The Problem with “Good Enough”
Imagine you are hosting a birthday party for your friend and you’re determined to bake the cake yourself. Things are crazy the afternoon of the party and you get distracted and burn the cake. There’s no time to bake another one, and you’re feeling desperate now because, after all, what’s a birthday party without a cake?
So you decide it will have to be “good enough”—and besides, it’s chocolate, so it hardly shows that you scorched it. Plus, you can disguise your little problem by covering it up with frosting! You even write “Happy Birthday” across the top in big, bold letters.
At the party, your cake looks beautiful! But your friend takes one bite, gags and spits it out. Clearly, the fancy frosting didn’t change the awful reality that down underneath, the cake was ruined.
Frosting Our Proverbial Cake
Many people live their lives believing they can cover up their bad deeds with a “frosting” of good deeds. In fact, a 2011 Barna Study indicated that almost half of Americans believe “if a person is generally good or does enough good things for others, they will earn a place in heaven” (48% agreed, while 44% disagreed).
But Scripture tells us that covering our sinful lives with good deeds doesn’t change the fact that we have sinned, any more than frosting can change the reality of a burnt cake. God sees right through the “frosting” straight to our nature.
Which brings us to the third point of our GOSPEL Journey acrostic, the S: “Sins cannot be removed by good deeds.”
“Good Enough” Just Doesn’t Cut It
The Bible says that through our own efforts, we can never be good enough to make it into a perfect heaven. James 2:10 says, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”
Our holy and perfect God doesn’t weigh our good deeds and bad deeds on a scale to see if we can muster up a 51% score. God doesn’t even grade on the curve! Perfection is His standard. So “good enough” just doesn’t cut it.
Nothing we do can cover up the fact that we all miss the mark and fall short of God’s perfect standard. Isaiah 64:6 says it this way:
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
The fact our good deeds cannot earn God’s love and forgiveness is a Biblical truth that can be difficult for our students to grasp. Even many adult believers easily get caught up in the “older brother” trap of trying to “earn” their way into God’s good graces with their good deeds.
So take some time to dig into this challenging topic and discuss some serious theology with your teens. It’s critically important they understand this essential element of Jesus’ gospel message. And if you’re looking for so help with this, Dare 2 Share’s new Life in 6 Words: The GOSPEL Explored curriculum is a great tool to assist you in unpacking the depth and richness of the GOSPEL acrostic.
Of course we want to help our students live pure and holy lives before God and do good things, but we must also help them grasp the immensity of God’s grace and the foundational theological truth that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Frosting on a burnt cake just doesn’t cut it.