Be good, be good Johnny


Can Johnny ever be good?  If Johnny is born again everyone would say, yes Johnny can be good.  But what if Johnny was still lost in his sin?  Can Johnny be good then?

What is it in theologians heads that make them say Johnny can never be good if he is not born again? 

Can Jesus ever be good?  All of us would say yes, but for some theologians Jesus is not very well behaved.  In fact He is hard to control.

Jesus seems to forget to teach in accordance with some theologians teachings.  For instance Jesus isn’t very good when he disagrees with those who have theology degrees. 

Theologians teach Johnny can never be good if he is lost in his sin.  Jesus says the theologians are not very good at theology when they teach this.

Jesus says even evil Johnny does good by giving good things to his children.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him![1]

Oh how bad has this Jesus been?  Now be good Jesus, be good.  But Jesus does not pay attention to theologians, for he only does bad again.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?[2]

Can Johnny be good if he is lost in his sin?  Is a man lost in his sin if he observes the Law to obtain his own righteousness?  Why yes he is.  But can Johnny be good by observing the Law, or is the Law to the lost a sin too?

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”[3]

Certainly the observance of the Law does not do evil but good.  Even to those who transgress the Law, the Law is not sin.  So then the law is good and the commandment is good and righteous things are done even by the lost who try to obtain their own righteousness from the Law.

It is good, not a sin to observe do not murder?  It is good, not a sin to observe do not covet?  It is a good, not a sin to observe do not steal?  Even if done for the wrong reasons it is good, not a sin?

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.[4]

So can Johnny be good?  Can a lost Johnny do good?  Yes our Lord Jesus says he can, who is not so good for some theologians and Paul, Christ’s Apostle, is not so good to these same theologians.  For they teach a lost Johnny can do good apart from the saving knowledge of Christ.

It is bad theologians who teach Johnny can never be good if he is not a Christian.  Yet scripture teaches that many a good Johnny needs a savior too.

What do you think?  Do you think Johnny can be good?  Or do you believe in the total depravity of man?  Do you think a lost man has no good in him or do you think in your own experiences and the words of Jesus and Paul, that a good man who is lost still can die in his sins?  Or is it only the lost man who is evil in all things that he does that can die in his sins?


[1] Matthew 7:11

[2] Matthew 5:46

[3] Romans 7:7

[4] Romans 7:12

9 thoughts on “Be good, be good Johnny

  1. Total Depravity has to do with the “spiritual” nature of man, or humanity in and with sin. P.T. Forsyth called man under sin as ‘Helpless Guilt’. “Total depth of loss and need, constant, recurring even ceaseless guilt.” Such is the nature of sin always in man. This does not end completely till death even in the Christian! Only crucifixion (Col.3:3), death to self – the world, the flesh, the diabolos (Gk.) devil.

    Pascal, knew that only an efficacious grace, which determines my will, can move me forward. Man is an aberrant wander! (Rom. 7:18) Christ alone is our only freedom, but here there is not perfection.

  2. One of the things that must be considered as this is discussed is the truth that “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” In light of that, our “goodness” in comparison to God’s goodness isn’t that good after all. Further it was Jesus who pointed out to a man that only God is good – this when he was called good teacher.
    If therefore we are not good, nor can our goodness be seen as good but rather filthy, I would suggest Jesus was making a point, not saying they were truly doing good things.

    • I agree that our goodness is as filthy rags. In the King James it says our righteousness. However, I wanted to chew a little on one of the legs of a doctrine that says we have no free will. That men are in two camps. The first is the elect and we are drawn by irresistible grace. Meaning we do not have a personal decision to follow Christ. Or we are in the group of the unelected and going to hell.

      By chewing on a line of thinking that man can do absolutely no good without being regenerated takes a bite out of the doctrine that we do not have free will.

      • I would argue that the line you are discussing is actually a man-made line. In fact it would seem based on Scripture that both must be true. That there is the elect and irresistible grace, but we also choose. In our way of thinking these things appear to contradict each other, so we choose sides. However, if God is greater than our minds, it may be that these actually intersect somewhere down the road in such a way that does not defy logic, but is in fact shall we say, super-logical.
        our minds cannot grasp all the things of God. He is beyond us. However we can accept and see by evidence and Scripture the truth even when we can’t dissect it and completely understand it.

  3. What about this from the Beltic confession in article 14?

    Doesn’t this teach man is totally deprived and can do no good at all?

    Yes I believe that spiritually we are totally deprived.

    For who can boast of being able to do anything good by himself, since Christ says, “No one can come to me unless my Father who sent me draws him”?^24

  4. Dave,

    As far as salvation is concerned, man cannot do anything toward saving grace! It is God’s work top to bottom…Rom. 4: 5, etc. Even “repentance” is a work and enablement of God! All of Grace!

  5. (Rom 4:5 NIV) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    Are you saying this verse teaches that repentance is a work of God? This verse doesn’t mention repentance.

    What I read in this verse is the grace of God is given to those who trust in the promises of God and it is not earned, but purely on believing God who makes the promise. Just like our father Abraham.

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