You may not know this, but you and I have a tremendous problem.
It’s a problem that has existed since our beginning, it’s a problem no one can fix, and if ignored, will mean our certain destruction.
Our problem is: God is Good!
You might be thinking, “Well, what kind of problem is that?”
The problem is, what does a truly, perfectly good God do with beings who aren’t?
I know what you’re thinking. As soon you saw that, your defenses went up. If you’re anything like me, the very suggestion that you’re not a good person prompts you to run through all of the examples in your mind that demonstrate how good you are.
Like me, you might say something like, “I’m nice, I treat others well, I love my parents, I love my spouse and kids, my friends and coworkers really like me, etc. I am a good person!”
But when we call ourselves “good people,” what do we really mean?
It’s very easy to call ourselves “good” when comparing ourselves to others. When we compare ourselves to people like Adolf Hitler, Attila the Hun, or some other murderous tyrant, we look pretty good! But that’s not the standard the bible uses when determining if someone is truly good.
The bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) You see, it’s comparing ourselves to God’s goodness where we fall short, not comparing ourselves to others.
Yes, you and I can always act good or do good things. But the bible says that our righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when compared to the perfection of God.
When we say God is good we mean that he is perfectly good in every sense of the word. There is no trace of evil in him. He, intrinsically and at his very core, is good and holy. Unlike us, he doesn’t just “act” good or do good things, or disguise his evil thoughts with good behavior.
He has never had an evil thought or an evil desire. He has never spoken an evil word or committed an evil act. His first thought, his first instinct, his first desire, is only goodness and righteousness – all the time.
So, when you and I want to call ourselves “good”, do we measure up to that description? If we’re being honest, not even close. We would have to admit that in the secret places of our hearts, we have been spiteful, vengeful, lustful, violent, greedy, and the list goes on.
Which brings us back to our original and very serious problem.
What does a God who is perfectly good, righteous, and free from all kinds of sin, do with people who aren’t?
And this is where you might say to me, “well of course I’m not perfect like God is! But God should just forgive me, right? He’s a “loving” God, isn’t he? Can’t he just excuse all my bad thoughts and deeds?” If God were more tolerant of sin and wickedness, we wouldn’t have this problem.
I think this truly good God should just ignore my sin.
And I must say, that sounds pretty good. At first.
But what if I were to describe to you a human being who thought and acted like that?
Imagine a courtroom judge who, when criminals are brought before him for violence or murder, declares to them, “I’m going to ignore your evil actions. I’m OK with them. I will let you go, unpunished.” Would we want that kind of person in our society? Of course not! We would be outraged at any judge who tolerated evil deeds.
There is nothing good about turning a blind eye to evil.
Because God is good, he can’t have a tolerant attitude toward wickedness. Instead he has something that doesn’t sound quite as pleasant as tolerance. It’s called holy wrath.
Now, that may sound pretty unnerving. It may even sound somewhat evil in itself. But let me show you what holy wrath really is.
God’s holy wrath is nothing more than his firm, decisive opposition to evil. The bible says, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:8) God’s wrath is simply him saying, “because I am good and holy, I will not ignore evil. I will always oppose and punish evil, injustice, and wickedness.
So we see that God’s wrath is actually a very natural expression of his goodness. It is that good part of him that says, “I can’t be OK with evil and I must stand against it.”
So, no matter how many “good” things we do, the fact remains that we have lied, we have cheated, we have lusted, and we have stolen. We have broken some, if not all, of God’s commandments. That means you and I stand guilty, not good, before a perfect and holy God. And if we died today in that guilt, our destination would not be Heaven, but Hell, separated from God forever as punishment for our crimes. I know that’s a very uncomfortable and unpopular statement. But it is the truth.
The bible says, “For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4)
Which brings us back to square one.
What are we–people who think evil thoughts and have done evil things–to do? We stand guilty before God, who, because he is perfectly good and holy, must oppose and punish evil. How can we escape the punishment that we rightly deserve? What can we do about our guilt?
The answer is, we can’t do anything about it.
We can’t change ourselves into beings who don’t think evil thoughts. We can’t make ourselves stop doing evil things. We can’t fix our own sin because it comes from a sinful mind and heart. It is impossible for a sinful heart to heal itself! No amount of good behavior or self-control can change our built-in tendency to do the very things that a perfect God hates.
We stand guilty of breaking God’s perfect law. We completely deserve his punishment and we can’t do anything about it.
But God can. And he did!
Yes, it’s true, because God is perfect, holy, righteous, and just, we have an “enemy’s” relationship with him where his response to us can only be one of holy wrath.
That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news.
God is also perfectly loving, kind, gracious, and merciful. And in that love, he sent his perfect and righteous son, Jesus, who, in perfect obedience, came to take our punishment on a cross for us.
On that cross God transferred all of our sin, our natural wickedness, onto his holy son, so that Jesus actually became sin for us. And in that moment God’s response toward his son was holy wrath. The moment that Jesus was killed and he received the punishment that we deserved, God’s wrath was satisfied. But then Jesus rose again and defeated death for us.
Now, anyone who believes in what Jesus accomplished for us, is willing to belong to him, and turn away from their life of sin, then all of Jesus’ righteousness and sinlessness is transferred onto them in the eyes of God. God then views those believers as having all that Christ has and they become the righteousness of Christ.
The moment that happens, we are no longer separated from God. We are no longer running from him. We are no longer hiding from him. We are no longer his enemy. He has made us right with him. He has reconciled us!
And that’s the gospel! It’s the “good news” of how God washed us clean through Jesus’ sacrifice.
The bible sums it up perfectly when it says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
So what about you? If you die today, will you stand guilty before God because of your past sins? Or will you choose the forgiveness that Jesus accomplished and make him your lord?
Please, put your trust in him this very hour!