There’s a philosophy out there that as long as you’re a good person and try to do good that that’s all that counts before God. I’ve heard it from Christians and non Christians alike. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to express that “good works” is not enough. In an age where eastern philosophy and new age thought is spreading across the globe at internet speeds those who’s faith isn’t rooted in Christ are starting to be uprooted by this thought process: that you can achieve “nirvana” on your own, that your good deeds or lack of thoughts will bring you to self enlightenment, that it’s on you to be saved, or to be complete. But this is where Christianity, and God, stands in direct opposition. It’s not enough to try to be a good person and do good things, because that alone won’t get you into heaven. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. When we think that we are able to bring ourselves to heaven by our own good deeds, our own abilities, our own moral compass we are sadly mistaken and we miss the point, that is: why Jesus had to come and give His life for us.
If all it took was for a person to try to be good, then there would be no point for Jesus to have to be sacrificed for us, but as it stands, he was sacrificed for us in order that we might be saved. Why? I was trying to think of a good analogy to put it and the spirit of God gave me a picture: clean clothes. There are many places in the Bible where God talks about being clean, (Isaiah 1:16) staying away from unclean things, (Leviticus 10:10) keeping yourself unspotted by the world (James 1:27) cleansing your hands and purifying your hearts (James 4:8) baptism and the washing away of your sins by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 22:16 , Peter 1:18-19)... this picture of clean clothes made sense.
Let’s think of it this way:
We all come into the world with clothes and because we make mistakes and are tempted to do evil (James 1:14-15), because we choose to be selfish, to hurt one another, and so on, we add stains to our clothing. Our clothes are stained. Now, “good deeds” cannot remove those stains. Think of those stains that we make as permanent stains, there is no getting them out with any kind of “good deed” laundry detergent. The minute that we sin and we “stain” our clothes, those stains are set, and they stain permanently. There is no laundry service on earth where you can go and remove those stains. Yes, “Good deeds” keep you from doing bad deeds, and keep you from adding more stains to your clothes, and that in itself is very good, I’m not saying that trying to be a good person isn’t good, or that it’s bad, however good deeds cannot remove the stains that have already set in your clothes. Good deeds is not enough, it’s insufficient.
Not only can good deeds not bring you to heaven, but good deeds can never erase the shame and pain that can accompany the bad deeds of our past. No amount of good deeds can wipe away those feelings of regret, of worthlessness. The thought that “as long as I keep doing good deeds i will be ok on the outside” still traps you in a form of purgatory, still keeps you chained to the past, unable to be free. It does not remove the death sentence within yourself, it just masks your need of salvation from it.
Let’s take this one step further: Not only do we stain our clothes with regularity, but they already come into the world stained. We are born as sinners, born with a tendency to sin, to do evil, to choose wrong things that will not be good for us. This is all because we are all children of Adam and Eve, who chose to sin from the beginning, (Genesis 3:20, Psalm 51:5) and chose to live a life separate from God and His instructions for life. They chose to be selfish and not let God rule over them, and as a result they chose what is wrong for them and they chose death. (Genesis 3:2-4, 6, 13) Fast forward to 2018 and all of us on earth have inherited that very same disposition towards evil, towards selfishness, towards sin, from them.
Basically, our clothes are dirty. But so what? Why can’t we have dirty clothes and be with God in heaven?
Because God is perfectly good, (Mark 10:18) and sinless (revelation 21) and being in His presence requires perfectly clean clothes. There is no spot or blemish with Him. And things with spots or blemishes or dirtiness cannot even enter the place where He is. But what kind of fancy place is this where the dress code is so strict? To extend the clean clothes metaphor: think of a wedding. That should help. Better yet, a truly royal wedding! The attire for all the guests at this wedding is their very best pressed clean white clothes. You cannot show up to this wedding wearing your dirty clothes, or you will be thrown out. It’s a sign of disrespect, because you know what the dress code is and still you choose to disobey and insult the wedding party by refusing to wash your clothes or put on new clothes that are clean. (Matthew 22:1-14) In God's presence everyone must be clean, from head to toe, and their clothes must be perfectly clean with no stains. If our clothes are stained, and we cannot clean them, how are we then to have clean clothes to enter into the kingdom of God in heaven? (Titus 3:5)
God provided the solution in Jesus Christ. We extend the metaphor again: Jesus is THE ONLY LAUNDERER that can clean your clothes so that every stain is gone, and they are made perfectly clean. (Mark 9:3) God loved us so much that he didn’t want our sinful nature inherited from our fathers and mothers to keep us away from Him in heaven, He provided a way for us to get there, because we could not get there on our own. He gave us Jesus, who is able to wash away our sins and make us right before God. (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:22, Colossians 1:13-14.”) We are washed away and restored to God when we confess that Jesus Chris is the son of God and we accept Him as the only way to salvation. (Romans 10:9, John 3:3 , 1 John 5:11-12)
Here’s a little visual twist in our understanding of laundry cleaning methods, it’s not bleach that gets your clothes clean from their spots, it’s the Blood of Jesus Christ that gets them clean. (“Revelation 7:4, Revelation 7:9 ) By accepting that he had to die for us, (Ephesians 2:9) to be the ultimate sacrifice for us that would atone for all our sins, for every single sin committed and yet to be committed, we are baptized in the blood of the lamb and the word of His testimony, and we are transformed, and our clothes are made clean before God, and we have access to God and can stand before Him in heaven.
So there it is, Jesus is the only launderer, and we have to go to Him to get our clothes clean so that we can enter heaven, where the great wedding feast is taking place!
I know this doesn’t answer every question, but what do you think? Is it a good analogy for you? It personally helped me, and I hope it might help another. Below are the scriptures quoted above for easy reference.
God bless you as you read and meditate on God’s word.
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Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
“You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean”
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
“Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'”
1 Peter 1:18-19
“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
“Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”,
Genesis 3:2-4, 6, 13
“The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."”
“And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Revelation 21 - read the whole chapter.
“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."”
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”
“And his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.”
“"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”,
1 Corinthians 15:22
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
1 John 5:11-12
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
... They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands”
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast...