For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
No one in the world, no one past, present or future was ever saved because of their religious acts or service to God. God wants our hearts, not our deeds. God wants a relationship with us through Christ Jesus our Lord. A relationship established by faith alone in Jesus alone. Only Jesus removes the barrier of sin that separates us from God. Only the Cross of Christ bridges the gap between this life and the next, thereby providing believers the certainty of a salvation, given freely by God, given completely by grace, and given only through faith in Christ alone. And with the barrier of sin removed, we can have a relationship directly with God the Father through Christ. And when we have a true relationship with God the Father through Jesus, we develop a heart toward God and a heart for the things of God as the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out. And as that happens, we grow in grace, we grow in love and we grow in mercy toward others, as we understand better who Jesus is and what He has done for us, and experience the love He has shown us while we were still sinners and at enmity with God.
This stems from our love for God the Father, our love for Jesus and the work done in us by the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work transforming our hearts and minds. And it’s from the change in us, brought about by God, that godly actions or good deeds toward others, become the natural byproduct of our new spirit, given to us by God’s grace. Therefore, we should understand that no amount of prayers, religious customs, knee bending, fasting or anything else will make us right before a Holy God. We should never forget our fallen nature loves religious acts because they give us something to hang our pride on, something where we can strive to be better than others. This means anything else, any type of religious or humanitarian works meant to earn our way to Heaven, without Jesus, is because of pride in our hearts. It’s pride because we are trying to come to God under our own terms, using our own form of righteousness and not His. It’s pride because we’re more concerned with showing the world how righteous we are, then displaying the love of Jesus, present in us, for all to see. And that is why God examines the hearts of men and not just their deeds.