Being Good Does Not Save You

Being Good Does Not Save You

I have always wondered why people insist that Christianity is about being good. That all decent, good people are going heaven. Hence our salvation would be based on works or our behavior. But the Bible is telling us the polar opposite:

You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith.This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph.2: 8-10, CEB)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a gift.
Faith is a gift.
Grace is a gift.
Jesus is a gift.
It’s all God’s work from start to finish. Even the idea is God’s. Our role is to receive these gifts and believe. Like Lewis Sperry Chafer has stated “Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to Heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to Heaven.”

However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. (Gal. 2: 16, CEB, emphasis added)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Not by being good and doing good. That will come later, when the Holy Spirit works in and through us. God has planned great things for us to do when we are inspired and empowered by the Spirit. Those works are fruit of the Spirit and we will always be just vessels of God’s grace. But those works don’t save us, only faith in Jesus does.

I died to the Law through the Law, so that I could live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2: 19-21, CEB)

We have been co-crucified with Christ. When we receive God’s grace, we are saved through our faith in Jesus. Then it is not us but Christ doing those good deeds. We can only boast in the cross. We can only brag about God’s grace. And even that is free for all.

If we say that Christianity is about being good and all the good people are going to heaven, we are making the crucifixion unnecessary. We are ignoring God’s grace, downgrading the power and meaning of the blood of Christ. Lord, have mercy!

There is a reason why God sent his only Son to die for our sins.
We could not do it on our own.
There is a reason why God raised his Son from death.
We could not do it on our own.
There is a reason why we are saved only by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
We could not do it on our own.

We are not saved by being good.
We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
Thanks be to God!


Gracious God,
Thank you for your amazing gifts:
grace, faith, salvation.
We receive, cleanse us inside out.
We believe, increase our faith.
We are free, fill us with joy.
Send the Holy Spirit to ignite
the sacred fire in us.
May Your will happen in our lives.
Use us for your glory.
In Jesus’ name,

Q4U: How does God’s salvation plan make you feel?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God’s free gifts for you and put them in practice!
Do you want to win a copy of the Common English Bible softcover edition? Just leave a comment and mention that you’d like to win. The winners will be announced on Wednesdays! All these CEB give aways are possible because I am participating in the Common English Bible Blog tour from Ash Wednesday all the way to Pentecost. This means that I will mostly be using the Common English Bible (CEB) on my blog posts. Let’s check out this fresh new Bible translation!
Image courtesy of Joshua Lenon. Linking up today with What’s on Your Heart Tuesdays & Soli Deo Gloria.

12 thoughts on “Being Good Does Not Save You

  1. Salvation by faith alone. Read Proverbs 15 this a.m., vs. 33 “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”(NIV)

  2. Hi Mari-Anna!
    Why do people think Christianity is about being good? I think partly because a saved person walking with Christ produces good fruit. That’s why it’s important for us to make it *clear* that the good we’re doing *isn’t* us, but Christ working through us — so people don’t give *us* the credit, and think we’re “doing” Christianity.  (?)  One possible part of the answer…Meanwhile, How does God’s salvation plan make me feel? Intensely grateful, and full of desire to draw closer to HIm, and to honor Him in all I say and do, by His grace and power. It also makes me feel deeper grief when I get all fleshly, drift from Him, and fall down, dishonoring Him. Heightened joy in the journey as well as heightened sorrow for sin — heightened life!

    1. Hi, Sylvia!
      You response reminded me of this Spurgeon quote “I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.” I agree, the Christian life is heightened life! Thank you for sharing! Blessings to you, sis!

  3. I am so utterly thankful for His Grace. It has taken me a long time to really learn and treasure it and accept it, but life is so much better with it!

  4. You are right that being good on its own doesn’t save you… you must accept God’s offer of salvation and the grave He gives.  However, our response to that grace needs to be good works and has been throughout history – modern hospitals and educational systems are there because Christians cared for the sick and started universities and schools to that everyone could read and learn.  That’s why James says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 
    If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but
    does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (2:14-17 CEB).

    1. Thanks so much, Bonnie, for your thoughtful response. Yes, I agree, we need to put faith in practice. And good deeds will follow as the Holy Spirit works through us. We are indeed called to be God’s hands and feet in this world. And by God’s grace we are able to shine God’s light into the world. Abundant blessings to you, sis!

  5. I appreciate the effort, and I think I know what you’re saying, because I said much the same thing for a good many years – in defense of Grace, Amazing Grace, saving grace. But today, I have other thoughts: 1) there is a distinction between good people and people who use good to further their own status. 2) Good people show up all over the place – and it’s not helpful to raise questions about their integrity, motives or spiritual status. 3) Grace Alone has made for lots of lazy Christians who talk the faith but hardly live the faith – but that’s okay, because they’re saved by grace (Paul deals with this in Romans). 4) This is a distinction based upon a misreading of Paul, filtered through Luther – sadly, we end up reading Jesus and the Old Testament through Paul, rather than the other way around. We need to read Jesus in the light of the Old Testament, and Paul in the light of Jesus. We’re still stuck in the old Reformation paradigms, which are of value, but limited value, not absolute. 5) the doctrine of grace, as noted here, can make us spoilsports – we see good, as the Pharisees did, and reject it, because it “lacks” the verbal or whatever-witness we expect. 6) Where there’s good, there’s God! Where there’s God, there’s good. 7) God constantly creates good in all sorts of places so that the “elect” don’t get uppity (see latter half of Genesis 12 where Pharaoh lectures Abram on ethics and morals). 7) Christians have often used this idea in a one-upmanship style – that we have the “true and right” understanding, and while the framers of the doctrine intended a great humility, in the souls of some, it’s the doctrine that has come to mean more than the grace, and thus the pride of knowing the doctrine rather than grace. I have met a ton of good all over this world, and within the Christian ranks, imbued with all the right doctrine, I have found great evil. Go figure. Oh well, I’m just rambling now.

  6. Thank you, Tom, for your thoughtful comment. I basically agree with you. Cheap grace is the last thing I want to promote. But there’s no way I can get all aspects of Christian theology explained in one blog post. We are saved by grace (justification) but that’s not the end of the story. The same grace continues to work in us, making us holy (sanctification), doing the good deeds through us. We can’t forget either of these. They belong together. But, yes, the most important thing is to know Jesus and follow him. We are not to explain the mystery of God away. God is always more than any doctrine. Thank you again! I’d love to continue this discussion sometime. Abundant blessings to you!

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