Why Good Deeds Don't Get Us Into Heaven
When are the good things I do in my life important?
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
When is what you are doing pleasing to Jesus?
What are “good works”?
Most of us want to impress God with how good we can be – we don’t kill anyone or steal. We help someone in trouble or try to be good. But the problem is that it only takes one act, one time, to make us a “sinner.” After that, every good work we try to do has only one purpose – to make ourselves acceptable to God. The problem is we want credit for our actions because we measure our actions against other people rather than against God’s standard. We consider “hating our brother” as some action against them, but Jesus said even the thought in our heart, though never spoken, deserves the same punishment as murder (Matthew 5:21-26).
Why are they not good enough for God?
Our very act of trying to make ourselves acceptable to God is offensive to Him. He knew we could never come back to Him on our own. His righteousness demands separation (death) for sin (turning our back on Him and going our own way). Because He loves us He paid the highest price possible to redeem us – He gave His Son to die in our place. Our attempt to make ourselves acceptable to Him tells God we do not value the “price” He paid! We are insulting Him! All our own “good works” have only one purpose – to make ourselves acceptable to God. God calls these attempts “filthy rags” as we try to dress ourselves in our own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus compared it to a rich man who invited guests to his home for a party and provided all the guests with beautiful clothes to wear so no one would need to be ashamed. But one person thought his clothes were good enough and tried to enter without changing into what the host provided. He was sadly out of place, and the host threw him out because he had been so arrogant as to think he could dress as he wanted rather than accepting the host’s gift (Matthew 22:11-13). Pride, thinking we can be good enough to come to God with anything of our own, is the first sin on God’s list of things He hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Jesus said anything we do to gain recognition from others around us, to show them how good we are, may receive praise from those people, but it is the only praise we will ever receive – He will never praise us for such things (Matthew 6:2, 5).
When are “good works” pleasing to God?
Many people are confused about the “good works” that are talked about in the book of James, that “faith without works is dead.” Most of us are familiar with the sight of a large truck hauling cargo along the road. Think about “faith” and “works” being connected to each other like that truck. “Faith” is the tractor, and “good works” is the trailer full of good things. The tractor without a trailer is only a very expensive way to get from one place to another. A trailer without a tractor goes nowhere – except downhill into disaster if it is suddenly disconnected from the tractor. The tractor never follows or pushes the trailer because the trailer has no guidance system. Only the tractor pulling the trailer will end in a successful trip. Only our trust in Jesus to guide what we do is pleasing to Him.
Our faith in Jesus Christ is the power and steering for all our good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says we are saved by faith (the power and purpose or direction), for good works (the cargo).
Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, help me to work only for You and Your kingdom rather than for my own benefit or glory.
How do you know if your works are good or bad?