By Travis Lauterbach

Often when pastors are in a conversation, people will express a belief that if they just try the best they can to live a good life, then they’ll go to heaven.

The questions I often wonder are what does it mean to try the best I can? When has “the best” been achieved? Where does the belief that “trying the best I can is good enough” come from? In other words, where is it promised outside of a person’s own idea or wishful thinking?

What if “trying the best I can” is different from person to person? Certainly, everyone would want to think that they’ve done the best they can. What if my idea of “trying the best I can” is different from God’s expectations?

The common theme running through the Bible is that this is indeed the problem.

God’s policy about “trying the best I can” is a perfect, zero-tolerance policy. Scripture says…

“Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2:10)

“You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

“The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)

If a person doesn’t buy it, if they don’t believe it’s true that they have sinned, they should ask family and friends, then maybe co-workers and neighbors.

Eventually they will learn they haven’t kept the perfect standard. They’ll learn they haven’t been good enough according to God’s own judgment.

Any thought of mine that I’m good enough after trying my best is just as likely to be true as my wishful thinking that $1,000,000 will fall into my lap.

Rather than being the result of something I do, the Scripture promises that…

“Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9)

“The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:23)

This is true because Jesus came to offer His precious blood as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.