Most people I meet don’t seem to feel a pressing need for God’s forgiveness. They wouldn’t claim to be perfect, but they certainly wouldn’t see themselves as perverse. They may not be sinless, but they aren’t all that bad. They’d put themselves solidly in the category of “good people.”
As such, they don’t feel on shaky grounds with God. In fact, if they do believe in God, they have concluded that He will give them passing marks. They assume that God will be basically good to those who’ve been basically good. If there’s a heaven (and most people believe there is), they’re fairly sure they’ll be welcomed in.
The problem with this “no worries” point of view is that it’s tragically mistaken. The Bible teaches that God does not see any of us as basically good. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All we, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
God sees all of us as spiritual felons who’ve embezzled his glory. We’ve committed high treason by elevating ourselves to His position, crowning ourselves as little kings and queens. The penalty for our mutiny is death—spiritually, physically and eternally. Instead of being on the narrow road to heaven, we’re all on the highway to hell.
That’s why Good Friday is such good news. Jesus went to the cross and died the death we deserved. As John Stott observes, “The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God …put himself where we deserve to be” (The Cross of Christ, p. 160).
So who needs forgiveness? I do. You do. Everyone does.
Because of what Jesus did on Good Friday, forgiveness is available to all who confess their sin and place their trust in who Jesus is (Lord and God) and what Jesus did (died and rose again).