I Don’t Want to Be a Good Person; I’m a Christian – Part II

I Don’t Want to Be a Good Person; I’m a Christian – Part II

Are the good deeds of the non-Christian person, the religious person, and the Christian person pleasing to God?  Is it enough to Him that you want to be a good person?  I don’t know who wants to be the bearer of bad tidings, but at least these bad tidings can be overcome.

For the non-Christian, the person who does not acknowledge God as God, he disobeys the first of the Ten Commandments:  Old Testament, Exodus 20:3, You shall have no other gods before Me.  If you do not acknowledge God as the supreme and only God, then you have sinned.  So what is God’s reaction to a person who has sinned?  In the New Testament, in John 8:24, I (Jesus) said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He have His only begotten son, what whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.

But thanks to Jesus who said in John 3:17, For God did not send the son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.  So there are great tidings for everyone who has done one sinful thing!  We can be saved!  John 7:38 says, He who believes in Me, from his innermost being shall flower rivers of living water. John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh. John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Nevertheless, while one sin committed by a person negates their goodness before God and condemns them from eternal life with God – and while all people have sinned and need help…God offers sinners help and eternal life with Him!  Woohoo!

Is the effort of a religious person pleasing to God?  Jesus spent a lot of time in the New Testament conveying His displeasure of the religious leaders, whom He called white washed tombs due to having the appearance of goodness while having evil hearts that did not sincerely serve Him (Matthew 23:27).

Apparently, God is not an easy going fellow when it comes to goodness and evil.  Even if people today, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, give religion a go of it, even devoting their life to religion, this does not mean their sacrifice is an acceptable service before the Lord.  In Genesis 4:3-4, Cain offered a gift to God from his harvest, but scripture does not say that Cain offered his best as did his brother Abel.  Cain’s gift was rejected by God as Cain did not worship and serve God above all else.  He valued the best of his harvest, his little god, before honoring God – which is breaking the first of the Ten Commandments.  This was the rich young ruler’s downfall as well.  He asked Jesus what good thing he should do in order to have eternal life in Matthew 19, but while the ruler said that he already kept all the commandments, he valued his riches above God.  The efforts of religious people are not acceptable to God because the appearance of goodness does not equate a sincere Christ follower.  In Matthew 16:25, Jesus said For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.

In Matthew 7: 15 Jesus said people can wear sheep’s clothing – having an appearance of being a follower of Christ, but not sincerely following Him. Isaiah 29:13 Then the Lord said, because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.  These people had “good” intentions, but their outward service did not match their inward hearts.  Some people will even call out to God, but will not be accepted into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father  who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.   Does this seem unfair?  It is not, because the hearts of the people never truly followed God, they followed God in appearance alone.

The religious person may have more difficulty going to God and following Him because they deceive themselves that they know God because they try to do a lot of good deeds in the name of God, rather than repent and follow God from their heart.  The non-Christian is at least upfront about his choice to not follow God.  I was a religious person  for about 20 years, and then God opened my deceived eyes to see that my goodness, even my religious goodness, would not earn my way into heaven.

Of the Christian, God says in John 5:24 that the believer is no longer condemned for his sin – but is the believer’s attempts at goodness always pleasing to God? As mentioned in Part I of this post, in 1 Corinthians 13:3 God says through Paul, And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  And in 1 Corinthians 3: 13 Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. Old Testament, Hosea 6:6a says For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice.

What goodness is acceptable to God?  John 15:4, 5b Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  Apart from Me you can do nothing.  Unless we are forgiven of our sin and made right with God, we cannot abide in Jesus.  But once we are made right with Him, we can abide in Him and be filled with the fruit of goodness – the fruit of righteousness as mentioned in Philippians 1:11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

So if a believer abides in Jesus, then he can bear good fruit; he can bear the fruit of righteousness.  And while the  believer is abiding in Him, he will love God by obeying Him which produces good fruit.  John 14:23b says, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.  Galatians 5:25 says If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, and verse 22 and 23 lists the fruit of the Spirit which includes goodness.

If the believer abides in God and loves God by obeying His word – then the Christian will be striving to obey Matthew 22:37, 39 because all other commandments rest on these two commandments.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Vs 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and Prophets.  If the believer is abiding in God, loving God and living in obedience to these two commandments, then the Christian profits before God because the motive of their good actions stem from their unabashed love of God and love of others.  Acts of love towards others profit the Christian, as shown in 1 Corinthians 13:3.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  So all acts done with the primary motive of obedience to God, out of unabashed love for God, and out of love of others are profitable for the Christian because these acts of goodness are genuinely good and pleasing to God.

So while the non-Christian and the religious person’s goodness cannot be acceptable to God because he is not made right with God,  the Christian’s goodness can be pleasing to God when the believer’s primary motive is to obey and love God, as well as to love others as himself.

I Don’t Want to Be a Good Person; I’m a Christian

I Don’t Want to Be a Good Person; I’m a Christian

Do most people want to be good people?  I think most non-Christians would affirm this desire, as well as religious people, and people who follow Christ.  Should it be a goal of humanity to be good?  Does incredibly good behavior cause God to debar the gates to the Garden of Eden or cause God to smile on the people He has redeemed?   I would say no; I think Satan is pleased to so easily deceive man into wanting to be good people, so that they do not focus on how they can become righteous people.

If this idea is true, people may feel this reality is abrasive and that God is unfair to reject man’s attempts at goodness; but since God designed the universe and said (New Testament) 1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God, then man’s opinions do not effect God’s reality, no matter how much we don’t like the sound of it.

What does the Bible, God’s Word, say about man’s goodness in general?  Since the Garden of Eden when evil entered the world, we learn that no person is good. Old Testament, Psalm 14:3b There is no one who does good not even one.  OT, Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. In the New Testament, in Romans 7:18, Paul says, For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

What does God say about the goodness of religious people (not sincere God followers and Christ followers, but sincerely religious people)?  NT, Romans 10:2, 3.  For I bear them (Israel) witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  In Matthew 23:27 Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”  So good acts based on religious conviction are not necessarily acceptable to God, so says Jesus.

And of the forgiven sinner to whom Christ has imparted His righteousness, are all of his good acts pleasing to God?  1 Cor 13:3 says, And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  Apparently they are not.  God, through Paul, says to the brethren (1 Cor 3:1), to Christians, 1 Corinthians 3: 13 Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  So, not all of a Christian’s good behavior will be rewarded.

So, why wouldn’t man’s attempt to be good, the attempt by non-Christian, a religious person, and a Christian, be considered good by God?  Isn’t being good – a good thing?

Well, it appears God gets a little more serious about man’s behavior. OT, 1 Samuel 16:7b For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. NT, Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God…able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. NT, Romans 2:16b God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

In my next blog I will sift through scripture to see what goodness is acceptable to God, whether from a non-Christian, a religious person, or a sincere follower of Jesus.