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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Character of Sin > No Goodness 


For man to be in sin means that there is no goodness in him and that he does no good thing. This is simply another manner of affirming that in his state and in his acts man is not good (see: Sinful State and Sinful Acts). He has no goodness.

Goodness is associated with God; in fact, good is what God is and good is what God does:

I will make all my goodness pass before you (Ex. 33:19);

good is Yahweh (Ps. 25:8);

O taste and see that Yahweh is good (Ps. 34:8);

For You O Lord [Adonai] are good (Ps. 86:5);

For Yahweh is good (Ps. 100:5);

Praise Yahweh, for the Lord is good (Ps. 135:3);

forYahweh is good (Jer. 33:11);

Yahweh is good (Nah. 1:7);

for how great is His goodness (Zech. 9:17);

No one is good except God alone (Mk. 10:17);

But when the goodness . . . of God our Savior appeared (Tit. 3:4);

Good comes from God (Job 2:1);

God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart (Ps. 73:1);

He who began a good work in you (Phil. 1:6).

It is in contrast to God’s goodness that man is seen to have no goodness. God is good and He does good but man is devoid of good and therefore does not do good. There is no goodness in man, and man does no good deeds.

No Goodness in Man

There is no person that is good; the Scriptures are plain:

you love evil more than good (Ps. 52:3);

the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil (Eccles. 8:11);

the hearts of the children of man are full of evil (Eccles. 9:3);

you who hate the good and love the evil (Micah 3:2);

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells (Rom. 7:18).

These verses speaks of the condition of man’s heart, that is, man’s mind, the self, the living soul, the individual. Man’s heart is “fully set to do evil”; it is “full of evil”; and within man “nothing good dwells.” What a shocking and condemning indictment, a difficult word to accept especially when human decency and goodness are affirmed by the majority of people today. The modern age cannot comprehend a mind and, therefore, a life that is set on evil. The common belief is that there is basic good in every individual, and the good needs to discovered and developed by the individual. But the Scriptures do not err in their description of man; there is no goodness in him (see: The Natural Man).

Man Does No Good Deeds

No one does good; again the Scriptures are plain:

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Rom. 3:12; a quote from Ps. 14:3 and 53:3).

According to the Old Testament and the New Testament there is no individual that does good, not even one; in fact, every individual’s action in relationship to the good is worthless. And yet doing good is the command given to every person:

Turn away from evil and do good (Ps. 34:14);

Trust in Yahweh and do good (Ps. 37:3);

Turn away from evil and do good (Ps. 37:27);

Seek good and not evil (Amos 5:14);

Hate evil and love good (Amos 5:15);

Let him turn away from evil and do good (I Pet. 3:11);

Do not imitate evil but imitate good (III Jo. 11).

That which is commanded no one does because no one is capable of doing the good. To do the good an individual must be from God (“whoever does good is from God” - III Jo. 11), which means that one is properly related to the Son of God, the Lord Jesus (“created in Christ Jesus for good works” - Eph. 2:10). Goodness and good deeds are not possible for the natural man, the one in Adam (see: The Natural Man).

But for the believer who is in Christ, the fact is that the person is in Christ for the purpose of good works. Man is not saved by good works but is saved in order that there might be good works in the life. Paul stated the principle: “let us do good to everyone” (Gal. 6:10).

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