Continued from here.
One of the lies far too many people believe – both Christians and non-Christians alike – is that Christianity is about “being good.” They mistakenly believe that the Bible is a rulebook of “do’s” and “don’t’s.” If I do this, then I get to go to heaven, and if I do that, I will burn for eternity in hell. That’s not why Jesus came!
If we could will ourselves into “doing good” by following a rulebook, then Jesus would not have needed to die for us. Paul captured this dynamic beautifully:
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” ~ Rom. 7:18-20
If it were possible to do what is “good” through following a rulebook, Paul should have been able to do so. After all, he was a Pharisee well-versed in the Law. And yet, as he so eloquently explained, he was unable to do what was “right,” even though he knew better than most what “right” is.
That’s why we need a Savior! Even when we know what is “good,” we are helpless to do it because the drive of selfishness is so deeply ingrained within us. So, it’s pointless for me to spend my time memorizing a bunch of rules and fixating on how I am going to follow them because I cannot do it! In my own power, I am helplessly “bad.” I am entangled in sin and death. The power of both is too strong for me to withstand. Thankfully, God provided us with a solution:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~ Rom. 7:24-25a
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace slamming down a gavel and yelling, “Overruled!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]