Answers to Skeptics Part IV: Can a Good Person Be Condemned?

by Frank Viola

I am a good person“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes . . .” ~ Proverbs 16:2

Most of the non-Christians I talk to believe that God exists. They also believe in eternal life and eternal judgment after death.

But . . . they equally believe that receiving God’s favor and inheriting eternal life is a matter of scoring brownie points with the Creator. And to their minds, they are “good enough” to be awarded with eternal life when they die because they aren’t “bad people.”

From my experience and observation, this is the prevailing view among most Americans.

Yet the truth is that God stopped keeping score a long time ago. He grades on a completely different curve.

Let me paraphrase a story that Jesus once told. The point of the story is that God does not like “good people.” Instead, He favors “bad people.”

Here is the story that Jesus told, paraphrased and made contemporary.

Two men were praying one night in their bedrooms. One man was an elder of a church. The other was a dishonest car salesman.

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The elder prayed, “God, I want to thank you that I’m not a bad person. I don’t cuss, I don’t smoke, I’ve never been immoral. I don’t cheat or lie. I fast once a week. I go to church every Sunday and I pay my tithes weekly. Thank you for making me a good and moral man.”

The car salesman, being heavily convicted for his dishonesty after talking to one of coworkers, could not even lift his eyes up to the ceiling. He fell to his knees and said, “God, be merciful to me. I’m a sinner. I’m a lying, dishonest person who has taken advantage of others most of my life. Come into my life and save me.”

Jesus went on to say something that was shocking. He essentially said that God favored the “bad” person but condemned the “good” person.

That is, the car salesman was made right with God, but the elder fell under God’s judgment…


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