When Doing Good is Deadly
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 8
- Version: NLT
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The full text of this tract is shown below in the NLT version. (Do you want to print this tract in a different version than the one listed? Contact us and let us know what you're looking for—we may be able to create the alternate version for you at no charge.)
From childhood we have learned that we are rewarded for our good deeds and behavior. Obeying our parents, getting good grades, and following the golden rule usually lead to our well-being. We learn early on that our behavior and performance are always being evaluated—from the classroom to the boardroom. There is no question that seeking to live a good life and to perform good deeds is our best option in life.
Yet, in one important area, doing good is downright deadly and ends in catastrophe 100% of the time. What area could this possibly be? Trying to earn our own way to heaven.
Does this surprise you? After all, the religions of the world all teach that some amount of performance and good deeds are necessary to make it to God after death. The faith-plus-works plan begins with faith in God, and then continues with a commitment to a lifelong standard of good behavior, hopefully combined with a robust list of good works. Along the way, you also seek to complete an obstacle course of avoiding temptation and sin. This is often called the “hope so” way to heaven. At the end of life, one hopes he or she has done enough to earn entrance into heaven. Does this sound reasonable to you? Perhaps it is a system you have adopted in hopes of making it to heaven someday. But you should know, dear reader, that as popular as this plan is, it is deadly and will lead you to a catastrophic end.
Biblical Christianity is unique in that it calls on people to receive eternal life as a free gift, apart from performance or good works. On the cross, Jesus Christ did all the work to cancel our debt of sin once and for all. He died in our place, receiving the punishment that we sinners deserve. He was buried and then rose from the dead three days later. His death was the one and only payment God would accept for the debt of humanity’s sin.
Here’s what the Bible says:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6).
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
No amount of deeds, works, or goodness could ever earn man a place in heaven. Eternal life is not a reward that God gives to those who behave. Rather, it is a free gift that He gives to those who believe. Notice in the next two verses how Scripture states that eternal life is a free gift, given apart from any human effort.
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If obtaining eternal life depended in any way on good behavior, no one would ever attain it. That is because humanity is incapable of perfection. Here is what God says about humanity’s moral condition:
“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).
Because eternal life is a free gift that God gives to those who simply believe in His Son, we cannot earn it by good behavior or good works. If eternal life was earned by good deeds or good behavior, how would we ever know if we were good enough? How could we be certain we were doing enough good works, or the right kind of works, or doing them with the right motives? You can imagine how stressful it would be to try to do enough good works to outweigh our sins.
To be clear, God is not against one performing good deeds or seeking to be a good person. The deadly part is only when we try to gain heaven based on our deeds or performance. Thankfully, God does not require prior moral preparation or behavior modification before He grants eternal life. He doesn’t require a contract with man in which we contribute half or a third of our own salvation. His only requirement for eternal life is faith alone in Christ alone. Notice in the next few Bible verses how man receives eternal life by faith alone, not by faith plus faithfulness.
“When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:4-5).
It might seem unbelievable, but you can know for certain—even before you die—that you will spend eternity with Jesus. God offers eternal life as a free gift to the one who simply believes in Jesus for eternal life. In the following verses from the Bible, notice that the only requirement to obtain eternal life is to believe in Christ:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36).
It is important to understand exactly what Jesus is offering when you believe in Him. He is not offering you simply a chance to obtain eternal life. He is not putting you on spiritual probation to see if you live a life good enough to make it to heaven in the end. No! To the person who believes in Christ, He is offering immediate, irreversible, eternal life. Carefully read the following verse and notice exactly what is being offered to the one who believes in Christ.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47).
It is critical that you understand that no amount of good behavior or good deeds will ever get you into heaven. Christ did all the “doing,” so the work is done. On the cross Christ absorbed the judgment we deserve for our sins. As a result, He has made us all “savable.” Sin is no longer a barrier between God and man. Yet, not all will automatically be saved from the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15). There is a condition to be met. And that condition is to simply believe in Jesus alone for the free gift of eternal life. He now offers eternal life to anyone who believes in Him for it. You can obtain eternal life at this very moment. Simply believe in Jesus for the free gift of eternal life that He offers.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).