The word “good” seems to be an ambiguous term at times especially when it is used without reference to a constant anchor. When we speak of the “good” or “right” with regard to morality there are multiple levels of discussion that can ensue. I will not be covering them all in this post. We could discuss how we can know the good, or how we can’t, or how we decide that in each society, or how it is artificially created versus being discovered and uncreated by humans. . . Even then we could discuss the reality of some of what we consider moral as being artificial and some as being discovered and how to unravel what are cultural mores and what are timeless truths.
Most debate for any of these discussions will have some truth. One can’t say that all rules of living were discovered, because we have obviously as humans invented prudish or practical rules of living that have been abandoned by other generations. However, we also have true good principals for living that have been abandoned at times and rediscovered. Thus, abandoning them doesn’t equate with their artificiality.
It is human to be moral beings concerned with right and wrong in some form or fashion whether in extreme or in balance. Thus, we transfer our desire to “be a good person” to a God who we extrapolate to think like we do who equates goodness with moral actions. In reality, God does not equate goodness with good actions. He equates goodness with His life and He gives us that goodness so that we can live a new life from righteousness instead of as slaves to unrighteousness. So we no longer have to pattern our lives trying to figure out whose rules to follow to be good, but we begin a life learning how to live from the goodness of the life within us. We learn to live from His life rather then by rules. That doesn’t exempt a person from the goodness of the rules; it just means the person goes about it by a different method. Good actions become a by product of knowing the Lord rather than the moral goal of life.
Now this is why there is not much use in morally condemning people because of their sinful actions. A person is not morally “bad” or “good” based on their actions. Goodness doesn’t come from “good actions” it comes from a good God. Bear with me for a minute, I know this has not been proven to you and that many of you do not believe it is possible, but I am trying to help you understand the Christian position before you argue against it, or for the sake of argument, my Christian position. We need not divert on debating whether or not every Christian sees it this way.
Now, like I indicated above, the discussion of the good is multifaceted. There is a difference between not condemning and not helping a person doing something that is not good for them or others. For example, a friend of yours is cheating on all of his college exams. If you condemn him you may say something like, “Frank you are a despicable person cheating like that you should be ashamed of yourself—you are so stupid.” Then think to yourself how much better you are because you don’t participate in such sinful things. Of course, most who think this way are doing a plethora of their own “bad” things they fail to see. However, the non-condemning, but helpful option might be to talk to him about how he is hurting himself by not learning the material legitimately and offer to help him study. The second option is out of love and concern for your friend where the first would be an indignant tongue lashing that only leaves him feeling terrible and worthless. The first response might cause him to continue his behavior, where the second might set him on a new course of life that validates his learning ability and keeps him from a life of cheating.
So while cheating or not cheating doesn’t make people more “good” in their being, there are life problems that are caused by making bad choices and doing bad things. So it wouldn’t be love to ignore a loved ones bad choices or to keep them from consequences of them by enabling them. This is to say that there are times where consequences for actions that harm others or oneself is necessary especially in a society where laws are established to protect the society and enforce obedience to those laws. However, laws are not always matters of right and wrong, but matters of legality as we have agreed. Sometimes they correspond to something really wrong, but most of the time they are a matter of safety of the individual or group rather than ethics. Love isn’t blind to a person’s faults, but loves despite of them.
God isn’t after us to earn moral goodness
We become righteous when His life merges with ours
God gave external laws and wrote them into our consciousness so that those who did not know Him could keep from doing things that harmed them – not as a rule book for gaining goodness. This was for our well-being.
We don’t have to live by laws when we know Him for He promises to show us how to live from our new identity as righteous beings which will manifest externally as we grow
It’s not necessary to condemn someone who lives in sin (at any level of sin). This does not mean a person who harms another should be brought to justice according the laws of the land. But it means our heart attitude is forgiving despite the necessity of the person enduring consequences for the sake of justice, for the good of the society, and for their own good.
Many of these things I am talking about may be foreign concepts and some may seem preposterous. I am not asking for you to believe this is true, but to understand this in the way you would seek to understand a view point on a topic for a college essay. It doesn’t mean you agree with the view, but you would be seeking to explain it fairly. Once I see there is understanding, then it is much easier for you to give a counter argument. Please ask questions so I can clarify anything that needs to be explained more fully.