Almost everyone who isn’t a Christian asked that question will say yes, but some Christians errantly also think they can answer the first part, in the positive not appreciating what that response implies. It’s a touchy subject – “goodness”. I have to confess I’ve not questioned some of my friends who wrongly think that they will have the right to enter heaven based purely and solely on how they’ve lived their lives here.
They tell me that they haven’t hurt anyone deliberately or murdered, or stolen anything much (always in comparison to someone else), or done anything “that” bad!! So what’s the big deal then? God is love – He loves everyone doesn’t He, so He couldn’t possibly consign anyone ‘good’ to hell could He?? Well, let’s think about that one. How do you define goodness? Where is the cutoff point between what is ‘good’ and what slides over into becoming ‘not good’? What sins are ok and still allow you to contend you are “good” while others may not; stealing?, lying?, adultery, pride, greed – the list is endless isn’t it once you start really thinking about it?
Exodus 20: 1-17: And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and 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.
5. Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10.You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.
Let’s take a sample day in the life of a “good” person and try and apply God’s Law, which is the standard by which He judges all of us, to it. They wake up in the morning, pull back the curtains, look out the window and see their neighbour has just bought an expensive new car of a model at least 6 ahead of the one they have, and immediately get insanely jealous and decide they don’t only want the same, but start planning how they can work to outdo them in some way and get an even better model – that’s the 10th commandment broken for starters. Over breakfast they watch TV and get engrossed in a programme showing scantily clad people discussing the latest topic of interest, and their mind starts wandering about how their partner no longer attracts them, and how wonderful life would be if they met one of those on the TV and the type of relationship they might be able to pursue – there’s the 7th commandment broken, as Jesus stated that : “But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:28 And don’t think that statement just applies to the guys, ladies!
On through the day and things fare no better as they go to see their parents – a job they dread as it always means fights and arguments, because the parents are now old and needing more attention, something they really haven’t got a lot of time to spare for, but they feel obligated to visit at least a couple of times a year. However, this time is no better than any other, and within 10 minutes of arriving, they’re arguing over small things of little consequence and hurts from years earlier have all built up to cause a rapid escalation into full scale verbal war and they leave still shouting the odds at them, swearing never to return again and how they’d be quite happy for the parent/s to die – the sooner the better!! Whoops – there’s the 5th commandment broken.
Psa 14:2-3: ” The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Rom 3:23 “…for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God….”
Without going through the entire day of other seemingly normal and acceptable life behaviours which we all sadly have (called SIN!) and which we will be judged by God for, I think you can see how easy it is to break God’s Law (the Commandments) without necessarily desiring to do so on any given day. And God has decreed a judgement on mankind for it’s constant rebellion towards Him, and He has stated that we all deserve to be punished for it.
2 Peter 2:9-10 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished, and especially those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise dominion. They are darers, self-pleasing; not trembling at glories, speaking evil.
Now, when you die, do you reckon that somehow you can just stand before a Just and utterly Holy God without a care in the world, or that somehow you can just talk to Him and try and justify your position – I’m afraid not!! When He opens His Heavenly Court you will be alone, defenceless, and with no means of changing your guilty plea before Him, and what’s more you will fully agree with the fact that you are guilty as your eyes will be opened fully to your spiritual state in His eyes. And when the bible says that “the wages of sin is death”, it doesn’t mean just the earthly death we all have to die, but eternal death or Hell (which literally means separation from God).
The time to change that outcome is here and now – He has graciously provided a way for you to be set free from that penalty of eternal death – when Jesus died on that cross, He paid the price for your sin and provides you with not only the forgiveness of the Father, but the promise of eternal life and reconcilliation with your Creator. But you have to accept you are a sinner – pride is the worst sin of all, because it says that you know better than God, so don’t allow misplaced pride to prevent you from recognising your state before Him and repenting. And God is faithful and has promised that when you repent, He will absolutely forgive you, because Jesus took your sin on His life on the cross. But you have to also accept that Jesus died in your place and accept Him as your Saviour before God, trusting in Him alone to save you in His once and for all time sacrifice on the Cross. When you truly repent and accept Jesus for Who He is God will miraculously change your heart and life and place His Holy Spirit within you who will teach you Truth. Your life will truly never be the same again and you will know you are forgiven and have eternal life – a gift you cannot buy or work for, nor gain through any goodness of your own. So take heed for time is of a premium and you don’t know when you will be suddenly thrust from this earth into that heavenly court with no time left to change your plea.
And if you are a Christian – don’t sit thinking you’re ok, that somehow you are better than those who aren’t in some way – you should absolutely know you are still a sinner, and need to equally repent and seek God’s forgiveness daily – otherwise you will be equally judged – not by God, but by Jesus, and found wanting – losing out on rewards that might otherwise be yours perhaps.
And finally – for all of us who need to be reminded on what this is really all about – read Romans 5 where Paul outlines the reality of our sinful state before God and what is our responsibility before God in it.