Christianity is not based on principles. It is based on a Savior. It is an ancient mistake that defines much of American religion today. Common misunderstandings include:
1. I’ve always been a Christian
2. I was raised a Christian
3. Living by Christian principles make us a Christian
4. Living by the 10 commandments make us a Christian
5. Living by the Golden Rule makes us a Christian
6. Being religious (the Jesus kind ofcourse) makes us a Christian
I don’t write this to be mean or judgmental, but to warn against making a foundational mistake in Christianity. Paul wrote to the Galatian church, “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). In fact, what the the law (including the 10 commandments) did was show Israel how truly sinful it was (along with the rest of mankind).
I wence when I somebody say that they are a Christian only to find that it is based on the fact that they follow the same principles as did their American forefathers. Nobody will enter the Kingdom of Heaven based on living a moral life. It would be better to deny the Bible altogether than to claim that it teaches something that it doesn’t. Jesus did not come to point the way to a moral life. He did so, but that was not His purpose. Jesus said, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Why? Because the Bible says that none are righteous (Romans 3:10-12). We have all sinned and therefore fall short of a Holy and perfect God (Romans 3:23). One sin falls short because God, by nature, cannot look upon sin. That is why we needed a Savior! That is what the Bible is all about… one cohesive love story about redemption!
This can only be recieved by faith. True repentant faith; that is realizing the need for a Savior because of your sin and in then accepting the free gift given by God through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26). This is what the Bible means by being “born again” (John 3) or being made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is an act of salvation in which the one repenting and placing their faith in Jesus Christ recieve His Holy Spirit into their life. Only then can a moral life be acceptable to God as one walks in a personal relationship with Him; not because it saves the individual but rather Christian principles become an overflow of gratitude toward the One that saved them.
If Christian morals save, then the cross was pointless. As a pastor friend of mine often says, “Think about it.”