How Good is Good

Those of you who read your Bible, have surely read in Matthew and Luke about the young ruler who came to Jesus and said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Matthew 19:16. I am sure that all, or at least most of us, desire eternal life. Hopefully that is our goal and what we are living for. So we should be interested in Jesus’ answer.

“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17.

If no one is good but God, what does that say about you and me? Where are we in the scale of life? Fortunately Jesus did not stop there. He said, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17.

The Ten Commandments express the Character of God. If there is none good but God, and the Ten Commandments are the description of His Character, it would be well for us to learn all that we could about them so we would know what good is. In the final analysis, when all lives come into review before the Judgment seat of God, we will be either good or evil. Only those who are like God, will be fit to live with Him, for God says, “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 18:13.

Let us take a look at the Ten Commandments. “Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29–31.

Here are a few texts that will help us to understand a little more about the power of love. “Love [is] the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10. “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” I John 4:7, 8.

When we understand that God is love and that all love comes from God, we begin to understand why Jesus said, “There [is] none good but God.” Virtually all the love that anyone has was planted in his life by God. Jesus wanted the lawyer to understand that Jesus Himself was God and that all of our goodness comes from Him.

“The ruler had addressed Christ merely as an honored rabbi, not discerning in Him the Son of God. The Saviour said, ‘Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.’ [Luke 18:19.] On what ground do you call Me good? God is the one good. If you recognize Me as such, you must receive Me as His Son and representative.

“ ‘If thou wilt enter into life,’ He added, ‘keep the commandments.’ The character of God is expressed in His law; and in order for you to be in harmony with God, the principles of His law must be the spring of your every action.

“Christ does not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the requirement made in Eden—harmony with God’s law, which is holy, just, and good.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

Why should we oppose the Law of God if it is all love? Let us look at it carefully and see if we really understand what it is saying to us and what love really is.

First we are told, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. In other words, we are not to love any other person, place, or thing more than we love God, and we will want to please God. In order to please Him, we will do what He says. We will be obedient to His requirements, because we know that He loves us so much that whatever He asks of us is for our very best good and happiness.

The second commandment says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4. This one protects us against the futile belief of trusting in some worthless object that cannot think, speak, walk, or help us in any way.

In the Orient, I used to see people kneeling before a rock carved into a likeness of Buddha, expecting help. Once a fire broke out in some thatched huts and the people were pouring water on Buddha, praying for help. Pouring the water on the fire would have been much more effective and may have reduced the damage. Three hundred huts were destroyed in the fire.

We are cautioned in the third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. This commandment helps us to have pure and beautiful speech that emanates from better and purer thoughts about God. It makes us better people with more pleasing conversation. If we really love God, we will not speak of Him carelessly or take His name in vain.

The fourth commandment is the one most rebelled against than any other. It says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11.

This is the commandment that helps us get better acquainted with God and protects us from being deceived by false, evolutionary theories. It provides one day each week to enjoy with our families and teach our children about the things that God has created. The Sabbath should be the happiest day of the week, and by acknowledging these first four commandments, we demonstrate that we love the Lord God with all our heart.

The second table of the Decalogue describes how to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The fifth commandment says, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12. This commandment is the basis of a happy home. What pleasure it is to see a well ordered family consisting of loving parents and obedient children. How much heartache might be spared if children honored their parents.

Then there is a command that says, “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13. This commandment is also based on love. If we truly love our neighbor we would never want to do him or her harm. If this principle were carried out, what a safe, relaxed, and joyful society we would all enjoy.

Another commandment that is so lightly thought of today says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14. Oh, how many broken hearts would be saved if this commandment were always obeyed. It is God’s desire that our homes would be loving and happy and never experience the pain of rejection and humiliation that this sin causes. Every tear that is shed hurts the heart of Christ and every heart that aches and is lonely, pierces His soul. Love would save many a home.

“Thou shalt not steal.” Exodus 20:15. Nobody enjoys the intrusion of a robber. To have someone invade your home or private space and take that which does not belong to them can cause great suffering and loss. To love our neighbor as ourselves means that we would not do anything to him that would cause him any grief or pain by stealing his goods.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Exodus 20:16. How hurtful and damaging it is to be lied about or misrepresented. Lies have resulted in feuds and wars, broken friendships and homes, caused grief and heartache and have had many other damaging results. What peace and satisfaction we all would have if we conquered self and never broke this commandment.

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that [is] thy neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17.

Paul said, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.” Philippians 4:11. Again he says, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” I Timothy 6:8.

What a happy and wonderful world we would live in if we were all happy and content with what we have. The only way this can happen is to heed the instruction that God, in His wisdom, gave us to ensure our best good and happiness.

If we are faithful, one day we will live in that kind of a society, the glories of which we cannot accurately express. We can only let our imagination think about the wonders that we will someday become acquainted with, which will be ours. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I Corinthians 2:9.

A few of the glories and blessings of heaven are recorded in the Bible:

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Revelation 21:1–7.

So, how good is good? To be good, we must overcome all sin. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4. This can only be done by inviting Jesus into our hearts. He said He would live out His life within us, so if it is our desire to have eternal life, then we must invite Jesus into our hearts.

Like David pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

His divine nature united with our human nature overcame the battle with Satan. We also need His divine nature united with our human nature to become good and be like Jesus, and inherit eternal life.

There is none good but God, but our loving Savior has promised to live in our hearts. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:23.

May we all meet together on the sea of glass.

A member of Steps to Life staff, Ruth Grosboll is a retired registered nurse. She worked for many years with her husband in the mission field. She may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.