mentor of the Year, and the Above and Beyond Award. He was a loving husband and a father of 3 boys, who were fortunate to have a dad so involved in their education and extra-curricular activities. John served at the homeless shelter once per month and volunteered his time at the free medical clinic several times a year. He was loved by many and anyone he came in contact with would have considered him to be a good person. John would have considered himself to be a good person for it’s the very thing he was striven to be.
During his last service as a paramedic, John was responding to a multi-car pileup on a major interstate when a drunk driver swerved and hit him from behind. He died instantly at the scene.
Sadly, John is in hell now. Why? Because he thought he was a good person. He thought he was good enough to go to heaven.
This is the mindset of most professing Christians in America today. Many believe they are Christians by birthright, are Christians because they have a good relationship with “the church”, or because they are good people, especially compared to the likes of Adolph Hitler or Charles Manson. In John’s case, he believed in God (as most Americans do) and thought his heart for his community and devotion to his family would earn him the right to go to heaven. But the one thing John never came to grips with was his sin, especially his pride in thinking he was good enough to go to heaven.
The Law of God
The Bible tells us that we were born into sin (Psalm 51:5) and there is no one righteous (Romans 3:10). Righteousness simply means perfection. Perfect in every way, including behavior, attribute, attitude, and word. It is God’s standard that He requires of every human in order for them to go to heaven. In other words, we must be perfect (Matthew 5:20).
Although in the eyes of men John would be considered a good person, and rightfully so, he was not perfect. We know this from Scripture, specifically according to the perfect standard for which God judges righteousness – His moral Law. According to Scripture, all liars, drunkards, thieves, adulterers, homosexuals, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, cowards, the greedy, and the faithless will be cast into the Lake of Fire under God’s holy wrath (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-20, Ephesians 5:5-6, Revelation 21:8). You may consider yourself to be none of these and not deserving of hell, but let’s take a closer look at a few of these types of people:
Fornicator - one who participates in unlawful sex, which is to say of one who indulges in sexual activity outside of the boundaries of legal marriage. It can also mean giving oneself over to false gods, eg religious idolatry. Referring to sexual acts, these would include premarital or post-marital (divorcees) sex of any form (heterosexual, homosexual, incest, pedophilia), but also to include adultery.
Adulterer - one who engages in inappropriate behavior or unlawful sexual activity in violation of legal marriage vows. Such would be the case for two married individuals engaging in inappropriate conduct, or a single individual violating the boundaries of marriage with a married individual. Jesus said that if anyone looks at someone and lusts after them they have already committed adultery with them in their heart (Matthew 5:27-28).
Idolater - one who worships a false god, or has created a god in their own image (which is to say the “Christian” god they worship is not the God of the Bible). This might include worshiping a god from any of the worlds religions, worship of a person, or worship of an object, such as money.
Homosexual - one who engages in homosexual activity, or same-sex intercourse. This would include those in same-sex relationships, celibate or not.
Thief - one who steals. Forms of thievery would include embezzlement, robbery (violent force), or by non-violent means, such as cheating, downloading illegal music, or shoplifting.
Covetous - one who is greedy to gain material wealth, or one who is not content or satisfied with their belongings and envies the possessions of others.
Drunkards - one who gets drunk or intoxicated with alcohol.
If you have stolen just one thing your whole life, or lied just one time, or had just one lustful thought, God considers you to be a thief, a liar, and an adulterer. The same can be said for any of the above sinful identifications. Think about it, how many times do you have to rape to be considered a rapist?
Many people believe if they just follow the 10 commandments, they will be ok in the afterlife. John certainly thought so. He thought they were a good moral code to live by. Especially in his adult years, he tried to live with the utmost integrity and did his best to never lie to anyone. He certainly did not steal or hate anyone, and remained faithful to his wife during their 20 years of marriage. But John did not consider his secret thought life to be a big deal. He assumed it was normal to admire pretty women in bikinis, whether it was at the beach or on the grocery store magazine rack. And although he was somewhat rebellious as a teenager and dishonored his parents, he had incredible respect for them now.
John thought his outward actions of being a model citizen and family guy would be his ticket to heaven. He thought God would approve of his “goodness” and the scales would tip in his favor to give him access to the streets of gold. But what John did not see in himself was that his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). His heart deceived him and he never knew the God of the Bible – the One and Only True, Holy, Righteous, and Just God of all creation. He was thus guilty of breaking the greatest commandment to love God with all of his heart, mind, and soul (Matthew 22:37-38).
The Problem of Sin
In James 2:10, we see that anyone who attempts to live by the law is guilty of breaking every law when they break one law. To make matters worse, any time we don’t do what we should, we are guilty of sinning (James 4:17). And that’s our problem – sin. Sin is the breaking of the Law of God, whether we do so willfully or unintentionally. If we sin once in our entire lives, we are considered lawbreakers (1 John 3:4).
The penalty for breaking the Law of God one time is death (Romans 3:23). In fact, it was one single sin that made all of creation fall when Adam chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). It is sin, therefore, that has separated us from a right fellowship with God, and it is sin that has condemned us to an eternal hell (John 3:18).
From the moment we were conceived, all of mankind was condemned, including yourself. Each of us deserve the justice of a Holy God for having failed to meet His perfect standard of good. If left to receive the punishment for our crimes, God would be just to send every person to everlasting hellfire. The consequence for our sin would be conscious torment forever and ever because of Who we have offended (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 14:9-11, Revelation 20:10-15, Revelation 19:14-16, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10, Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 10:28, Mark 9:48).
There Is Good News
But God is rich in mercy! His eternal plan before He created the universe was to send His one and only Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for sin’s punishment (1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 1:20-21). Over 2,000 years ago, a virgin Jewish teenager named Mary gave birth to the Son of God (Luke 1-2). Jesus was 100% man and 100% God (John 1:1-18). After walking a life of perfect obedience to His Father, Jesus of Nazareth went up to a trash heap called Calvary to lay His life down for His sheep (John 10:11).
No other sacrifice could appease God’s wrath against mankind. It required the blood of an innocent, perfect sacrifice to be a substitute for the sins of man (Hebrews 9). As the unblemished Lamb of God, Jesus actually became sin and was punished by His own Father (2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:3-6). God’s furious wrath poured out on His own Son as if Jesus was sin personified. This atoning sacrifice has now made a way for you to be forgiven of your sins. And why did He do this?
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God
has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
To fulfill God’s promise to Himself to raise His Son from the dead, after Christ had paid for our sins in full, God resurrected Him unto life! (Matthew 28:5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus now reigns in heaven at the right hand of His Father (Hebrews 12:2), and is waiting to come back again to establish His Kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4-6).
That is the good news, dear friend. Jesus Christ paid a debt He did not owe because you have a debt you cannot pay. There is nothing that you can do to add to the work that Christ has already done. That is why He said,
It is finished. – John 19:30
If you try to be justified by your good deeds as John the Paramedic did, you will surely experience the same judgment as John in the lake of fire for all eternity (Galatians 3:11, 5:3-4).
You Must Repent and Believe
If you have yet to be made alive by the grace of God, then you are still dead in your sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and the wrath of God hangs over your head (Colossians 3:6; Ephesians 2:3). Yet, out of the infinite mercy of God for His children, He has paved the way for His sheep to receive eternal life – through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone! God has called all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). God is calling you to repent. He is calling you to turn away from the sin that separates you from His holiness. He is calling you to turn from your idols, to turn from the control of your life, to turn from serving yourself, and to turn toward Him to receive His gift of grace through faith. This type of faith is a repentant faith where you must give up on yourself and your sinful lifestyle to trust in God to save you from His wrath and the enslavement to your sin.
That is what you are – a slave. You are either a slave to your sin or you are a slave to the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:16-18; John 8:34), but you cannot be a slave to both (Matthew 6:24). Neither can you love God and love the world and the things of this world (1 John 2:15). The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You must call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13), but this is not mere lip service, dear friend.
It will cost you everything (Luke 14:33). Jesus has called His sheep to deny themselves, pick up their crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). He has called His sheep to forsake all for Him, and to value Him and love Him more than their family, their friends, and even their own lives (Luke 14:25-33; Matthew 10:37-39). Jesus has called you to lay down your life for Him, to count it as nothing, and when you do by the grace of God, He promises you eternal life!
The Promise of Eternal Life
This is what Jesus said of those who recognize their sins against God and desperate need of a Savior. These are people who feel conviction and sorrow, a godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10), for breaking God’s Law and being the very reason for the crucifixion of the Son of God. If that is you, He is speaking these words to you, dear friend:
I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. – John 6:35
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. – John 4:14
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. – John 17:3
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:13-14
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one. – John 10:27-30
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. – John 3:3
This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:39-40
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? – John 11:25-26
Do you believe this, dear friend? Are you weary? Are you looking for rest for your soul? Is the weight of your sin bearing down on you? Do you feel the Spirit of God drawing you into His embrace? It does not matter what you have done or who you have done it with, God has called you to repent from your sins and throw yourself before the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are one of His sheep, listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him. You must be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ so that God can declare you not guilty of your crimes against Him. If you have been born again, then cry out to God, turn away from the things that are separating you from Him, trust that He is your Savior, and yield yourself to the Lordship of Christ! Knowing this of Jesus:
there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12
If God has poured out His grace upon you (1 Peter 1:3) according to the riches of His mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5; John 1:12-13), this is what He promises:
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:11-12
He removes the sins from His children as if they never sinned and sees them only as righteous, holy, and without blemish because they have been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. The most marvelous thing about this is you don’t have to wait for eternal life, and it may be yours today – instantly!
New Life in Christ
Now friend, think on these things. Diligently seek after God in faith and He will reward you (Hebrews 11:6). If you have believed on the Son of God and trusted in Him alone as your Lord and your Savior, He has planted His seed in you to empower you to hunger and thirst for the things of God (1 John 3:9) that you should no longer walk in darkness (1 John 1:5-10). Begin reading your Bible and obey what you read. Spend time with God in prayer every day so that you will walk in the Spirit and be prepared for whatever comes in your path. Surround yourself with mature Christians so they can instruct you and encourage you. Find a solid, Bible-believing church so you can be shepherded in the faith, and be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Be submissive to the work of the Holy Spirit so
…by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which isyour reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1-2
I’d like to hear from you if the amazing grace of God has set you free from the bondage of your sin (John 8:36) and saved you from the fury of His wrath (Romans 2:5). If you have any questions about anything you have read or are struggling in the assurance of your salvation, please do not hesitate to contact me through the Contact page. You might also find the Resources page to be beneficial to you.
May our great God and Savior Jesus Christ be glorified in your life today and the life to come…Soli Deo Gloria!
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4