It deeply concerns me when I hear a professing Christian telling an unbeliever that he is a good person. Jesus said that there is no one good but God (see Mark 10:18). Anyone who says that human beings are good is calling Jesus a liar. My concern isn’t just that the unbeliever is being confirmed in his deception, but it makes me doubt the genuine nature of the Christian’s salvation, because he seems to have no biblical understanding of sin himself. This deception comes when the Law is not used to bring the knowledge of sin (see Rom. 3:19,20) and to show sin to be “exceedingly sinful” (see Rom. 7:13).
Not surprisingly, Christians who think sinners are “good” believe that preaching the gospel simply means to tell them “Jesus loves you,” something for which there is no precedent in Scripture. Wherever the love of Christ is preached, it is almost always in direct correlation to the cross (see Matt. 10:22 comment). And the cross makes no sense without mentioning sin, and sin makes no sense without preaching the Law, for “sin is transgression of the Law” (1 John 3:4, KJV).
I thought I was a good person until I understood that in God’s eyes, “good” means to be morally perfect. The only just rule by which we can measure our morality is the Ten Commandments. It was through the moral Law that I learned God considers lust to be adultery and hatred to be murder. When I measured myself by that standard I realized I was not good. At all.
It is also not surprising in this case that unbelievers would have kind words for the Christian. This is because they are not offended by his message. However, to fail to warn sinners of the terrible consequences of sin (damnation in hell), and to instead tell them that they are good people, is the ultimate betrayal. Jesus warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
Luke 18:19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.