Luke 9:23-24 :
He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it.
Jesus died to save our lives but if we try to save ourselves, we won’t be able to participate in the salvation that Jesus made for us. If we go on trying to save ourselves when Jesus has already paid the price, we are making Jesus’ work for us of no value because we are deciding to work it out ourselves. Not only that, if we try to work it out ourselves, we will ultimately fail anyway and lose our lives in the end.
If we decide to give up trying to save our own lives and commit our salvation to Jesus, in the end, Jesus will save us and we will have our lives.
Just deciding to be a good person and do the moral things that Jesus seems to be recommending doesn’t save a person. This is very important to understand. When we try to do moral things without first giving up our lives as lost and depending on the work of Jesus, then we are just working for some selfish motive. It is as if we are trying to show ourselves to be good like Jesus. This is not at all how Christianity works. Christianity only works properly when we first recognize that we are going to fail to be good enough for God by our good works and turn our lives over to the only Good One, Jesus Christ, instead.
When we give up our lives to the One who can save us, we realize that He is able to make us be moral as well. Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to live inside of us as Christians so that we can live morally like He did. We are able to do good because of Jesus not just because we want to act morally.
After this life is over, we can expect to see some surprises. Some people who seemed quite moral will end up not making it to Heaven and some that we thought would never make it will give up their lives to Jesus and He will give them life.