Thursday, March 18, 2010

"I'm Basically a Good Person"

How do you deal with someone who says, "I'm Basically a Good Person"? Here's one approach.

Try this calculation with them. If you sinned only ten times a day from your tenth birthday to your sixtieth--and keep in mind we're not just talking about rape, pillage, and murder, but the full range of human moral failing, including heart attitudes and motives--only, ten sins a day, what would your rap sheet look like? You would have amassed 182,500 infractions of the law. What judge in his right mind would turn you loose with a record like that?

Whenever you're tempted to trust in your own ability, take a good look at the standard, God's Law, then look at your own score card. To use Paul's words, the law has each of us "shut up under sin" (Gal. 3:22), it's closed our mouths, and we all have become accountable to God (Romans 3:19). Saved by our own goodness? The Law gives us no hope.

Hat tip: Stand to Reason Blog by Gregory Koukl on 3/18/10

29 comments:

ExPatMatt said...

Trish,

I would imagine that anyone who would claim to be 'basically a good person' isn't of the opinion that "heart attitudes and motives" are of particular importance.

In, fact, they probably don't recognize the concept of 'sin' as holding any weight (at least not in the same way that you do); so arbitrarily dishing out a random, large number and saying that's how many 'sins' they've committed probably isn't going to convince them of anything.

Then, of course, you've got the flip-side. Let's say you did/thought ten 'good' things per day since your tenth birthday.... why do these carry no merit whatsoever in your little test? Why the obsession with failure?

"What judge in his right mind would turn you loose with a record like that?"

What judge in his right mind would convict someone for 'crimes' with no victims? Besides, judges do consider the 'good' behaviour of defendants when sentencing, so your analogy really is all over the place here.

"Whenever you're tempted to trust in your own ability, take a good look at the standard, God's Law, then look at your own score card."

As always, the basic reasoning goes like this:

Don't believe in God? Well just look at how you don't measure up to His standards! Do you believe in Him now?

I can see how this might be effective on a lukewarm Christian, but has this ever really proven to be effective with non-believers?

Cheers,

Azou said...

You are judging "goodness" by the standards of a being that you cannot show evidence for existing. It's a moot point how "good" I am until you can show me that said being exists and I need to care about his or her standards of morality.

And let me go ahead and say that the whole "creation proves a creator" is not enough evidence of a creator. It's not evidence of a SPECIFIC creator either, so I advise against playing that card.

BathTub said...

How do you stack up against God.

Did you create Satan and all the demons?
Did you curse every living thing to death as punishment for Eve eating some fruit?
Did you drown the entire world except for the contents of a boat in and effort to restart over, when you knew it would fail?
Did you manipulate Rulers so that their actions would allow you to kill more and show your Might?
Did you order and allow Genocidal slaughters?
Do you Infinitely punish people for 'crimes' you cursed them with?

No?

Then you are probably a good person, at least significantly better than the God of the bible.

Whateverman said...

.. and if the person doesn't believe "sin" is real? What then?

photosynthesis said...

Well, It seems more like God has built a standard designed to make him necessary. A standard so impossible that it makes futile any try to improve yourself. What for? You will always fall short. It is rather a way towards extortion. Either you believe in me, or you go to Hell. Why if I improve? No way. What if I help humanity progress morally and physically? No way. What if ... No way.

Awful. Good thing that Gods are mere fantasies.

G.E.

stranger.strange.land said...

Well, It seems more like God has built a standard designed to make him necessary. A standard so impossible that it makes futile any try to improve yourself. What for? You will always fall short. It is rather a way towards extortion. Either you believe in me, or you go to Hell. Why if I improve? No way. What if I help humanity progress morally and physically? No way. What if ... No way....

No, God was always necessary because his very being is necessary.

His standard, our failure to meet the standard and the awful consequences of that failure, makes the Good News of Jesus'suffering and death on the cross, burial and resurrection for sinners (and failures) such GREAT NEWS.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Whateverman said...
.. and if the person doesn't believe "sin" is real? What then?

Probably something of the same order as the person who doesn't believe that rattlesnakes are poisonous.

Craig

Blobfish said...

Yes, I'm a Good Person AND I don't believe in God.

You can prove rattlesnakes are poisonous, but ya can't prove your God... I don't care if you handle snakes in church n' haven't been bitten, sorry Craig.

stranger.strange.land said...

Hey BlobFish.

Are we looking at two different posts here? Who is trying to prove God?

The poison from the rattlesnake is apparent by the reaction of the one bitten.

Sin becomes known by the reaction in the conscience of the person who is made aware of his offense.

That is the subject of this post, isn't it?

WEM had asked, ".. and if the person doesn't believe "sin" is real? What then?"

That is the answer. A guilty conscience. That's the "what then." You can verbally deny to other men that you are aware of any guilt on your part, but you know it in your conscience.

The Good News is for those who are guilty law-breakers, and know it. For those others who have devised some way to avoid acknowledging the reality of that, they have only their own merits (or lack thereof) to plead on the Last Day.

Happy Spring.

Craig

Abe said...

Ahhh to sin, a Biblical term, against God's Laws.
Adam and Eve, the first sin that you carry...washed away with Baptism.
The tragic suffering of His Only Begotten Son... for your sins, forgotten if you accept Him.

Yes, then if you do not believe in the Christian God then sin and redemption have no meaning.

Man can be moral (have conscience) without religion, but if some need it to stay on the 'straight and narrow' and a hope for an endless life after aside Jesus, friends and family, wonderful.
There in Heaven for Eternity, will you still contain consciousness and conscience, can you still sin?

BathTub said...

So presumably Psychopaths are without sin, as God didn't give them a conscience.

Whateverman said...

I asked trish the following: ...
.. and if the person doesn't believe "sin" is real? What then?


SISL responded to me with this: Probably something of the same order as the person who doesn't believe that rattlesnakes are poisonous.

Let me see if I understand this properly: when Trish suggests that reaching the lost involves convincing them of the peril sin puts them in, I asked 9roughly) "What if the person doesn't believe in sin?". And your response, Craig, is "Well, the person's gonna die".

At the core of this discussion is the need to scare people into believing what you do. Am I correct about this?

Azou said...

Stranger, I assert that my guilty conscience is the result of breaking Thor's Law. You deny it verbally to other men, but you know your guilt. And more importantly, so does Thor.

See why that reasoning doesn't fly? Just as I cannot show evidence for a lack of guilty feelings, you have no evidence to show that the origins of guilty feelings are your deity. I can just as easily substitute another being and claim you are denying him or her.

stranger.strange.land said...

@BathTub

I think about people like that sometimes and wonder. I don't have an answer for you.

@WEM

...At the core of this discussion is the need to scare people into believing what you do. Am I correct about this?

I wouldn't put it that way, Jon.

@Azou

Does the alternate example that you offered fit with the body of theology related to said Thor?

Craig

Azou said...

It does! All in this book I and others wrote but inspired by his divine hand.

What? Do I need two thousand years to pass to get some legitimacy?

OnlyJesusSaves.com said...

Just Sunday my son and I spoke with a young lady who claimed Christianity but adamantly insisted she was a good person.
I just asked her "Good enough to go to Heaven?"
She got the message...

bassicallymike said...

Matt wants us to use pragmatic methods. Sorry Matt, Paul, in the letter to the Romans, used the first three chapters to establish mans sinful state and utter depravity before moving on to justification by faith. Why would you repent of something you don’t feel guilty about? As Jesus said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". You don’t seem to be a sinner Matt, at least in your own eyes. That’s what really counts, right?

Azou and Blobfish seem to want us to prove to them what God has said is already "clearly perceived". Sorry guys, we don't have to prove it, just call you to repentance and faith in what you inherently know to be true, but willingly suppress because of your unrighteousness. The problem is not lack of evidence, but lack of obedience on your part.

BathTub, while not seeming to understand the first tenant of God's holiness, wants to judge God based on his limited understanding. As God said to Job, "“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" Shake your fist in the face of God, to your own peril. You seem to ascribe to “There is no God, I hate Him".

WEM, it is not the goal to scare anyone. We do hope you flee from the wrath to come, based on a work of grace on your dead heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

Azou....What? Throw in some giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, healing the lame (no therapy needed), casting out demons, reading men’s thoughts(specifically), walking on water, feeding 5,000 men+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish and you might get some immediate legitimacy! LOL Keep in mind, of the people who witnessed these things first hand, most was martyred for their faith. In what? Myths. Right!

BathTub said...

Who is shaking a fist?

The Entire point was how do you measure a 'good person' and the response 'oh here is God's standard for Good'.

No one seems to be denying the actions I mentioned (and you know that's just brushing the surface, ie Slavery, Human Sacrifice etc).
If you attached pretty much any one of those actions to a Person, you would be struggling to call that person Good.

Luke7_37.48 said...

Trish,

I used to use that word picture as well, but I don't any more.

Even if they have only sinned once, they deserve eternal punishment because of the One they have sinned against.

Racking up someone's sins may not be a good way to get across their sinfulness or God's holiness. They may still think in their heads that they still haven't been like Hitler or someone really bad in their minds, and they will perhaps think you're judging them. Most people admit they are sinners and most will still think they deserve heaven. But most just don't want God there when they get there.

God is just and thrice holy. God must punish sinners. If he doesn't punish them, He is not really who He says He is. But God is also love. Now, how can a just, holy, God love sinners? This is impossible with men, but with God, all things are possible. This is why Jesus came to earth (to justify wicked men).

Get people to see Christ and who He says He is. This is the gospel - to declare that Jesus is born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, died on a cross, poured out His life's blood, displayed publicly by God whose wrath was put on Jesus, He paid the penalty for sins of those elect, rose again on the 3rd day, and is seated in the heavenlies and will come again to judge the unjust. Only Jesus has life to give away and life to give. Other sacrifices (works) will not pay the payment. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. Man's responsibility is that they repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone. God will cleanse them, give them a new heart with new desires, and the new Christian will live for Christ for the rest of his life.

ExPatMatt said...

Mike,

"Matt wants us to use pragmatic methods."

Something wrong with pragmatism?

"You don’t seem to be a sinner Matt, at least in your own eyes. That’s what really counts, right?"

If you define 'sinner' as being someone who has sinned against God, then no, I don't consider myself to be a sinner...because I don't believe there's a God to sin against. I thought I made that fairly clear?

If I thought there was a God (and it was the God of the Bible) then I most certainly would consider myself a sinner - by definition - and would be wanting to do something about it. However, I don't, so I don't, so I don't.

Regards,

Azou said...

My point is that you can conjure up ANY religion and have it be equally valid as yours. You can't provide any evidence beyond an old text written many centuries ago. Why can't another religion make similar claims?

If you want to compare miracles, I can just as easily claim that Thor did twice as much as Jesus. All I need is some text without ANY other sources and it'll be on par with the evidence for Christ.

So why do you deny Thor? Or any other religious belief? Now, compare it to why you believe in yours.

bassicallymike said...

BathTub....."Your thoughts of God are too human.", as Luther once wrote to Erasmus. I need not make an apology for the wrath of God, nor will it cause me an embarrassment. The wrath of God is not a blotch on the divine character, as you seem to assert, but is in keeping with His holiness, an act of sovereignty.

Again, as God said to Job, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?"

I sincerely hope God may perhaps grant you repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

Matt...."Something wrong with pragmatism?"

When it come to proclaiming the Gospel, yes!

BathTub said...

bassicallymike, then your just admitting to everyone how relative and flexible Christian morality is.

Blobfish said...

Mike,
Who are you to judge others?
Who are you to judge for your God?
Inherently know to be true? I learn what is true and meaningful from evidence. If you grew up in India and your parents were Hindu, that would be your inherent truth?
I can live and lead a good moral life, spread more good will by my actions without a religion, a promise of immortality or eternal punishment.
Cheers.

ExPatMatt said...

I asked mike;

"Something wrong with pragmatism?"

He replied;
"When it come to proclaiming the Gospel, yes!"

"Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected."

Interesting.

bassicallymike said...

Azou said..."All I need is some text without ANY other sources and it'll be on par with the evidence for Christ."

I'm gonna need some martyrs also. Lots a martyrs.


BathTub....No, I'm not admitting to everyone how relative and flexible Christian morality is. I'm making a case for how little regard you apparently have for or capacity to understand God's attributes.


Matt....making a true disciple is not as easy as counting people in the pew. God has ordained the means. We are not free to use other means that appear to work. Spiritual success will only be proven true at the final judgement.

Blobfish.....I was just letting you know what the Bible says about your self admitted unbelief. If you don't want to hear it, this may not be the place to hang out. As christians, that is one of our duties, ambassadors for Christ.

2 Cor. 5:18-21
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Azou said...

So dying for your religion is evidence too?

You may want to keep quiet about that.

bassicallymike said...

Azou....yes I realized my blunder only too late. I should have asked for fulfilled prophecies instead of martyrs. Infinitely more unique.

Twin-Daddy said...

I just read 10 blogs the other day detailing the fulfilled prophecies of Islam and why that proves Islam is real...

Fulfilled prophecy is by no means a proof of anything, especially when said prophecies are fulfilled later in the same book..

or you may claim that they're fulfilled in the real world, but then you will fallback on vague scriptures to prove your point.

Christianity is on the losing end of a reality check..