Home > General, Theology > “I’m going to heaven because I’m a good person.”

“I’m going to heaven because I’m a good person.”

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Satan’s greatest lie is one that sounds reasonable to most people.

Always remember that Satan is smarter than you. If I had to choose just one of Satan’s many successful lies in this world, it would be this:

I can earn my salvation and go to heaven apart from Christ alone.

Whether it’s through charitable acts or religious rites, most people have their own concept of how to reach heaven (and some don’t even believe in the existence of heaven, so they live it up now). The problem is, not everyone can be right.

Because this topic is so broad and can cover so many divergent views, I’ll cover just two basic and contending ideas: 1) A person can go to heaven if they’re “good,” and 2) the only way to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ and following Him.

First, consider these Bible verses:

Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

So clearly, if you call yourself a Christian or believe in the Bible at all, you must concede at this point that no person is good enough to get to heaven. If all righteous acts are worthless apart from the grace of God, then logically there is no way to earn eternal life.

But what about people who don’t believe that the Bible is authoritative? Then let’s turn to some real-life examples and a bit of basic reasoning.

Most people think they are “good people.”

If you happened to see the “180” movie (http://180movie.com/), you may have noticed in the latter parts that most people interviewed would call themselves good or nice people. It may have even occurred to you the irony of a racist, hateful, and fornicating neo-Nazi asking, “Don’t you think it’s funny that God would send a nice guy like me to hell?” Most of us would look at him and say, “THAT guy is definitely not good enough. But thankfully, I am.”

To that I would ask, by what or whose standard are you “good enough”? If it’s not up to God (who clearly articulates in His word that ALL fall short), then who? You? Don’t you think there’s at least a slight danger of personal bias in there somewhere?

Haven’t you lied on many occasions to help yourself? Have you not stolen something that didn’t belong to you, or talked trash behind someone’s back? Are you not a liar, thief, and slanderer? Why then, are you a good person?

Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Consider this. You’re a “nice” person and you generally try to do what’s right. How do you know you’re nice? Because you compare yourself to others, and heck, people have even told you that you’re nice. So far, you’ve been comparing yourself to other sinners who are lost, and other sinners who are lost have told you that you’re a good person. Not too reliable…

You never slept around recklessly in college, nor have you intentionally broken anyone’s heart. Sure, you slept with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you two were in love at the time. You didn’t cheat while the relationship was still on. “Compared to womanizing perverts out there, I am a very decent human being.”

OK, let’s pretend that the Bible is out of the picture and that fornicating and pre-martial sex is morally acceptable with consenting adults (of course, it’s not). That’s the prevalent American view, anyhow. But people in other countries would look at you and judge you as wicked for not being a virgin on your wedding night. To them, you might be labeled a “whore.” You would in turn label them as backwards, old-fashioned, and intolerant. (Plus, you would probably wave your American diploma in their faces and roll your eyes at their less educated culture.) Who is right in this scenario? Is the default answer always you or America?

Other cultures might look down on you as a woman for not covering your face in public. To them, you seem completely immodest, and that’s before they take a look at the outfit you’re wearing, revealing a “stylish” amount of cleavage. The scandal! Then you would roll your eyes, then point accusingly at them for treating women less equally, and consider their culture chauvinistic. Are you right because you’re an educated American? Or are you wrong morally because you’re also spoiled, materialistic, and living in a sexually charged culture where almost anything goes? Who’s the final judge?

What about the iPad you purchased, knowing full well that hundreds of dollars would feed starving children in other parts of the world? If it didn’t occur to you at the Apple Store, you’re reminded of it now. Are you then going to sell your unnecessary luxury goods to save lives? Why not? To the mother of a dying child in another part of the world, your hesitance to do this—while calling yourself a good-enough person to get to heaven—might seem perplexing. To her, you might not seem like such a great person after all. But again, whose standard is right? (Hint: The answer lies in the simple fact that no one is actually “good.”)

Forget different modern cultures. Let’s just take America, 1950 vs. today. Many of the cherished values of previous generations have gone by the wayside in 2011. But how are we so sure that we are right and they were wrong? Why is “old-fashioned” automatically inferior? There is a huge assumption here of continual forward progress morally, but don’t we know deep inside that this isn’t necessarily true? What’s to say that what we believe today will be looked upon favorably by our great-grandkids’ generation? They will likely look at our societal standards and mock our conservatism. “Can you believe they didn’t allow animal marriage in 2011?” (Ridiculous example, but perhaps not as far-fetched as it seems.)

If standards change from person to person, culture to culture, and decade to decade, how can we be sure we have the right one? Are heaven and God subject to us? If there is such a thing as an afterlife, and there exists a God (which most Americans would agree with), don’t you think His standard would be the right one? I don’t know about you, but if I created the universe—including human beings and their brains—I would feel wholly justified in insisting that my truths are a bit wiser than yours. If you believe in God but disregard what He clearly tells us in the Bible, then you’re being blind and foolish. I know that sounds harsh, but can you honestly say this “I’m a good person” logic makes any sense?

If there is objective moral truth out there, then it is true whether we like it or not. It is true whether it’s 1950, 2011, or 2090. It’s true whether you’re in America or Bangladesh or Korea. Rape is wrong whether you like it or not. Stealing is wrong, even if it’s from a richer person. And trying to get to heaven with acts of charity and being a “good person” doesn’t work whether or not you REALLY FEEL like it’s got to be true. Without an objective truth standard, you’re risking your eternal security on the flimsiest of platforms, and frankly, it doesn’t make any sense—especially since most people who think this way consider themselves to be rational thinking adults.

Put your faith in the Bible and trust what it says. Jesus is the only way, period. You can’t pick and choose the parts you like because what you like is entirely subjective and changes with the tides. A year from now, you might not even agree with yourself! If you want to go by another “holy book” out there, then be objective and explain to yourself (or to me, please) why you think that religion’s book is more reliable than the most tried and tested scriptures of all human history.

Just be real with yourself, that’s all I’m saying.

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