We are all born into this world; a universe designed and created by a Holy God. Our first parents were created holy, yet fallible. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they condemned themselves, their posterity (us), and even the world itself to death and the effects of sin. We see this corruption and the consequences of the fall all around us every day.
God is holy. This means His character is morally perfect. On one hand, this means he cannot tolerate the presence of evil, because of His justice. The minute he says “that’s ok” to evil, he would cease to be perfect. Then His Word would no longer be true, and it would be impossible for people to trust and have faith in Him. But thankfully, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man the He should repent.” Therefore, His Love never fails and He is the only One that is 100% trustworthy.
Suppose we compared our life to a written resume. It would need to be a perfectly white sheet of paper, with only points of perfectly keeping God’s law, and no mistakes. This is what a holy life would look like. If we are honest with ourselves, at best our record of law-keeping (God’s moral law) is far from perfect. Some might suppose that as long as they are basically “good” people, then their good deeds will outweigh their mistakes. But truthfully, our resumes, so-to-speak, would not only contain all of our life’s mistakes, but be blackened with our selfish acts and dripping with the sewage of our corrupt thoughts, words and deeds, and smelling very fowl. A person who dies with this resume will receive God’s justice, and rightfully so. Remember what we said about God not being able to deny his perfect moral character?
This is the down side for us fallen human beings. We cannot enter into God’s presence because of our corrupt nature. So then how can anyone be saved? Well, the good news is that God condescended, providing a way for us to be made holy.
What we need is a substitute; someone who lived a perfect life and then took the punishment that we deserved. Jesus did both. Being both fully human and fully God, he was able to offer Himself in our place, and this atoning sacrifice fully purchases eternal life with God for all who trust in Him.
Most religions would have us working to try and re-write our resume in an attempt to make it presentable, which is futile. As Christians, we accept the truth that we have nothing to offer God except a life of service out of gratitude, but this is only in response to the gift that has already been freely given. It does perhaps take a profound humility to accept this truth, but by grace we are given humble hearts of faith to trust in Christ’s work of redemption.