Are there no good people? (Part 2)

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Did Jesus think there were good people? In Mark 10:18 someone calls Jesus good teacher, to which he responds “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Jesus’ trick here is for them to reflect on their words, not the denial of his godly status, if anything he’s affirming it as we know Jesus claims to be God, proves it in his actions and has just defined himself as the perfect moral good!). So are there outwardly good non-christians? Apart from the Holy spirit, no one is good. But Christians sin! Sure we do! But we are being changed in the direction of what Jesus describes as a “Good” (we won’t see this for a while). 

So Jesus is clear, no one is good apart from God. Christians need the Holy spirit indwelt within them to do good. 

Why do bad people do good things?

Yes, that subtitle is correct. Clay Jones says of this here:

““Why do gangbangers stop at red lights?” I mean, it’s not like they’re thinking, I don’t care for any other law, but I do respect red light laws. So why do gangbangers stop at red lights? A student once asked meekly, “Because they don’t want to get a ticket?” Yes, of course, that might be part of it. But isn’t there a bigger reason, a more compelling one? Isn’t the real reason gangbangers stop at red lights because they don’t want to be hit by an 18-wheeler and turned into red asphalt? Sure it is. In other words, the reason is self-interest. They don’t stop out of moral goodness”.

Clay Jones, Why does god Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions

Ok, what about normal people? Well imagine two people, married to their partners, both work in the same workplace (their partners don’t work there obviously). They flirt from time to time, fantasise about each other but never act on it. Is it because they’re loyal? No. Like the gangbanger, they weigh up the risks. Coming home with an STD, getting her pregnant, it becomes public knowledge and affects their job and family, reputation or all the above? 

They arn’t showing restraint out of moral goodness. When people do go ahead in these scenarios confidently, it’s usually because they’ve covered all the loopholes and convinced they have a working system. We may think those who restrict their adultery to just their minds are good, but this isn’t the case, it can easily be a gateway. Evil as such is ultimately a matter of the heart (Many Christians who pray ask God to forgive them in thought, word and deed).

So we live in a generation of murdering, adulterous, selfish people to say the least. 

Romans 3:23 states clearly that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Examples of humans being good

“Okay, but what about grandma? Sure she isn’t a Christian, but she volunteers at the community center and she makes chocolate chip cookies for the kids on her street. Isn’t she a good person?” But that doesn’t make her a good person—it only makes her a nice person. After all, we can be certain there are some KKK grandmas who help white seniors and bake chocolate chip cookies for the white kids in their neighborhoods. Sure there are. That doesn’t make them good. 

Gandhi is most often cited as an example of the “good” non-Christian. But Gandhi wasn’t good. Again, doing a good deed—or even a lot of good deeds—doesn’t make someone a good person. Gandhi may have done many good things, but every night he went to bed naked with his two nieces, other girls (often at the same time), and even married women (one of them married to his grandnephew). He said he did this to test his resistance. It isn’t clear how often his resistance held firm. Even if it did, it’s still an abuse of power and family relationships.

Jad Adams, “Thrill of the Chaste: The Truth about Gandhi’s Sex Life,” The Independent, April 7, 2010,

Niceness is not the same as goodness.

Adolph Eichmann never killed anyone personally, Pol Pot had a warm fatherly smile, they could be nice. When serial killers are caught, we hear stories of neighbours being surprised that they were such nice people who were around them so often and never suspected. 

There are many Christians who on the outside look good, are regular attenders of church but they unrepentantly harbour hate and lust in their hearts.

As we quoted Michael Ruse in an earlier article on Adam’s sin, humans ultimately are evil and the doctrine of original sin couldn’t be more true if we tried. Even within the faces of babies we know of jealousy between them, when one doesn’t get what they want, or their demanding cries for attention. You could say they need the attention and this is often true, but there are acts where the attention isn’t a necessity, but a desire they want to fulfill. there is a level of innocence of a child it appears compared to an adult, but ultimately, they’re not perfect.

But is this really the message we want to express? That the world’s full of evil? Doesn’t that make us look bad? In John 7:7, Jesus said the world ‘hates me because I testify that its works are evil.’ So what would Jesus do?” If we want to be like Jesus, then we must proclaim that what the world does is evil. This is what the world does with its free choices. 

Why should we bother learning about how sinful we are then? To make ourselves just feel bad?

  1. We have to realise we have gotten the problem of evil exactly backward. There is a problem with evil all right. But it isn’t God’s problem—He is only good and doesn’t do any evil. It’s humankind’s problem because we are the ones who freely do the evil.
  2. What we’ve found by studying the horrors of man honours those who have suffered, they are testimony for generations to follow. If you were horribly murdered, would you want to be forgotten about? People rarely desire such
  3. Looking at human evil puts our problems into perspective. When we suffer, we are rarely suffering alone
  4. Understanding true human evil helps us to understand that there is no such thing as a minor rebellion post-Adam era. Evil is born when the creation thinks he/she knows better than the creator.
  5. understanding human evil impassions our witness because it is hard to warn someone of the consequences of eternal punishment when we believe that, deep down, the non-Christian we are warning is really a good person.
  6. Comprehending the depth of evil justifies God’s judgement and there is a fine example from Miroslav volf. 

He said he used to question the wrath of God—he thought that wrath was “unworthy” of God. But then his former country of Yugoslavia saw some 200,000 people killed, 3,000,000 displaced, and villages and cities destroyed. He said, “My people [were] shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry.” He wrote, “Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.

Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 139.
  1. A true understanding of human evil puts Christ’s sacrifice into perspective. If God wants the desperately wicked to understand the seriousness of their offence, God can’t just ignore it. The outcome would be “go, rebel, do what you want, I won’t punish you anyway”. A world where God does not satisfy justice, one who does not draw people away from this sinful nature would not be a loving God. Jesus satisfies justice, is a loving sacrifice for us, and uses suffering as his means to speak to us.
  2. Understanding the human evil in people’s hearts makes the sceptical arguments far less impressive. Tools such as atheism can with great ease become weapons for unspeakable evil, as the 20th century has displayed horrifically.
  3. comprehending the depths of human evil aids us in knowing with regard to how the human heart shapes earthly powers, authorities, and their structures. No human government will ever achieve utopia or complete justice in this life. Instead, human institutions, precisely because they are human, are malformed, constantly in need of reform and renewal.
  4. Understanding human evil unsettles our worldliness. The reasons, Clay Jones suggests, that people don’t want to hear about horrendous evils and sufferings is it would make the world unlivable for them and their conscience.  
  5. In term this will also increase our desire for Jesus’ return, to the one who did not succumb to the sting of human sinlessness and will educate us to look at sin and see it the same as if you were to shovelling human feces down your throat (If you feel disgusted, that was the point!)
  6. Twelfth, understanding human evil reveals the magnitude of Christ’s work on the cross and the wonder of our salvation. Remember, Jesus didn’t die for the good, but for the wicked. As Paul said, “someone may die for a good man, but who dies for the wicked?” the Father sent His only Son knowing we would torture Him to death. God allowed sin to occur knowing that He himself would become its preeminent victim.

Because the problem of evil is indeed humankind’s problem and not God’s, then the cross appears even more foolish to those without the Spirit of God: Why does God enter humankind’s problem—our mess, our disaster, our ground-zero lobby to hell? What would motivate God to do such on our behalf? The only answer is love, love, love—for God so loved the world! Christ’s resurrection then demonstrates the power and significance of the resurrection over the ultimate fruits of evil: death and hell.

8. It is final to note that understanding the depth of human evil helps to answer the emotional question of why do bad things happen to good people. We have reflected that, in all reality, there are no good people, just individuals who occasionally perform good acts, whats the weighing scale? Is a 24/7 vegan still a vegan if they only eat just one chicken nugget a month? 

As R.C. Sproul Junior asked and concludes by way of summary “Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, that only happened once, and He volunteered”


Clay Jones, Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions

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