Most people think Christianity is about moral improvement.

"Don't drink, cuss, or chew or run with girls who do!" 

But to much surprise, Jesus looked at the most moral people on the face of the earth and said, "The prostitutes enter the kingdom of God before you" (Mt 21:31).

Wait. What??

How can prostitutes enter God's kingdom before priests? Jesus explains in the next verse: 

"For John came to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him" (Mt 21:32).

Prostitutes and thieves were entering the kingdom of God before priests because they believed John's message and the priests did not.

OK, so what was John's message? 

John summarizes it like this. He points to Jesus and says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29).

According to John, the way of righteousness, the way into God's kingdom, is not through a code of ethics, but through a Person.

Christianity says that all of us, priests and prostitutes, have a morality problem--a sin problem (Rm 3:10-12). Since the moment the doctor slapped our rear ends we have all rebelled against our Creator (Ps 51:5). In Romans 3, the Apostle Paul is crystal clear: No one is moral. No one merits salvation. No one earns righteousness. No one gets to God through good behavior. 

So, how did God respond to our rebellion? In the most scandalous and mind-boggling way. Since our sin prevented us from getting to God, two thousand years ago in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, God came to us. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, came not to judge our sin or to help us with our sin, but to take it away from us.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross" (1 Pet 2:24).

Though we are all sinful and rightly deserve punishment, Jesus bore our sins and our punishment for us, in our place, on the cross. 


Jesus not only takes away our unrighteousness, He freely gives us His perfect righteousness!

"For our sake God made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).

Forgiveness and righteousness come to every person, preacher or prostitute, in the same way: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph 2:8-9). God's response to our rule-breaking is not judgment or more rules, it's grace! No strings attached. You can't do any good deeds to earn it or bad deeds to lose it. Forgiveness and freedom are yours forever in Christ.

Literally anyone can get in on this.

If you're a prostitute, a thief, a drug addict, a murderer, a liar, a whatever, you can enter God's kingdom before many preachers and Sunday school teachers. How? Not by your good works, but by trusting in Jesus and His good works (Jn 3:16-17).

This is the gospel. This is Christianity. God doesn't want to make you moral, He wants to make you His. And He does this through the death and resurrection of His Son. Christianity isn't a morality improvement project, it's an enjoy-God-forever-through-the-blood-of-Jesus project. 

The only question now is the one Jesus asked Martha: "Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:26).