In-a-Word: God Defines Good.

*This blog is a continuation of the prior blog.

Good hearts are repentant hearts.

“For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God” (John 3:20-21).

A good and honest heart admits its bad condition. By repenting, God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our hearts, producing God’s works in us. Therefore, God gets all glory for any “good” that comes from our lives.

For us to define “good” is bad.

If we do not understand that our Lord invades our wicked hearts and produces good within us, then we get to define good - and that is bad! Mankind defining good is bad because we use our own judgment, moral code and opinions to inform our definition. This results in us earning our own moral status, even salvation. It then leads us to condemning those who fail to meet our version of good. Ultimately, to define good is bad because this is the birthplace of religion.

God defines good.

“Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:

Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”

“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).

Behind this young man’s request for knowing more about being good, he is asking:

‘Jesus, sign off and confirm my definition of good.’'

‘Jesus, acknowledge the good I have performed.’

For the young man, his possessions served as his personal reward for his goodness. Perhaps he saw the poor as undeserving of his resources, which means he saw himself as deserving - my personal observation. Either way, in response to the young man’s request, Jesus makes it crystal clear that there is only One who has a firm grip on the meaning of “good.”

Good defines bad.

“Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,”she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

13 So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself. Your testimony is not valid.”

14 “Even if I testify about Myself,” Jesus replied, “My testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I’m going. But you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by human standards.I judge no one. 16 And if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me judge together” (John 8:3-16).

To use this woman, who is a sinner, as a pawn to prove their own self-righteousness simply manifests their own guilt. For us to define good is bad because sin-stained hearts always look to define others as bad, so that we can define ourselves as good. Jesus makes it clear that to weaponize the law against the guilty calls down condemnation on the one who is passing judgment. He goes on to say that his judgments are right and true because His judgments are in alignment with the only One who is good, the Lord, who ‘judges justly.’