There are a number of voices today heralding a powerless gospel: the morality gospel. It goes something like, “I don’t really know about Jesus or faith or sin or anything like that. But, I know that God wants us to live a good life by being nice to our neighbors and non-judgmental.” While this sounds appealing on the surface, there is no way to demonstrate that God would be pleased by that kind of lifestyle.
And yet this sounds like such an agreeable way to live. Why won’t God be pleased by such a simple, moralistic lifestyle? Let me answer in three parts.
1. Without Christ’s intervention we are under God’s wrath not His favor
Romans 5:18 states plainly that “one trespass led to condemnation for all men.” Without a shift in our relationship with God, we all start out in danger of being served God’s justice. Things are not okay between us and God until Christ enters the picture and removes God’s wrath. But He only removes it for those who are united with Him in His death and resurrection. We see it later in Romans with the glorious promise of chapter 8 verse 1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
2. Our good deeds do not please God
The natural passage to turn to is Isa. 64:6 which reads, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” In and of ourselves we cannot be selfless. Our attempts to be charitable are stained by an insatiable desire for recognition. We are incapable to “do good for goodness’ sake” precisely because when we do good our goal is to be worshiped. Since our attempts at sacrificial love are selfish, God cannot be pleased by them.
3. Our self-righteousness robs us of our need for God’s mercy
If we could attain the righteousness which God requires all by ourselves we would not be in need of His charity. What makes God so loving is our desperate need for pardon. If we were not in need of that mercy how would we ever know that He loved us? We are only capable of grasping His love because He had to make such a radical sacrifice for us to be saved. And when we do grasp that, we are finally free to show His love to others.
The bottom line is this: our morality is utterly incapable of saving us from God’s righteous retribution. He is a just judge who must punish wrongdoing. How could He do otherwise? Either Jesus was punished for our sins or we will be punished for them, but payment must be made.
If you have succumbed to the idea that living a “good life” will keep you in God’s good graces, then please hear my plea. He will not see your good deeds because sinful condition has so profoundly tainted them. Know that Christ has lived your “good life” and died your death so that God may be pleased with you. And for those who are in Christ, be assured He is exceedingly pleased with you! As a father delights in his child, as a groom delights in his bride, as a king delights in his people, in all of these ways God richly delights in you. Respond to His jealous love with profound gratitude and supreme devotion.
May you ditch all efforts to save yourself and be wholly satisfied with all that God has done for you in Christ Jesus!
For His glory and fame,