How good do you have to be to get to heaven? Will God accept sincerity? Will God accept you if you do the best you can and lead a good Christian life? Can you get to heaven if you, from this day forward serve the Lord? Anyone who reads the Bible knows that the answer to those questions must be an emphatic, "No!" "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Rom. 4:20). The very best righteousness a sinful man can produce is not sufficient for God's acceptance. It is written, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isa. 64:6). It is not possible for any of us to please the Lord. It is not possible for any of us to do anything that is good and acceptable before God. The Holy, Just, and Perfect God demands absolute perfection. He cannot and will not accept anything except perfection. He says, "It shall be perfect to be accepted" (Lev. 22:21). He says, "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Pet. 1:16). Our Lord Jesus Christ will sit in judgment over men, and all will perish of whom he says, "I have not found thy works perfect before God" (Rev. 3:2). In order to get to heaven you have to be as good as God, perfect in all things, perfect in heart, perfect in thought, perfect in works, perfectly holy. Yet no man is perfect. We are all sinful. We are all corrupt. Is there therefore no hope? Must we all perish for ever?
No! Blessed be the Lord, he has found a way to make fallen, sinful, depraved sinners perfect, perfectly holy, perfectly accepted. Every person who is in Christ is perfect in him. At the last day, in the day of judgment, if you are united to Christ by faith, he will "present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Col. 1:22, 28). "Ye are complete in him" (Col. 2:10). This is the final end result of Christ's redeeming work. "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27).
Now this perfection is not the result of anything in us, or anything done by us. It is entirely the work of God's free-grace in Christ. Just as the Lord took our sins and imputed them to Christ, making him to be sin for us, even so he has taken Christ's righteousness, his perfect righteousness, and imputed it to us, making us to be the very righteousness of God in him. By the shedding of his blood at Calvary, the Lord Jesus Christ has put away our sins, so that the law of God can no longer charge us with sin. "He was manifested to take away our sins", and he has done it, "and in him is no sin" (I John 3:5). And that perfect life of obedience to the Father's law and the Father's will, which he lived as our Representative, has been imputed to every believing sinner, so that now we are perfectly righteous in Christ.
In thy Surety thou art free,
Would you be made perfectly whole? Take your sins and your righteousness and pile them up as a heap of rubbish to be burned. Your righteousness is just as loathsome as your sin. Trust Christ alone for all things. Trust his blood to cleanse you from all sin. And trust his righteousness for all your acceptance with God. Trust Christ alone.
My hope is built on nothing less