Pretty Good

I’ve been meeting with some people from my office on Tuesdays each week in a little Bible study group. One of the members brought a video series that we have been watching that presents a systematic way of getting past some of the traditional barriers to sharing the gospel. Actually it has been instructive and a good reminder that we need to go into all the earth. Too often we get smug in our faith and surround ourselves with others, overlooking and even avoiding “those people” – the ones that Jesus hung with – you know, the sinners.

There are many cameos and small slices of gospel presentations filmed live, that help us see first hand that many people are very confused and willing to explore in a non-intimidating way the subject of faith and God, heaven and hell – subjects that most people do not delve too deeply into mainly because they have not thought too deeply about it. In watching these live dialogues between the evangelist and the general public we see first hand what people think on these subjects.

Very few people admit to others that they are not good, in fact I do not recall one interview where the person was not quick to say that they are a “pretty good” person. That is interesting to consider, when the truth is, “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Rom. 3:12. We are reminded that “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” Proverbs 30:12.

It amazes me how many people point to their own goodness when the subject of heaven comes up. People are not pretty good, they are not even remotely good, in fact they are ba-ba-ba-bad to the bone. Just ask God who can see your and my heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9. Apart from the righteousness of Christ imparted to us by grace through faith, we are doomed to be separated from God, and thus ALL Good for all eternity.

What comes out in these little interviews is the massive and complete self-deception that so many are under. These deceptions are lies and hold you in bondage and will eventually take many down to hell who have never trusted in Christ – and Christ alone – for salvation. In every case, the evangelist asks some very simple questions regarding the Ten Commandments, a safe enough subject when talking about sin, for all agree that we should keep the Ten Commandments or at least understand that they form a basis for God’s judgment.

By the time he establishes that they are a liar, a thief and have been an adulterer in their heart, they begin to squirm and fidget realizing that they are not so good after all, “pretty good” maybe but not good enough to go to heaven. What also should be noted is the time takes a  street evangelist with very simple concepts to totally undress their righteous robes – less than five minutes. Now imagine taking your little sales job of your own worthiness to enter heaven before God Almighty and thinking you will win your argument. This is so ludicrous that it is painfully and pathetically sad.

But the thing I want to focus on is that phrase that seems to be the universal passport for entering heaven – pretty good. I just recently saw something that I had never noticed before. That phrase when you break it down means: pretty – attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful or handsome; good – to be desired or approved of; appropriate to a particular purpose; strictly adhering to or fulfilling all the principles of a particular cause, religion, or party.

In addition the word pretty was taken “from a West Germanic base meaning ‘trick.’ The sense development ‘deceitful, cunning, clever, skillful”. Wow! So being pretty good means making an attractive, clever, deceitful, cunning and skill presentation of being approved of, appropriate, by strictly adhering to or fulfilling all the principles of a particular cause, religion or party.

I agree, most people are pretty good by that definition. Most people are presenting themselves as holy and righteous by adhering to principles of a particular cause, religion or party. Jesus referred to the Pharisees for their particular form of presentation as white-washed sepulchres. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matt. 23:27. I think that was Jesus’ way of saying you look pretty good but you are bad to the bone.

God never looks at the outside. He looks clean through to the bone. When God was looking for his chosen son he had to teach Samuel what to look at. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7.

Pretty good does not cut it. There will be a massive hoard who appear before God with some pretty good stuff.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:21-23.

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:20