Why can’t good works earn us salvation?

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Man is completely unable to keep God’s commandments and to establish his own righteousness. The Bible says, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Man’s best works produce, not righteousness, but imperfection. Only the robe of righteousness that Christ has provided will fit man to appear in the presence of God. For “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16).

Paul wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Adam’s sin destroyed the godly image in man (Romans 5:12), and ever since man’s fall, all of Adam’s children have continued in sin away from God’s ideal. As a branch when separated from a tree soon withers and dies, likewise, a person without Christ can’t live (John 5:5).

Since men have nothing by which they can obtain a right standing with God, justification must come as a free gift. Only when a person humbly accepts God’s righteousness and is prepared to acknowledge that he is in real need of God’s glory and that he has nothing in himself that would give him favor with God is he enabled by faith to accept justification as a free gift.

The only possible way to obtain righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ. By this experience of faith, a man is once again brought into good standing with God (Romans 3:24) for God can create in him a new heart and he is empowered by faith to live once again in obedience to God’s law “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

As this glory of God revealed in Christ shines forth from the gospel into the heart and mind of the believer, it transforms him into “light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). Thus “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). The goal of every Christian is to reflect the glory or the character of God in his life (Rom. 5:2; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 2:14).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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