Summary: The Bible tells us that we should strive for goodness in our lives... but Jesus said no one was good except God. How can we be asked to do something that only God can accomplish?
Open with audience reciting the following verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...” Galatians 5:22-23a
OPEN: A preacher once spoke of the fact that some of the people in his congregation had gotten in the habit of shaking his hand after the sermon and then telling him “Now be good!”
He got to thinking about that… and one day he began responding to “Now be good!” by saying “Hey, in my profession - it’s hard to be anything else.”
Now think about that, it’s true isn’t it? I’m a preacher… you expect me to be good!
You might even say “I’m paid to be good.”
But now, by contrast, you folks are (pause…) good for nothing.
APPLY: God has always wanted His people to be “Good”. He places such a high priority on it that he repeatedly requests and commands that His people do just that.
For example, in Galatians 6:9 to God encourages us to "… not become weary in DOING GOOD, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
In his third letter, John tells us "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but WHAT IS GOOD. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God." 3 John 11
And Romans 2 even says: “God will give to each person according to what he has done… for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger… but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good…” Romans 2:6, 8 & 10
But, as I was preparing for the sermon this morning, I encountered an intriguing story in the book of Matthew:
“… a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
Jesus replied “Why do you ask me about what is good?. There is only One who is good…” Matthew 19:16-17a
I. (pause…) Well… now I’m confused
In one place I’m told that God wants me to be good… but then, in Matthew, Jesus says there is only One who is good… that’s God.
In fact, Romans 3:10 tells us "There is no one righteous, not even one”
No one is INHERENTLY good…
There is no one is BASICALLY righteous
ILLUS: In Japan, there was a group of tourists wanted their picture taken and observing another tourist carrying what looked like a camera case, they asked him if they would take their picture.
Somewhat taken back, the other man quickly recovered and said, "But I’ve already taken your picture," and removing a Bible from the case he read from it:
"Romans 3:23 says ‘… all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’"
But, if that’s true… if we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If it is true that none of us are inherently good or righteous… why do many people think of themselves as basically good?
ILLUS: How many of you have had your picture taken down at the license branch?
How many of you don’t like the picture that was taken????? (practically everyone raised their hand)
It is almost a universal complaint that those photographs don’t do us justice!!!
And, you know what bothers us about those pictures… they’re not glamour shots. They’re not taken by experts who know how to pose us to our best advantage.
The problem isn’t IN the picture… it’s IN us.
One well known photographer said: “There are very few beautiful women OR handsome men in the world. It takes careful lighting and posing to make most people appear attractive. Many do not know they have a crooked nose, one small eye, a lopsided jaw, or some other flaw.
Unfortunately, when they look into a mirror, they are usually engaging in some type of activity like shaving or combing their hair.
This is deceiving, for when a person is in motion physical defects are not noticeable.
But when he is still - as in a photograph - his undesirable features become obvious.”
What the Bible teaches us is… we have a flaw in our souls. And when we are “still”… when we sit down long enough to examine our lives and meditate on the things we’ve said or done or said over the past week… we would see that flaw for ourselves. Because there are things we’ve thought, said and done that – if known to those around us – would make us slink away in shame. The flaws would be apparent. Because we all have a defect that would make us less appealing to God = it’s called SIN!
Now… the Bible ISN’T saying we can’t do good things.