Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. – James 1:16-18
Hitler. Mussolini. Stalin. Hussein. Fill in the blank. All were government leaders. All were corrupt. But the main point I wish to express by their mention is this: They were tyrants. They abused their power, which reminds me of that saying, Absolute power corrupts…absolutely. Ruling with iron fists (and iron hearts) they didn’t even begin to consider the good of their people. Their ultimate goals were not pure, but self-serving. Whethere it was their racism, classism, attempts to secure a good legacy at any cost, or just priding in their control over the masses, it can be shown they were selfish, not sacrificial in their rule.
Many anti-Christs in our day would like for folks to not believe in God, particularly the true God as made known by the Scriptures. When they fail to persuade people of such, they proceed to paint a caricature of a god who is like the previously mentioned dictators. They make foolish remarks like, “If God’s so good, then why…” Fill in the blank with all the typical phrases. “…does He allow cancer? Why do children get abused?” So on, so forth, etc. ad nauseum. They contend that a good and loving Ruler wouldn’t permit such things.
The problem with such thinking is that it’s rooted in some idea that man is basically good. I believe it was John Locke who articulated the phrase tabula rasa which means “clean slate”. So the idea was that man is born innocent or neutral and at birth has a clean slate. Ideas have consequences, my friends. Based on this false assertion (that man is born with a clean slate) is the idea that, amongst other things:
1. If man lives perfectly, he can attain eternal life apart from anyone or anything else’s help. In turn, this leads to:
2. The idea of man’s work being measured by a scale at the end of time. So long as his good outweighs his bad, he’s “in”.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, though, such a view is patently false. Man is bent, from conception, toward sin, death, and with a hatred of God’s law. The importance of this basic doctrine is almost incalculable. It is precisely in light of this truth we may discern the inherent and absolute goodness of God. You see, God is not a tyant, nor a dictator. He is a good God. He alone is truly good and though He rules and reigns both sovereignly and supremely, He does so by virtue of His goodness, justice, mercy, and grace.
This is not to say he overlooks sin. No, He does not avoid exacting His justice for the penalty which sin brings. Let it be known: there is no sin that will go unpunished. Not one! Just as each and every person born of mere human parents is a transgressor by nature, so will each and every sin committed by those persons be known, accounted for, and paid in full.
You ask, “But, Josh, what of Christians? Are their sins not forgiven?” Certainly! But they are not simply written off. No! May it never be thought of in such a manner. Every sin ever committed by a true Christian is an affront to God’s holiness and purity. Because God is just, He cannot, nay, He will not cheat Himself. He doesn’t merely pretend that our sins didn’t occur. His justice demands payment.
Herein we find God’s goodness! Christ the Lord has made atonement for each of our sins and has satisfied God’s demand for justice to be served. Christ was accursed for us! That, brothers and sisters, is the epitome of Good. If the Christian can grasp this truth fully, then all things God sends his direction can be seen as ultimately flowing from the goodness of God.
Precisely because we believe God is inherenty good, we can be confident in forgiveness of sin. Because we believe God is good, we can boast of our infirmities, glory in our afflictions, and persevere under trial. Because we believe God is inherently good we can have assurance of salvation, despite our ongoing war with the flesh that still lingers.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord for He, in His goodness, has graciously, mercifully and certainly brought us from darkness into His glorious light! Think on this, Christian, and be not deceived; rather, bask in God’s goodness, whatever your humble circumstance.