We live in a day and age where everyone is taught to pat themselves on the back, affirm how ‘good’ they are and make sure they ‘love themselves.’ We are all taught that we are generally ‘good’ people. If you ask someone if they are going to heaven or hell when they die, most will say they are going to heaven. When you ask them why, they will say that they pretty much think of themselves as a ‘good’ person. Ironically, this goes directly against the teachings of the Bible. Let’s look at Romans 3.
10“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]
Of course, even the best apologist may struggle with convincing people of the essential and basic fact that we are all actually bad people. We can use the ten commandments as one way to demonstrate this point. Have you every lied? If so, what do you call someone who lies? Have you stolen anything? What do you call someone who steals? If you have every used God’s name in vein, you are a self-confessing blasphemer. So, for most people who answer these questions truthfully will admit, by their own admission, that they are a liar, thief and blasphemer.
Some will still hold onto the idea that they are ‘good people,’ on the premise that their good deeds somehow outweigh their bad deeds. Unfortunately, this is simply not true, even in our own society. I often tell the story of the man who lived a really good life, donating a lot of money to charity. One morning, he gets into an argument with his wife. He angrily gets in his car to drive to work. Unfortunately, he hits a child in the school zone as he speeds through in fury. A cop witnesses the event. Does the police officer ignore his offense because he knows the many has so many good deeds known through the town? When the man faces the judge, should an impartial, fair judge give him the punishment detailed in the law, or make an exception because this man is so loved in the community? As the saying goes, “Justice is blind.” And while some may certainly wish the man was let off the penalty, keep in mind that the parents of the child want to see justice done. For every sin we have committed, there are those who want to see justice done, including God Himself.
We are not ‘good.’ Not at all. We are all selfish, evil and petty. And the solution is not to make ourselves feel better through self affirmations. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When we realize just how bad we are…how broken and sinful we are, then we are finally at a place to meet Jesus at the cross. Only by His blood can we truly be forgiven of our transgressions.