Is it possible for someone to be a good person but not believe in Jesus? What if they couldn’t care less whether there’s a God in Heaven? Maybe they don’t even believe in a Heaven or a Hell.
Can that person be a good person, or are they evil through and through? What does it take to be classified as good? How bad must someone be to rate being called evil?
Is the dividing line between good and evil simply a matter of faith? Something like faith equals good and no faith equals evil?
We probably all know someone, or have heard of someone, who epitomizes evil. However, I don’t think it’s possible to find someone we all can agree is evil. Or good, for that matter.
For the sake of discussion, I’ll use Adolf Hitler as our example of evil. How can he be judged as evil? Because of his evil actions during World War Two. His attempt to exterminate the Jewish people was evil. In my book, anyway.
However, there are people in the world who would argue with me; and tell me Hitler was good!
Why would they say such a thing? Because Hitler also did some good! He was a great community organizer, rallying the German Nation in patriotic unity. He was also good for the German economy, for awhile, at least.
So, I can’t use his actions to determine if he was good or evil.
There must be a better way to decide.
Most people agree that Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were good people. Mother Teresa is known for her ministry of compassion, while Mahatma Gandhi is known for his nonviolent leadership in India’s independence. Both were an inspiration to their countrymen, and the whole world.
But again, there are some who would disagree. Looking on the internet, I found a number of articles questioning both Mother Teresa’s and Gandhi’s integrity and character. It’s been said that the world’s second favorite mother wasn’t always ethical with her handling of the finances; millions and millions of dollars. Gandhi was a known racist, despising the black man his entire life.
I find it hard to believe like you. But I cannot say someone is good because they do good things.
What if we just made a rule, something like: whatever the majority believes is correct. If the majority believes someone or something is good, then it’s good. If evil, well, sorry but that’s the way it is.
So where do we go to find our majority? How many should be polled to create a correct assessment? Could the majority’s belief differ, if the polling data was gathered from different people groups, with different levels of income, and various age groups?
Is it safe to let society determine what is good or what is evil?
No. It is not.
Every human being is capable of doing good, or doing evil. Every one, without exception. So mankind really isn’t the one to determine good or evil.
Like it or not, there’s only one qualified to make the call. Believe it or not, there’s one who’s already made the call.
You who don’t agree; do you know someone better qualified? Or are you saying there’s no such thing as good or evil? No God and no devil?
But back to my original question: is it possible for someone to be a good person but not believe in Jesus?
The answer is…
A person may do tons of good things. They may find a cure for cancer, or broker peace in the Middle East. They could save the whales, the trees, and California’s budget problems; all good things.
But in order to BE good, a person’s innermost being must be good.
The standard, the benchmark for “good”, the only one who is good says:
“As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! Their throat is a yawning grave; they use their tongues to deceive (to mislead and to deal treacherously). The venom of asps is beneath their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction [as it dashes them to pieces] and misery mark their ways. And they have no experience of the way of peace [they know nothing about peace, for a peaceful way they do not even recognize]. There is no [reverential] fear of God before their eyes”. (Romans 3:10-18 AMP)
None good, no not one. Sin, or a trespass against God, a neighbor, or even one’s self, disqualifies anyone from being good. It’s not the way he made us, but it’s how we turned out after the evil one deceived Eve. When Adam willingly, knowingly, took the fruit from Eve’s hand and took a bite.
God didn’t create us bad, and it’s not how he wants us to end up.
“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:22 – 3:26 ESV)
God has done something about man’s bad condition.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:12-17 ESV)
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23 ESV)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)
By faith in Jesus’ substitutionary work on the cross, along with his subsequent burial and resurrection, God begins a change in the believer’s heart. The old leaves, the new comes.
The good one (Jesus) gave his life for the bad one (me), so the bad one (me) might become righteous in God’s sight.
He makes us good. His Spirit gives us the power to resist evil, and do good.
It all boils down to this: doing good things is great. It’s commendable and great for the world. Good deeds should be applauded and encouraged. But doing good doesn’t change a bad heart. It has to be made new. Born again. Recreated in the image of good.
God’s standard of “good“.
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