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Why Being Good is Not Good Enough

Today’s reading: Matthew 5:21-7:23

My selection: Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

My reflections: Jesus is exploding the various versions of the myth that one is accepted before God based on mere outward conformity to the law or on the performing of numerous good works. He told them that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was not sufficient to enter the kingdom of heaven (5:20). He gave a list of examples of how outward conformity to the law did not eradicate the guilt of inner sin. Now He tells them that a long resume of mighty works done in God’s name would not grant them a ticket to heaven.

Before we can be received into God’s presence, we must come to grips with our sin. It is enormous. It includes what we have done and not done, what we have thought and not thought. We are hopelessly lost in our sin. There is no way to earn passage to glory. There is no way except through the One who perfectly kept the law and then died for the sins of all His people (1:21). The problem with the people in today’s selection was that they were not known by God, they had no relationship with Him. Why? Because they trusted in their works not in Jesus Christ.

My challenge: There is bad news and good news here. Bad news: being good is not good enough to insure eternal life. Good news: By faith you can know the One whose works were good enough to save both Himself and you, the Lord Jesus Christ. Be sure you are trusting in Him today and always. To know Him is to have eternal life (John 17:3).  Is it useless to seek to do good?  No, but the one who knows God does good works out of gratitude to God and in His strength, never to attempt to earn forgiveness.

Tomorrow’s reading: Matthew 7:24-9:38

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