"Won't a Good, Moral Life Get Me to Heaven?"
January 1, 2002 - "In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." —1 Peter 3:15, NIV
by Mary Marr
If our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds, will that get us into heaven?
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Bonnie was told that she had six weeks to live. Because she had led a moral life, she believed that God would receive her into heaven.
I asked her about the basis of her morality, and we discussed the following questions:
What does it mean to be moral? The morals of society change. When the United States entered the Vietnam War, many people considered the war to be just and moral. But by the time the war ended, many people thought that it was unjust and immoral.
The Bible says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."(1) But God's morality leads to life, and what is moral in God's eyes never changes.
It remains the same forever. God does not grade "heaven entry" on a moral curve; He grades according to His own unchangeable standard. The perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ is the only basis for understanding true morality.
Jesus Christ alone provides a way for our sins to be cleaned away forever. The Apostle Paul wrote, "You were washed, ... you were sanctified, ... you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."(2) Our deficient morality is replaced by His sufficient morality.
Who decides what is moral? We do not have a moral nature but rather a sinful nature incapable of adhering to any moral standard—ours or God's: "The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so."(3) Morality is more than ethics or codes defined by a culture. Human ways are double-minded, unworkable, ever-changing and lacking purity. God's ways are pure, holy and grounded in love for all His children.
How much is enough? How many moral "points" are enough for us to get to heaven? Ten points or 100 points? Do we lose points if we mess up?
The Bible makes it clear that no amount of good works or moral "points" will save us. It is faith in Jesus Christ that justifies us in God's sight. God Himself purifies us from all immorality and gives us His love for others. God changes us and raises our moral level by transforming our thoughts, desires and actions to become like His. He alone replaces and changes our view of morality and recreates in us faith, love and obedience to His holy ways.
As Bonnie saw what the Bible says, she realized that "a good, moral life" will not get anyone into heaven. And that day Bonnie chose to do the one thing that the Bible says will get her into heaven: She put her trust in Jesus.