My husband and I have been married for 25 years in November. He was a good man from the very first day I met him. He still is! I believe he has gotten better with age.
Christopher has a tremendous amount of personal moral excellence. He understands good from evil and he always tries to do what is right–what is best–to be above and beyond reproach. Maybe part of the reason that attracted me to him was that I hoped I could be like him—I wanted to be “good.”
(That and the fact he was really handsome, athletic, smart and taught me to qualify on an M-16.)
As we dated, and later on after we were married, I waited to see if some of Christopher’s goodness would rub off on me. I hoped I would feel closer to God. I hoped he could save me from myself, from my past, from my sin.
Sometimes I would ask Chris, “Am I going to heaven?” And at that time his reply was always, “You’re a good person, Leigh. Good people go to heaven.”
I loved him for lying to me—he didn’t even know he was lying to me then. But in a sense, I also hated him for it, because even then, before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I knew this wasn’t true.
Good people do not go to heaven. Only saved people go to heaven.
There is a the story of Jesus talking to the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10: 17-22:
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.”
Immediately out of the gate, Jesus makes it clear: No one is good except God alone. No one.
Slap that one out of the air…
And Jesus goes on to tell the young man he has to keep the commandments, to which the man replies he has done this all his life.
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he declares. Was he just a tiny bit smug as he proclaims his goodness to the Messiah? It’s like he says, “Duh, Jesus. How do you think I got so rich and powerful? Aren’t you impressed by all my moral excellence? Do I get my gold star now?”
Jesus is not impressed. But Scripture says that He looks at him and loves the man.
And then tells him he lacks ONE THING.
There’s the second slap down…
Darn, that ONE THING! Because it was a BIG THING that permeated this man’s entire life. And the man knew it. He went away sad.
What’s your ONE THING?
This is what I know about being good: We’re not.
In the past, have we tried to muster a veneer of “being good?” But it’s just that—a thin outer coating that breaks down quickly when temptation or challenge comes marching on the horizon. Most of us don’t have ONE THING as a sin area. We have MANY THINGS.
When we are truly faced with the Goodness, Greatness and Power of Jesus, He sees right through that outer veneer to the cheap moral undergirding that is our sin. We all have it, every single one of us! And like another Bible character, Peter, it should make us fall to the bottom of our stinky boats as we are cut to the heart by Person, the Perfection and the Presence of Christ.
Now, He knows that we are sinners. (Romans 3:23)
He knows we are condemned to hell, for the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) I certainly knew this was my fate. Why would I have kept asking Christopher about it otherwise?
He knows there is no good thing that resides in us outside of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:18)
He knows it is only by faith that we are saved, and that no good work would ever be good enough for us to have right-standing before a holy God or to overcome our sin, the penalty of which is death and eternal separation from God and all that is good. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23)
The most good and godly man who ever lived–His Name is Jesus Christ–knew all this about us. And yet, He loved us enough to suffer and be tortured and crucified. He rose again on that third day to give us victory. (Acts 10:40, 1 Corinthians 15:55)
When we take Communion, we remember all the love that poured forth from the Messiah at Calvary. At our church, the Scripture we have each week says we are to examine ourselves before partaking of the bread and the wine–remember His Body that was broken and His Blood that was spilled for us. (1 Corinthians 11:28)
Sweet Servants of the Most High God, ask yourself: What is my ONE THING?
Pray and ask God what it is if you don’t know already. Know that Jesus looks at you and loves you, just like he did the Rich Young Ruler. And then, my Friend, I beseech you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, confess it to God, repent and turn your back on your sin. Receive forgiveness that is yours because of the Cross and Resurrection and His absolute love for you!
And then go forth and serve His Kingdom…bring people into the throne room today, create space for consideration, reconciliation, prayer, healing and worship wherever you are.
What is your ONE THING? Release it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let it go. Turn away from it. Find Freedom in Christ today!