the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was in the beginning with God.
things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made
that was made.
One might wonder what all that
has to do with good.
That’s an easy one: And
God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
1:31 (ESV) And
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good
except God alone,
which is why his
creation is good.
As Mankind was the
culmination of God’s creation, we were naturally included when God
said, “It’s all good.” And as long as his creation was intact,
it remained good. So,
from God’s perspective, we are good when we live the way he created
us to live.
Oh, how the standard for “good”
has declined. Now, when something pleases us for any reason, we
declare it “good,” and we’re not at all discriminating.
Corinthians 5:10 (NASB) For
we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each
one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what
he has done, whether good or bad.
But living any other way is
sin. That’s why
apostle Paul wrote,
Romans 3:23 (ESV)
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
That idea wasn’t original with him, though. Paul simply summed up
the body of Scripture, as human depravity is one of its major themes,
as are God’s mercy and justice.
An observant farmer might
say, “Wait a dad-burned minute. That stool don’t stand!” Human
reason balks at those three principles when we try to understand how
they can coexist. How can God deal justly with disobedient mankind,
and still show mercy? Does he sentence us to community service, as do
today’s judges? Hardly, as that’s neither justice nor mercy. If
God is indeed both just and merciful, he seems to have painted
himself into a corner by creating humanity so we could sin.
in the world was God thinking?
God’s ways is indeed a hard thing. Again, we look to apostle Paul
for insight: 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB) But
a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because
they are spiritually appraised.
And where did he get that
idea? Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB) “For
My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways
higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
the outset, God planned for all these eventualities. Some folks think
of God’s Plan
as a Jesus thing, or just a gospel tract, but that’s selling God
short. In fact, all of history is his plan of salvation, from
creation to humanity’s fall, from the horrible things mankind does
to one another to his church’s work today; nothing
takes God by surprise! If we can’t see a connection between
mankind’s cruelty and God’s mercy, so what? We don’t even know
which heartbeat will be our last, but God does. As movie spies say,
“We’re on a need to know basis,” and all we need to know is
what he tells us through his word. Oh, sure, some people claim
special knowledge or a new revelation and get folks all riled up, but
they’re full of it, and “it” isn’t God.
in the world is God doing?
of studying, in depth, all of God’s word and
all of human history, there are a few things we can take to the bank:
Remember the apparent conflict between God’s mercy and justice, and
Man’s depravity? As God made us for fellowship
with himself, he necessarily shared with us some of his divine
attributes so we could relate to him, and he to us. One of those
attributes is free will.
God’s eternal Word knew,
when he began creation, that Man would abuse that divine gift of free
will to sell out to the lowest bidder. God even knew that he, in
Christ Jesus, would have to pay the ultimate price to buy us back
this seems like a roundabout process when God could have just
prevented the whole sin thing, but as his incredible gift of free
will made sin inevitable, eliminating it simply wasn’t an option.
Instead, by refusing to coerce us into obedience, but allowing
us to sin, all the while knowing how he would deal both justly and
mercifully with us, God proves to us how wonderful is his love for
Testament Law—Spiritual Nanny
The most misunderstood
concept in the Bible is the relationship between law and grace. On
one side of the issue are believers who insist that we must obey at
least part of Old Testament law, and then God will love us, and Jesus
will give us his grace-pass into heaven. Then there are the believers
who embrace God’s loving grace as the cure for all but humanity’s
worst transgressions. The one side says, “God’s Ten Commandments
are not Ten Suggestions.” The other says, “Just believe in God
and be nice to your neighbors, and St. Peter will open wide those
of those persuasions ignore God’s truth, revealed in his word.
God’s law is both
the Old Testament and
the New Testament, even if they seem to proclaim contradictory
Apostle Paul distilled this
complex truth into just four Bible verses:
3:23-26 (ESV) Now
before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned
until the coming faith would be revealed.
then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we
might be justified by faith.
now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
a nutshell that encloses a big part of God’s infinite truth. It
tells us why
God instituted his law, who(Christ Jesus) and what(faith) fulfills
the law, and who we become
through faith in Christ Jesus. It’s not simply a “That was then,
this is now” type of thing, because God’s law still applies to
those who are not yet sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
backtrack for perspective
he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so
by works of the law, or by hearing with faith–
as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as
then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by
faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In
you shall all the nations be blessed.”
then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man
all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is
written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things
written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for
“The righteous shall live by faith.”
the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall
live by them.”
redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for
it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–
that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the
Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through
In verse five we can
see the apostle wrote this to a group of believers who were a bit
confused about the law-versus-faith issue. So we shouldn’t feel
slow if we can’t seem to grasp the concept.
six gives us a role-model for faith. Apostle Paul quoted Genesis
to establish faith’s part in Abraham’s righteousness before God.
Verse seven takes the
idea one step further. The author establishes our identity as “sons
of Abraham,” or honorary Hebrews, through faith.
eight takes a flying leap, at least where the Jews are concerned. He
as the basis for his claim that all peoples, not just God’s chosen
Hebrews, are qualified for justification by faith.
As verse nine just
restates that fact, let’s jump to verse ten, where he wades into
even deeper water. Here he slaps the religious Jews—and all who
depend on the law for justification—sharply on their pride, by
openly declaring they are under a curse because they can’t keep the
eleven brings in another Old Testament passage, Habakkuk
and yes, there was such a prophet. Using that passage, Paul says the
fact that the law cannot justify anyone
is evident, meaning anyone
who has half a brain should see it.
twelve pushes the two-edged sword even deeper, with a quote from
Now we see that “the law is not of faith,” explaining why those
who lived by the law could never be fully justified by it.
now, Paul has talked a lot about faith, but he wasn’t specific as
to that faith’s object. With verse thirteen he ties up that loose
end by saying plainly, “Christ
redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”
What a powerful declaration!
continues that thought, tying up the faith-gift of God with a
So, to answer the title
question, we are good when we live as God originally intended.