Human-beings cannot be good. Only God is good. Jesus says: “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17). God is good. He cannot be evil. Goodness is the essence of God. Nothing God does can make him evil. God’s goodness is not determined by his acts. On the contrary, it is God’s acts that determine what is good.
God says: “I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal.” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Is God evil when he kills and wounds and only good when he makes alive and heals? Certainly not! God is good even when he kills. He can never be evil. Nothing God does can change his essence. God is good irrespective of what he does. Whatever God does is good. Whatever he does comes out of his goodness.
The psalmist says: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1). “To him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, for his mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:10). God is good and his mercy endures even though he killed off all the firstborn of Egypt. Goodness is a fruit of God’s Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Man is naturally bad
Goodness is not of man. It does not belong in human-beings. The works of human beings are always sinful. Jesus says: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Man is flesh and God is spirit.
Paul says: “The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21).
It is not that natural man cannot do so-called good deeds. It is that his good deeds are worthless to God and accounted for nothing. Isaiah says: “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6). As a matter of fact, what we as human-beings consider to be good is evil in the sight of God. Jesus affirms this: “That which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
For man to be good, he has to change his essence. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23). In order to be good, a man has to be born of God. Jesus explains this: “Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life.” (John 3:6-8).
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God is our maker
Only God can make man good. Jesus says: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?” (Matthew 12:33-34). Who is the maker? Who makes the tree good and the tree corrupt; is it God or is it man?
God is the maker. Job acknowledges that God is his maker. (Job 35:10). The psalmist says the Lord is our maker. (Psalm 95:6). Paul maintains God is the one who makes us what he wants us to be. “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).
To do you have to be
If someone asks you: “How do you do?” Tell him: “I do with God.” If he asks you: “How do you do?” Tell him: “I cannot do without God.”
The sin of Adam and Eve was in thinking they could be anything outside of God. But before you can do anything, you have to be able to do it. Before you can become pregnant, you have to be a woman. It would be a complete waste of time for a man to try to be a woman. No matter how hard he tries, he would not make it.
It is the same with trying to be good. Goodness is of God. Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, goodness is of the new creation. In order to be good, a man has to be born again. To be born again is to be born of God. You become good when you are born again. You become sinless when you are born of God. John says: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9).
Man’s seed has inbuilt sin; but God’s seed is sinless. The born again Christian still sins because he still retains the sinful seed in him. This accounts for the inner struggle, which God intimates us about through Rebecca’s pregnancy: “The Lord said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb,
two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23).
The older is the flesh, which will ultimately succumb to the spirit; which is the younger. The believer relinquishes the sinful part of his nature on his deathbed: “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7).
What is good?
Is it good to describe a woman as a little dog? (Matthew 15:26). Is it good to call a close companion of yours “Satan?” (Matthew 16:23). Is it good to refer to some people as whitewashed tombs? (Matthew 23:27). Is it good to overturn the tables of dove-sellers? (John 2:15). Jesus was “guilty” of all the above but good nonetheless.
Is it good to marry a prostitute? Is it good to walk around without your trousers? Yes, it is good provided it is who God told you to do so. It is good, provided the reason you did it was out of the love of God. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1 Timothy 1:5).
“So Bob, what do you do?” “I am a mechanic.” “I asked you what you do and not what you are.” “I am a mechanic.” People have this tendency to confuse what they do with what they are. The fact that you work as a mechanic does not mean you are a mechanic. I have never met a man who is a mechanic before. But I have met men who work as mechanics.
Good is not determined by what you do. Good is determined by who you are. If you are good, you will do good. If you are bad, you will do bad. A good man can only do good. A bad man can only do bad.