I think there’s a common misconception that simply believing in God will get you into heaven. Even believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose on the third day isn’t enough in and of itself. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and it’s so very complicated and so very simple at the same time.
CONTEXT: You can take any part of the Bible isolated and make it say anything you want it to say. Satan used scripture to temp Jesus in the dessert!!! Also, I can read the same verse and have it say completely different things to me in different seasons of my life. It’s amazing as I re-read through different parts of the Bible and see my old highlights and notes from a time when my spiritual maturity was at a different level. The Bible is living and breathing and is meant to be communication personally to you from God Himself. Every part of the Bible is relevant and it’s really important to read and understand it in its entirety. (Side note: God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of today and the warnings in the Bible are for CHRISTIANS…not unbelievers)
In Mark 1:34 it says, “He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was.” Not only did the demons know who Jesus was but they obeyed Him. Our salvation is not based on belief alone…demons believe in God. Satan believes in God. Our salvation is not based on obedience alone…the demons obeyed. The Pharisees that crucified Christ believed in God. They knew and obeyed every law inside and out. But their hearts and motives were wrong. They used Christianity for what it could do for them, for the status it afforded them. Some Christians use Christianity as a way to avoid hell instead of because they love Jesus.
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?'” (Luke 11:39-40)
REPENT: to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about ones wrongdoing or sin.
You can’t fake your way into heaven and you can’t manipulate grace. Salvation is gained through A RELATIONSHIP with Christ…which produces repentance and a transformation of the heart, which in turn produces a change in character, demeanor, behavior. Our salvation is not dependent on our obedience (and I am so grateful for that) but our obedience is a reciprocation of our salvation. I would even venture to say that one cannot exist without the other.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43; 45)
This is a dilemma because Peter himself struggled with this very thing. In Romans 7:14-15 Peter says, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Here’s where it gets simple!!!!! In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 11:9-13 says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened. Which of your fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
All you have to do is seek Jesus and He will do the work in you through the Holy Spirit. We spend so much of our lives striving and we don’t actually have to! Take the pressure off yourself. Have you ever laid in bed awake at night wondering why you can’t fall asleep? And the more you dwell on it the harder it is to fall asleep? This is what striving is like. The more we try to will ourselves into obedience, the further away from obedience we get. Why? Because we weren’t meant to strive. Jesus did the work. IT IS FINISHED! We are designed to be in constant relationship with Jesus…THAT’S IT!!