To understand the answer to this question, we have to understand what Christianity is really about. When we understand that, then we will know why Christianity talks about sin so much and why its message is not about the “goodness in people”.
We will also understand where the “goodness in people” leads us …
And we will see that this message of Christianity is not negative, but that it is the most powerful and positive message the world has ever heard.
What human goodness can’t do
What is human goodness? There are many nice people who do a lot of good. There are many brave people who do courageous things for the sake of others. There are heroes who sacrifice themselves for the greater good.
But even “good” people have their limits. Even though they do many kind, unselfish or brave things, there will be a time when they think selfish thoughts, become irritated, are unhappy over what others do, or get angry at their partner.
I have a challenge for you: try only saying and thinking good words or thoughts and only doing good things for one whole day. Not one word, thought or deed with even a bit of selfishness, laziness, jealousy, lust, irritation, anger, cheating — sins that we all have inherited in our human nature. No exceptions! One selfish, proud or irritated thought and you’ve failed.
You see, we cannot be truly good by nature. Even in our best efforts we often want others to see and thank us for what we’ve done, so even our best efforts are not totally unselfish.
When we hear people talking about sin, it sounds like something very old-fashioned and that the world has moved on. But even in this modern world evil is still called evil — as in murderers, dictators, abusers and terrorists. We think evil is something other people, other governments, other countries do on a big scale. But this awful evil that we can see people do, is sin and comes from sin. And sin, whether we admit it or not, is something that is inside every human being. Even the “good” ones.
Jesus Himself needed help not to sin
Jesus was born as a man, and had a sinful human nature just like us as we read in Hebrews 2:14; therefore God had to give Him “the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38), and He needed to pray for help from God “with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) when He saw His own nature, even while doing good. His struggle was that none of His works would be influenced in any way by the sin in His nature.
Therefore, unlike the “human” good deeds that we think up ourselves when we want to bless people, the good that Jesus did was blessed by God.
To overcome sin like Jesus did is absolutely possible
Christianity is about becoming like Christ, He who “never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.” 1 Peter 2:22 (NLT). It is about people sharing in godly nature as it is written in 2 Peter 1:4. And this is important to understand: we do not only receive godly nature when we get to heaven. By following Jesus, bit by bit we overcome the sin that is so part of our old nature, just like He did. It is replaced by the fruits of the Spirit, by godly nature, and this happens while we are still alive on earth!
And that is the whole point: human goodness does not lead to godly nature. Even when we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour and received forgiveness for our sins, we still have our sinful human nature and this is what we must get rid of. And because we are followers of Jesus who took up His cross daily and said No to Himself so He never gave in to the sin in His human nature, we must do the same. (Luke 9:23.) And if you do not believe that it is true, read Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24 and Hebrews 12:4.
It is totally possible for us to become like Christ, as we read in Romans 8:29. But then we have to see the sin in ourselves and say No to it so that it dies and godly nature can come in its place. When we really understand this, then talking about sin in this way becomes the most positive thing we can ever do. For we can become free from sin!
Then we will receive power to do God’s will and not our own. Power to be quiet, and power to speak up. Power to give, and power to love. Power to encourage, and power to warn people.
“For the word of the cross seems foolish to those who are on the way to destruction; but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (BBE).