What Makes Someone a Good (godly) Person?

“By the way, Jesus mentions in John 3:19ff would have me believe that the non-theist does not believe in God as an act of will, simply because he loves darkness rather than light. As a blanket statement, I think this is absurd. However, I would like to know the Christians’ perspective on this. Do atheists really know the truth – that there is a God, yet reject that truth because they love darkness rather than light and perhaps use reason as an excuse to hide their own willfull lifestyle of sin?” (He is Sailing)

You’ve hit upon something that is very key to the scriptures views on believer and un-believer – the idea of morality and immorality being the dividing card between the 2 – and not faith and non-faith as we see it used as today.

I have been discussing this very idea with a Jewish lady and some other people – mostly in casual convo – but we all are noticing that from Genesis to the Gospels/letters the idea that divides someone from the faith is immorality and not non-faith.

Find any parable, Psalm, or even that Isaiah 55 passage from Michelle – the true line in the sand between God and us is our actions – not our weird belief systems or ideas (unless those things cause in us immoral actions – so we see how close believing something is tied with action). Someone immoral is not acting godly – someone being moral is acting godly – plain and simple (at least that’s what I am seeing in many passages).

Now what I write is not mainstream theology by any stretch in Christianity – but it is there in the passages themselves. One just needs to think back to the whole Jewish community – they were whole communities of people with various jobs in life yet they were all part of the ‘community of God’ – only few were priests to be totally honest. Yet they were all ‘Israel’ and all welcome to the ‘temple’ – all subject to the same laws – it was a community of acceptance – since they were all One’s community. This idea is absolutely lost on Christianity and is non-existent.

Now I look around at society and see many people doing many various things – but what is important still – law and order and freedom to live our lives. Some people are religous and many are not – I say ‘big deal’ – does your life reflect the caring for the community you are in irregardless of faith or not? Cause that’s the key – do you hurt others in society for your own gain?

Immorality is a problem no matter who is involved – cause neither an atheist or Christian likes to be robbed at gun-point or have their homes broken into or a loved one murdered – for both of them they can clearly see the line between morality and immorality at that point and how society is wrecked by these type of things. Faith is not the dividing line between humans and God – our actions are – and these same actions are also the obvious dividing line between working relationships and not working one’s.

HIS, not sure if I answered your question but I think I am pointing you in the right direction. Basically, to me, a lot of atheists will be in heaven (if there is one) because they are just as nice as most Christians (who say they know there is a heaven) I know. All things being equal…

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17 thoughts on “What Makes Someone a Good (godly) Person?

  1. The problem with taking that light/darkness statement literally in John is that it doesn’t match up to real-world experience. If only those who professed Jesus had “the light,” and everyone else loved darkness, then all non-Christians would be mean, rude, unloving, unjust, all the time. They’d never alter from such behavior.

    With the light, it would mean that all Christians, and only Christians, would do good. That it would be something only restricted to Christians (I use ‘Christian’ to define those who have accepted a certain set of beliefs).

    But I think all of us know non-Christians who radically outshine Christians. In fact, if we didn’t know the belief set of the non-Christian, we’d assume that they were Christian, because of their fruits. Because they are following the commandments of Jesus. And that’s all we have to go on, in terms if discernment.

    Paul makes the statement that all those who are saved are those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in the resurrection. But what good does that statement do if there’s no actions to back it up?

  2. OK, as society already knows, i personally believe that faith in God is a requirement for heaven. John 3:16 is the easiest verse for me to remember for this one.

    since this is just more of a “get-a-general-census” thing, this response won’t be nearly as long as my other responses lol

    I think that i probably am part of the moderately conservative crowd in terms of Christians.

    as for consciously rejecting Christ, i really don’t think that is the case. i have an atheist friend and he seriously just doesn’t believe in a God. However, I do believe that on some subconscious level, everyone knows that God exists. I base this on Romans 1:9-32

    I partially agree with you Society about immorality being the cause of our separation from God. I’ve experienced that. But, according the the Ten Commandments, we must love our God with all our hearts, and i would consider breaking that immoral.

    I also kind of agree with you about whether not someone is good in the secular sense. if someone does good things, no matter what they believe, they are still good things. However, for someone to be truly good, or righteous, they need faith. Righteousness comes from faith (romans 3:22).

    So there’s my belief!

    sam

  3. “But, according the the Ten Commandments, we must love our God with all our hearts, and i would consider breaking that immoral” (Sam)

    The interesting part of this quote is – how does loving God with all your heart look? Can we be fooled some that profess this and fooled by some who don’t? Usually, and in most church circles, this phrase ‘love God’ is used about worship as seen in the church, attending church, doing the rituals, being responsible and growing in church responsibility, reading the word, etc. But is that all worship really is?

    “However, for someone to be truly good, or righteous, they need faith. Righteousness comes from faith (romans 3:22).” (Sam)

    Romans 3:22 “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction”

    Paul is comparing being Jewish and being Gentile in this passage and how none of them are different in God eye’s. To me, even faith alone is of very little validity in both the gospels and most of Paul’s letters to the church. Abraham was faith(ful) and it was credited to him as righteousness (being just) – mainly because his beliefs found there way into fruition – and if want to check we can verify this in Genesis. Apart from faith no one can believe in God – I think that is obvious – but even people without faith can follow God’s intents – is this also accredited to them as righteousness (someone just)?

    I guess a huge loaded question would be simply this – if we are justified by faith alone – then why follow the teachings at all? For me, there is something more to this and I would have to read throughout all of Romans to see what that is – and if that is neccesary I think I am more than willing to find out what Paul means by faith as righteousness and where actual teachings fit in – because Paul seems quite adamant in some letters about certain things that are considered righteousness (see example):

    Eph 5:5 “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”

    Something doesn’t make sense here?

  4. Society,

    **Romans 3:22 “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction”**

    My Harper Collins Study Bible says this can also be translated as “even the righteousness of God through the faith *of* Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” It says that this translation is closer to the Greek. And this translation puts a whole new spin on this, because it switches the object of the faith. One has faith in Jesus. The other has the faith of Jesus, which would be the faith in God the Father.

    And then what happens if the idea of God becomes more abstract? What if someone cannot have faith in “God the Father,” yet has faith in the power of love? And that faith in love leads to repentence?

    ** if we are justified by faith alone – then why follow the teachings at all? For me, there is something more to this and I would have to read throughout all of Romans to see what that is -**

    You’d want to look at these quotes in context, but perhaps these will help:

    “Do you think lightly of his wealth of kindness, of tolerance, and of the patience without recognizing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to a change of heart? In the rigid obstinancy of your heart you are laying up for youself a store of retribution for the day of retribution, when God’s just judgement will be revealed, and he will pay back every man for what he has done. To those who pursue glory, honour, and immoratlity by steady persistence in well-doing, he will give eternal life; but for those who are governed by selfish ambition, who refuse obedience to the truth and take the wrong for their guide, there will be fury of retribution. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who is an evil-doer, for the Jew first and then the Greek also; and for every well-doer there will be glory, honour and peace, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek … it is not by hearing the law, but by doing it, that men will be justified before God.” Romans2 4-14.

    He later, in the same chapter, says that those who say people steal — are they also a thief? And so forth. He also goes into, in Chapter 3, a possible justification of evil, in that some are saying that he claims it’s okay to do evil, so that good may come, and that the people who say this are wrong.

    Or in Romans 12, starting with verse 13. He lists calling blessings down on persecutors, care as much of others as you do for yourself, don’t pay back evil for evil, feed your hungry enemy and “don’t let evil conquet you, but use good to defeat evil.”

    In these Roman verses alone, Paul is drawing a very clear line between what is good and evil, and it’s based on the actions themselves. In some cases, it’s based on the intent behind the actions. Perhaps for Paul, the two go hand-in-hand.

    But if we say that it’s really only good if accompanied by faith, then aren’t we altering what “good” means? Like, to overcome evil with good. That goes along with feeding an enemy, because then you’ll shame the enemy’s actions. Yet if good is all about faith, then how will that shame the enemy? It’s the action that’s key there. Why couldn’t a non-Christian also overcome evil with good, and it still be ‘good’ in the ‘truly good’ sense?

    This might also help with the discussion: in the Greek, ‘good’ was ‘agathos;” benefit, well. There’s also the word ‘kalos: “beautiful, but chiefly (figuratively) good (literally or morally), i.e. valuable or virtuous (for appearance or use, and thus distinguished from agaqo – agathos 18, which is properly intrinsic):–X better, fair, good(-ly), honest, meet, well, worthy.”

    ‘Righteousness’ is ‘dikaiosune: dikaioV – dikaios 1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:–righteousness”

    ‘dikaios is “dike 1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively):–just, meet, right(-eous.”

    So are we then saying that to be good and to be righteous are the same thing?

    I pulled all these from this site: http://www.htmlbible.com.

    It’s a great tool.

  5. Sorry OneSmallStep, didnt read your post yet, i will though.

    btw, im not going to get all into this like last time, i’m just going to clarify.

    Well, last time i looked, believing is a fairly large (if not huge) part of the gospels and the letters.

    I never said faith alone btw. here’s what my Bible says about the verse in James talking about works vs faith. it explains what i believe: James 2:14-26 “In verses 14-20, 24, 26 “faith” s not used in the sense of genuine, saving faith…It is a mere intellectual acceptance of certain truths without trust in Christ as Savior. James is also not saying that a person is saved by works and not by genuine faith. Rather, he is saying, to use Martin Luther’s words, that people are justified (declared righteous before God) by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone. Genuine faith will produce good eeds, but only faith in Christ saves.”

    “The interesting part of this quote is – how does loving God with all your heart look? Can we be fooled some that profess this and fooled by some who don’t? Usually, and in most church circles, this phrase ‘love God’ is used about worship as seen in the church, attending church, doing the rituals, being responsible and growing in church responsibility, reading the word, etc. But is that all worship really is?”

    once again, i never specified that loving God was only worship, rituals or being responsible in the church. Those are some ways to express our love, but loving God also GREATLY consists is how Jesus described, loving the unloved, feeding the unfed, etc. Loving, like having faith is an action. However, love is a cognitive action. For example, how can you love a person in this world before you have any idea who they are, what they look like, etc. You have to know something exists before you can love it,.

    Also faith without deeds are useless, but deeds without faith are worthless also.

    “Something doesn’t make sense here?”

    personally, im confused. we obviously are taking two totaly different approached cause when paul says that we are justified by faith the at least times i saw it in the one particular chapter, that pretty much means, justified by faith to me. but yea

    ANYWAY! ignore me, i’m not going to be responding any further, i wasnt planning on a major discussion, like i said, i was just putting my views down so you could have another POV for that response

  6. lol just to make a funny

    we are all using good incorrectly, it can’t be applied to humans anyway, only the father 😀

  7. “believing is a fairly large (if not huge) part of the gospels and the letters.” (Sam)

    I totally agree 100%. However, I am willing to make the distinction that believing can mean in the teachings of Jesus – ie: Love God – love your neighbor as yourself – do unto others as you would like done unto you. The huge key we are discussing this go around is the ‘Love God’ part and faith (how that plays out).

    “Genuine faith will produce good deeds, but only faith in Christ saves.” (Sam)

    On one hand someone can produce good deeds (regardless of faith) and we all agree – but on the other hand faith in Christ ‘saves’…from what and to what? Then why waste time on good deeds in the first place if there is this much of a difference and all someone truly needs is ‘faith’? To me, that is quite the seperation concerning faith. And if the only true concern is eternity – then faith overlooks the ‘now’.

    Isn’t goodness a sign of godliness – this could be just my opinion – but I think so. Look at the very word God (which is similar to good) – one could as easily say godliness is good-liness – and that idea does shine through in the whole bible. Some word play on my part but it has some legitimacy.

    “You have to know something exists before you can love it” (Sam)

    Love is also a concept and a way of living/thinking. The Beatles write a song called ‘all you need is love’ – playing on that same idea – this way of living – an essence that surrounds your character. I think it is very possible to show many aspects of love to people we barely know – if we have at our core the idea of love first and foremost. However, in relationships – we also grow to love someone – so I guess I know exactly where you’re coming from.

    “that pretty much means, justified by faith to me” (Sam)

    I looked at that and it does look that easy – and when I read that is what i also thought. However, I have read all of Paul’s letters and he does state that faith is about works and some deeds actually sentence someone in God’s eye (ie: evil and wicked deeds). So for me, as easy as the Roman 3 passage looks it is not 100% verified by Pauls other letters where he seems to be very adamant on supplying teachings for righteousness (just) and evil (un-just) – and there is huge disctinction between them regardless if someone is in the church or not (the letters are directed at churched people and not people outside the faith). This either makes Paul hypocritical (which I think is not the case) or Romans 3 is saying something else more than just the obvious about faith.

    “i was just putting my views down so you could have another POV for that response” (Sam)

    Agreed – but I think the discussion will push us all further into developing our faith in deeper ways. Yael’s link about those 2 Jewish rabbi’s had a very interesting story about this – how one died lonely and unchallenged when the other passed on – he missed this and this is what we have now found!

  8. “…but I think the discussion will push us all further into developing our faith in deeper ways. ”

    while i agree, this is also an area where i have my beliefs cemented. As in, they aren’t going to be changing, so if i continued i would only become frustrated rather than learn. i dont want a debate to become an argument because arguments are useless.

    lol yes the Beatles did write that song, but it was also their album Yellow Submarine, and while i agree with loving is a way of life, as is faith, that was when the band discovered LSD in a very very very very very big way.

  9. “this is also an area where i have my beliefs cemented” (Sam)

    Okay, the choice is yours to discuss or not to discuss and I will respect your position.

    “that was when the band discovered LSD in a very very very very very big way.” (Sam)

    Timothy Leary days – lol…while it is true that was the time they were into LSD – this motif does stick with each of them for a long time after.

  10. The discussion, from what I am reading in the comments, is centering on two topics. Faith and Action.

    Does faith, in and of itself, make one good? I would think no, but then I’m not God and cannot make the ultimate decision. I can only speculate. Does good work, in and if itself, make one good? Once again I would think no, and once again, I am not God and I can only speculate.

    I don’t pretend to think for God or presume for one second that I know what is going on in God’s mind. I don’t even know what’s going on in my 11 year old son’s mind, and I could not accurately tell you what he is going to do from one moment to the next.

    My take on it is this. Faith and Action, go hand in hand, and cannot be separated. The follower of any spiritual practice, I think, would naturally assume that faith requires active involvement in living out that faith. To be truly ‘faithful’, I have to totally and wholly become involved in practicing my faith.

    My whole being has to partake, (I like the Cree understanding on this), meaning I have to be totally involved, or active, with my spirit, my emotions, my physical body, and my mind.

    Faith gives action a purpose, Action gives faith meaning. I want to have healthy relationships with the Father or All/Jesus/Holy Spirit and with my neighbour. For me to have healthy relationships I have to live out my faith. I believe in God, I trust His Word, His teachings, I follow the path that is set out for me. (Even though I have a choice and predestination debate taking on within me at the moment). When I actively live out my faith, I am allowed to be the person God created me to be, and relationships are for the most part healthier.

    While I admire the atheist (if there is such a person) for doing the right thing, I personally could not choose that path and it is not an option for me. Will God justify the non-believer? I do not know, and its not for me to know. I trust that God will judge in a fair manner.

    However, if I were to ever encounter an atheist, and the atheist just decided to disclose his/her atheism, I think I would try to learn the reasons behind the choice to be an athiest and then I would be “sneaky as a snake” and creatively offer my harmless take on all things God.

  11. I’m not a person who does very much blog-surfing and not too many atheists, or non-atheists for that matter, are visiting my site. So, I rely on my home community for such atheist encounters, which never happen. I can honestly say I have never an atheist, or maybe they’re just not self-disclosing to me for fear of my crafty sneaky snake tactic. LOL

  12. Just1 – ‘fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice – won’t fool me again’ (George W Bush)

    Just1 is my older brother (not sure if he wanted to remain anonymous but I have to let the cat out of the bag) – it took me awhile to figure this out then he put this photo on his profile and then I knew it was. Greet him, meet him, and even visit his site (he’s a link of mine). Welcome to the greatest convo on earth – the blog world – feel free to say anything you want – this is the testing ground for theology that ‘works’.

    Here is some words to the wise though – Yael is Jewish and her blog(s) truly rock for views on the Tanakh/Torah, OSS is a very liberal thinker and I find some of her thinking quite deep, Dagoods is an athiest – and a genius if you ask me, Naked Pastor is a bloque/pastor from our East and is quite intriguing, De-conversion is a site of very smart ex-Christians (that’s where I originally posted this comment), Shane Vander hart is my American – slightly conservatiev pal, and the rest of the links will lead down various religous rabbit holes. It’s truly great time had by all.

  13. Another link worth checking out – Stupid Church People – great crowd of speakers there also and they like controversial issues also – and Steve comes directly out of Rick Warren’s church and literally questions a lot of it’s audacity.

  14. Aww, another failed experiment in human behaviour modification. I guess my sneaky snake tactic does work. LOL.

    I do check out all the blogs you have listed and comment once in awhile at NorthVU’s. I kind of freaked out the jollybeggar, I think, and had a laugh. I run into the jollybeggar once in awhile, but never let on that I comment on NorthVu’s blog. I’ll let him figure it out for himself.

    For the rest of the crew, you’ll find out that I am this jaded, once upon a time ultra-conservative, more wise I hope, blackballed pastor. I blog from my ivory tower, the sanctuary of peace and hope I have called it. Which, incidently, is just down the street from the jollybeggar’s home church.

    If you want to know about the “Voice in the Wilderness” ideas that I speak about in Saskatchewan, you’ll have to check out the link. I may begin blogging on the theology that got my blackballed in my home community.

  15. Well I look forward to the posts personally – and I think it is good to have quite a few of us dialoging the issues within our faith.

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