What is Good?

“Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:17-23

“Why are you asking me about what is good? There is only One who is good.” Matthew 19:16-21

The statements above were declared by the Lord Jesus Christ. In all things he demonstrated God, His heavenly father, alone to be right and good.

But what is “good” to you? Is it simply a “nice person” who seems friendly enough. Is it just that which humans find pleasurable? Are most people basically and naturally “good”?

“The world…hates Me (Jesus) because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” John 7:7

Most of mankind, if we do not have the mind of Christ, mistakenly think people are basically good, and if it “feels good, do it” - what do the following quotes all have in common?

“As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful …. Unfortunately, it is not. We’re better than this. We must do better.” - Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Gifford’s (shot congresswoman’s) brother-in-law and Commander of Expedition 26 on the International Space Station…Jan. 2011

“It’s Good to Play” - Washington’s Lottery

“Greed is Good” - Wall Street/Hollywood

“Pierre Omidyar founded eBay on a simple idea: People are basically good.” - ebayinc.com “values” webpage

“Would we, say, count a man as good because he loves and supports his family but pilfers from his employer? Is a woman good because she is a devoted mother and church-goer but delights in gossip that might ruin another’s reputation?” - mostpeoplearegood.com

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness…” Isaiah 5:20; Proverbs 14:12

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…” Matthew 7:11

In God’s awesome word, the Bible, the word “good” in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament is “towb” which means “pleasant, agreeable, excellent, kind, valuable, moral good, bounty”.

In the beginning of Genesis, God declares, “God saw that the light was good (towb).” Genesis 1:4. And a few verses later God declares, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good (towb).” Genesis 1:31.

But then the first pair of humans chose to disobey their loving Creator and became “afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.” And so this world went from “very good” to the “cursed” creation that we are all too familiar with. (read Genesis 3 and Roman 8:18-25).

“Unclean! Unclean!” Leviticus 10 – 20

Especially through the good Law of God given to Israel “by the hand of Moses” (Leviticus 26:46), Godly people of old understood this basic truth that ALL humans are fallen, spiritually filthy creatures, and are subject and prone to sin (ungodly rebellion) and death (cessation of life).

“Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!” Job 14:1-4; 15:14; 25:4-6; Matthew 11:11

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me…Create in me a clean heart, O God…” Psalm 51; Leviticus 12

“Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, YHWH of hosts.’” Isaiah 6

To the spiritual mind and heart, God’s Law given to Israel, actively demonstrated to those under the Law that they needed redemption, forgiveness of sins, mercy and grace from their Creator.

“For through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

“I would not have come to know sin except through the Law…in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.” (see all of Romans 7)

In the Greek New Testament, the word for “good” (above) is “agathos” which is similar in meaning to the Hebrew “towb”, that is, “pleasant, agreeable, of good constitution or nature, excellent, excelling in any respect, distinguished, useful”.

What, then is Evil?

So how would you define evil, the opposite of good? Does your definition align with God’s?

“That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23; Jeremiah 17:9,10; Ecclesiastes 7:29; 8:11

The 1st “EVIL” in the passage above is the Greek “kakos” and means “of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be, troublesome, injurious, destructive.”

The 2nd “EVIL” above is the Greek “ponēros” and means “full of annoyances, pressed/harassed by labors; bad.”

Our Creator’s word of truth consistently teaches us and bears historical witness to the fact that ALL humans are not basically good, but rather evil, in terms of our natural constitution, that is, what we are in our natural, weak and lustful fleshly minds and hearts.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9, 10

And so, as Jesus “was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’” Mark 10:17-27; Leviticus 12 = Luke 2:21-24; Galatians 4:4, 5

Again, the word “good” is the Greek “agathos” and means “pleasant, agreeable, of good constitution or nature, excellent, esteemed of value; ie “fertile soil, a fruitful tree”.

As he walked on this earth, Jesus Christ knew that even in his flesh “dwelt no good thing” (remember Romans 7?) but rather that the deeds of his flesh needed to be put to death by God’s spirit, His way of thinking (Matthew 4; Romans 8). The Lord knew that his heavenly father, God, “is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5-7

And so “God cannot be tempted by evil (kakos), and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust…” James 1:13-17 = Matt 4:1-10; 6:13 = Luke 22:40, 46 = Ps 19:13 = 1 Cor 10:13 = James 1:12

“No one is good (agathos) except God alone.” Luke 18:19

“Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day…” Daniel 9

“I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord YHWH; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone.” Psalm 71:16; 43:3

But as for people: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3

What is God’s glory that humans naturally fall short of? The man of God, Moses, said to God, “I pray you, show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God responded soon afterwards with the following:

“Then YHWH passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘YHWH, YHWH God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithful, moral excellence), who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…’” Exodus 34:5-8

THAT is what ALL human hearts and minds lack by nature; the perfect combination of divine “grace and truth” meeting together, which is eternally “good, right and true.” (John 1:17; Psalm 85:10; Ephesians 5:8-10)

Speaking of man in his natural flesh, as we were naturally born, Christ’s friend and servant, the Apostle Paul, says: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; There Is None Righteous, Not Even One; There Is None Who Understands, There Is None Who Seeks For God; All Have Turned Aside, Together They Have Become Useless; There Is None Who DOES Good, There Is Not Even One.” Romans 3; Ecclesiastes 7:20

The Greek word “good” above is “chrestotes” and means “moral goodness, integrity, kindness”.

Chrestotes - “So far from being this mere grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere; thus wine is ‘chrestotes’, which has been mellowed with age (Luke 5:39); Christ’s yoke is ‘chrestotes’, as having nothing harsh or galling about it (Matthew 11:30).” Richard Trench - “Synonyms of the New Testament”.

Does this word “Chrestotes” (“good”) pervade and penetrate your “whole nature”?

Mankind needs salvation from sin and death, because, in fact, we are not naturally good - and God sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who came “in the likeness of flesh of sin”, into the world that those who truly demonstrate they believe, love and follow him by repentance and “obedience of faith”, might be saved through him, “and the outcome, eternal life.” (John 3:16-21: Romans 1:5; 6:22, 23; 8:1-4)

“For those whom He (God) foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29

“Both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren….Therefore, since the CHILDREN share in flesh and blood, HE HIMSELF LIKEWISE ALSO partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly it (death) does not take hold of angels, but it (death) takes hold of the seed of Abraham. Therefore, He was obligated to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered (ie, the flesh), He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:10-18

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-16

And so, what do these scriptures below tell us about how that which is TRULY good, can dwell also in us?

GOD - “God is light” - 1 John 1:5

Jesus - “I am the Light of the world” - John 8:12

Christ’s true followers - “you are the light of the world” - Matthew 5:14

Why? - “so that God may be all in all” - 1 Corinthians 15:28

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness (from agathos – good) and righteousness and truth, proving what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:1-10

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (delight).” Philippians 2:12, 13

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good (agathos) work in you will perfect (bring to an end, accomplish) it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:6, 7; Ephesians 2:8-10

“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be My people.‘” 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 1:27

“Well done good (agathos) and faithful slave…” Matthew 25:13-30

“You are my God and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to YHWH, for He is good (towb); for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Psalm 118:27-29