No substitute for goodness

Published 8:04 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham


Dear Rev. Graham: Why does the Bible say that no one is good, “no not one”? – N.G.

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Dear N.G.: The word good in the language of Scripture literally means “to be like God,” because He alone is the One who is perfectly good. It is one thing to have high ethical standards but quite another for the Holy Spirit to produce the goodness that has its depths in God Himself. The meaning is more than just “doing good.” Goodness goes far deeper. Goodness is love in action. It carries with it not only the idea of righteousness but righteousness demonstrated in everyday living. It is doing good out of a good heart, to please God, without expecting medals and rewards. Christ wants this kind of goodness to be the way of life for every Christian. People can find no substitute for goodness, and no spiritual touch-up artist can imitate it.

We can do good deeds, and by practicing principles of goodness, we can witness to those around us that we have something “different” in our lives – perhaps something they themselves would like to possess. We may even be able to show others how to practice the principles of goodness in their own lives. But the Bible says, “Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it [goes] away” (Hosea 6:4, KJV). True goodness is a “fruit of the Spirit,” and our efforts to achieve it in our own strength alone can never succeed.

We must be constantly aware that Satan can take any human effort and twist it to serve his own purposes, but he cannot touch the spirit that is covered by the blood of Christ and rooted deep in the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can produce the goodness that can stand up under any test.


(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)