“Be good," I instructed my girls, before leaving for an appointment. Our youngest instantly quipped back (with an implied “You”), “Be good, Mama!" (She has a great sense of humor.) Her meant-to-be-funny comment gave me pause. Was I any more likely to be able to "be good" than she was? Is "being good“ even in the realm of possibility?
Jesus didn't think so. When someone called the sinless son of God good, he responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone", Mark . I don't know about you, but for Jesus to say so is pretty discouraging to me!
God says that I am incapable of measuring up to His standard of goodness; it's impossible. In many ways, in thought and deed, during each 24 hours I’m given, I will sin. I will inevitably miss the mark that I may or may not be aiming at--the definition of sin.
And so will you; we can't help it. We’re born sinners, in the tradition of our ancestors Adam and Eve. We are genetically wired to sin and can’t escape this fact no matter how hard we try. Man, it's hopeless!
Over and over the Word convicts us of our sinful nature, beginning in the OT. “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”, Psalm 53:3. Ecclesiastes 7:20 intones: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins”.
Our Father gave the prophet Isaiah a thorough understanding of the concept of sin and the need for atonement. Isaiah realized that even our righteous deeds don’t measure up: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” Isaiah 64:6.
Isaiah himself experienced the awesome holiness of God. The Lord gave him a vision of unspeakable glory: he saw God seated on His throne in the temple while enraptured seraphim sang praises of His holiness; their worthy praises shook the temple and caused it to be filled with smoke.
Inescapably, he was overwhelmed. The inevitable comparison between God’s holiness and his own unworthiness caused him to cry out in anguish about his sinfulness. The Lord showed him mercy and cleansed him from his sin with a live coal burning in the altar. (Isaiah 6:1-6)
Our loving and merciful Father knew He’d have to rescue us from our devastating life of sin. “The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.” (Isaiah 59:15-17)
The Apostle Paul sums up our sinful state: “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:17-19
In despair we cry out with Paul, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" However, we must NOT make our permanent dwelling in this pit of utter hopelessness--God has made a way for us to escape our desperate state of abject sin and suffering! The way is made clear in the very next words of Paul. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25)
O glorious Savior! We can rejoice along with Isaiah: “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness”, Isaiah 61:10.
He is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah-Tsidkeneau! Jeremiah 23:6 “In his days
Through the acceptance of Christ, His blood cleanses us from all sin, and clothes us in His righteousness. He enables us to enter His glorious presence and even to live with our indescribably lovely Father for all eternity! One day, when we stand in the presence of very God, He will not see our degenerate, sinful selves. He will see us through eyes of love, clothed in His righteousness. Then, and only then, will we truly “be good”.