(I don’t know…what IS “the most dangerous lie in the world”?}
Good question, even if I did type it myself.
The most dangerous lie is the one that every false religion in the world – every religion in the world save one, the true one – has taught since their inception. It’s the one that the devil has slipped into every belief system he could, the one that appeals to our innate sense of justice that God Himself implanted in us for lesser situations. It’s the one that forces billions of people into actions that they think will get them into Heaven, when in fact it will do no such thing; meanwhile, the One True Path is being ignored and those billions drift farther and farther from the God Who loves them beyond our conception.
The most dangerous lie is this:
“Heaven is for ‘good people’, and hell is for ‘bad people’, so I need to do good works in order to get into Heaven when I die.”
Nothing, unfortunately for them, could be further from the Truth.
Here’s the problem: God has imbued mankind with a sense of justice. it’s one of the fundamental ways that we know there is a Higher Power that created us, because all humans have this innate sense of right and wrong, just and unjust.
It would naturally follow that God operates the same way. Human beings are judged by that Higher Power, and because we assume that we are essentially good people with some bad apples that have to be culled out into hell so that “WE” could have a Heavenly afterlife, relaxing and golfing and whatever other earthly pleasures they picture heaven containing.
But that’s not what the Bible teaches at all. It is what every false version of Christianity and every other false religion teaches – some version of “you need to do good works SO THAT you can go to Heaven.”
The New Testament teaches that you are accepted into Heaven by GRACE first, and THEN we are given good works to do as disciples of Christ.
Read Ephesians 2, verses 8-10. This is the clearest the Gospel message can be told -→
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The order is important.
God, through His Grace, saves us through our faith. (This faith is the gift of God – not of our own creation or of any works we do.)
Once we are saved, we are motivated by our love of Christ and the Father to do good works in Their Name.
Why? Because we are His hands and feet on earth following His Ascension:
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
24 … But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
(First Corinthians 12, verses 12-26.)
As His hands and feet on earth, there are always works to be done In His Name, and those works are why we’re still here instead of being immediately whisked away to Heaven the moment we commit ourselves to Christ. The Great Commission alone is enough reason to remain here, helping the Holy Spirit save as many souls as we can together. But of course there are thousands more “good works” to be done, and those we do because we are already Christians, NOT because we’re trying to become Christians.
But as with every truly effective lie, there is a kernel of truth within the Most Dangerous Lie. In the Old Testament, the Lord put rules in the path of His People to help them “be good”. We call them the Ten Commandments, but there were far more than ten on the list. If you read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, you’ll find a HUGE list of requirements that add up to an impossible list of commands that no one short of the God-Man Jesus of Nazareth could ever live up to.
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)
So, in that sense, Heaven is indeed a place for good people, and hell for bad people… except that NO HUMAN BEING qualifies as good! NONE of us can meet God’s impossible standards of completely sinless. The ONLY way we can qualify to enter Heaven under that standard is to use someone else’s “completely sinless” nature… and the only One for Whom that applies to is Jesus Christ. Therefore, the ONLY way for a sinful human (redundant – every person is sinful) to enter Heaven is to have Jesus “vouch” for me. We need to use HIS sinlessness to get into Heaven. Our own sinfulness doesn’t matter. We could be “relatively good” or “terribly bad” people – we’re still sinners, and we need Christ to get into Heaven.
Our good works don’t matter. (At least not in advance, as we’ve seen.) You can’t “balance out” your bad things, because you won’t be judged on a balance scale – you’ll be judged by the number of sins you committed. If the number is above zero, you won’t qualify; no number of good things can out-weigh even one sin.
In my pre-retirement career, teaching marching band, we changed the judging system early in my tenure in the field. Back in the early 1970s and before, marching band was judged on what we called a “tick” system – judges looked for mistakes to “tick”, added them up, and subtracted that number of mistakes from a perfect score of 100. (Usually in tenths, so a magical band which made only one mistake the entire show would get a 99.9 score.) Now, around 1972 or so, one major band from Madison, Wisconsin, figured out how to play the system – after their short opening song, the entire ensemble left the field except for one bugle and one drummer. Their time continued until the last person leaves the field, so they never got any time penalties, but because there was really no way to score any “ticks”, their scores couldn’t be docked. The ludicrous nature of the work-around made it apparent that for our field of performance, it made more sense to use a “build-up” system of scoring, where your “good deeds” are rewarded rather than just punishing your “bad deeds”.
But that’s NOT how God judges. He still uses the “tick” system, because there IS no “work-around” in life. The rules are there; even if you read them, memorize them, and work as hard as the Pharisees did to live them, you aren’t going to be perfect. No human being can be. And any score of 99.9 or below is a failing score. That’s why Jesus came to earth. If it were possible to get to Heaven without Him, God would never have sent Him here! (And God knew this immediately, from the very first sin. Read Genesis 3:15. where God is speaking to the devil: →
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
“Her offspring” can only refer to the One person Who came from woman but not man: Jesus of Nazareth. (This verse is an entire essay in itself someday; we’ll leave it for now.))
So, here’s the deal – you don’t have to do anything before God accepts you into His Kingdom, except accept Jesus as the One Path to God and Heaven. All we have to do is admit to the Lord that we are indeed sinners, and that we can’t make it without His Help.
Why don’t most people do this? It’s pride, or “self-idolatry”, that keeps us from doing that in most cases. We are raised in this world to be self-reliant, to do things for ourselves, to be responsible for our own care. It’s an easy step from that to “everything that happens to or for me depends ON me”, which quickly becomes “I am the most important person in my life”, which becomes self-idolatry – YOU are your OWN IDOL.
Almost every sin evolves from pride, from self-idolatry, from the “me first” mentality. All the sexual sins come from “it feels good right now, and how I feel matters more than what I should or shouldn’t do”. Promiscuity, pornography, sexual variance beyond God’s intended man//woman structure. We use the excuse that “it’s how I’m driven – I was born this way”, forgetting that when you become a Christian, you undergo a second birth, a re-birth in Christ, that allows you a second chance to confront those idolatrous ways with the strength of the Holy Spirit within you. Whatever your sexual cravings, those come from your first birth – when you were born again, you began a relationship with Christ that should be deeper than any of those cravings. The same is true of any of the abusive sins – drunkenness, drug abuse, and so forth. The need to assuage your pain with the things of this world, rather than through the One Who created us in the first place.
(A side note. Here’s how the Spirit works – I didn’t know what I was going to type in that last paragraph until it came off my fingers onto the screen. And what came out were the words of His. Has that ever happened to you? If the Spirit is truly within you, try letting Him speak through you and watch what happens.)
All the sins of anger – theft, murder, crimes of passion – come from allowing your own feelings to overcome the Holy Spirit within you, from taking orders from YOURSELF instead of from YOUR LORD. Even “small sins” like lying and ignoring your prayer or devotional time comes from wanting to do what YOU want over what is RIGHT. That’s pride. That’s self-idolatry. That’s sin. (And trust me – I’ve done many of these myself. I’m certainly no holier than thou art. I know exactly whereof I speak. That’s the thing that the Holy Spirit is working with me on most fervently, and has been for the longest time: the “I’m smart enough to do this my way” sentiment that gets me in trouble almost every time.)
All of these sins can be overcome, slowly most of the time, when your second birth initiates a relationship with the Lord of the Universe. God is with us to help us through this life, not just give us a ticket to Heaven. He desperately wants you to come to Him, to work with Him to create a new version of you here, on earth, before we reach Heaven. God wants us to have His Joy in THIS life, not just in Heaven. In order to do that, though, we need to develop that relationship with Him – NOT through rituals, NOT through performing good works to get closer to Him. Those are religion, not Grace – not God.
Get to know Jesus in prayer, and in His Word. Don’t believe that Most Dangerous Lie.
Accept that the Lord LOVES You,
NOT because of what YOU’VE done, but because of what HE’S done on the cross.