This was a quote recently made by Pope Francis. The Pope shared a story of a priest being asked by a fellow Catholic if atheists are also redeemed by Jesus. He replied “Even them, everyone. We all have the duty to do good. Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point.”
This begs the question; if it is just our duty to do good and that is sufficient for redemption, then what did Christ die for? Did people do good things prior to His crucifixion? Technically, yes. Many people did “good” in their own sight, which was one of the very reasons Christ came.
Is there a difference?
According to what Pope Francis said, we can merely decide things based on our common knowledge of what is good and what is not, in which case our own perceptions, understanding, and actions would be adequate enough to gain everlasting life, so long as they are perceived as good to others… right? So, where does Christ fit in?
This is where the problem lies with this belief, particularly as a message coming from a Christian “leader”. By doing so, we would be giving our own minds and hearts the authority to dictate our conscience and being led to believe it is adequate. Making God a separate entity who is outside of that process, but One whom we should feel obligated to credit for those actions. However, acceptance of His authority is up to you. Either way, without which we could still do good if we chose to. Essentially this leaves our own self will and mindset responsible for whatever good we may do. And we are ourselves righteous in that choice because we have overcome our sinful nature. Faith would then logically be irrational and irrelevant.
In this belief it would mean that it has nothing to do with God, since the belief in Him does not play a role.
The message the Pope gave to the world was that if we are doing that “duty” we can then achieve redemption, regardless if we profess to believe in Him or not. In other words, if society were to perceive your actions as good, you’re redeemed…hallelujah! No need to profess and accept Christ as your Savior, that part we can compromise on.
Not so fast.
It’s called spiritual blindness, a deception that goes back as far as Eden. We are deceived to believe that we can achieve redemption and salvation by what we perceive as good in our own sight. This would thereby make us all equivalent to God. Sound familiar?
Before Christ was crucified men felt that God’s law was not sufficient. They added to His Law in order to make men fear each other’s own perception, rather than God’s judgement – causing all to be dead in their works. However, without God, man’s perception of what is good will be governed by flesh. As we know, flesh can be deceived, rendering the entire concept an illusion.
Only by way of the Holy Spirit can we see truth and the sin of our own flesh. And only then can you understand that each and every human being on this earth falls short because we are filled with sin.
Christ came to assure man his own thoughts and heart are NOT sufficient. And without Him, regardless of how your actions are perceived by others, you cannot gain redemption or salvation. Thus He suffered unfathomable pain and heartache to relieve the burden of our bondage, giving us the Gift of the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts and minds through faith, so that we can be without blame, thereby, giving us no reason to boast.
Only if we profess and truly accept Him as our Christ and Savior can we do good by way of the Holy Spirit, which dwells in us by our faith, a standard that far supersedes our own. This can only be achieved by accepting His authority over our hearts and minds, because without such authority, we are useless, sinful, and repulsive.
There is no compromise. You either believe or you don’t. You must give yourself over to Him because you accept that you are without good in the flesh, but made righteous in Faith. Our sinful flesh is incapable of being righteous or good by the standards of our Creator. The very reason Christ died was so that we can be relieved of trying to live up to that standard on our own.
Without faith and acceptance we are dead no matter how good man perceives us to be.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.