When Being Good is BAD!
Why even a good atheist is not right with God.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1–4 ESV)
Paul the apostle was Jewish. He was a profoundly devout orthodox Pharisee Jew. By the effectual intervention of God he was brought to the gracious conclusion that whatever he had counted as good was actually skubala (garbage, manure). The best of his goodness was far from pleasing to God. He had to come in faith to Jesus Christ. He had to come to the cross. Only Jesus is able to save. Jesus is the Savior.
In the passage above from Romans, Paul is expressing his strong desire that his fellow Jews would find Jesus as he did. He admires their zeal, but notes that the big problem is that they are going about it all wrong. They are rejecting the death of Jesus Christ for them, and seeking to establish a righteousness of their own. Their attempts at being good were actually an act of rebellion. They were not submitting to God’s righteousness. Their being ”good” was bad.
One time these same religious people came up to Jesus and had this interchange with him: ““Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:38–42 ESV)
The point is that God revealed his righteousness in Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection. If you ignore him you have rebelled against God. This is evil.
The call of God to all men is to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ alone for salvation. This call is for the religious and non-religious alike. Sincerity and goodness will not please God. This is not just some technicality either. We must be saved from our sins. We cannot do enough to earn God’s mercy. He has provided the one way of salvation for all men. Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, is the savior to all. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. You need the infinite value of Jesus to save you. If you try to pay the debt on your own, you pay forever and never actually touch the principle.