A couple of basic evangelical questions are…
If you died today, where would you go? If they say any sort of Heaven like response, the follow up question is… “Why would God let you in?”
This sounds negative and usually gets a bit of a chuckle. But the number of people who get this answer wrong is quite amazing. Probably the #1 response is along the line of “I’ve been pretty good, I just hope the good out weighs the bad.”
Justice is always pictured by a scale, and it’s all about the balance of information that determine guilt or innocence. This image tells people that when God sits in judgement of their life, there will be a scale of sorts. All the bad things they’ve done on one side and all the good they’ve done on the other. While there’s nothing wrong with this overall visual, people have a very misguided understanding of two things. What goes on each side and how much does it weigh?
What goes on the negative side?
It’s pretty easy for most of us to think we’ve stayed away from the ‘big’ sins of life. For example, I’ve never committed murder… or have I? Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:21-22)
I’ve also never committed adultery but Jesus said. ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:27-28)
According to Jesus, I’m a murdering adulterer. My scale of justice is not looking so good all of a sudden. And what is the ‘weight’ of these sins? “For the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23a)
This means that my proper punishment for having anger towards another person… is death, eternal separation from the Father. So the ONLY thing that can be on the other side of the scale, to balance out my justice, would have to be death.
What goes on the positive side?
There is tons of teaching all throughout the Old and New Testaments about how to live a righteous life. Many people feel these things go on the positive side and if there’s enough on that side, it will out weight the negative side.
It’s true that things like caring for the orphans and widows would certainly go on that side of the scales, but it doesn’t weigh enough to off set the sin. All the good in your life will NEVER out weigh the cost of sin.
Does this mean don’t bother? Of course not. Your ‘good deeds’ certainly benefit your fellow man and serve as a witness. We don’t do these things to out weigh the bad, we do them out of Love for our Savior.
What is the solution?
So when you sit before the throne of God, there is only ONE thing that can be said that will tip the scales in your favor, and it’s not said by you. Jesus has to say to the Father, “He (or she) is with me”.
You see, Jesus died on behalf of all. His death paid the price, and tips the scales for all who call on His name. “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9)
If at any point prior to that judgement throne, you have confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart… His death is placed on your scale of justice.
So, continue to do good. But not to tip the scale in your favor, not to earn favor with God, but to show Him your love for the sacrifice He made on your behalf.