When it comes to salvation, are sincerity and zeal enough?

Daily Devotions

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Amazing Facts Audio Daily Devotional
One of the sincerest religious people in the Bible was Saul of Tarsus. He explained his credentials by stating, “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today” (Acts 22:3).

But his fervor took a sudden turn: “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prison both men and women, as also the high priest bears me … from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished” (vv. 4, 5).

When it came to salvation, the man who would become the apostle Paul didn’t need more zeal. He needed a converted heart. We can sincerely try to do what we think is right, but it might be very wrong. That’s why we must come before the searcher of all hearts; we must expose ourselves to Bible truth and ask God to convict us of sin. Unless we repent and turn from self, our best efforts to do right are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The most respected religious teacher in Israel, Nicodemus, was told quite directly by Christ that he needed to be “born again” (John 3:3).

Zeal and sincerity are not bad in and of themselves, but in an unconverted heart they can lead us astray, like in the life of Saul. If we were to replace the word zeal for “my best efforts” and then ask, “Will not my best efforts save me?” the Bible answer is “No!” Even good works will not save us. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Timothy 1:9

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