The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Me, me, me...
“I’m a good person” is the most pernicious lie ever sown by Satan.
How many times have you been conversing with an unbeliever about their need to embrace Christ by faith when all of a sudden they reply by saying, “But I’m a good person” or “I’ve never killed anyone”?
“I’m a good person” is the gospel of me, myself and I; the gospel of ego; and the gospel of self-righteousness because it is based upon the supposed goodness of the non-believer.
This false gospel, however, has nothing new about it. Way back in Romans 10:3 Paul explained that the Jews rejected the gospel of Christ for exactly the same reason,
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God”.
In this verse, there are two types of righteousness (or good works) mentioned, “God’s righteousness” and “their own righteousness”.
First of all, let’s start with the righteousness of God. According to Romans, this divine righteousness has a name: Jesus Christ. By means of Christ’s active obedience to the Law of God, Jesus is the only righteous man ever to live.
And His perfect righteousness is now imputed, that is, transferred, to the account of all those who believe in Him. It’s for this reason that those who have faith in Christ are justified before God.
Secondly, there is the matter of “their own righteousness”. In other words, it is the false gospel of self-righteousness. The Jews boasted in keeping the Law.
But no one can be justified before God by their own works. Whosever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one little point, “is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
And Paul shows us that outside of Jesus Christ, nobody has ever kept the whole law of God. All, therefore, are guilty.
Where the Jews responded to the gospel of Christ crucified by saying, “But I have kept the law”, twenty-first century Gentiles have the same mentality when they retort, “But I’m a good person”.
Ironically, our unbelieving friends and neighbours use this false argument to comfort their hearts when confronted by the gospel and the warning of coming judgment without realizing that it is precisely their perverted gospel of self-righteousness which sends them to hell.
In a chat with a Christian, the logic of the unbeliever goes something like this:
“Alright, this Christian fellow has told me that I must receive Christ to be saved from the wrath of God. But, why on earth would God be angry at me? Hasn’t He seen all the good things I’ve done to help others? Doesn’t He know I help charitable causes?
He knows that deep down I really am a good person. Maybe I’m not as good as some others; but I could certainly be a whole lot worse. I don’t need to waste more time listening to this pesky Christian. I’m a good person. I’ve never killed anyone. If there’s something after this life, I’m sure going to heaven with the good folk”.
Thus unbelievers deceive themselves by taking refuge in a false gospel fabricated in the depths of their own depraved and unstable hearts. It is precisely for believing that they are good and deserving of heaven that they will perish eternally.
Instead of submitting to the righteousness of God, the ungodly do away with Jesus Christ, establishing their own righteousness (which is, in reality, an anti-righteousness).
Rather than justifying sinners before God, the gospel of self-righteousness does exactly the opposite. It only serves to condemn them and to harden their hearts more and more against the light of the gospel of Christ. Oh, how astute and subtle is Satan!
He has his followers completely blinded! As a corrupt doctor, he administers deadly medicine under a false promise of health and well-being.
There is no unbeliever in this world who believes him/ herself to be an evil person. If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, I encourage you to ask the first person you come across in the street today, “Are you evil?” You’ll soon see how they respond. Everyone thinks way too highly of themselves.
As far as the Lord Christ was concerned, it is impossible to save those who believe themselves to be good. As He pointed out in Matthew 9:12, “They that be whole (good people) need not a physician, but they that are sick (bad, evil, wicked people)”.
The only people under the heavens that believe themselves to be corrupt are the regenerate, the saved, the members of God’s family, those who have seen their desperate and deplorable state before the God of all holiness.
That is why they cried out to God for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ.
The inheritors of heaven know that they are not good; whereas unbelievers –the inheritors of eternal condemnation- are entirely convinced of their own fictitious goodness.
So, to draw this article to a close today, dear reader, let me finish by asking you a question:
Are you a good person?