I knew a man who was tortured by the idea that he was going to hell because he wasn’t good enough. It would keep him awake at night and he would pace the floor in fear that he wasn’t good enough to go to heaven. A young woman shared that she had nightmares and cried each night in fear of hell. Another man asked, “how good do I have to be to be saved?” This is bad theology.
Bad theology leads to neurotic Christians. There’s an old adage that says, “no one ever realizes how bad they are until they try to be good.” In Romans (7) Paul expressed the frustration and terror of not being able to keep the Law of God. He called himself a “wretched man.” It’s impossible for anyone to be good enough. The young woman mentioned above blamed Christianity for making her neurotic. However, it wasn’t Christianity – it was bad theology.
How can I ever be good enough to go to heaven? The answer is you can’t! Never! You might as well realign the stars of heaven and stop the sun from shining than to stop sinning. We must stop relying on ourselves and our own goodness and place all of our trust in God. He has done what we could not. Every neurotic Christian needs to understand grace.
Grace is what every sinner needs. Grace is what Jesus did on the cross. He did what I could not do. All sins ever forgiven were forgiven on the cross. He paid for every sin. It doesn’t take the cross, plus my goodness. It’s not grace plus anything.
How do I keep from pacing the floor in fear? Trust in the grace of God! Put your faith in God and not in self-reliance! Grace is God’s generous gift of salvation. Receive the gift. Trust the giver!