Some conscientious believers really want to know what being right with God looks like.
Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t leave us without any information, so we are not forced to guess. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27. This seems simple enough but don’t be confused, this is not the means of getting God’s love; it is the result of experiencing the love of God.
The classic commandment, “Love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 should be our guide and the lens through which we read the rest of the Bible. When we love God, we will naturally love others because we will want to please God and follow the Lord’s other commands, which include, “Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.” Leviticus 19:18. Doing good for others is not done to earn God’s favor, it is a result of having it.
In the life of a true believer, all things stem from love for God. It is a misunderstanding to hold an “The love of God is good but, it isn’t enough we must overcome sin too” attitude as if love and character transformation (good behavior) are distinct. Love for God and the rejection of sin are one and the same. "For the Messiah’s love has hold of us, because we are convinced that one man died on behalf of all mankind (which implies that all mankind was already dead), and that he died on behalf of all in order that those who live should not live any longer for themselves but for the one who on their behalf died and was raised." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
So, we must remember that good works are not the means to becoming being right with God. Rather, being right with God is the result of knowing who God is and experiencing the love of God. The more we know God, the more we will want to do things out of love for God. Treating good behavior as something one must accomplish in addition to loving God may look similar to doing things simply out of love on the surface, but it is not the same at all. If we do not obey out of love, we are not truly obeying at all because true submission to God is not just about what is done, but the spirit in which it is done.
As Yeshua said, “’Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim! You pay your tithes of mint, dill and cumin; but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah — justice, mercy, trust. These are the things you should have attended to — without neglecting the others! Blind guides! — straining out a gnat, meanwhile swallowing a camel! ‘Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. Blind Parush! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may be clean too.’” Matthew 23:23-26. True love fulfills the law, so even if you are doing all the right things, if your heart isn’t right you are not right. You cannot confuse good works or professing to believe good things with having good a relationship with God.
Picture originally found here