Summary: Last week I talked about how God is good but we are not. But we can be declared good through Christ. If we have been born again there are some things we need to be doing. We need to discern what is good and then we need to do what we know is good.
Recap: Last week I talked about how God is good but we are not. Most people think they are good but that's because they're using the wrong standard of measurement. Rick Warren writes, "Goodness can only be measured by God. God is the standard of goodness. If we compare ourselves to others we’re using the wrong measurement. If we determine goodness by what other people call good, we’re using the wrong standard. It’s like the little boy who came to his mother and said, “Mommy, I’m eight feet tall.” She said, “You are?” “Yes,” he insisted, “I am eight feet tall.” His mother asked what he measured himself with, and he pulled out a six inch ruler."
If we want to be declared good we need to trust in Jesus for salvation. Devotion by David Maxson, John 3:3, "Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Maybe you've heard that the average American not only believes in heaven, but also believes that he's going. What is that based on? One possibility is that most of us have a positive view of ourselves.
A 2006 Barna Group survey revealed that 97% of Americans say that they are "a good citizen," 94% describe themselves as "friendly", and 90% see themselves as "generous." Is this why so many feel secure in their eternal destiny? I'm sure there are other factors, but in my experience I've found that most people think that if you're a "good person" that you're going to heaven.
If you were to ask Nicodemus if he was "a good citizen," "friendly," and "generous," he would probably say he was. More than that, he was a religious ruler who was likely esteemed and admired by most people. But Jesus said he needed to be born again. He wasn't good enough. No doubt, this was a difficult pill for this religious man to swallow. Grace is a difficult thing for us to accept as well.
We're not saved because we're good, or because we come from a good family; we're saved because Jesus Christ has died for our sins. We're saved and have a hope of heaven because we were born again of water and the Spirit." So, if we have come to the conclusion that this is true, that God is good and I am not and that I need to be born again, if we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and get saved, then there are some things we need to start doing.
1) We need to discern what is good.
Job 34:3-4, "For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good." We have tasted that the Lord is good but that doesn't mean that what is good will be clear all the time. Sometimes things seem to be good but they're not.
'If it sounds too good to be true it probably is'. Sometimes people highlight or exaggerate the positive qualities of something without mentioning the not so positive things; thus giving you an incomplete picture. This can be seen in many different factions-purchases, ideas, schemes, investments, job offers, etc.
This can also happen when it comes to people and relationships. People misrepresent themselves and when you become vested in them they show their true colors and what seemed to be good didn't turn out that way in the end.
So what can help us to be able to discern what is good? One way is to not make quick decisions or go by appearances. Some people say you can always trust your instincts. That thinking can be a dangerous. We shouldn't ignore our instincts but we can make a mistake if we draw conclusions based on them without seeing if they are right or not.
We're told to follow our hearts. Another potential danger zone. We shouldn't go merely with our emotions. We can feel strongly about something today but feel differently tomorrow; after we've made a decision that to try and back away from could incur some serious fall out.
We should move forward in unbiased logic and reason; investigate, ask questions, do research; then if you're in doubt-get out. Satan is crafty; he knows how to make the bad look good. Jesus said in John 7:24, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” Jesus is warning against deciding a matter or a person based on how they look.
Paul told the Corinthians in 2nd Cor. 10:7 that they were only looking on the surface of things. You need to get beneath the surface to make a correct judgment and discern what is truly good. And in order to do that, we will need what only the Lord can provide. In Isaiah 11, we see some prophecy pertaining to the coming Messiah-Jesus.