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.