sins cannot be removed by good deeds
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)
From the beginning humanity has attempted to remove the stain of sin by good deeds. When Cain offered God vegetables as an appeasement for his sin God rejected it (Genesis 4:1-4). Cain was infuriated and killed his brother Abel.
In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), not to save them from their sin, but to show them that they couldn’t live up to his perfect standards on their own (Galatians 3:23-24). Instead of looking to Him in faith many of the Jews looked to themselves and thought they could please God in their own strength. But God saw their “righteous” deeds like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even the best of their good deeds were corrupted by selfish motives.
In Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the sacrificial system. Every time a Jew sinned he or she was to sacrifice a goat without any blemishes (Leviticus 4:27-31). Think about that. If you were a Jew in the Old Testament and had to make a sacrifice every time you lied, lusted, gossiped, complained or argued you would soon run out of goats. Other offerings included offerings of bulls and sheep.
The sacrificial system was meant to point inward, upward and forward. It pointed inward to convince you of your sinfulness. If you were honest before God then you would soon realize that you could never make enough sacrifices for your sin. It pointed upward to make you trust in God for your salvation instead of sacrifices that you could make (Psalm 51:16,17). It pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would someday come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people, some of whom realized they were sinners and needed God to save them (Psalm 51:1,2) and most of whom trusted in their own goodness instead of the mercy and grace of God (Isaiah 64:6).