Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross; so even though we are guilty of having disobeyed God and are still inclined to all evil, nevertheless, God, without any merit of our own but only by pure grace, imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ when we repent and believe in him.
“The jailer asked [Paul and Silas], ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’” (Acts 16:30,31)
How can we escape God’s judgement on our sin and rebellion?
Not by religious observances; merely attending church services does not address the underlying issue.
Nor by good works; “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
Jesus once told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax-collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was a respectable man, a pillar of society – and he had so much confidence in his own merits that he saw no need to ask for mercy or assistance from God. The tax-collector, on the other hand, knew that he was a cheat and a traitor; that he deserved nothing but judgement, and that his only hope was to cast himself upon God’s mercy. So the Pharisee, despite all his ‘righteous’ deeds, remained unrighteous in the sight of God; whereas the tax-collector, having asked for atonement for his sins, received it.
So the really ‘good’ news of the Gospel is this: we cannot do anything to restore ourselves to God’s favour, but we do not need to. All we have to do is to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus and to what He has done on our behalf. If we rely upon Him, He will be our Saviour.
Faith in Jesus means faith in the Lord Jesus. You cannot put yourself under His protection without also putting yourself under His authority – and this will have implications for the rest of your life. As someone has said: “Entrance to the Kingdom of God is free – but the annual subscription is everything you have.”
eternal Son of God made man,
eternal Word of God made flesh,
break our stubborn hearts at the foot of Your cross,
humble our proud hearts at the foot of Your cross.
Grant that we may linger there for time and eternity,
for Your name’s sake.
Amen. (John Stott)