We live in a day of substitutes. CDs have been substituted for vinyl recordings, the internet has been substituted for the encyclopedia, and digital photographs have largely been substituted for prints… and the list goes on and on. But there is no substitute for salvation.
I’d like to list several things that should not be considered as substitutes for salvation. Service is not salvation (See Titus 3:4–6). A person may say, “But I do all these wonderful things.” Good works will not get you into heaven.
Turning over a new leaf is not salvation. Man does not get saved by saying, “I’m going to clean up my life and begin anew.” That’s not salvation. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”
Denying the existence of sin is not salvation either. God does not deny sin; Calvary is God’s recognition of sin. Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” The first step toward salvation is acknowledging sin, not denying it. That’s why we call a prayer for salvation “the sinner’s prayer.” Through it you acknowledge your sins, repent of them, and allow God to change your life from that day forward.
Also, salvation is not achieved through sacrifice and self-denial. The heathen are masters at this concept. They believe that denying themselves will win God’s favor. God is not interested in your giving up soda pop or coffee or a particular food simply to deny yourself. It’s not your self-denial He’s interested in. He wants a relationship with you. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). That’s true salvation, and there is no substitute for it!