Many Christians have unwittingly pushed Jesus Christ out of the central role that he should occupy in their faith and lives. These folks see God's covenants and promises as "if/then" propositions. The reasoning goes something like this: "If I'm good, then I will get to go to heaven when I die;" or "If I overcome sin, then God will allow me to be in His kingdom;" or "If I obey God's laws, then God will give me eternal life;" or "If I have the faith to claim God's promises, then I will receive what He has promised." This kind of reasoning is so seductive that it's probably safe to say that we have all indulged in it from time to time. Indeed, this is probably the most popular theology extant in Christian culture today!
Nevertheless, there are some profoundly anti-Christian (anti-Christ) features to this theology. Although it is true that God wants us all to develop "His" holy and righteous character in this life, we must come to understand that our salvation does not depend one whit upon us! God wants us to obey "Him," but we must understand that our obedience doesn't earn us anything - God just expects it. There is no quid pro quo with God!
"But didn't Christ say: 'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life' (Revelation 2:7); 'He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death' (verse 11); 'And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations' (verse 26); 'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God' (3:12) and 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne?' (verse 21)" my "if/then" friends will ask. Don't these scriptures clearly state that we have to overcome to receive these promises?
Yes, but what and how do we overcome? We have to overcome sin, Satan and the world that "he" has inspired. How? By accepting the fact that Jesus Christ overcame these three things on our behalf. John said that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7) He went on to say that Christians will overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 12:11) Jesus Christ told his followers to be happy because he had overcome the world for them. (John 16:33)
What about obedience to God's Law? Isaiah once wrote that all of our righteousness is like "filthy rags" in God's sight. (Isaiah 64:6) In other words, it isn't sufficient. In this connection, it is instructive to note what Jesus Christ told his followers about obedience. He said: "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:9-10)
Brethren, let's stop focusing on ourselves and what we can do. Rather, let's focus on what Christ has done for us. Scripture says that the only thing that we have earned is death - eternal life is the gift of God that we receive because of what Jesus Christ did for us. (Romans 6:23) We have to accept the fact that our own efforts will not get us there - Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) No man will ever stand before God based on his own merits or initiative. There is no quid pro quo with God!