One thing that many people can’t seem to understand is how God could reject a person just because they don’t believe in Christ.
“After all, there are a lot of good people in this world who don’t believe in Jesus. I can understand sending murderers and rapists to hell. But what about people like Ghandi? He was a pretty good guy. You can’t tell me God would send him to hell just because he didn’t believe in Jesus.”
The problem with that way of thinking is that we have a warped view of what “good” is. “Good” is what God is. “Good” is not a thing we can define on our own. “Good” is God in all his essence. So in order to see what is truly good, we need to look at God. And we need to look at how he says he created life to be lived. That’s what the law was for. It was to show us what God is like, and how he designed us to be.
So if we are going to measure our goodness, we can’t measure ourselves on a sliding scale of how good we are compared to other people. Nor can we measure ourselves based on a standard that we have set up or even our own cultures have set up. We need to measure our goodness by what God says is good.
And by that standard, no one measures up. Paul puts it this way.
We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. (9-13)
What is Paul saying? He’s saying that there is no one whom God considers righteous on their own merits. Why not? Because they don’t even understand what’s right. And the reason they don’t understand what’s right is that they don’t seek God; rather they have turned their backs on him.
And that is the ultimate evil. Not murder, not rape, nor anything else. Rather, the ultimate evil is turning your back on God. Why? Because as I said, God is good. And what is evil but turning your back on what’s the ultimate Good. What happens when you turn your back on the source of all that’s good? It starts to creep out in your words, and in your actions.
How often have you lied? Or slandered someone? Or cursed someone? How often have bitter things come out of your mouth? Do those kinds of things come out of a good heart?
How often have you messed up your life by your decisions? How often have you hurt others because of your actions?
How often have you said, “I know this is what God has said, but I’m going to do things my way anyway?”
If you’re completely honest with yourself, you have to plead guilty on all charges. And that’s what Paul tells us here.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (19-20)
When Ghandi stands before God, there’s not a word he will be able to say when God judges him. Because God will lay out all his sins before him, things that Ghandi knows were wrong. And he will be without excuse. Because even when he didn’t know the Bible, his own conscience smote him. And when he came to a knowledge of the Bible, he became even more responsible, because it showed him his sin, just as a mirror shows us the dirt on our face.
And you’ll be in the same position if you face God, having rejected Christ.
So let’s not kid ourselves by trying to convince ourselves we’re not so bad. All of us are sinners in need of grace. It’s better to realize and admit that now than to do so when we stand before God on judgment day.