Former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, once stated in an interview that he has little doubt about what awaits him in eternity. Citing his work on gun control, obesity, and smoking cessation, Bloomberg said, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven, I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I’m heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” Pope Francis made headlines not long ago by suggesting that even atheists can be saved if they will just do good.
This is the mindset of much of our world: just do good, just be good, and you will earn favor with God. We could call this The Gospel of Moralism, and it’s a very dangerous gospel because of one major flaw–it leaves Christ out of the equation. If life is all about being good, then I don’t need a Savior. I can be moral on my own. I don’t need Jesus to be good. The Gospel of Moralism reduces the good news to nothing more than good advice. It’s self-help theology. But here’s the uncomfortable truth that every individual must confront–NO ONE IS GOOD. Good people don’t go to heaven because they’re not truly good. Our Lord stated, “No one is good except God alone (Mk. 10:18). The apostle Paul wrote:
“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one (Rom. 3:10-12).”
We all know people that we would consider to be good, but our standard of good is not what God goes by. Whether or not we believe a person to be good is really irrelevant. God’s standard is an absolute and perfect standard that is completely fair and totally consistent. He is the moral authority. He is the only One qualified to determine who is truly good. Our standard compares imperfect people with imperfect people, but God’s standard compares a person’s heart with His absolute standard of good. By that standard, scripture tells us, no one is truly good. And the reason why is because we are stained with sin. Goodness and good deeds don’t erase sin. The blood of Christ does. His blood was shed for people who were not good. Christ makes us good. In fact, He makes us more than good. He makes us saved.
Life isn’t just about being moral. Life isn’t just about how we live, but who we live for. If this life were strictly about morality, then how we live would be the most important thing. But as we’ve already stated, no matter how well we live, we’ll never live up to the standard of God. How we live follows who we live for. Can we live morally without Christ? Sure we can? But can we live for Christ without living morally? No we cannot. You cannot be a follower of Christ without keeping His commandments, which includes living a righteous or moral life. Therefore, how we live is dictated by who we follow. Jesus Christ is not only the way of salvation, He also defines the way we should live. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
When it comes to salvation, goodness or badness is not the right starting point. Life and death spiritually is where we begin. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live. Whether I am good or not is irrelevant if I am outside of Christ. Goodness doesn’t deal with the issue. The issue is SIN, and no amount of goodness can cover up our sin. Jesus didn’t come to this earth, live, die, and rise again for self-improvement. He didn’t endure the cross merely for the sake of morality. It was not His goal to tweak our current selves or make minor adjustments to our character. We are not merely flawed. Without Christ, we are dead in our trespasses (Eph. 2:4-7), and only Jesus is in the resurrection business.
Salvation isn’t a matter of goodness. It’s a matter of blood. Are you washed in the blood of Christ?