Can I be saved? I’m not perfect!
Christ our righteousness
by Craig C. White
Jesus himself tells us how righteous we need to be in order to be saved; that is to be accepted by God and avoid hell. Turns out that if we sin even a little we are condemned to hell. The Good News is that we can become not condemned! In other words, God will forgive us of our sin. We can only be saved by believing Jesus Christ and asking God to forgive us of our sins (John 5:24). God then applies Jesus’ righteousness for our own righteousness.
Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Wow, the Pharisees were very pious yet they won’t be in heaven? The Pharisees were the leaders of the Jewish religion. They kept the Ten Commandments! Did they sin? Well I guess everybody sins a little. The Pharisees won’t be saved!? Hmm, then how can I be saved? Below, Jesus compares the standards of the Old Testament law of righteousness to God’s standards of personal holiness. So there must be a difference between the two!
Mat 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Murder of course is sin. But is anger and insult really sin? Can anger and insult really be punished by hell? Then I am probably going to hell. How can I be saved?
Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
The verses above describe a man bringing his yearly sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem. If a Jew did not bring this sacrifice for his sins every year then he would be killed (Lev 17:4, Lev 17:9). But it seems that the sacrifice isn’t the most important thing, but giving it with love in your heart for your brother. So ritual doesn’t guarantee personal righteousness. How then can I be saved?
Mat 5:25-26 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Guess what, Satan is your “adversary”. He continually stands before God and accuses you of sinning. You know he is right. Jesus is telling you to confess your sins. If you don’t plead guilty you will be cast into prison. Jesus himself is the judge (Joh 5:22). “Prison” is everlasting punishment. So if I confess my sins I will avoid Hell? Will I be saved?
Mat 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
When you read “Ye have heard” Jesus is identifying an Old Testament law.
I figured an Adulterer might go to hell but even someone who thinks about it; Even if I just look at pornography? I am doomed for certain. Can I be saved?
Mat 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
It seems an extreme measure to cut off my hand. Will that enable me to become righteous? What if my heart causes me to sin? I couldn’t cut that out. There has got to be a better way to become righteous. How can I be saved?
Mat 5:31-32 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
People make these kinds of mistakes all the time. So now I am causing others to sin. It seems that God has an awfully high standard of personal righteousness. Nobody will be able to enter heaven! How can anybody be righteous enough to be saved?
Mat 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
The verses above deal with falsely accusing another person as a witness in court. So I need to be very honest and direct. OK, I usually do that. But this is just one law among so many more. Can I just keep this one or do I have to keep them all? Can I be saved if I break just one law?
Jas 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Mat 5:38-42 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
If someone hits me I have to let them hit me again? Who does that? What?! If someone sues me in court I have to give them more than they ask for? I am not like God who can afford to give away his money! Oh wait a minute. I am not like God. God requires us to have righteousness equal to his own. Only people who are as righteous as God can be saved! I think that I am going to need God’s help.
Mat 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Loving your enemy is hard. It isn’t natural. I am going to need God’s help to accomplish this one. Oh, I need God’s help to be righteous. You know I don’t think I can do all of these things even with God’s help. I think he is going to have to do it all. I can only be saved by God. I need God to save me!
Mat 5:45-47 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
God blesses good people and bad people. So that’s what I have to do? In order to be like God, I have to do the same things as God! Nobody is like God! Can’t I just be pretty good?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
PERFECT?! I can’t be perfect! If it depends on me, I will never be saved. God has to save me all by himself.
You can’t be perfect either. Only by freely accepting the righteousness of Jesus as your own, can you be righteous in God’s sight.
Rom 5:20-21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.