A Good Person, Part 1


Modern man's self-worth can be summed up by the following declaration: "I'm a good person." The declaration is backed up by various, albeit similar, arguments, which revolve around this basic premise: "I'm not hurting anybody else." So, in general terms, if one doesn't kill or steal or lie, then it's all right. The parameters of these arguments are inherently malleable, for what one considers a hurtful lie, another considers "necessary," and so on. The inquisitive among us may wonder, by what and whose standards is a "good person" determined? While modern man's arguments might have a basis in quasi-religious morals and/or secular ethics, the roots are always humanist. In the humanist paradigm, group dynamics determine the parameters of what constitutes a worthy citizen. Absolute truth and an all-knowing Creator are not accepted; consequently, humanist ethics/morals can and will shift chaotically, or worse, incoherently.

Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Is there any wonder that people today suffer a suffocating web of neuroses on a daily basis? The humanist's view of self-worth is a personal stake thrust in clay during a hurricane. What is the value of "I'm a good person" when it is based on cafeteria philosophy and peer-influenced morality? Believers certainly cannot reconcile themselves to this relativist philosophy and worldview where tolerance, i.e. denying moral absolutes, is the only virtue (using this term loosely). Whether or not one is a good person, in the humanist sense, is of no consequence to the believer. Righteousness is defined by the Lord and by walking with the Lord.

Paul wrote in Romans Chapter 3 (referencing Psalm 14:2-3):
10 There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 There is no one who understands, 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.
While God has placed in every individual a thirst for His truth (in the form of conscience), man, without fail, willfully ignores it at one level or another. And lacking the grace of God, man cannot slake this thirst. When people seek to define goodness, they plumb only the well of Self and are never satisfied. Humanism is not only at odds with conscience, it clouds an unbeliever's openness to God's revelation.

At Way of the Master, Ray Comfort (and Kirk Cameron) share a witnessing tool which directly aims at the contemporary self-centered mindset. First, Comfort will ask someone if they think they are a good person. Then, he proceeds to ask that individual if they know any of the Ten Commandments and whether or not they've broken any. In so doing, he stirs the God-given conscience that exists in all of us and bypasses the justifications made by our sinful flesh (mind and body). Even if that person refuses to acknowledge the relevance of the Decalogue, they are now thinking about it. The goal is to attack the root -- the sinful nature of man -- as opposed to the branches -- the symptoms of sin.

In speaking about the proponents of homosexual marriage, Karl Ortis of the San Francisco Peninsula Baptist Association said: "There is no concept of right or wrong, except for the extremes, like murder." Ortis' statement could be applied to any number of current situations. This is to be expected when the humanist premise of "if I'm not hurting anybody else, then it's okay" is society's moral bellwether. Right and wrong have become negotiable: "I don't find it personally acceptable, but I support another's right to do so." These concepts are antithetical to Christianity because believers function as parts in the Body of Christ. As such, every part works in conjunction with the other in service of Christ. Even the most private of things have more of an effect on others than any person can ever realize. Moreover, we dangerously conflate our sinful nature and our willful disobedience, thus subordinating life choices to personal weakness. Life wouldn't need to be lived if it were merely a rote exercise of innate sinfulness.

Moral relativism has nonetheless affected today's Christian community which has tended to avoid the subject of absolute truth. It is not uncommon to hear Christians, in the noble effort to hate the sin but not the sinner, say the following: "Sin is sin." Sounds nice and egalitarian, but it's not Scriptural. When the Bible needs to express something simply and directly, it does. Just look anywhere in Deuteronomy or read John 14:6 where Jesus says: "No one comes to the Father except through me." True, the slightest sin is enough to separate any man or woman from God, but to deny degrees of sin is to ignore Biblical warnings. Consider this example in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6:
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
Degrees of sin are not so much quantitative as they are qualitative. Each sin is different. Every sin has a connection to the spiritual world, its own demon. The Bible assigns degrees to the spiritual world (the "principalities and powers"); there are different ranks among the angels and fallen angels. In common parlance, people have long referred to "wrestling with personal demons." Recall also the classic cartoon image of the person with the angel and devil sitting on opposite shoulders. The Bible tells us that sin and the wages of sin are not merely matters of man's carnal existence, but in fact also involve spiritual forces.

Ephesians Chapter 6:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our choices have spiritual repercussions. "Sin is sin," while recognizing the existence of sin, ignores egregious sin, which perforce entails an individual's acquiescence to the powers of the dark world. (Even heathen cultures, past and present, recognize egregious sin, often referred to as "taboo.") Each type of sin (and, yes, its aggregation) has a different spiritual effect on the individual. Also, "sin is sin" subtly subverts the Lord's sovereignty, in His Word and as the Judge of all things. Man's mind is hopelessly trying to remake both grace and sin in his own way. But God's word is sufficient: "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." (Psalm 119:160) "I'm a good person" carries no weight in a world of more than three dimensions.


Anonymous said... on 9/05/2005 3:32 PM  

thank you. finally someone who actually knows that no one is good