Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
Can anyone deny that they have sinned? Or, since the concept of "sin" might be hard for some to wrap their head around, have you ever done anything wrong? Failed to do your best? Didn't do something you should have? Hurt someone? Harbored ill-will or bad thoughts towards someone? Wanted something you shouldn't have? Done something that wasn't good for you and/or someone else? No one can say "no."
Now, the question is whether we'll be judged for these things or not. You have to believe in an afterlife and a higher power of some sort to believe that everyone will be judged for it. And then the question is, what is the standard? What is required?
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
If you go before a judge for a crime, you're not going to be able to say, "Well, yeah I did that, but I've done good things, too." He (or she) is going to say, "Well that's great, but you're still guilty." So if we all fall short of God's standard (which is what we do every time we sin) then we're all guilty.
Guess what happens to the guilty when God judges them?
Exodus 23:7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.
Jude 1:14-15 “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
All of us have sinned and will be found guilty. It doesn't matter that we might not be murderers--we're still guilty, just like someone convicted of petty theft is still guilty. Our punishment may not be as severe, but according to the Bible, that just means that things won't be as bad. We'll still be punished by being thrust out of God's presence. How, then, can anyone be judged favorably?
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus was perfectly righteous. He never sinned. And yet, God punished him for all sin. It was poured upon him on the cross as he was tortured severely and killed, and since he was perfectly righteous and gave his life for all sin, he made is possible to impute his righteousness--the righteousness of God. We cannot do this for ourselves, because we are sinners. It required perfect righteousness, which no mere human can achieve, so the Son became flesh and did it because of his love for us.
We are forgiven of our sins through his blood.
Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Perhaps we can understand how our own goodness cannot save us. We are guilty no matter how good we are, because we have sinned at some point. Guilty is guilty, no matter how guilty it is. This means that no amount of good works or just generally being an acceptably good person is "good enough." So what do we do to get this gift of righteousness that Jesus died to give us?
We don't get it for free.
Hebrew 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Faith is the requirement, because faith in God pleases God and he will give to them all his gifts, including the gifts of Christ's atonement. This theme echoes again and again throughout the New Testament.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 3:22-24 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Its a beautiful picture of choice. We can try to justify ourselves to become "not guilty" because we don't want God's help. God will let us do that, and when we stand before him and say, "Well, I did this and this and this and this and this right," he will say, "Yes, but you did this and this and this wrong, and you did not accept me, so I will give you what you want and let you be without me for eternity. You are guilty." Or, we can look to God through Jesus, who atoned for our sins, and at judgment say, "I trusted you," and he will say, "For this, you have been forgiven and will spend eternity with me as you desired. Well done, good and faithful servant."
Our choices are simple: turn our back on God and try to do it ourselves, and fail like we've failed to be perfect so many times throughout our lives and receive the punishment of being guilty, or we can reach out our hands to God and he will place in them the gift of eternal life and forgiveness so that we are not found guilty. He will give us what we ask for, and will never force one or the other upon us.
The question is not, "How good am I?" The answer will always be, "Not good enough." No, the question is, "Am I forgiven?" The answer is "Yes" if we have found forgiveness through Jesus.
Good people don't merit heaven. Forgiven people do.