Although many Christians assume that God will just overlook their sins and shortcomings, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible makes it clear that every last sin must be paid for! Those who are under God's Law must account to Him for every idle word that they utter (Matthew 12:36). Hateful statements, words spoken in anger, and private expressions of self-righteousness will all bring condemnation. Because the Law of God commands, “Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” those who are under it shall not escape without doing all that it requires (Matthew 5:48, Galatians 5:3).
And, if that is the case, then the demands of God's Law are not going to be satisfied by works that men dream up, as they vainly attempt to gain God's favor. On the contrary, all such works are contemptible in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). God is not going to be pleased by those who only do their best (James 2:10). Not only is ignorance of the law no excuse, but all who are not totally free of sin even as God is free of sin, are condemned by the Law (1Peter 1:16, 1Corinthians 4:4). Furthermore, that condemnation is so unwavering that only a divine pardon can deliver us from God's wrath and punishment. The good news it that Christ died to secure that pardon for us.
Christians need to insist that the law be taught in its full strictness, because whenever it is watered down, people are given a false hope that can only hinder them in coming to Christ. Those who are lost must know that they are sinners and that the Law not only cannot save them, but judges them, condemns them, and sentences them to hell (Romans 3:19). Until they realize that fact, and look to Christ for pardon, they cannot be saved (Acts 4:12).
In fact, that is why Satan continually raises up false prophets that water down God's Law. Some show open contempt for God’s Law, by excusing homosexuality, abortion, and adultery. Others put up a false pretense of righteousness, hiding their sin with a legalistic devotion to man-made works (such as worship on Saturday, dressing in black, and using no makeup). However, they are all defying God, by refusing to admit that His law condemns them. Therefore, in order to reach such people the Law must be proclaimed in its full sternness. Those who excuse sin need to know that the Law condemns them. At the same time, those who make their boast in the Law, claiming to be more righteous than others, need to know that they are watering God’s law down. And, they are watering it down, otherwise they would not think that they could keep it (Romans 3:10-23).
Many people blind themselves to their own sin, because they want to be motivated by the law, and would lose that motivation if they admitted that they deserve God’s condemnation and wrath. Even if they make some concession to the fact that they are sinners, they want to think of themselves as righteous, and are not about to admit that they are “guilty of all” (James 2:10). One man that I met claimed to be keeping God’s law as an “imperfect sinner,” oblivious to the fact that no sinner is keeping God’s law. Another claimed that his works proved to God that he was worthy of eternal life, oblivious to the fact that no sinner is worthy of eternal life (1Corinthians 6:9, Romans 6:23). Such people are under a delusion, and the Bible says that they are fallen from grace, and the truth is not in them (2Corinthians 4:4, Galatians 5:4, 1John 1:8).
While all who trust in Christ should walk in a clean conscience, conducting themselves in a way that is in accord with righteousness, our motivation does not lie in the threats of the law. On the contrary, we are not even trying to make ourselves righteous. Instead we trust in Christ’s righteousness, and love being free from the condemnation of the law. On one hand, we know that our works are so imperfect that we will never free of sin as long as we are in this world. On the other hand, we have God’s own assurance that as long as we do not sin willfully (as David did in the matter of Uriah) no sin shall ever be imputed to us (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 4:8, 1Kings 15:5).
The idea that we can be partly righteous is a dangerous delusion that destroys many souls. In fact, that is what James was trying to get through our thick skulls when he said, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). You will notice that he did not say that a person who offends in one point is ninety percent righteous, pretty good, or just about perfect. On the contrary, he declares uncompromisingly that they are “guilty of all.” Take some time to ponder the significance of that statement. If a person who sins in only one point is no less a sinner than someone who breaks all of the commandments, then there is no such thing as a righteous sinner! Our deceitful heart might want to believe that there is, but God Word blows that delusion away with the words “guilty of all.”
Although those who water down God's law think that what I have just said is unreasonably strict, their argument is with God, not me. They may want to pass off what I have said as my interpretation, but that is just smoke and mirrors. It was God who said “guilty of all,” not me. The truth is that they want God to agree with their own carnal way of thinking, and are not honest enough to admit that they are rejecting what He said.
The words, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified,” are directed at those who delude themselves into thinking that God will overlook their sins as long as they agree with [i.e. hear] the Law (Romans 2:13). The fact is, that God is not going to just overlook our sins because we try, because we are sincere, or for any other reason. Simply trying to do what the Law requires is not good enough. The only way anyone can be justified by the Law is to do all it requires — and the Bible tells us that that is impossible (Romans 3:19-20).
Another common delusion is the idea that a person will be saved if he does more good than bad. Sadly, that delusion would be comical if it wasn't so tragic. What would you think of a thief, who thought that he could make up for robbing some banks by not robbing other banks? What about a murderer, who believed that helping little old ladies across the street would keep him out of jail? I hope that you can see that that sort of reasoning is ridiculous, yet millions of people rest their entire hope for salvation on it.
What they do not understand is that everyone under the Law is guilty in the sight of God. The Bible tells us that “there is none righteous,” and since “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” that means that the Law cannot save anyone (Romans 3:10, 1Corinthians 6:9). On the contrary, we can only be saved by a righteousness far greater than we could ever attain by keeping the law! And, that righteousness is offered to us as a free gift in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:17-20). Because God made him “the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world,” His blood “cleanses us from all sin” (John 1:29, 1John 1:8, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:4).
On the day of judgement, those who trust in their own works are in for a big surprise, for NO SIN IS GOING TO BE OVERLOOKED. Every nasty word, hateful thought, off color joke, or evil deed will be accounted for. And, every man, woman, or child who has never looked to Christ for forgiveness, will spend eternity in hell. [John 5:28,29, Revelation 21:27, Romans 6:23.]
Furthermore, because we all deserve to spend eternity in hell, ONLY A DIVINE PARDON CAN SAVE US! And, Christ had to take our sin upon Himself, and die in our place to secure that pardon for us (Joshua 24:19, Isaiah 53:6). By His death, He blotted out the condemnation of the Law that was against you, “and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Colossians 2:14). And, because He was willing to endure the horror of the cross for us, no fault will be found in us on the day of judgement (Ephesians 1:7, 1John 1:7, Romans 3:28, John 3:16).