This is the sermon for Sunday, September 25th, 2011.
(Unless noted, all Scripture references is from the ESV)
Bless God part 9
Do good moral people go to hell?
This is the 9th sermon in our series entitled, “Bless God.” In this series we are looking into God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”
We are in the question portion of the series – endeavoring to answer many questions that are being asked in the Church today.
Today we are going to be tackling the question that many people ask: “Do good moral people go to hell?” We often hear people when asking this type of question ask it like this example: “What about those who have never heard, but never did any dreadful sin, were great parents, never stole or injured anyone?” Or another similar one: “What about someone who never trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and yet lived better than most Christians do?” Somehow many feel that this type of question is an argument against Jesus being the only way to be rescued from the torments of hell as well as the only way to know the one true God and enter heaven.
But this really is a trick question; for no one is born nor dies apart from Christ as a good moral person. Oh, they may be more moral than many people around, but they are not perfect in their morality. In God’s eyes, they are horrible, unrighteous sinners deserving of His perfect wrath.
In this sermon, we are going to look at a very important doctrine that bears this truth of no one truly being morally good; it’s called the doctrine of total depravity or original sin, or as I like to say it – the doctrine of man’s total inability. We are also going to let the Scriptures guide us in our answers this morning. Let’s begin.
Question: What is the doctrine total depravity, original sin, or total inability?
Answer: “The consequence of the fall of man, every person is born morally corrupt, enslaved to sin, and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God.”
There are many doctrines out there that many people believe. But the test if a doctrine is correct is not our background, or belief system – but the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. And while the Bible does not use the terms “Total depravity, Original sin, and Total Inability” as titles to this doctrine; the Bible does teach this doctrine rather strongly. So we are going to reveal some important truths the Bible teaches concerning this doctrine of man’s fallen condition by looking at the texts themselves.
We were born sinful.
Now before we look at the text, I want us to look at this truth from a natural viewpoint for a few moments. You can see this in every baby from very early moments in their development. One of the first things they develop early on is a sense of ownership – you know what I’m talking about right? They go around saying, “Mine, Mine, Mine.” And when they do, they get rather ugly about it. Folks, this is just old fashioned coveting. Also, disobedience to parents is something that begins very early in the growth of a child as well.
Now let’s look at some Scriptures.
Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
The Psalmists brings this important truth out, in sin did his mother conceive him. We were brought forth in iniquity because our parents were sinners also.
Job 15:14 – What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?
Man cannot be pure, we cannot be righteous: why? Well, we were naturally born and conceived in sin.
Job 25:4-6 – 4How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? 5Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; 6 how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”
Bildad would not win the “think positive about yourself” reward would he? He is using some very strong language to describe the condition of man.
Our minds think on evil.
Genesis 6:5 – The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
This verse is in the context of the Noah and the flood narrative. Mankind was wicked on the earth; their thoughts and their hearts were on evil continually.
Surely though, this type of wickedness died out with them in the flood, it doesn’t mean that man’s heart continued in this condition – does it? Well, let’s continue looking into the Flood narrative because God says something about this I believe.
Genesis 8:21 – And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
God had poured His just wrath out on mankind, only sparing those within the ark. And here God makes a promise, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…” But right in the middle of God’s promise He says something important: “…for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” This statement proves to us the truth that man’s heart is on evil continually did not die out in the flood.
All people sin.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 – Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
Before we go to what is known as the classic passage to prove that all people sin, I wanted to take us to what Solomon said here within the Old Testament. He acknowledges that there is no one righteous on this earth who never sins.
Romans 3:23 – … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Our hearts are deceitful and beyond cure.
Jeremiah reveals this in his prophetic book.
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Let’s unpack this quickly:
- “The heart is deceitful above all things”: He is talking about the human heart. It’s not just deceitful, but deceitful above all things. I believe you can say it perhaps this way: “The human heart is the most deceitful thing there is, far above all other things that deceive.”
- “and desperately sick”: Not just deceitful for the purpose of being deceitful, but the human heart is diseased – and the disease is called “sin.”
- “who can understand it?”: No person truly understands the deceitfulness of the human heart, even after all the studies that science performs. That is why we are often shocked when a mother may kill her child, or someone we thought was a good moral person having a secret, horrible life that has been revealed.
Jeremiah 13:23 – Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
Let me state this another way: It would be easier for a person to literally change the color of their skin by their mere decision than it would be for someone who is evil to change themselves into someone good.
The last two points both come out of Ephesians chapter 2. Let’s look at them as we close.
All are dead in their trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-3 – 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Let’s unpack these verses quickly.
- Paul is writing to Christians in Ephesus here and he is arguing for salvation being a free gift. But before he gets to this, he reveals a truth that is true of everyone.
- We were dead in our trespasses and sins.
- We followed the dictates of Satan and this world’s system.
- We lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out our evil desires.
- And we were BY NATURE children of wrath – like the rest of mankind.
- While this is bad news – Paul introduces the gospel, and we want to end this sermon with the gospel this morning.
The good news is God has made us alive and saved us!
Ephesians 2:4-10 – 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Let’s unpack these verses.
- While we were dead in sin – God stepped in (but God) and made us alive together with Christ.
- He also raised us up with him and seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
- We are saved by His grace, not our works.
- This grace and the faith we are saved through are both gifts from God, so there is no boasting on our parts in our salvation.
- We are God’s workmanship – He continues to work on us.
There are no good moral people according to Scripture. We are all sinners, deserving the just wrath of God as punishment for our sins. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent Jesus to suffer God’s wrath in our place, so that we might be saved. The good news is, we go to heaven, not because of our morality – but because of the morality of Jesus Christ!