An English duke was out hunting in the forest one day with his men-at-arms when they came across a tree. On the tree had been painted an archery target and smack in the center of the bull’s eye was an arrow embedded deep into the tree. It was a perfect shot. They continued on only to find more targets just like the first. A circle target with an arrow embedded right in the center of the bull’s eye. There must have been a dozen of them. The duke was amazed. Never before had he seen an archer who had such accuracy.
As they went on, they soon came across a young lad with a bow and arrows. The duke asked the boy if he knew who had shot the arrows they had just seen. The boy acknowledged that he had. Much surprised, duke asked, ‘You didn’t simply take a rock and set the arrow into the targets did you?” The boy said he hadn’t. In fact, he swore that he had shot all the arrows from a hundred paces. Immediately the duke asked the boy if he would serve as one of his archers and the boy agreed. Then the duke said, “You must tell me how you became such an expert shot.” “Well,” said the boy, “first I shot the arrow into the tree and then I painted the target around it.”
This how many people become moral or good in their own eyes. We shoot our moral arrows and wherever they hit, we draw a target around them. Some are pleased because they go to church every Sunday but think nothing of cheating on their spouse, getting drunk, or telling a lie to cover up their mistakes. It’s done by comparing ourselves to others. When we do, it’s easy to find someone who is not as good as we are and compare ourselves to them. In the end, we feel good and become convinced that God must feel that way too.
God’s standard for goodness or morality is much different. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). It’s clear from God’s Word that his standards for goodness are much higher than ours. In James (2:10), God says, “For whoever keeps the whole law, yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” In other words, if we commit just one sin, we miss God’s demand for perfection.
There is only one way to become good in God’s eyes. There is only one way we can ever hope to be good enough to spend eternity with God in heaven. It is through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only one who has kept the law perfectly. Never once did he miss the bull’s eye. Then, in love he took our sins and their guilt upon himself and took it to the cross. There he endured his Father’s wrath, the pain and torment of hell, in our place. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Good took our sins and put them on Christ. He took Christ’s righteousness and gave it to us. It is simple as that. Simply believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior.