A woman who was not a member of the church, and rarely attended, told the preacher that she did not intend to become a Christian. She hoped her good deeds would save her. Since many agree with her, we ask, can we live good enough to be saved?
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in rebellion to God’s stated command (Genesis 2:6,7; 3:1-7). Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (NKJV).
Moses Lard explains that, “The first sin then was an act. It was simply doing what God told Adam not to do.”/1 Sin is the “transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, KJV). And because we continue to disobey God, we sin. Paul wrote, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Paul writes that “death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12). Once sin came, spiritual and physical death became a reality. Roy Deaver writes, “One dies physically as a result of Adam’s sin; one dies spiritually as a result of his own sin.”/2
Since we all sin, we have no hope of saving ourselves. Nothing on earth or that is within man can solve the problem of sin. We are utterly without hope. When we sin, we become enemies of God and lost spiritually (Romans 5:10). Paul later lamented, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
Man needed someone to save him from the flood of death engulfing him. Paul provides an answer when he writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). First Corinthians 15:22 teaches that “For so in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” God sent Jesus to die for our sins so that his blood could solve man’s sin problem (Romans 5:6-9).
Jesus became the source of salvation and life. Through Jesus we have justification, forgiveness of sins and access to God (Romans 5:1,2). Without him, we have none of these blessings. They are only found in Christ (Romans 6:3,4; Ephesians 1). Romans 5:1,2,9 tells us that we are justified by faith in Christ and that the blood on our souls makes us justified. Because of this justification, we have access to God. On our own ability we cannot come before God (Isaiah 59:1,2).
We are saved because of the righteousness of Christ and not because we are “good enough.” We cannot live in such a way that God is forced to save us. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Paul continues in the next verse telling us that we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Works are an essential part of faithfulness to God. They are fruit of an active faith committed to bringing glory to God (Ephesians 3:20,21; John 15:1-8). A lack of these works evidences a life no longer committed to following Christ. We obey Christ because we love and serve him and not to merit salvation. We desire to be tools in his hands.
Christ never told man to live perfectly, just faithfully. And there is a vast difference between the two. We cannot live “good enough” to be saved. If we could, then Jesus need not have died on the cross.
1/ A Commentary on Romans, 165.
2/ Romans, 176.
Will our Good Works Be Enough to Save Us?