Naughty or Nice?

December 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when every little girl and boy tries to make it onto the “nice/good” list. In a recent Rassmussen poll (Dec. 8th), the consensus was in and 9% of Americans believe that they would make the “naughty/bad” list. Nine percent. Another 77% say that they would make the “good” list and 14% weren’t sure about it. The poll clarified things a little bit by saying that they didn’t really define “naughty” or “nice”.
I can only shake my head and laugh at this. It’s not surprising at all. The poll left the definition of good and bad up to the individual and 77% of Americans have defined themselves as good. If we go by the definition found in the dictionary, someone is good if they are “pleasing, agreeable, delightful, virtuous, respectable, and decorous”. On the other hand, the definition of naughty is “disobedient, mishcievous, improper, tasteless, indecorous, or indecent”. This means that 77% of Americans believe that they are agreeable, virtuous, and respectable. If you ask the majority of people on the streets if they are good, they will say that they are without hesitation that they are good. Some go to the point of painting themselves as saints. They are the most helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, (and humble) people that you’ve ever met. They’re veritable Boy Scouts. The 14% who aren’t sure are at least honest enough to consider that they’ve done something over the past year that is less than virtuous. Then there are those poor souls who make up the 9% of naughty people in America. They are the dark, horrible, twisted souls who roam about seeking trouble and making lives miserable. What’s amusing about this is the fact that all of this “naughty and nice” stuff is all to determine whether or not a non-existent fat man in a red suit can bring them a lot of material goods.
If you were asked the same question, how would you answer? Would you be part of the 77% that feels they are good? Or, would you see yourself in that shadowy corner with the 9% of naughty people? Would you be sitting on the fence with the 14% trying to decide if what you did was really bad enough to put you over onto the “naughty” list? The great comfort in all of this is that if you do happen to be one of the souless demons who are naughty, you only forfeit the huge boxes full of gizmos, gadgets, and other assorted goodies that you would have gotten if you weren’t so utterly deplorable. Instead, you get a big, black, sooty piece of coal and that’s it. If you want to look at the bright side, at least it will keep you warm…I can’t help but wonder were all of those people that we put on a pedestal would answer if asked this question? What about Barack Obama? I mean, he’s saved the economy, won the Nobel peace prize, talked tough to the enemies that no longer fear this nation, “saved or created” millions of jobs, and still had time to spend billions of dollars and drink a beer with an officer and a racist professor. Surely he’s on the “nice” list…What about Joel Osteen? If he’s living his best life now because it’s his time and he’s got the blessing, surely he made the “nice” list. He spends weekend after weekend preaching a “feel good” gospel to millions while taking in just as much. That smile alone has got to be enough to get him on. Ugh.
The problem with this whole scenario is that the people on the list are now defining themselves. The Bible says that every man will declare their own goodness (Proverbs 20:6). This is exactly what we see. It’s gotten so bad in this country that we now declare not only our own goodness, but other peoples’ goodness too! We don’t have criminals anymore. We have victims. Forget that they murdered someone in cold blood. They had a bad childhood or their mom forgot to tuck them in one night. They are victims too. This is ridiculous. In light of the study, the only people that are even close to correct are the dark-hearted minority who will admit that they are rotten to the core. These people know that they have done things that aren’t right. And they are honest enough to admit it.
When you contrast the man-centered, sugar-coated system of “naughty and nice” with the God centered system found in the Bible, there is a HUGE difference. In man’s system, he get’s to choose what it means to be naughty or nice. In God’s system, it is God who chooses. That’s scary enough until you consider the fact that God is holy, perfect, righteous, and hates sin. With that kind of background information, God choosing good and bad should have us trembling in fear. Man’s system is so arbitrary that anyone could find themselves good. God’s system is not arbitrary. God has made it black and white. There is no gray. There is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-3/Romans 3:10). From the start, not one person makes it on the “nice” list when God’s system is used. In man’s system, you have a year to try and do more good than bad to make sure that you “make the list”. In God’s system, there is nothing you can do to make yourself good. You are born in sin and without God’s help, you will die in sin. In man’s system, you may lose the things you covet, but that’s all you lose if you don’t make the “nice” list. In God’s system, if you don’t “make the list” you lose more than just a few material things. You will not be able to enjoy heaven, sure. But losing heaven is the best part of not making God’s list. If you fail to do what is necessary to have your sins paid for, you will know eternal torment like nothing you could ever imagine. While our current president may have “abolished torture”, make no mistake – God hasn’t. If you die in your sins, you will spend every waking day for the rest of eternity in a lake of fire and brimstone where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. You will be torment in ways that only God knows and there will be no end. Kinda makes coal seem pretty good doesn’t it? In man’s system, you get to try again each year for the big stack ‘o stuff. You know that you get a clean slate. In God’s system, there is no guarantee. You don’t even know if you’re promised tomorrow. In the blink of an eye your life could be over. Some of you go to church and have heard the gospel and hardened your heart toward God’s efforts to reach out to you. You think that you will have another chance. Some are even bold (foolish, really) to think that you’ll live how you want and then repent on your deathbed. You don’t know what’s going to happen five minutes from now much less fifty years from now. In the Old Testament story of the exodus of Israel from Egypt, Pharoah hardened his heart against the commands of God. He did it through at least five of the plagues, even after his magicians, leaders, and priests warned him that it was God’s doing. Then, there comes a time in the narrative where the Bible says that God hardened Pharoah’s heart. God knew that he would continue rebelling and He had had enough.
Too often today, the church still plays by man’s system. They tell people that they can do good works to get to heaven (Roman Catholicism, Mormanism). They tell them that they have plenty of time or preach a false gospel that is focused on the “blessing” and being “rich” (contrast that with 1 Timothy 6:7-11 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5). The truth is this: If you die in your sins and have no payment for them, you will end up in hell. Your sins will send you to hell whether you’ve heard of Jesus or not. If your conscience weighs heavy with guilt then there is still time for you. If you are willing to admit that the lies that you’ve told and the things you’ve stolen and the lewd, x-rated thoughts you’ve had are sins and will condemn you to hell, then you can be saved. All you have to do is repent of those things (and all the others!) and then put your faith in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, to save you. He will do it if you truly repent. This Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world. Please, take some time to consider your sins and then cry out to God in repentance and faith. It is your only hope and the greatest gift you could ever get…

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