Have you ever noticed that God flips “the way of the world” on its head? I’d like to flip the world’s idea of a “good girl” on it’s head too.
We live in a culture inundated with self-glorification. We are taught to believe in ourselves. Value ourselves. Be our own, unique selves. Be true to ourselves. Do it ourselves. Make a name for ourselves. Earn it ourselves. Yada.Yada. Yada. Do you notice that word “self,” over and over and over? Self. Self. Self. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. This mind frame is poisonous.
Maybe you’re thinking. Wait. Aren’t some of those characteristics good? Isn’t it good to be hard-working, confident, secure, a rule-follower, etc. Yes! Of course. I’ll get to that.
But first, let’s define the word “good.” One definition is “That which is morally right, righteousness.”
That’s what we are REALLY talking about – righteousness. Haven’t you heard the word “righteousness” over and over in the Bible? Righteousness is a pretty deep theological topic. So much can be studied on just the meaning of the word. But a simple way I like to define “righteousness,” is by thinking of it as “right-ness,” or being right. The words “righteousness” “just,” “justice,” and “justification” are all closely related in essence.
Do you know what the justice system is? It’s the system of organizations in our country that keep law and order. One component of the justice system is the legal system. If you are accused of a crime, you must stand trial before being found guilty or innocent. If the legal system proves you are guilty of breaking a law, you will receive the appropriate punishment for your crime.
Good = right. Right = just. Righteous = innocent. Good, Right, Just = GOD
The nature of humans (or “man”) is so different from God’s attributes. Several years ago, I read a book called “The Attributes of God,” by A.W. Tozer. I recently picked it up again to remind myself of what an amazing God I serve. How can you really be in relationship with someone if you don’t even know what they’re like? So much of God and His character can seem difficult to grasp, but it’s imperative that you study Him! Knowing Him is one of the first steps in falling in love with Him. For us mere humans, the more we study God, the more we know Him, but moreover, the more we realize how much we DON’T know. We realize how unfathomable He is. It’s impossible for us to ever completely wrap our minds around his “God-ness!” But, personally, I don’t think I could ever worship anything less. Could you? (That’s another lesson).
God’s Word tells us that we are all sinners. We are not right. We are not just. We are not good. In fact, we are actually God’s enemy. Anything not Holy, is the enemy of God, and is subject to the wrath of God. God’s wrath must be satisfied through the shedding of blood. Just like in the United States criminal justice system, guilt must be punished. Death and hell are the punishment awaiting the guilty. Hell is complete and forever separation from God. The sinner who is living in complete separation from God, is living in absolute hopelessness. They are hopeless in life and hopeless in death.
When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they became immediately aware of, not only their physical nakedness, but their separation from their Creator. God extended His mercy to them by providing a way for them to be covered. He sacrificed a lamb and used its hide to cover their naked bodies. That lamb was innocent, but its blood was shed to make Adam and Even “right” in the eyes of God. This “righteousness” was only temporary, however. All through the Old Testament, God’s people made sacrifices. All day. Every day. Sacrifice after sacrifice. Still mankind was separated from their God. Hopeless.
But God had a Rescue plan from the very beginning – Jesus.
God in His mercy, sent His own Son to be God with us – “Emmanuel.” He came TO US! What other god does that?!?! Jesus lived as fully God and fully man, but was sinless. He was righteous, but was condemned to die a sinner’s death. The shedding of Jesus’ blood completely and ultimately satisfied God’s wrath.
Jesus took the punishment for sin.
If you put your faith in Jesus, God sees you as a new creature. Jesus makes you right in the eyes of a Holy God. Jesus makes you right. Jesus makes you good.
A “goody goody” is SELF-righteous. Hear that word again? “SELF!” Self-righteousness goes in complete opposition of God’s way. A true believer understands that goodness can only come through a faith in Jesus Christ. A true believer has humility.
Humility isn’t just a way you act, it’s a part of who you are as a new creature in Christ Jesus. It’s a deep understanding of your hopelessness without Jesus. It’s a deep appreciation for God’s mercy.
Remember those characteristics I mentioned earlier: hardworking, confident, secure, rule-follower. Those character traits can’t really come from self. True character goes beyond behavior. Behavior is how you act. Character is who you are. Sure, a nonbeliever can behave “good,” but that doesn’t make them “good.” When you put your faith in Jesus, you become new. You become right, and Jesus begins to make you good!
Let’s break a few of those character traits down:
Hardworking – A believing girl loves God and desires to worship and glorify Him with their life. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Confidence – A believing girl knows that God created her in His image, made her a new creature and separates her for divine purpose. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Secure – A believing girl knows that God is on her side and nothing can separate her from God’s love. “We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39.
Rule-Follower – A believing girl loves her Lord and therefore wants to follow His ways. “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.’” John 14:23.
Only Jesus can make you righteous.
For further study on this topic, take a look at Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.