“Just be good”

Being “good” can get you far in our world. Good behavior wins praise, commuted jail terms, and tangible rewards. Good deeds net accolades and often tax benefits. Good things come to those who wait, who do good for others, who spread good “karma.” And we celebrate “goodness” the most during this time of year.

But what if our “good” deeds are just a mask for the bad things we hide inside?

Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness' sake

Atheists paid to have these advertisements on Metro buses in Washington D.C.

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“For goodness’ sake”

Atheists tell us that we should be good for goodness sake, that people can be good without God. But they don’t tell us how they know or how they measure what is “good.”

The problem with the world’s understanding of “goodness” is that there’s no foundation, no solid definition. We all have our own ideas about what’s acceptable and what’s not or what deserves praise and what doesn’t. In fact, one person may condemn what another person sees as “for the greater good.”

The truth is that “being good” is not good enough. In fact, our own good deeds are nothing more than filthy rags we hope will cover our faults and failures.

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. (Isaiah 64:6)

But you don’t have to make your own way—you don’t have to hope that you’re doing enough.

Who is good?

A little over 2,000 years ago, something truly good happened—something that is like nothing else before or since. You may have heard the story before, but have you really listened?

Jesus came to earth because He knew that our own attempts at being good would never get us anywhere. God had given us laws to obey and we completely failed to keep them—we have sinned against a holy God. He saw us struggling—and He came to struggle right alongside us, to know what it’s like to be human. And the amazing part is that He lived a perfect life never sinning by violating any of God’s laws. He understood goodness because He is the living definition.

But He didn’t do that to rub it in or to make us feel bad. He lived a perfect life so that He could show us the way, could make us right with our Creator. God’s penalty for sin is death, but Christ has freed us from the bondage of death by dying on the Cross as a substitute for us. He took the guilt and showed us how empty “being good” is without Him.

No one is good—except God alone. (Luke 18:19)

Your own good deeds, they’ll never get you anywhere, never make you free of your sin debt. But Jesus Christ came to earth, died as a substitute, and rose to life to do something we couldn’t do ourselves: He gave us new life, new hope, new birth.

If you’ve never experienced this freedom, you can do so right where you are. Ask God to forgive your sins against Him in the past and believe that Christ came to take the penalty for your disobedience and show you what goodness is all about.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16–17)