Whose Definition of “Good” Counts?

I know many Catholic’s who tell me they believe in God and they believe in Jesus (of course they do- they never had a choice) and when it comes down to everything else, they know that so long as they are a “good person” they will be able to go to heaven.

I agree we all should try to be good, but what we need to know for this to work as a means of staying saved is…what is “good?”

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Using Strong’s Concordance to see all the places where “good” is used in the Bible, we start out right at the very beginning with creation, when we are told the day was good, the earth was good, the lights in the sky were good, the trees and plants were good, and after creating all things God saw that everything was good. So far, “good” seems to be associated only with God and what he does.

In Genesis 3:5 the serpent tells Eve that if she were to eat of the Tree of Knowledge that it would make her and Adam like God, knowing good and evil. This indicates to me that knowing what “good” is still is exclusively something of God.

The use of “good” throughout the Bible (there are way too many examples to use them all) is almost exclusively as an adjective, such as good fruit, saying good or bad about someone, living for a good long time, etc., or relating directly to God or what he has done.

The Land of Israel is often referred to as that “good land”, but (again) that is because it was made by God.

I have found a few references where “good” is used to describe a person:

2 Samuel 18:27: Achima’atz is coming to give the King news of the battle with Absalom and he is described as a “good man”;

Psalm 37:23 says the steps of a “good man” are ordered by the Lord. However, this may not be a good example because the Jewish interpretation doesn’t use the term “good man” but says that “God makes his steps firm” or “God leads him”, so the better interpretation does not use “good” as a description of a man.

NOTE: Strong’s Concordance uses King James Version, a very Catholic interpretation, and I believe this is where the idea that a person can be “good” originated.

But Psalm 14 tells us there is no one that does good!

Let’s see what the Son of God, the Messiah says we should consider as “good.” We find that in Matthew 19:17 when a young man asks Yeshua what good he must do to attain salvation. Yeshua answers him:

Why do you ask me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

According to Yeshua, only God is “good.” This goes along with what we’ve seen where the use of “good” throughout the Bible is only when directly associated with God. There are some few exceptions where “good” is used referring to people, but the number of times this happens is so rare it wouldn’t even be considered statistically significant.

To conclude today’s lesson, I won’t say what you should believe “good” is, but for me, I will believe Yeshua.

I believe only God is truly “good”, the things God created for mankind are “good” and that no person is “good”, so far as God is concerned. Even his son, Yeshua, said he wasn’t “good”, so if the Messiah, the only human being to live a sinless life in perfect obedience to the Torah, says he isn’t “good”, what chance do you or I have to be considered “good”? I’ll tell what chance we have- NO CHANCE!

Finally, for those of you who have been taught and still believe that being “good” will get you to heaven, let me help you put that in the proper perspective. Being good as the world defines good is useless; what the world considers to be good is usually the exact opposite of what God considers good:

  • The world thinks prayer in school is not good, God tells us prayer is always good;
  • The world thinks killing babies in the womb is good, and God says murder is not good;
  • The world says fornication is good and God says it is not good;
  • The world says …well, you get the point.

If you want to be a “good person”, then do what Yeshua told the man in Matthew 19 to do: you must follow the commandments. And not just the ones you like, or just the ones some “religion” tells you to follow, and certainly not any religious doctrine or dogma which is not in the Bible.

You must follow the commandments God gave to everyone, which you will find in the Torah.

And if you do your very best to live as the Torah says you should, I think God will consider that to be a “good” try.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

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