The bad news and the good news for the depressed, the fearful, the sinful, and the hopeless:
We can’t be good, we can’t have hope, we can’t be made right with God on our own. There’s nothing good down the do-it-yourself road.
Paul wrote this to a church buying into the lie of self-actualization, of “you’re a good person, so just believe in yourself”:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” Galatians 5:1-5
Implication: You will be made good, all of you genuine Jesus-lovers. But you will be made good by Him. Not acknowledged as good apart from Him.
Jesus said this to some religious men who thought they were good enough for God, and questioned Jesus about His having dinner with the newly Jesus-loving Levi (a formerly traitorous tax collector):
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
He says something similar in His letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3: Repent and He’ll have you. Anyone. But if you don’t repent He’ll condemn you. Anyone.
Jesus, in the New Testament, saved thieves and prostitutes and a Christian-persecutor and a man being justly executed. He saved an African eunuch and a Roman soldier and a Jewish Pharisee.
Jesus set free and made new and brought into His fold anyone who repented of his sins and believed in Him.
The bad news of the Gospel is we’re worse than we think. The Good News of the Gospel is that He’s better than we think.
Only Jesus Christ can bring you to the Father. Only Jesus Christ can prepare a place for you in eternity. Only Jesus Christ is a perfect shepherd who can protect you from being lost due to your own sin.
Education and money and family and pleasure cannot save you. But the one who can is offering it.
That Jesus forsook His place in Heaven and took on the form of a human, a slave, so that He could, by taking the punishment of His believers, become our sin.
We get hope and goodness and freedom, we get the chains of fear and judgement broken, because of His goodness and because of His sacrifice.
He offers what only He is able to: Perfect forgiveness and perfect peace with God the Father.
He gives real freedom. Only He can.