"Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too." —Aldous Huxley
Our society is loaded with "mythstakes"—errors that are a consequence of believing a notion that has no basis in truth. Some of these myths sound really good, such as "Sincere effort is as good as actual results." Right?
Nobody really plays by that rule for very long, and eternity is a very long, long time. Frankly, if you believe that sincere effort will get you into heaven, you are sincerely wrong.
The "good-try" mythstake says, "If you sincerely try to do your best, God will let you in. So let's give it the good ole' college try! Let's keep our noses clean and skip the cracks in the cement! Let's pray and read our Bibles and go to church. Okay, so maybe we aren't good. But maybe God rewards a good effort. Certainly this will at least improve our chances, right?" That's sure what the Christian religion says:
Religion gives people an endless number of opportunities to give life a "good try."
Religion tells you what you're supposed to do.
Religion tells you what you're not supposed to do.
Religion tells you exactly how you're supposed to do or not do all those things that you're trying to do or not do. Do, do, do!
The problem is... that's what you end up with: one big pile of do-do. And Scripture says good deeds are irrelevant when it comes to getting into heaven.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" —Matthew 7:21-23
Ouch. That means you can call Jesus "Lord," be a prophet, exorcist, or do miracles in His name, and He will still turn you away. The "good-try" mythstake does not take into account one of the most unique and powerful aspects of pure faith: True Christianity is not a religion. It's a relationship.
To do "the will of my father who is in heaven" is not the fulfillment of a religious code of behavior. It's to enter into a moment-by-moment, God-given relationship based on Christ and what He did for you and me.
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent... Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." —John 6:28-29, 17:3
What's driving your life today? What are you trusting to get into heaven? Your sincere effort or His love, grace, and finished work?
God, free me from the pervasive lie that says I must perform to be acceptable to You now, that I must "do" to earn entrance to heaven. Immerse me in an awareness of Your grace and love right now, that I will believe in Jesus and know You through Him right now and forever. Amen.