Here, I refer to all people on the planet, regardless of where they are, who they are, and their socio-economic status. You may be shocked to hear that no one is good.
We may pretend that we are good because the wickedness in our hearts has not been made manifest, but under the right circumstances, our true nature will come out and most of the time, it is not something that we are proud of.
Just because you do things and you get away with not being caught does not mean that we are any better than those who were caught and punished.
You may be protesting that you are good and know good people. I am not going to argue with you because if you are using external judgments to say people are good, then you are right. But nobody can decipher what is in another person’s heart. This is where you will be seriously mistaken to think that you are good and other people are.
It is even possible to do good deeds, but those good deeds do not automatically qualify you to be a good person. Jesus gave a laundry list of the things that are found in the heart that make us not good.
If you are still insisting that you are good and know some very good people, I want you to take a close look at this exchange between Jesus Christ and a young rich ruler:
As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to him and fell to 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. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this, the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10: 17-23 (NIV)
Here is somebody who had kept all the laws and would have passed for a good man, yet when he met Jesus, it turned out that he still had some serious issues that he needed to deal with. Jesus stated categorically that only God is good.
Unless you are God, you cannot claim to be good.
God’s standard of being good is extremely high, but the purpose is not to condemn us but to point us to His goodness that is available to all of us through His son Jesus Christ.
To show you how high and impossible God’s standard is, I want you to consider the following Jesus said regarding murder and adultery:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV)
Jesus said if you are angry with your brother or sister, you are going to be brought to judgment, just like somebody who murdered a brother or a sister. Do you remember that before Cain murdered his brother Abel, he was angry? How many good people do you know who are also angry people? What about you? Are you an angry person?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV)
If you are still arguing that people are naturally good and you can tell by observing them externally, here is another verse that challenges that idea. Adultery is not only when you actually do it, but when you lust in your heart based on what you see or think. Can you also predict or decipher if somebody is lusting in their heart?
Lastly, you should consider the following verse that is talking about the state of all mankind. The verse clearly states:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23-27 (NKJV)
All here includes you and me. Sin simply means missing the mark. Adam and Eve were the first people to miss the mark when they disobeyed God and chose to listen to the lies of the devil. Through them, all of us became sinners because we are directly descended from them. As it is written in the following verse, anybody born on this earth had been “contaminated” by Adam and Eve’s sin.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience, many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 (NKJV)
We are Adam’s descendants and have been “contaminated” by his sin. Therefore, we are not inherently good and are capable of producing good works that meet God’s standard.
The good news is that through the obedience of Jesus Christ, He has paved the way for everybody who wills to receive God’s righteousness. This implies that we can actually become good after the life of God gets into us. It is only after we have been reconciled and reconnected to God that we can start producing good works that meet God’s standard of what is truly good.
Facts do not lie, and the truth will always prevail. Some people have completely rejected the notion of sin and God’s righteous standard, and that humans, through their own efforts alone, can become good. Well, you need to turn on the news, go to prison, and see for yourself firsthand evidence of the havoc that sin is causing on our society.
Refusing that sin does not exist and wishing it to go away has not helped at all. People, by default, are not good, and out of them are deeds that are harmful to other people. The manifestation of racism is a direct result of sin. In other words, racism is a symptom of sin that plagues all mankind.
You may be wondering why I am introducing the issue of sin and emphasizing that nobody is good except God.
The reason is that as much as we want to restrict racism to something that is predominant between blacks and whites, we cannot because racism is universal and every human is capable of discriminating against other people. This assertion is not trivializing the seriousness of this problem, but it is highlighting how serious and universal this problem actually is.
There is no society on earth that you will not find the manifestation of these issues of the heart: “evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimo