Revelations from the Word

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God only is good

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?' So Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honour your father and your mother.' And he answered and said to Him, 'Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.' Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me" (Mark 10:17-21).

A young man called Jesus 'good teacher'. It is probable that Jesus was not the first to whom he had said that. Jesus then revealed this truth to him, "No one is good except one only, God" (Mark 10:18 inter linear). This young man, like many men, thought that he was good because he observed all the Torah of Moses. But Jesus said to him, "You lack one thing..." And the young man went away very sad. According to the dictionary, 'good' means 'someone who has qualities according to his calling', 'someone who conforms to the rules and morals of society', 'someone who likes to do good', 'someone who shows goodness'. The verdict of Jesus is there: God only is good and all that He does is good, "The Lord is good to all and has compassion on all He has made" (Psalm 145:9).

The goodness of God is not like that of men for it is the fruit of his agape love that natural man cannot have. According to the psalmist God is good:

  • in order to show the way to sinners (Psalm 25:8),

  • in order to lead the humble in what is right (Psalm 25:9),

  • in order to show His mercy to those who keep His Covenant (Psalm 25:10),

  • in order to forgive iniquities (Psalm 25:11),

  • that is why He sent His Son (John 3:16).

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "Love your enemies and bless those who curse you... that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; who causes His sun to rise on the good as well as the bad" (Matthew 5:44-45). We must be sons of God the Father to be good like Him. From his adamic nature man is not able to be good because of his heart that he is not able to change in his own strength. But in God that becomes possible through new birth (Mark 10:27). God is love and because of His love, He wants all men to be saved and transformed to the image of His Son. In effect He wants us to become participants in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

We are able then to "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8) and "Praise Him for his goodness and his wonderful deeds to men" (Psalm 107:21). Only the one who is good (regenerated in Christ) is able to do good works, "Let your light shine then before men, so that they see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).