Fish need water to survive. Flowers need sunlight to grow. Cars need a power source to function properly. We understand that all of these statements to be true, and, equally as true, is the fact that humans need justification in order to be right with God.
In Romans 3:23 we learn that everyone fails to meet God’s expectations. It began with Eve’s failure in the garden of Eden, but it didn’t stop there. Cain sinned when he killed his brother, Abel. Abraham sinned when he lied about his wife being his sister. Jacob sinned when he put on wool, pretending to be his brother, Esau. David sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Peter sinned when he denied Christ three times.
According to Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sin.” Think about that for just a moment. There is no redeeming quality in us. If there was, then we wouldn’t have a need for a Redeemer. Despite what the Scriptures teach, it seems to me that a lot of people assume that they are doing fine; that as long as they are generally good people they will be welcomed into heaven with open arms. That mentality is called self-righteousness, and it is incompatible with God’s grace.
If we want to be united with God, then we’ve got to understand that we cannot attain righteousness on our own. We could never hope to do enough good things to earn our way into heaven (Romans 3:20). Even if all of the good in our life could be calculated by some sort of percentage, nothing short of 100% would be acceptable. God isn’t 99.9 % holy, or 99.9% righteous. He is completely holy and righteous, and we must be the same because reconciliation can only happen once our impurities have been removed.