Personal Journal

Is it Possible to be Good without God?

Why do you call Me good? There is none good but God. – Jesus (Matthew 19:17)

In another blog post (here), I took some time to explain why Jesus said what He said in this passage, so I won’t do that here. Instead, I want to talk about the point Jesus was trying to make, and why it is so important.

In our title verse, Jesus takes the time to emphatically show us that no one is good except for One, and that is God. This is hard for some people to swallow, including myself. I look at people around me everyday that seem to be good. They care about people, they give, they don’t do bad stuff like drugs, or murder, or steal. They invite people over for a backyard bar-barque, they lend out their yard tools, they do all kind of good things. How can they not be good?

I remember seeing a movie called “Mr. Deeds.” It was about a laid-back guy who just seemed to be the greatest guy ever. In the movie we see him treating everyone with respect. We see him give to the poor. He doesn’t allow people to cuss in the presence of women. He isn’t greedy. He even buys all of his friends Corvettes! How could this guy not be good?

First of all, that was a movie. Secondly, even if there was such a guy as Mr. Deeds, would he really be a good person?

Well, ‘good’ can be a relative term, and what is good all depends on the measuring stick you are using. If you are comparing Mr. Deeds to Osama bin Laden, or even just the average Joe, then you would come out with the idea that he was a good person. But bin Laden isn’t the measuring stick that God is using, neither is it the human average. God uses His own measuring stick, and since He is the Eternal Judge, it is His measuring stick that really matters. And even Mr. Deeds doesn’t measure up to His standards. 

Now, the intention of this post isn’t to bash you over the head and tell you how bad of a person you are. I have no desire to do that. Many people are painfully aware of their faults and don’t need anyone to point them out – instead they need compassion. However, there are also many people who see no need for God. They think they are good people, and so they think that if God did exist, then surely they would make it into heaven. But the truth is that these people are deceived. They, like all of us, need to understand how much of a sinner they really are, and how much in need they are of the Savior.

Jude puts it this way:

And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh – Jude 22-23

Some people need compassion, some need hell-fire and brimstone. We need to learn to make the distinction.

This post is going to be more of the hell-fire and brimstone. I want convince you that Hell is not fitting enough of a punishment for a sinner as yourself. And my prayer is that you will do as I did, and cry out to a merciful God. He will surely hear the cry of repentance, and wash you white as snow.

First of all, I want you to think about God. This God could be compared to your parents, for without Him you would have no existence at all. And just like your childhood completely depended on your parents, even so your entire life completely depends upon Him. Everything you eat, every breath you breathe, every drop of water, and every ray of sunshine is only because He is a loving and compassionate God. You may think that your hard work has brought you all that you need, and you’d be partly right, but you would be forgetting that there are many things (which you may take for granted) that are out of your control, but are essential to your survival. All the materials and tools that you use come from God’s earth. All the brains that you use to think come from God’s creative power. All the muscles in your body work as they do because God has fashioned them so. So not only is the raw material His, but also the capacity to work it. None of it would be possible without Him.

With all this in mind, how often have you stopped to even give Him thanks? 

How would you feel about a grown child that never thanked his loving parents for all that they did, but instead left them in a nursing home to rot and die? People so often do this with God. They take advantage of the good things that He gives and then forget about Him. They don’t thank Him. They don’t talk to Him. They don’t set aside the day He has asked of them to worship Him and learn of Him. They don’t thank Him for the food that is on their table. They don’t talk about Him with their friends. They don’t read His book, or else they read it in such a manner that they walk away not remembering one thing of what they read. Can a ‘good’ person be like this? And yet we somehow think a person can be good who doesn’t acknowledge God? What would we think of the person who refuses to acknowledge his loving parents?

Many people who think they are good often forget completely the greatest commandment:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength – Mark 12:30

Some people may object to this. How can God command me to love Him?

There should be no objection to this. The problem is that our modern society has an incorrect view of what love is. Most people have this idea that love is a warm feeling. But love is not a feeling (though feelings often accompany love). Love is simply an unselfish caring for another person. God cares for you unselfishly, and He expects you to do the same to Him. And He expects you do it with your whole being, as He does also for you.

Loving God means that we give Him the honor and respect that He deserves, but it also means more than that; God is perfectly good, and the personification of all that is good and right. To love God is to love what is good. You can’t love good without loving God, and you can’t love God without loving what is good.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights – James 5:17

Do you acknowledge God in your daily life? Do you thank Him for all He’s done? Do you love Him with all your heart? If you don’t, then how could you call yourself a good person? You are not a good person. You’re worse than the man that disowns and dishonors the parents that unselfishly raised him.

The next command is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus called this the second greatest commandment. Have you done that? Do you truly care about those around you as you care about yourself? Do you recognize that they are just like you, carrying around similar desires and hopes? Or would you step over them to further yourself?

Are you happy when those around you succeed? or are you secretly envious, wishing it was you and not them? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself? Do you wish to have what they have, even if you didn’t deserve it, and even if they went without? If so you are selfish. You may be nice to your friends, but what about those you don’t like? You may even wish they would die, or at least go away forever. Are you a good person? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself?

Loving your neighbor is not just about loving your friends, or about loving the lovely people around you. It’s loving everyone around you – even the people you’d consider ‘trashy,’ or ‘uncivilized.’ I must confess, this is a hard one for me! It’s easy to lose patience with unreasonable people – yet God has commanded us to love even them. Look what the apostle Paul says:

I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. – Romans 1:14

Paul was a debtor to love all men, just like we are. Jesus loved us and bought us with the price of His own blood. We are now under obligation to return His love to ALL the world. That includes those we would consider ‘barbarians’ (i.e. the trashy and uncivilized people).

Do you love those around you? Do you love them in the way that Christ loved you? If not, you are not a good person. You are just as guilty I am. You need Christ just as much as I do.

The two commands to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself, are the only commands that God requires of the person who’s heart is right towards Him. Any commandment of God is summed up in this: LOVE.

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:10

Yet, those who are not right with Him need more specific laws to understand their guilt before God. For this, God gave us the Ten Commandments.

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19

Lets see how well you stack up to the Ten Commandments:

1. You shall have no other gods beside Me.

Many people who are not religious may think they pass this one, but not so. Whatever you serve becomes your master, your god.

…whose god is their belly… – Phil 3:19

Whatever carnal appetite that you serve is your god. This could include: alcohol, smoking, drugs, gluttony, sex, money, gambling, entertainment, pride, fame, and the list goes on. If you are enslaved to anything like these things, then it is your god. Or it may be that you worship your family, or your job, or your kids, or your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. It may be that you worship many gods. All of it is sin, because none of those gods can save. They are false gods.

Are you guilty of ever breaking the first commandment?

2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

Have you ever bowed down to a wooden statue? Odds are, if you are reading this in english, then you have not. However, the bible calls covetousness idolatry (Col 3:5).

Covetousness is a lustful desire for something. It could be lusting after a person, but it could also be lusting after anything, such as money, or certain objects. If it consumes your mind then it has become your idol. You are serving a person or a thing, and not the living God.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

To do or say something in vain means to do or say it with no good purpose, or with a worthless purpose. God’s name is constantly thrown around as nothing, and used as the most common of curse words. God calls this sin, and the scripture says that he will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Are you guiltless regarding this?

4. You shall remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

God has required man to take one day out of seven to rest, and to be a day of worship and listening to His Word. But how often have you ‘forsaken the assembling of yourselves together’? Do you miss church on a regular basis? Have you skipped church for no good reason? Or have you worked away in the yard, or in your business when God has commanded you to rest? This is sin.

5. Honor your father and your mother.

Oh, how often this command is ignored! Are you guilty of ever dishonoring those who have raised you?

6. You shall not murder.

Have you murdered someone? Maybe not, but the bible says that if you hate someone you’ve already committed murder in your heart (1 Jn 3:15).

7. You shall not commit adultery.

We live in a world FULL of cheaters. God has commanded us to be faithful to our spouse. But even if you haven’t physically committed adultery, Jesus has told us that whoever even looks at a woman, to lust after her, has already committed adultery in his heart (Mat 5:28). Are you guilty of this?

8. You shall not steal.

Have you ever stolen anything from anyone? It doesn’t matter if it is big or small. Stealing something small is actually quite insulting to God. Breaking God’s law over something small or insignificant just shows that you regard it with complete disdain.

9. You shall not bear false witness.

In other words, don’t lie. Have you lied? If so, you have broken one of the royal commandments.

10. You shall not covet.

To covet means to harbor the desire to have something that doesn’t belong to you. It might be your neighbor’s car, his house, his stuff, or even his wife. Or it may be something else that you know is wrong, but you still lust after it. God commands us to be satisfied with what we have. Are you guilty of this tenth commandment?

The truth is that you, like me, are guilty of breaking them all in one way or another. It only proves that God’s word is true when it says that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).

But there’s more.

We hinted at this earlier, but it needs to be reiterated: sin is not just in the committing, but also in the omitting. Failure to do good is just as much a sin as successfully doing bad. There are a lot of good things that God has commanded us to do for the purpose of preventing or counteracting the evil that is in this world. If you know what’s right to do, and you don’t do it, that is sin (James 4:17).

We have laws in our country that are very similar to this concept. For example, if you are aware of a case of child abuse, and you do not report it, you are guilty – and you should be. Failure to do good is sin.

The fact is that if you are not presently pursuing the assignment that God has for your life, serving Him in all that you do, then every moment of your life is sin. There are people all around you who are hurting greatly; they need your help. There are souls that are bent towards hell; they need your intervention. God knows all the good you are capable of doing, and every bit that you don’t do is grievous sin; and the more that you have, and the more that you know, and the more that you are able–God will require it all from your hand. The blood of the souls that you have ignored will be on your hands for all of eternity. All the good you could have done will remain undone. Evil will prevail where it could have been thwarted. The potential chain reaction of your good deeds will never be known, except by God, who will have it all counted up on judgment day. Eternity in Hell will hardly be long enough for you.

BUT God is merciful.

He is very merciful. The bible says that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. What does that mean? It means that You can never dig a pit so deep that God’s mercy can’t pull you out. He is a God of love who DELIGHTS in mercy. He has zero desire to condemn you. He only wants to love you and save you. Remember the famous verse?

God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. – Jesus (Jn 3:16)

Yes, you are a sinner. Like me, you deserve death and hell, but Jesus has come that we might have life, and have it to the full. He has not come to condemn, but to save. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. Now, we must with humble hearts come before Him, asking for His forgiveness. He has promised that He will turn away NO ONE! In His blood all your sins will be wash away. Glory to God! He is a merciful God!

Repent today and put your trust in Him. He will wash away your sins and grant you everlasting life. 

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