No one does good
Romans 3:10-18 –
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The biggest problem with saying that we, as followers of Jesus, are to be characterized by goodness is that the Bible clearly states that, on our own, no one does what is good. Just a few verses later, Paul will note that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Every single person fails to live up to God’s standard of perfect right living. We call this depravity. Everyone turns away from God and lives how they want to live. This does not have to be taught; it is inherently part of every single person: our sin nature. This sin condemns us before a holy, perfect God who cannot allow sin to go unpunished. But God does not leave us there unable to save ourselves and no hope of ever being good enough. True, we can never earn salvation or be good enough. But God, in His great love, sent Jesus Christ to make a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and be declared righteous in God’s eyes. Salvation is based on Jesus who the Bible says had no sin (1 John 3:5). He was truly good, truly perfect and gave His life for us, in our place, so that we could be truly forgiven. The Bible says that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we will be saved (Rom. 10:9). Only Jesus was “good enough” to earn heaven, and He declares us righteous (or “good enough”) if we put our faith and trust in Him to save us.
“There is none who does good” is a statement of condemnation for all mankind. Left to ourselves, we are helpless to do good enough, to live a perfectly righteous life. However, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a second, I know some good people.” Or perhaps you have heard someone say that they hope they will be “good enough to get into heaven.” The truth is that people are not all as bad as they can possibly be. Even you know that for yourself, you do some things right! You are not morally incapable of doing anything right or kind or good. People can be thoughtful, give generous gifts, can for the disadvantaged, and more even if they do not believe in God. The point is not that every single person you meet is pure evil and incapable of caring for anyone. Rather, the point is that every person is incapable of doing enough good things to save themselves. No one is naturally inclined to do what is good or to seek after God. The Bible says that even one sin is enough to condemn us, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know that even on our best days we get grumpy, we complain, we ignore the feelings of others, we demand selfishly, and so on. So, even the best person, compared to a perfect standard, falls hopelessly short of what would be required to save yourself.
Doing good to others
Galatians 6:10 - So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
As Christians, we are to be known for our goodness toward others and the good works that we do. Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:16 to let our light shine before others so that they will see our good deeds and glorify God. We are only able to do good through the power of God, the Holy Spirit. He is the one who enables us to do good, and when we do good to others, we put on a display of God’s work in us. This should literally be to the point where, the good deeds we do are so counter-cultural that others recognize clearly that this could only be from some outside influence, that is, God, because this person would not normally act this way.
Notice that there is a special emphasis by Paul here toward doing good to fellow Christians. This is so important because, sadly, lots of churches have been characterized by their fighting with each other. This is not how the church is supposed to operate! More than any other place, the church should reflect the goodness and love of God toward others, but especially between those who claim to be followers of Jesus. The effect of this is incredible if it is done well! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a group where everyone is truly caring for each other and actively seeking to do good to each other?
Doing good to others doesn’t just happen. We need the help of the Holy Spirit and we need to actively seek to make this happen. It can start today with little things: how we treat others, how we respond when someone is mean, reaching out to others, going out of your way to help, etc. Through this, we show others how good Jesus is. We show them that there is something to life with Jesus that they don’t experience anywhere else, that Jesus is better than anything. No matter our circumstances, if we claim to be a follower of Jesus, we are called to, helped to, and able to do something good for someone else, to the glory of God.