The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Are you a good person?

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Most of us like to think that we are good people.  After all, there are so many other people who are much worse than us.  We think we know what is right.  We often want to do what is right, but it is hard to do the right thing.  Why do we do things that we know are wrong?  And why do we feel bad inside when we do things that we know are wrong?  How do we measure goodness?  And how good is good enough?

The Lord God, who made you and takes care of you, has told us what is right and wrong.  One day we will all have to face Him.  He will judge everything that we have done, everything that we have said, and even everything that we have thought.  Jesus said, “Be ready, for the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew’s gospel, chapter 24, verse 44).  How can you be ready?  Will you be good enough?

stone_10commandments

Take a moment to read God’s Ten Commandments:

1.  You shall have no other gods before Me.

2.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;  you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.  For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

3.  You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

4.  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

5.  Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

6.  You shall not murder.

7.  You shall not commit adultery.

8.  You shall not steal.

9.  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

10.  You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.

How do you compare to this standard?  You might think you can make fun of the standard: “I’ve never coveted anybody’s ox or donkey!”  You might think it easy to point to the things that you haven’t done: “I’ve never murdered anyone”.  But Jesus taught that the Ten Commandments go much deeper than we imagine.  They are as much about our thoughts, our hearts, our attitudes, as they are about what we physically do (if you have a Bible, you can find this in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, verses 17-30).  Jesus said, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5.22) and “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5.28).

No wonder the Bible teaches that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (the letter to the Romans, chapter 3, verse 10).  We have all broken the Ten Commandments: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23).  Is any one of us good enough for God?  No!

But that is not the end of the story.  Why did God write these Ten Commandments if none of us can keep them?  The Bible answers this question.  God says that the Ten Commandments – God’s holy law – is our “tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (the letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 24).

How does Jesus Christ fit in, and what does it mean to be justified by faith?

Jesus fits in because “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4).  Jesus Christ, being both God and man, obeyed the law of God perfectly.  He lived according to the law, and is the only man who never broke one of God’s Ten Commandments in his thoughts, words, or deeds.  Read the accounts of His life in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and you cannot find one instance when He sinned: He was never less than perfect in all that He thought, said and did.  But what does that have to do with us?

The Bible teaches that we all have a sinful nature.  After all, nobody needs to be taught how to do wrong things – it is the way we are, and we act in accordance with it.  But the Bible promises that “through one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5.19).  That verse is talking about Jesus, and means that somehow sinners like us can benefit from the perfect and sinless life that Jesus lived.

If we are to face God in judgment and not be damned for our sins – condemned for all the things that break God’s law – then we need the holiness and perfection of Jesus.  This is what it means to be justified: for God to declare us to be right in his sight.  For that we need a perfect righteousness.  How do we get this righteousness?  Through faith in Jesus Christ, his righteousness is put to our account.  Then, “justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5.1).  Peace with God!  If your conscience tells you that you have done things wrong, and must one day face God, what would you not give to know peace with God?

Don’t try and have peace with God by trying to be better, by trying to keep God’s Ten Commandments better.  We cannot keep God’s law: “No one is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3.11).  That sends us to Jesus Christ for the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”  God’s answer is this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”  This salvation is “by grace . . . through faith” (Ephesians 2.8).  “By grace”: it is the gift of God, and not something that we can earn or deserve.  “Through faith”: repenting of our sins, and trusting completely and only in Jesus Christ.  He lived the life that we should have lived, but could not.  He died the death that we deserved, being punished by God for the sins of His people.

cross

Examine your life, examine your heart.  Consider the standard of God’s Ten Commandments, and compare yourself to it.  Listen to your conscience.  Then repent of your sin, and ask God to save you through Jesus Christ.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 5 November 2009 at 11:37

One Response

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  1. Serendipitous Jeremy, I’m preaching on that very theme this evening at our final evangelistic meeting this week using Christ’s conversation with the ruler (in Luke 18) as my text.

    It was good to read the way you expressed these truths.

    Paul

    Paul

    Thursday 5 November 2009 at 13:29


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