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October 16, 2020 7:00 pm
Dr. Kerry McGonigal of the BJU Bible faculty continues a doctrinal series entitled, “What Is Man?” from Romans 1,3
The post 840. The Goodness of Bad People vs. the Badness of Good People appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina were continuing the study series about the doctrine of man.
Today's message will be preached by Bible faculty member Carrie McGonagle and the title of this message is the goodness of bad people versus the badness of good people have been asked to address a couple of related questions today. The first one is how bad can a good man be how bad can a good man be and how far has man follow them.
To be honest and say that I struggled a little bit with that first question, how bad can a good man be initially to the point where I was thinking maybe we should just have us inspiration today and we can take our favorite hymns about human depravity or years I spent in vanity or in pride at the cheery one, but when you're when you're given a question like this, obviously, one of the first things I did. My mind was asked the question, does the Bible actually address this question, and where can we go in 2530 minutes to actually satisfactorily answer the question, how bad can a good man be well in some cases you have to go to multiple passages but I think what we can do today is go to Romans chapter 1 verse 18 through Romans chapter 3 verse 20 and in that first section of Paul's letter to the Romans.
We can answer this question satisfactorily, so turn to Romans chapter 3 this morning. Again, the question is how bad can a good man be so I had to do was to rephrase that, in my own mind so I understood the question are non-Christians capable of doing good, and if so, then, are good people really that bad. Are non-Christians capable of doing good and then if so, than are good people really that bad, and some to begin with the dilemma and see if you can identify with this dilemma have ever been confused or shaken. Perhaps by the goodness of bad people. Let me explain in our minds.
We tend to identify non-Christians as sinners and of course we understand that being a sinner, something bad and we even use words like corrupt and depraved and falling to describe those people so I think you know, it tends to come in our mind we think of sinner and corrupt and depraved are those works on the Lord of the Ring rings movies right is a beautiful creatures that there they're ugly their despicable their hateful. They seek to do harm.
There's nothing beautiful about the orcs and so that's kind of what it means to be depraved and all in and corrupt in sin and maybe maybe it is that you grew up in a very controlled environment and so you really didn't get to leave the confines of your Christian home very much your Christian school, and so produce, like the zoo animals on Madagascar monthly Marty the lion, Marty the zebra Alex the lion and it is a venture outside the New York City zoo for the first time, and so perhaps when you when you did that you you face the conflicting reality because on the one hand you found people that would eat you alive. You did find people that were hateful and hurtful, despicable and ugly. But then there was this other group of people that you encountered that was confusing. I mean, what about what about the many non-Christians who aren't like that their kind.
Their generous servant hearted their hard-working me. Don't these people can shatter our stereotypes in our conception of what it means to be a sinner, don't they call into question words like corrupt and fallen, and so my intent in this message isn't the focus on the Hitler's and the Stalinists of the human race. My intent is not to draw attention to examples from Isys to point out the depravity of man. I think I think the evil is apparent in those cases, and we have a category for that. But what about all the good people in the world who are not Christians. And yet they love and they care and they help and they serve and they work hard so we just did a couple of examples we have some folks in our church that are associated with the and from the island of Dominica and recently the island was devastated by tropical storm Erica and in the aftermath of that you had two kinds of people you you did have what we typically think of as the corruption in the depravity. When you see people losing homes and in and in stores showing the unimaginable corruption of the human heart to actually take advantage of other people in a situation like that, but then on the other hand have non-Christian people who are involved in rescue efforts who are risking life and limb to help other human beings. And so masking question, are these non-Christian rescuers really that bad. I recently read a book by Rosario Butterfield entitled the secret thoughts of an unlikely convert and Rosario is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University and prior to her conversion to Christianity. In 1999. She was in a lesbian relationship with a woman who was an animal activist and nature lover and Rosario writes in her book. My partner T ran a business, she rehabilitated, abused and abandoned golden retriever's replacement as helper dogs for the disabled, or family dogs for those animals not strong enough to work. She says our houses were hubs of intellectual and activist work. Aside from the kennel. We supported a lot of causes AIDS healthcare, children's literacy, sexual abuse, healing and disability activist and I'm thinking what's wrong with that. Those are all good things right and in her book. She describes the gay and lesbian community is a community given to hospitality given to hospitality at one point she writes.
Here's one of the deepest ways Christians scared me. The lesbian community was home and felt safe and secure. The people that I knew the best and cared about were in that community. The lesbian community was accepting and welcoming.
While the Christian community appeared, and too often is exclusive, judgmental, scornful, and afraid of diversity so we do with that. I mean, are these people fallen or not.
Have you ever been shaken have your been confused by the goodness of bad people. Coupled with that you have the badness of good people and am referring there to professing Christians what you say. Of course there fallen course the corrupt the mean their very lifestyle is in violation of God's express will okay but what you do with people whose lives are generally in agreement with the morality spelled out in the Bible. I mean their upstanding their ethical and honest. The reliable, the good parents do community service. I mean, are you telling me that that non-Christian firefighter who risks his life and runs into a burning building to rescue another human being is is corrupt is fallen, I mean even Jesus acknowledges in Luke chapter 6 verse 32, 33, that sinners can love and sinners can do good.
He says, for if ye love them which love you what think heavy for sinners also love those that love them and if you do good to them which do good to you what think heavy for sinners also do even the same now sure their loving those who love them but they are loving not hating. Yes, they're doing good to those who do good to them but they are doing good right so were left asking this question are all non-Christians really that bad. How bad can a good man be or how good and a bad man be well to answer these questions. We obviously need. We need God's perspective that would so I had to turn Romans chapter 3 edits in this passage that Paul is bringing an accusation against all people, both Jew and Gentile. So what's the specific charge look at the end of verse nine. His accusation is this all are under sin. That is all people universally are under the power of sin, which reminds us, doesn't it, that our problem is human beings isn't just that we commit specific since specific acts of sin, but that we that we by birth actually dwell and reside in a realm, a government ruled over by sin and death in the wall and the deeds that we commit the sinful thoughts the sinful words the sinful behaviors are simply expressions of the fact that were under that government under that rule of sin under the power sin.
So when he says all he's referring to all people universally. Whether you're Jew or non-Jew and this is something that Paul has been arguing for beginning in chapter 1 verse 18 running through chapter 2 verse 29 and that's why that's what he means when he says for we have before approved, both Jew and Gentiles, that all are under sin. And so now what follows in verses 10 through 18 of chapter 3 is a series of quotations from the Old Testament that are designed to further substantiate that assertion that charge that everyone universally is under the power sin was going read verses 10 through 12. Paul writes, as it is written in this book that at this point is quoting from Psalm 14 there is none righteous, no not one. And then he gives these five synonymous repetitions of the theme there is none righteous, he says, verse 11 there is none that understand there is none that seek after God. They are all gone out of the way they are together become unprofitable. There is none that do with good, no not one. So sin is clearly universal, and Paul seems be saying at this point that there is not a single person who does good, and now he does in verses 13 to 17. Is he gives us further quotations from the Old Testament and gives us representative or example kinds of sins to again support the idea that all of us are under sin and give sins of speech and sins of violence and particulars. Look at verse 13.
He says their throat is an open sepulcher or grave, with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood destruction and misery are in their ways in the way of peace have they not known.
She got their throat and their tongues and their lips and their mouth and their feet all giving expression of being under the power of sin. That's the extent of sins rain and then the final quotation of verse 18 is taken from Psalm 36 verse one and it functions to bring this series of examples to a conclusion and here's what Paul says there is no fear of God before their eyes. That really is at the heart of the matter. That really is the fundamental problem that lies behind all of these specific expressions. There's no fear of God before their eyes.
They don't live in the acknowledgment that God is God and that's the problem. So where does that leave us. Verse 19.
Now all to draw some of the implications of being under sin.
We know that what the whatsoever things the law Seth. It sent to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty or accountable before God and if there's any Jew there that says will. How can that be a me, what about my observance of the law. Verse 20 therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. So here we are all of us together were standing in a courtroom, as it were, standing before God, the great judge of the universe and all of us are being pronounced guilty because of sin we face the sentence of eternal condemnation so many destructible conclusions from this passage. It's really clear isn't it that from God's perspective, in spite of any appearances to the contrary that there's not a single one of us in the human race who does good and is clear from the context of Romans that there's not a single person that can stand before God and justify himself or herself on the basis of his goodness on the basis of his or her own righteousness. No one is good enough and that would include all of those non-Christians whose lives cause us to question fallenness and depravity, and based on chapter 1 verse 18. Not only are we under the power of sin. Paul says that we are under the wrath of God, the righteous wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness. And that's a problem because were all unrighteousness. Okay so you're saying that some of the nicest people that I know in this world are enslaved to sin their unrighteous and you're saying that they're going to endure the wrath of God. You might my non-Christian elderly neighbor doesn't have a mouth full of cursing and bitterness and she's not out there. Her feet are not swift to shed blood. It is kind of difficult to accept.
Isn't unless and here's here's really the critical part of this message unless we understand sin and unrighteousness from God's perspective towards I think much of our confusion.
Much the reason that we struggle with this is because we fail to understand really what sin is, what it means for man to be falling and that's were Romans chapter 1 comes in and out ask you to turn their Romans chapter 1 because I think most of us tend to externalize or we could say we tender the behavior lies sin and we also tend to minimize sin. So we stay on the surface, and because we stay on the surface, we make surface comparisons with people and that's why we struggle and what this passage does is it internalizes the problem it brings it right to the core right to the heart of who we are and it magnifies the seriousness and the gravity and the import of sinfulness. She can't read Romans one and then, come away thinking that sin is like a parking ticket and I know III violated the law on there's a sense in which I deserve this parking ticket but you know it's not really a big deal either real criminals out there, why don't they spend their time getting those guys. Sin according to Romans one is this and of taking the liberty to summarize just because of time but going through this passage and Kenneth put the details together and really I think you could argue that sin based on Romans one is any treasonous attempt to overthrow good and righteous government of God or our Creator in thought, in word or indeed, and that all is rooted in a refusal to acknowledge God as God, and it leads to further increasing moral darkness and it's completely deserving of the righteous wrath of God.
So sin is any treasonous attempt to overthrow the good and righteous government of our Creator in word thought or deed. I think that that substantiates what we seen in Genesis chapter 3 when Adam and he fell right.
I mean, there's a sense in which you look at that pastor thing you know, while good grief for me. They just know they just disobeyed one command I took some fruit. What's the big deal what the big deal is that that command that prohibition wasn't just an arbitrary one. It wasn't just an impersonal command that they broke what they were doing when they transgressed was they were declaring independence from the authority and the government of God. It was a Declaration of Independence they had believed the lie of Satan, that ye shall be as God's. So the prohibition that tree that was in the middle of the garden stood as a reminder that Adam and Eve were underneath in authority underneath the sovereignty of their creator for them to disobey and transgress was to throw off that government that restraint now look with me at Romans chapter 1 is good and read verses 18 to 25 and will see how Paul really describes sin and its essence, he says were taking the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, like when you get the swimming pool and he got one as inflatable balls and you try to keep it under the water. That's what mankind does with the truth that is made known about God to try to suppress it and keep it under so that up to deal with the implications of the consequences of that revelation, because verse 19 that which may be known of God is manifest in them. For God showed it unto them for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without because when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and change or exchange the glory of the un-corruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man the birds and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. So therefore God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, dishonor their own bodies between themselves, who exchanged the truth of God into a lie, and what was that why they worshiped and served the creature more than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen we find in Romans one that the hearts of our sinful thoughts at the heart of her simple words at the heart of our sinful deeds. Is this refusal to acknowledge God as God as creator God. And that's exactly what Paul said in chapter 3 verse 18 we came to the list. The conclusion of that series of examples of sins.
He said there was no fear of God in their eyes before their eyes. What is the opposite of fear God refute the fear of God is living with a God consciousness, a God awareness the opposite of the fear the Lord in the Old Testament poetic books is contempt for the Lord what is contempt for God while you can show contempt for people in different ways can contempt for another person.
If you will show contempt, so he walked across the bridge after chapel. You can give him this a few other things to that would be contempt but it's also possible to display contempt for somebody. In fact, perhaps the most powerful way to do this is to actually ignore them to just walk right by them and pretend as if they didn't even exist. That is contempt. Mankind Paul is arguing lives his life as if God is not God as if God doesn't exist even though they know that he does and they refuse to live and operate under that authority under that government and right at the heart of this is this exchange that takes place when mankind chooses to worship the creature above the creator to displace God from his rightful position and so someone is written if the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, body strength than the greatest sin is not to do that, the greatest sin is not to love God with all of our heart, with all of our being and so were not content just to look at superficial considerations. We want to go beyond the surface of what were seeing and go to the hearts of the matter what's driving us.
What's at the core of who we are as human beings. So we start understanding. Once we start understanding what sin is. We start getting down to the core of who we are.
We start dealing with what drives us as human beings.
It's easy for us to see fallenness on the surface of drug addicts and swindlers and fornicators, but with a biblical understanding of sin, we can begin to understand how a non-Christian could do good in one sense, and yet not be doing good in another sense, so a non-Christian firefighter who enters a building ablaze to save lives is doing something good. He's risking his life for the good of another person or let's take your non-Christian neighbor who gladly for whatever reason, gladly volunteers to mow your grass while you guys are on vacation. That person is doing something good, something altruistic. Now we can try to examine okay yeah but if you really look at their motivations they're motivated by self-fulfillment. They're motivated by self glory.
Okay that's that's certainly possible, but the question remains. The fundamental question remains, are they acknowledging God as God in those acts do they recognize or acknowledge that that desire to help that desire to do good is a gift from God. All good gifts come down from the father of lights.
Do they recognize what theologian sometimes called common grace that what they have.
Whether it's their pleasant disposition. Their agreeable temperament is actually part of common grace. It's a gift from God.
But did they acknowledge and recognize that, do they realize that that that that any goodness that is being displayed. There is a reflection of the image of God in them. Yes, the image of God is marred but is not effaced is not eradicated.
Do they understand that pulling somebody out of a burning house as good as that may be is never good enough to bring them to a point where they can stand before God and justify themselves. Do they understand. Do they recognize that all of their righteousnesses are as filthy rags do they help and do they serve out of a desire to reflect God to others out of a desire to glorify God out of a desire to serve God and to do his will. Do they sacrifice themselves and live the way they do because they seek to do God's will. And they live in dependence on their creator because of the answer to any one of those questions is no, than they are falling short of the glory of God.
Romans 320 in his heart. I know it's as hard as it may be seem to understand they are rebels they are rebels committing treason against the government of God.
They are suppressing the truth that they know about God. They are exchanging the truth of God for a lie there guilty of idolatry of worshiping the creature more than the creator of worshiping some God replacement. They may not be murdering people. They may not be unfaithful to their spouse. They may not be habitual liars, but they're not loving the one true and living God with all their heart, either. And that's a big deal. That's a really big deal. And that's a huge problem.
That's how far man has fallen.
That's how bad a good man can be so bad that he effectively displaces the God of the universe, the creator of all things by the way that he lives so bad that he refuses to live under the authority of God, and that's why mankind needs the righteousness of God. And that's why making mankind needs a heart transformation heart renovation and that is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that's the next section of this epistle. Romans chapter 3 verse 21 but now the righteousness of God is revealed through faith in Jesus Christ.
Is there any hope for fallen human beings yes there is. It's in the gospel of Jesus Christ and this gospel is properly understood brings us all away to Romans chapter 11 verse 36 repulses four of him and through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory forever that is what God created us for, to live that kind of life we recognize that everything comes from God is the source of all that we do everything through the power and the energy in the grace of God, and we do it all back to the glory of God of him and threw him back to him are all things to him be glory. That's our creative design. That's why God made us in our fallenness reflects how far we've gone from that design honey to say Jesus didn't come to make good people better. He came to save sinners, and viewing sin in ways other than God does, or less, than God does only serves to diminish the greatness of God's power and the glory of his grace in the gospel. Let's magnify the glory of the gospel by holding and embracing scriptural view of sin. Father we pray that you would help us to understand things from your perspective, to share your viewpoint about human nature and the extent to which we have fallen father. My attendant preaching this message is not for us to go out pat ourselves on the back and say well not one of them would help us not to be deceived by the superficial surface help us not to be content with the superficial help us to go beyond external morality.
We know the Christian change is, is not less, than behavioral change, but it's so much more that you intend through the gospel to so renovate to so change us, so overhaul us that our mind and our emotions are will are really given to this ultimate task of bringing you or he is the creator God and so through the gospel, and by your grace, or do that work of regeneration and sanctification for the glory of your blessed name.
Amen. We hope you'll join us again next week as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform