How Can God Judge Good People: Examining the Problem In More Detail
Dayna Mason on Flickr

In a previous blog post, I explained how God is the standard of goodness, and we all fall short of that standard. We have a false view of goodness when we measure ourselves against other people. When we measure ourselves against God, we do not measure up.

And, this is the problem: if God is perfectly good, and there is no bad in Him, we would corrupt Heaven if we entered there. Even the comparatively little bit of bad in the best person would pollute the perfect goodness of God. Just as the physical characteristics of people are virtually indistinguishable 110 stories atop the John Hancock Building, our relative goodness is indistinguishable from the perspective of the perfect goodness of God.

It is not that God would refuse us because of our imperfection; our own corruption (sin) is the problem. As Ezra pined, “Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” (Ezra 9:15) Our own sin keeps us from God; our sin separates us from God. The problem is us, not God.

We can not enter Heaven in our present state, the “place” where God dwells, because whatever “bad” we have in us would prevent us from entering. Like an invisible force field, we could not enter in. Our sin would catch us short.

A discussion of goodness and badness, however, really misses the point altogether. As I have said, “goodness” is defined by God, and only God is God. We are not. That may seem elementary, and it is – in the sense that it is essential to understanding our problem. To understand more completely, we have to go back to the beginning.

God created the universe and everything in it, including mankind. The Universe operates on a level of “fine-tuning” that is nothing less than spectacular. The universe is so finely-tuned that the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity could not be changed by more than 10100 at the beginning without making life impossible. The universe requires these “constants” (and innumerable variables) to remain in balance (sustained by God) for life to continue.

Into this finely-tuned universe, God created and placed man (male and female) in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27), and God gave this creature, man a choice. (Gen. 2:16-17) God gave man the ability to line up with God’s finely-tuned universe that reflects the integrity and complexity of God His self, or go his own way. We know the story. Man exercised choice, and, by doing so, put man out of step with God and the universe.

It may be, and in all likelihood is, the case that we really had no “choice”, that we were doomed to fail. We are not God; we are not even gods. We are not the standard, and we, therefore, would inevitably fall short.

However one might view it, corruption (sin) entered into the universe God made, and with it death (and all that leads to death – decay, disease, etc.). The corruption was triggered by the temptation to “be like God, knowing God from evil”. (Gen. 3:5) This was the first sin and the root of all sin: pride – the desire to be like God. Some might say that , trough the choice God gave man, man became corrupted and fell into “natural” opposition to God. Regardless of any choice that might be made, we are not God, and any attempt to be like Him, is doomed to fail.

This, of course, was part of the plan. Didn’t God know what man would do? Indeed, God, who created the universe (including time, space and matter) ex nihilo (out of nothing) stands outside of time, space and matter. He can see the beginning, in between and end of time. He knows the beginning and the end, and He certainly knew the “choice” that would be made. He knew we were destined to fail.

This “choice” man was given is only execrable in the realm of time, space and matter. Once life ends, the choice ends. This choice may or may not be illusory; regardless, it certainly feels like choice to us. But this is all part of the plan.

There is something else going on here. God is Person. Our posture to the Person of God is our relationship to God. As a Person, God desires fellowship. In order for us to have fellowship with God, we must have connection (interrelationship).

The possibility of fellowship with God is a result of being created in God’s image. The “badness” (corruption/sin) that interferes with our connection to God is the desire to be “like Him”, the desire to go our own way, the desire to be our own gods. The result of acting on that desire is deviation from God and His “goodness”; thus, our sin (going our own way) is bad in and of itself.

In this way, it is not a matter of cold morality. Morality would not exist but for God, and morality is simply an attribute of God’s nature. Morality, then, is not the standard, itself; God is the standard, and relationship with God is the goal. Relationship with us is God’s goal and His plan for us.

We are set against God in our sinfulness (this gut instinct to be our own gods). The picture of this reality that comes to my mind includes two magnets. God is the big magnet, and we are little magnets. We should be opposite God because there can be only one God. If we stand in our natural posture of wanting to be like God, we are facing the wrong way, and the result is repulsion.

We cannot approach God facing the wrong way. We cannot even get close to Him. We are utterly repelled like two magnetss in which the poles are aligned the wrong way

We need to be changed so that we are facing the right way. We need to be transformed. We need a solution, which is the subject of the next post in this series.

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