As I was teaching the session on “Church Growth” in Warsaw, Poland, I was asked this question, “how do you share the Gospel with people who claim to be “good” people because they have never been immoral or never murdered anyone?”. How would you respond to this question? Jesus said that He did not come for those who are “well” but to those who are “sick”. As we know, all people are in need of God’s salvation, but there are 2 categories; those who understand and admit their need for God and then those who do not realize the need. Jesus dealt with both kinds. With the ones who understood their “need” for the Gospel, He freely shared with them, accepted them, forgave them, and taught them how to live according to God’s will. For the ones who did not see their “need” for the Gospel, through His teachings, He revealed their hypocrisy, showed them their sin, and offered them the Gospel as well. Some accepted, while many chose to be ignorant and remain in their sins. There are many passages that we could study about how Jesus revealed the fact that people are not “good” and are in need of the Gospel of salvation. There is the “prodigal son” which I have written about and you can read by clicking on the link, to see how Jesus revealed the people’s need for salvation. I would like to take a look at the 10 Commandments and then Jesus’ commentary on them, to see if we are “good” people or not.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God ; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day ; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house ; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Here they are in list form:
- no other gods before Me
- no idols (do not worship and serve them)
- do not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
- remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
- honor your father and your mother
- do not murder
- do not commit adultery
- do not steal
- do not lie
- do not covet your neighbor’s house
- male servant
- female servant
- anything that belongs to your neighbor
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court ; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court ; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5)
They had heard or been taught from the 10 Commandants, “do not murder” and they were proud of the fact that they had never “murdered” anyone, physically, yet they did not realize just how murderous they were. Jesus reveals to them that just because you have not committed the physical act, you are still guilty of murder if you have done it in your mind. Why? Because the actions that we take all begin in the mind. Jesus explains that being angry with someone and “thinking” about hurting/murdering that person; then you are just as guilty as the man who has committed the physical act and you will stand before God just as guilty, unless you repent and receive the Gospel and Its salvation. How many people can honestly say, “I have never hated anyone or wished death upon someone” (even if you just thought it and never actually put it into words)? All humans are guilty of this and we need forgiveness. We are all murderers in our hearts (even if we have never actually committed the physical act). Another “reason” for claiming to be “good” people is, “I have never been immoral”. Here is what Jesus said about immorality (adultery):
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY ‘; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5)
Jesus’ audience would have bragged, I have never committed adultery (Jesus’ response was basically, you have never been caught, but I am about to reveal your dirty little secret). Jesus says that if you have ever looked at (starred at) a woman and thought about having sexual intercourse (she is not your wife) with her, then you are just as guilty as the man who runs to the prostitute. How many people can say, “I have never had pornographic thoughts about another person”? Men have explicit imagines, for women, it is usually different. They may not dream about the act itself, but they do dream about what it would be like to “be with him” (in God’s eyes, that person is not your spouse and that “dreaming” opens the door up for immorality). So, again, in our hearts, we are all adulterous or immoral. If you are counting, that is 2 strikes against us. Things are not looking so “good” for us any more. Here comes the third strike against us. Many say, I do not lie (which in itself is a lie, but that is a different story). Here is Jesus’ response to those who claim that they do not lie:
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no ‘; anything beyond these is of evil.
If you have ever made a promise and then not kept that promise, then you are in the same category as the liars. If you have ever said that you will do something and then not done it or that you would be somewhere at a specific time and then not shown up on time, then God places you in the same category as the liars. If you are a person who has to swear that he will do something (which means that you have lost the trust of your word) then you are in the same category as the liars, in God’s eyes. So, we are all liars in our hearts and actions. Who has not had to “promise” or “swear” that he or she will do something or not do something?
That is why, when God looks at mankind, He says the following:
9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick ; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17)
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . (Genesis 6)
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds ; There is no one who does good. 2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt ; There is no one who does good, not even one.(Psalm 14:1-3)
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE ; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD ; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS ; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS “; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS “; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, (Romans 3)
So, as you can see, there really is no person on this earth who can say, “I am a good person”. That is a myth that we have created to excuse ourselves. Instead of trying to measure our lives according to the standard (God) we look around and try to find people who are “worse” than we are. That is dangerous because Hitler and Stalin could have a great debate about which one is a “good” person when compared to the other. Please do not be deceived. We as people are not “good”. We need forgiveness and a changed heart (character, lifestyle) and God is ready to offer that to us if we will accept it. What about you, have you accepted the fact that you are not a good person and you need forgiveness and a transformed heart?