Read: Romans 2:6-11
Salvation cannot be earned. Salvation cannot be earned. These are words I had caught myself whispering more times than I could count. I’d say it over and over, hoping that eventually, I would finally get it. I constantly poured my energy into being good. I was fixated on making myself holy. Failure was not an option. Except, I did fail. I failed a lot.
Every failure destroyed me. I was always angry at myself. My imperfection drove me to depression. I felt worthless. If I couldn’t be perfect, then I was nothing. I broke down under the pressure to a trusted friend who told me, “Nothing you can do will make God love you any more or any less.” Those words resonated in my brain. I finally understood that I didn’t have to be perfect. I couldn’t earn my salvation. It was prideful to think I ever could.
Believing that I, alone, could become righteous enough to earn God’s love was arrogant of me. He already loved me. He already did all the work. I was prideful to try and do it on my own. God never asked for perfection, He asked for faith.
Salvation cannot be earned, but that does not mean we can ignore the importance of goodness. Obedience towards God is born from faith in God. If there is faith, there should be obedience. Followers of Christ are told to stand out from the rest of the world by pursuing good works. Good works shouldn’t come out of a desire to earn salvation, but out of love for God. If we love Him, then we will obey Him by doing what is commanded of us.
Paul tells us in Romans 2:7 that good deeds will be rewarded with glory, honor, and peace. Although there will be a reward, the intentions need to be out of love and obedience to God. In verse 8 of Chapter 2, Paul also warns about those who are prideful and those who are “self-seekers.” Just as God will reward those who strive to be good, He will punish those who go against what He has commanded.
The Israelites blatantly went against God’s command in the Old Testament, and He punished them for their disobedience. God told them to go into the land that He had promised them. Because of pride and distrust, they decided not to enter the land. They thought their plan was better than God’s and did not trust Him to protect them. They had to wander the desert for 40 years and their generation could not enter the promised land because of their disobedience. Their sin, as usual, had consequences.
Paul wrote in Romans 9-10 “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.” God offers both glory, peace, and honor or tribulation and distress. The difference is whether we are seeking the desire of God or seeking our own desires.
Are you trying to earn your salvation through good deeds? Salvation is found only through God. Where in your life can you show God’s love for you by doing what He asks of us?