I am not a good person. And neither are you.
You read that right. It’s true. What we call “good” is only our best attempt at trying to do good and avoid doing wrong. The complete embodiment of good – perfection – is only found in God. Don’t run away. Please keep reading. It’s not lofty, or narrow minded to say these things. Jesus Himself spoke this, even about Himself and He was completely sinless! If the flawless Savior of the world said that even He is not to be called good, how much less are we able to say that we are good? In fact, this was recorded in not just one, but 2 of the Gospels.
Mark 10:17-18 – As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
Luke 18: 18-19 – A certain ruler asked Him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
Jesus made a point of saying this before He answered the man’s question. This may seem like a small detail, but I believe it illustrates that it was more important to Him to break that wrong thinking before He gave further instruction.
We live in a society today where “being a good person” is almost a mantra. We don’t think anything of it being wrong. In fact, many of us have subscribed to it! Logical thinking would tell us that, yes of course we should be good people! But Jesus clearly states that no one except God alone is good.
Let’s look at this practically. We can't feel bad about ourselves if we aren’t trying to feel good about ourselves. Right? I am not saying that feeling good about yourself is a bad thing. I'm saying that striving only to be a good person as your end goal, and basing your happiness on feeling good about yourself is a dangerous place to live. That foundation of happiness can be stolen from you as soon as someone challenges that you are indeed a “good person”. Your identity in God is founded in truth and releases you into true joy. Being a good person is only effective as long as you feel good about yourself. It is self-based or in other words, selfish thinking.
It is not that God wants us to think of ourselves as evil, I believe what He is saying here is that we need to break the wrong thinking that being a good person is in itself enough. Once we align ourselves with righteousness and who we were created to be, we open the capacity to feel TRUE joy. Joy is what God has for us. Joy was the promise set before Jesus to endure the cross!
Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we agree that God is good (and He is) then we are to do what the Father does, think like the Father thinks, be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
We should never sacrifice being perfect for being good. It is not enough and it is not what we were called to. But be perfect? Seriously? We are told that no one is even GOOD, let alone perfect! How will we ever be perfect?! Look to Jesus' example. Jesus said that He does nothing of Himself. He only did what he saw the Father doing and only said what He heard the Father saying.
John 5:19 – Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
When we become Christians we trade in good for great. We trade in ordinary for extraordinary. We trade in the natural for supernatural. Our identity sheds “good enough” and steps into perfect victory through Jesus. But this comes with a price. "Me" must die. Not until we die to ourselves and are born again in Christ can there be greatness found in us. Not because of US but because of HIM.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are called out. Higher. Not to conform with the world, but to walk as people of God. We need to understand that our identity is in Him. As much as the world wants to tell us contrary, we can do nothing to save our own lives. None of us can add a single day to our life. We, in ourselves are finite and perishable. YOLO is real and should incite sobering reality instead of a license to sin! The only way we can inherit eternal life is to give up our life here and now. A paradox of the Kingdom.
Luke 17:33 – Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
Matthew 16:26 – What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
So let’s test this. Are any of you offended by reading these things? I have been offended by these things before. Hearing Christians tell the rest of us that we are not good people. They seemed self-righteous. The seemed preachy and lofty. I get it. I have lived there. Truth is hard to hear when we are comfortable and pacified in the world. Let me share a little secret: the world is a liar. When we are comfortable in the lies of the world and truth disrupts that, it causes offense. None of us want to be wrong! It is particularly offensive when it comes from another person because we take it personally as judgement. Now of course there are always those who abuse it and ARE judgmental. I am not talking about that. Let’s assume this is someone whom you love and respect, but they come and dump a truth bomb on you that causes you to be offended. The offense actually comes from the enemy. Offense is his character. It is a secret weapon that he gives us the credit for because it sounds like our own voice. "How dare they say that about me. They don't know me!" , or "I have a right to be mad! What they said about me was wrong!" , or "Who do they think they are?! They are no better than me!"... sound familiar? Satan wants us to believe that we are to be “good people” and if that is challenged we are offended. Being good is not Biblical as we have already seen. Since it is not Biblical that we are to be “good people” it means God does not want us to have the mindset and live from the place of trying to be “good people”. He wants us to have the mindset and live from the place that we are HIS people and to do good works by His example! I have said it before, God is not creating drones or religious robots. He is trying to break this wrong thinking that seems completely logical to the world so that He can have relationship with us.
Satan is not worried about us being good people. He is worried about us understanding who we are in God. It all comes back to identity. He wants us to fail to understand who we are, because who we were created to be is a great danger for him. All he has to do is get us a tiny little bit off course and we end up at a completely different destination than where we are supposed to be. In fact, I believe he encourages us to focus on only being good people, because it gives us the illusion that that is our highest definition of self. That by being a good person or by finding inner peace or any of the other spiritual influences in the world today, that we are ok. It’s a pacifying lie. It is counterfeit for who we were actually created to be in God. It is a cheap knockoff. Satan is trying to define our identity for us by misdirecting and sending a counterfeit option to be who our spirits actually groan to be. What we were created for. Relationship and identity in God.
John 8:31-32 – To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
God wants us to be free by knowing the truth and walking it out. The world calls being a good person freedom and that is enough.
If you had to go for major surgery. Something that was a life or death situation and the surgeon you got has no experience with that kind of surgery; in fact they got their certification that same day through a youtube video; but they tell you not to worry, that they are a "good surgeon" … would you go under that person’s control? Me neither. So why is it that we allow the identity of our very souls to go under any less scrutiny? We check people’s earthly credentials more closely than we check the credentials of our own spirit.
God is not trying to hinder us from feeling good about ourselves. He is actually trying to unlock a greater joy and strength in Him based on eternal things instead of worldly things. It isn’t until we surrender to that, that we unlock a greater treasure. He is trying to break good for the sake of great!
I want to be great. I believe you want to be great. Another paradox of the Kingdom is that the least is greatest and the last is first.
Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you will be your servant.
Matthew 19:30 – But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
In order to unlock our greatness we must first surrender our good.
Blessings to all of you in Jesus’ name.