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How Good do I Need to be Before I Become a Christian?
People who ask this question sincerely want to embrace Christianity, but hold back because of they feel shame and unworthiness. They feel that they are not good enough to commit their lives to Christ and join a church because of past sins or low self-esteem. In reality, no one is worthy of the privilege of becoming a Christian.
No matter how “good” anyone tries to be, their righteousness is like “filthy rags” compared to God (Isaiah 64:6).
Some Biblical examples
There are many examples of people in the Bible who repented from serious sins and came into a relationship with God such as:
- King David of Israel, who committed adultery with Bathsheba, a married woman. When she got pregnant, he tried to cover it up by telling her soldier husband Uriah to come home from the battlefield. When Uriah refused, David ordered his commander to put Uriah in a battle position where he was sure to be killed. Uriah died on the front lines, so David was responsible for his death (2 Samuel 11).
- Mary Magdelane, who was demon-possessed until Jesus healed her (the Bible does not say that she was a prostitute) (Mark 16:9).
- The apostle Paul (first called Saul) persecuted Christians, dragging them off to prison (Acts 8:3). The people who stoned Stephen, a Christian martyr, laid their coats at his feet for safekeeping during the stoning (Acts 7:57).
- The people around Jesus complained that Christ hung out with sinners and ate meals with them (Luke 15:1-2) Jesus replied that people who are sick need a doctor, not those who are healthy – in other words, He came to help sinners (Matthew 9:11-13).
Jesus offered living water to a Samaritan woman who had had five husbands and was living with a man John (4:1-26). Jesus said: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” God offers salvation to those who earnestly seeks Him, are willing to repent and forgive others, and are committed to living a Christian Life.
Jesus has great compassion for people and will act as a high priest to intercede with God on behalf of His children. Jesus understands people because He once was human and experienced temptation. He never sinned, but He empathizes with human weaknesses (Hebrews 4:13-15).
Feeling bad about the past is a good sign – a sign that someone is ready to acknowledge their past mistakes. When people repent, they can be released from all that negative emotional stuff such as guilt and shame and received God’s forgiveness. Sins and emotional baggage is left behind at the foot of the cross.
Salvation is a gift from God, not something people can earn by their own good behavior (Galatians 2:17-19).
When people genuinely confess to God that they are sinners and repent of their sins, they can let go of guilt and shame over their circumstances or bad choices. When people sin, there are often negative consequences to be faced. The wages of sin is ultimately death (Romans 6:23). God promises to help people to work through these difficulties and rebuild their lives.
God longs to love every person and have a relationship with them. He sees them as His beloved children. He wants them to be successful and healthy. He has plans for them that will make them prosper (Jeremiah 29:7).
Paul said that Christians need to leave the past behind them and become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:16-18). Part of becoming a new person is forgiving others (Colossians 3:13) and themselves.
A commitment to follow Christianity
Some people think that they need to change completely before God and other Christians will accept them in the fold. The truth is that everyone has sinned and has fallen short (Romans 3:23). God gave rules to follow so that people can have a productive, happy life. New Christians can understand more about the Christian life by studying the Bible, prayer, and receiving teaching and guidance from a church, Christian friends and pastors.
Christians have an enemy, Satan, who keeps telling them that they are worthless and so bad that God could never accept them (1 Peter 5:8-9). Christians need to learn to recognize his accusing, belittling voice.
Christians can overcome his negative influence though prayer, faith, and using the tools He gave use such as the Bible, the church, and fellow believers. We can reaffirm our identity as beloved children of God to despute the lies Satan constantly tells us (Ephesians 6:26).
What God is looking for in a new Christian is a willingness to change. That’s what it takes. God does expect change, but not overnight. He knows that it takes time to identify the areas they need to work on and is patient (2 Peter 3:9). No one is perfect. If people were perfect, God would not have needed to send His son to die for their sins.
© 2013 Carola Finch