The Gulf Between Good and Godly
There seems to be a common phrase among many church-goers. It goes something like this: “They’re some good people down there at Insert Church Name.” Yet, if you actually went “down there” to some of these churches you would find out quite quickly that their definition of “good” is not so good.
While we all understand what is meant by this, I have thought about the biblical accuracy of such a phrase. I have concluded that there is absolutely no biblical foundation for making such a statement, and I hope to demonstrate my claim with three basic points from Scripture:
- There is no good person: Paul, quoting the Old Testament, reminds us of our depravity before a holy God when he says, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12).
- Only God is good: Jesus teaches us this plainly when He says to the Rich Ruler, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Luke 18:19)
- By God’s grace, believers are godly: Again consulting Paul, he reminds us that believers are to be separate from the world. We are to be godly and that is only possible by God’s grace. “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
Based on this simple three point approach, I believe we need to re-orient our belief on what constitues “good” and “godly” for there is a world of difference between the two. Good, by the world’s own estimate, falls far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). For God calls us to be more than “good”, He calls us to be godly. Peter says it like this, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
So, I guess the point I’m getting at is this, who cares if the folks down at the local church are “good” if they aren’t godly? Is it not of far more importance that God’s church be known in the community as being godly and holy people? Is not God’s gracious imputation of His righteousness the only thing that separates believers from unbelievers? Lest we be godly, we will be nothing more than the world around us is? (1 Peter 2:11-12). So let God’s people, who have been saved by His grace, be godly.
For His Glory,