Many use the following argument to convince themselves they are saved, “I am basically a good person. Compared with others like Judas, Genghis Khan or Hitler, I am a great person. I must be saved, because I'm good.” Although this argument seems logical, and even convincing, peace with God is never the result.
Goodness is a relative term. Compared to a mass murderer, we are all good. But compared to Jesus, who never committed even one sin, no one is a good person. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 says that “...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” when compared to God.
Our goodness is clearly not enough. Only God can provide what we need.
The prodigal son tried to convince himself that he could make it without his father. He wasted his inheritance on wild parties and soon found himself friendless and so hungry that he desired the slop that the pigs were eating. In Luke 15:17, the Scripture says that “...he came to his senses” and returned to his father with a humbled heart.
In order to come back to our Father, we too must come to our senses. Consider Matthew 7:21-23.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers!’”
This paragraph reveals three eye-opening facts about “good” people. Before listing them for you, I want to ask that you prepare yourself. Clear your mind of all preconceived opinions and religious teachings. The purpose of this lesson is to discover what God wants, even if it contradicts everything that we have believed and been taught in the past. We want to be honest with ourselves and with God as we look at this very important part of His Word.
1. Goodness Is Not Found In Just Saying The Right Things
First, this passage teaches us that goodness is not found solely in what we say. Millions of people around the world say they are Christians, but does that really make them so? Read the verse again. Jesus says that in the end many will call him “Lord” or master, yet not be saved.
Notice what Jesus said about some very religious people in another passage. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:8-9) Here we find that lip service only makes our worship in vain. It is not nearly enough to just say we are Christians, we must actually be Christians by God’s definition.
Many believe that just because they have a biblical name over their door, or a scriptural title on their church letterhead that they are automatically saved. Remember, it is not what you say you are, but what God says you are that counts! Are you a good person by God's definition? It is not the name on the building that saves, it is the name on the heart. The question is - has Jesus signed your heart?
2. Goodness Is Not Found In Just Doing What You Think Is Right
Secondly, we must understand that doing “good” deeds is not a guarantee of Heaven either. Look at the passage again.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23)
Sadly enough, this passage teaches that many will stand before God on the day of judgment claiming to be a good person and expecting to go to Heaven, yet they will be turned away. Why will they be turned away? Not for a lack of “good” works. Not for a lack of “good” claims. The passage clearly says that they did many “good” deeds and they spoke many “good” words. So why will they be turned away from the gates of Heaven? They will be refused because they did not do and say what God had commanded.
Too many people are risking their eternity on the words of a preacher or their feelings. Others base their salvation on being part of the “majority”. Because they come from a large denomination or worship with a large congregation, they believe that the “majority” must be right. Please consider Matthew 7:14. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.” The religion of the “majority” is never a safe guide. What does God say? We must do it His way even if the “majority” does it another way. Only God’s opinion really matters.
3. Goodness Is Only Found In Doing It God’s Way
So far, we have discovered that goodness is not found in what we profess to be or in doing what we think is right. We have also learned that God’s way is not always the most popular or the most practiced. Knowing this, we have a very important decision to make. Are we really interested in discovering God’s way or are we content to follow our own feelings and the opinions of others on the subject of salvation?
If you are truly interested in finding God’s path to goodness, please read the following stories. Each of them detail the steps God commanded in the Bible. Since this time period and His book provide the best information on this topic, let’s throw away all man-made opinions and follow only God’s instructions!
There is a reason God preserved these details for us to read. Don’t let any man distract you from doing what God says in His book.
So what about being a good person? Is it enough?
Read these stories. Compare these accounts. Duplicate their example in your own life. Only then will you truly find goodness.
Still got questions? Take a look at the closing chapters of the book “These are the Days of Jeremiah” by Sonny Childs. (Note: Orders for this book are processed through PayPal.)
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