This post reflects on some of the same themes I’ve written about recently, but that’s the fallen world we live in.
This morning, I stepped away from work and drove to an ATM to fatten up my painfully thin wallet. For some reason, they won’t accept my smile as payment at the workplace cafeteria. Anyway, as I was driving along, I flipped through radio channels and came across the National Public Radio (NPR) station. They were doing a report on the g-r-o-w-i-n-g list of prominent men who have recently been accused of sexual misconduct, including the widely admired Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, who was fired just yesterday. In regards to another alleged abuser, U.S. Senator, Al Franken, the comment was made by one of the NPR hosts that “sometimes good people do bad things.” While I’ve already posted on this growing national “frenzy” (see here), this comment got me charged up once again.
There’s two ways of looking at this world and life in general; there’s the unbelieving worldview and the Christian worldview.
The unbelieving worldview incorporates all unbelievers, both secularist and religious. The unbelieving worldview holds that people are basically “good” and generally try to do the right thing according to some type of a secular or religious moral code. The majority consensus is that most people will be rewarded with some type of blissful afterlife following their death (or no afterlife at the worst). According to this viewpoint, there are definitely some people who are “bad,” but such a label is reserved only for those whose behaviors were/are blatantly evil such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Idi Amin, and serial child molesters. Many religious organizations promote this “good people go to Heaven” philosophy including Roman Catholicism. While the Catholic church teaches that everyone is born with original sin that needs to be cleansed away with baptism, it also teaches that people are inherently good and can work their way to ever higher states of holiness on their lifelong quest to achieve salvation.
“God (created) humanity in His own image and likeness. This speaks to the nature of the human person as inherently good although damaged by original sin. In the end it is not the sin that wins, but rather the goodness of God with whom each person shares a likeness.” – from “Catholic School Leadership,” by Anthony Dosen and Barbara Riechkoff, 2015, p.69.
In contrast to this wide-is-the-way philosophy are God’s Word and the Christian worldview, which teach man’s total depravity. There is not one righteous person in the world, no, not one. See Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3. The Christian view is that we are all sinners; Al Franken, Matt Lauer, you, and me. If all of our secret acts and thoughts were revealed, everyone would see that none of us are “good people.” Roman Catholic apologists and others who support the “good people go to Heaven” view attribute the doctrine of total depravity to Reformer, John Calvin, but actually, the message of man’s complete depravity is front and center throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. If you and I could merit our way to Heaven, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross for sin.
Because we have a sinful nature, we can’t possibly merit our way to Heaven. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to pay the penalty for sin. We can’t appear before God with our righteousness when we die because we have none. Zero. Zip. Nada. But when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, He imputes His perfect righteousness to us.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
What a gift! Accept Christ by faith alone.