Today’s thought “No one does good” (January 28)


“No one does good. Not even one!”

In Romans 3:10-18 the apostle Paul quotes from a series of six Psalms, a Proverb, and Isaiah, all making this same point. There is no one who is righteous. All turn aside. Why say it so many times? Maybe so it will actually penetrate. Because, face it, we like to think of ourselves as “basically good” people.

Now, there are times we’re acutely aware of our own shortcomings. And there are even times our awareness goes deeper, and we know that “shortcomings” is a euphemism that greatly understates our sin. Take a minute right now, and look at Paul’s collection in Romans 3. It should be sobering, ought to humble us.

And then, consider what Jesus has to say on the subject:

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

Same message, isn’t it? With the addition that not even Jesus could think of himself as good.

Do you find this dispiriting? In one sense, it’s intended to be. Paul intends that we be deflated, enough that we understand we cannot be good enough to gain eternal life. Our naturally prideful spirit needs to be humbled, in recognition that it’s only by God’s phenomenal grace that we have hope. However, it’s definitely not Paul’s intent that we feel so worthless that we conclude we’re beyond redemption. If that were his intent, the whole rest of the letter would be pointless!

Going on in the chapter, in verse 23 he repeats,

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

But then he goes on:

AND are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s point in these chapters of Romans is that we may have complete confidence in the redemption, the salvation, the glory we’re called to and promised. But the confidence is not, even in small measure, in ourselves. And another “but”: But that our behaviour, our outlook, the whole of our life, must be turned around, transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

Is this a balancing act we have any hope of pulling off? To have total confidence, but not in ourselves? To fully embrace that we are not good, in fact humbled right down to the ground, but also embrace that we are transformed, made just, exalted?

Even Jesus refused to be called good. Yet he also foretold that he would say — to us! —

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

The basis for the commendation, the welcome into the joy of the Lord, is what the servant did. What we do does matter. Certainly Jesus did good, and he even makes mention of it sometimes. Which tells us what we can aspire to. The Lord wants us doing good! We aren’t good. Period. But we can be transformed.

All this is so basic. We’ve known it since we were spiritual babies; it’s the “milk” of the word. Why repeat it then? Well, Paul does, in fact leans hard on it. It must be that we need it.

Love, Paul



Today’s thought “Going with the right people” (January 01)

Today’s thought “Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity” (January 15)

Additional thought for today 2 February: Transformed Christians Let evil not defeat you

Today’s thought “Let us not grow weary of doing good” (April 4)

Today’s thought “Look carefully” (April 7)

Today’s Thought “Leaving you an example” (June 12)

Today’s thought July 11 Reading 3 – Matthew 12:50


Additional reading

  1. Is your mind thirsty?
  2. Building up the spirit of the soul
  3. Light and Salt – Parables of Influence
  4. Making sure to be ready and to belong to the escaped ones
  5. Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 1 Charity and neighbour love
  6. Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued 7: Matthew 7:1-5 Judgment and neighbor love
  7. Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained
  8. Blessed is the man who does not heed the counsel of this world
  9. Every Believer Must Do Good Works and Proclaim the Gospel
  10. Our life depending on faith
  11. A Living Faith #7 Prayer
  12. Faith and trial
  13. Redemption #8 Righteousness by Faith
  14. Scattering of peoples who delight in wars
  15. To proclaim the day of vengeance
  16. A Ransom for all 2 Corresponding price
  17. Atonement and the race been bought
  18. To will being present in us but to do it not always evident

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