Introduction: Last week, I heard a speaker talk about the time after
you end your schooling. In general, I liked being in school –
especially college. It was fun to learn. It was great to be in
charge of your own schedule. When grades came out you had feedback
on the quality of your work. What happens after that? The speaker
asked us to imagine that after college we were actually expected to
do something with what we learned! Imagine that! If you regularly
read these lessons, you are in “college.” We are learning about what
the Bible says. Our study this week is about actually doing
something about what we learn from the Bible. Let’s dive right in
and learn more about goodness!
- God is Good, All the Time.
- Read Mark 10:17-18. Our Lord says that only God is good.
Should we forget the rest of this study about goodness
and go turn on the television?
- Wait a minute, I thought we agreed that Jesus is
God? Is Jesus saying He is not God?
- Does the question of whether Jesus is God have
anything to do with the question of going to heaven?
(Who, but God, has complete knowledge of the
qualifications to enter heaven? I think Jesus is
challenging the sincerity of this man’s question. I
don’t think Jesus is denying He is God.)
- Read Mark 10:19-20. Our Lord now tells us that keeping
the commandments (works) is the path to heaven. Does the
this man keep the commandments? (According to him, yes.
He is qualified for heaven!)
- Read Mark 10:21. Where is this found in the Ten
- Is Jesus one of those guys you don’t want to play
games with because He changes the rules whenever you
- Read Mark 10:22-26. The disciples were amazed to hear
that those who had been blessed by God with earthly
wealth somehow were less likely to be blessed by God with
eternal life. How does anything that Jesus has said make
any sense? Let’s go through Jesus’ statements.
- What do the Ten Commandments have to do with taking
money from those who have earned it and giving it to
those who have not? (When the rich man answered that
he had always kept the Ten Commandments, he spoke of
his own efforts. By asking him to give away his
money, Jesus was asking him to rely on God rather
than the money produced by his own efforts.)
- Is Jesus telling us that we must keep the Ten
Commandments to go to heaven? Is giving up all of
our stuff part of the Ten Commandments? (Recall that
Jesus first told the rich man “only God is good.”
Reason was to have the rich man acknowledge that
Jesus was God. When Jesus asked the rich man to sell
his stuff and follow Jesus, that was a request to
depend wholly on Jesus. The first commandment
( Exodus 20:3) says we should have no gods before the
true God. By choosing money over Jesus, the rich man
showed he was not keeping even the first of the Ten
- When Jesus said ( Mark 10:21) “one thing you
lack,” He apparently meant the rich man lacked
the first thing when it came to keeping the Ten
Commandments! What kind of score do you think
you have in keeping the Ten Commandments?
- Read Mark 10:27. What does this teach us about goodness?
(Only God is good. Any goodness we have comes from God,
we cannot produce it by our own efforts.)
- Is effort not involved at all? Would it not take the
most determined effort for this man to give away his
- What if God asked you to give away your best
car? Not everything, just your car. How
difficult a decision would that be?
- Read Romans 3:19-20. Paul and the rich man who questioned
Jesus seem to have two different views of the Ten
Commandments. After the rich man spoke with Jesus, would
he agree with Paul? (Yes. Jesus gave the rich man a
deeper insight into what it meant to keep the
Commandments. Instead of thinking that he kept the
commandments, the rich man was silenced and sad. Paul
tells us that if we understand the Commandments, we
become conscious of the extent of our sins.)
- Must we, like the rich man who came to Jesus, come
to God to more clearly understand the vast gulf
between our actions and true goodness?
- What do Jesus and Paul teach us about the nature of
goodness? (Only God is good. Our first step towards
goodness is recognize our need to depend on God.)
- Humans are Good, All the Time?
- Read Romans 7:7-9. If sin is dead apart from the law,
then it would be important to get rid of the law, right?
- There are many Christians who do not think the law
has any relationship to their new covenant life
today. Are they right? Or, are they like the rich
man who came to Jesus to find out what he needed to
do to enter heaven? (Read Romans 7:13. The rich man
did not understand the sinful nature of his heart,
he did not understand the depth of the law’s
requirements. The same is true of anyone who ignores
the law. They are incapable of understanding their
true lack of goodness.)
- Read Romans 7:14-20. Are good works, is goodness, just
impossible for us?
- Is Paul sounding like your children – “he made me do
it?” (Paul does say that “sin made me do it.” But
his point is not to create blame, but rather to show
that it is essential to recognize the sin in our
- Read Romans 7:24-25 and Romans 8:1-4. It appears that
goodness is possible afterall. What is the key to it?
(Claiming the perfect life of Jesus in place of our life.
Living according to the Spirit. “But the fruit of the
Spirit is … kindness.” Galatians 5:22!)
- Read Romans 8:5. What does this text tell us is goodness?
(Setting our mind on what the Spirit desires. I think we
have the first two steps to goodness. Depending on God,
and then setting our mind on what God desires in our
- Read Romans 8:12-14. Will our goodness increase? Can our
“goodness rating” improve? (When Paul writes of putting
to “death the misdeeds of the body” he is talking about
reducing the bad actions in our life. Being good starts
with the proper mental attitude of dependence on God, but
living a life in the Spirit means there will be concrete
improvements in our life.)
- How can we set our mind on what the Spirit desires? Is
this just a declaration on our part? A gritting of our
teeth? Concentrating? (Read Psalms 119:9-11. The clearest
way to set our mind on God’s will is to read His will –
the Bible! A second way is to constantly invite the Holy
Spirit to guide our decision-making. The two methods will
not conflict with each other.)
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What is the reason for our
creation? (To do good works! To show goodness.)
- What percentage of your time is used to do good
works? If that is the reason for your creation, how
are you living up to your purpose?
- If the last question staggered you, and you
want to increase your good works time, how
would you do it? (The same process we
discussed. Depend on God, live in the Spirit,
learn God’s will by reading His word. The
answer is not “do more good works,” but seek
God’s will in doing more good works. Ask God to
open up these opportunities for you.)
- Read Titus 2:11-14. In case my last suggestion seemed a
little vague, what are the concrete points of action that
we find here? (God’s offer of salvation teaches us to say
“No” to the passions and ungodliness of the world, and
“Yes,” to self-control, upright and Godly lives.)
- What kind of attitude can the Spirit give us when it
comes to goodness? (As living in the power of the
Holy Spirit purifies us, we become eager to do God’s
will – i.e., live a life of goodness.)
- Read Titus 2:15. I’ve followed this command in this
lesson, friend, how about you? Will you teach that the
life of the Christian is not just enjoying grace, but
having a desire to live through the Spirit a life of
goodness. Unlike the rich man, will you decide to depend
upon God, set your mind on what the Spirit desires and
live a life of goodness?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness.