Obedience is the surest way to heaven.
Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I used to think that this statement is correct. I used to think that every good work I do is one step closer to my salvation.
So, I strove hard to follow my parents’ instructions carefully by studying really hard; I dragged myself to church every Saturday to attend the anticipated mass; I prayed many times a day – right after I wake up, before and after eating meals, every 3 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon; I read the Bible, even though I couldn’t understand it; I extended help to my friends who are in need, and even to the people who asks for alms.
However, as I work out my salvation out of my knees, I find myself guilty whenever I fail to do good. Every red-colored cross mark on my test paper gives me chills, every prayer that I did not recite brings condemnation to my heart, every sermon that I did not take into heart makes me ashamed of myself, every law that I missed to do is a step farther from my salvation.
Eventually, I grew weary of doing all these good works. Instead of moving on, I found myself suffering all the consequences of my sins, condemning myself about all the things that I missed to do.
I found myself guilty, ashamed, condemned.
I found myself in the darkness, tormented with all my wrongdoings.
Ashamed of myself, I isolated myself from the public – even from my family. Instead of playing DOTA with my brother, chatting with my mom about various things, talking with my dad over the net, I locked myself inside our bedroom and, before God, with hypocrisy, read a Christian book. As I read the book, little by little, the hope that I have in God was restored. Little by little, I can see His light shining before me.
So I continued reading, hoping to see clearly this light. I reached the section about the suffering of Jesus Christ. For me, it was too mainstream. Every year, my family celebrate Holy Week. Every year, I watch the Seven Last Words program in the television. Every year, I watch shows like “The Ten Commandments”, “Jesus of Nazareth”, and the life of Jesus from the perspective of one of His apostles. But, for some reason, even though I know already the whole story of His suffering, I continued reading.
After that section, I seemingly heard God’s voice speaking to me.
Child, I was condemned so that you won’t be condemned. I was put to shame so that you won’t have to be ashamed. Your sins was blamed on me, so that you may be forgiven from all your sins.
See, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.[a]” Would you believe in me as your personal Lord and Savior?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. [b]”
Convicted with the truth that Jesus alone can take away my shame, my guilt, and the condemnation that enveloped my heart, I surrendered my life to Him, confessed that He is my Lord, and believed in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.
After that, everything changed. Doing good things became natural for me to do. Reading the Bible has never been easy. Obeying my parents has never been hassle. Why? Because I know that God transformed me already. I know that He does not condemn me anymore, that He does not and will not keep a record of my wrongdoings, that He has given me a new start, a fresh start, a new standing before Him.
Jesus saved me, that is why, I can do good works, “which God prepared in advance for [me] to do.[c]”
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. [d]
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [e]
[a] Isaiah 6:7 NIV
[b] John 3:16 NIV
[c] Ephesians 2:10 NIV
[d] Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV
[e] Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV