Growing up in a meritocratic society, we are so accustomed to working hard to get to where we want in life. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch in this world right?
As such, it’s easy to extend this same mentality to the Christian faith – that we must earn our right to salvation.
Often, many of us may feel that we have to measure up to some sort of spiritual benchmark to be considered worthy enough.
But how good is “good enough”?
No one is good enough
The truth is: There is no such thing as being “good enough”.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. (Romans 3:10-11)
“Am I good enough to be saved?” is a question that has plagued many of us.
How can such a great privilege come free without a price, without having to work for it? It almost sounds too good to be true.
Except that it is.
Understanding God’s grace in our culture is not something that comes naturally.
Even for Christians, it can take years to unlearn the misguided legalistic belief that salvation is hinged upon our own goodness — and not the goodness of God.
However, grace is the unmerited favour of God.
The word “unmerited” just serves to remind us that it is a gift that we do not deserve. It cannot be earned.
No matter what we do, we will never be worthy enough to stand before God.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have to lead holy lives (we should)! But holiness by our own human efforts is not what justifies us or entitles us to our salvation.
Condemnation vs Conviction
Even after we become a Christian, we can still struggle with feeling that we’re not “good enough”.
Such emotions can stem from two things: condemnation or conviction. While they sound similar, they’re not the same and have very different effects.
Condemnation is from Satan. It is an attack on identity that riddles you with guilt and shames you into running away from God.
Much like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they sinned and hid from God, that is what condemnation does to us — it pushes us away from God because we feel too ashamed to face Him.
However, the Bible reminds us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
Conviction is from the Holy Spirit.
With conviction, we grieve over the fact that we’re sinners in need of grace. And it is this godly sorrow that leads us to repentance, drawing us back to God to receive forgiveness and healing.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Conviction, not condemnation, causes us to turn away from sin and run towards God.
And conviction makes us want to do better — to be better for God.
King David was a good example of what conviction could look like in a person. Having experienced godly grief over his sin of adultery, he returned to God with a broken and contrite spirit.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
David was forgiven and restored, and through his royal line came Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.
Through one man, we are saved
The thing is, before the complete sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God required regular animal sacrifices so that our sin would not hinder us from being in a relationship with God.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
However, Jesus was crucified for our salvation. Through His blood, our sin has been washed away and we are purified (1 John 1:7).
When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was also torn in two. It is symbolic of reconciliation — of the barrier between God and man being broken down, of us being made worthy to come to God.
Jesus is the perfect sacrifice who gave His life as a ransom for us (Matthew 20:28).
But a ransom that huge is not something to be taken lightly. We should not take God’s grace and the lack of condemnation as a licence to continue sinning.
Though nobody will ever be perfect on this side of eternity, we are to walk in the new way of living, leading holy lives which God desires for us.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
When we become a Christian, we are a new creation. This is the ongoing process of sanctification, where we are gradually transformed and refined to be more like Christ every day.
While nobody is ever “good enough”, we can take heart in the fact that Jesus is enough. It is only by His righteousness that we are good enough (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Through His work on the cross, we can have the full assurance of our salvation.
And because of that, we ought to walk in the freedom of salvation, free from guilt, shame and insecurity.
- Do you struggle with self-condemnation?
- If you’re a Christian, what are some things that cause you to doubt your salvation?
- What is your picture of God? What kind of person do you imagine Him to be?