In yesterday’s study we looked at the first two reasons why human goodness is not good enough for God.
Third, the pursuit of human goodness blinds men to their true condition. I remember seeing a movie years ago, in which a number of men in canoes were racing each other on a river. They were paddling as fast as they could go. First one man would get ahead, then another man would get ahead. But the joke of the movie was that the water was moving down the stream faster than their boats were moving up. So although they were racing one another as fast as their paddles could take them, all the while they were being swept toward a waterfall. In the final scene all the boats went over the waterfall together.
Well, that is what men are doing. They have their minds so much on themselves, they do not see that the goodness of which they are capable is not taking them anywhere.
In the early part of this century there was a well-known gangster in New York named Two-Gun Crowley. Two-Gun Crowley was the kind of person who killed without any apparent qualms. One day when he was parked by the side of the road a policeman walked up to his car and asked to see his license. Instead of producing it, Crowley pulled out a gun and shot the policeman. As the officer lay prostrate on the ground, Crowley leaped from his car, took the officer’s gun, and fired five more shots into his body. That’s the kind of man he was. Well, the time came when the police cornered Crowley in his girlfriend’s apartment in one of the more fashionable districts of New York City. Crowley was captured and sent to Sing Sing Prison.
Now a person might ask, “What did a man like that think of himself?” Oh surely he must have known what he was like. He must have said, “I am a bad man; I kill people.” But that wasn’t the case. And we know it, because he left a bloodstained note that he had written while shooting it out with the police before his capture. It said this: “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one– one that would do nobody any harm.” Later, when he was sitting on death row waiting to be executed, he didn’t say, “This is what I get for killing policemen.” No, what he really said was, “This is what I get for defending myself.”
Let me give you another example. Another man once said, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” The man speaking was Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters of the Chicago gangland era.
You see, the point is just this: If men like Two-Gun Crowley and Al Capone didn’t realize the evil in their characters, how much less do the so-called moral people of our society recognize the evil that is in them. And yet, from God’s perspective, they need to see it. We all need to see it. So, the third reason why God will not deal in human goodness is that it blinds men to their true condition.
Let me give you one more reason. The fourth is that human goodness is actually a different kind of goodness from that which God demands. Human righteousness is a different righteousness from God’s righteousness. And you see, God asks for divine righteousness, and human righteousness is not that at all.
That is hard to understand, but the following illustration may help. The accumulation of human righteousness is like playing the game of Monopoly. The object of the game is to collect as much money and property as one can. The game is enjoyable, but only a fool would take his Monopoly earnings and go into town to buy groceries. Monopoly is a game; a different currency is used in the real world. It is the same spiritually. Yet there are people who think they are collecting assets before God, when they are only collecting human righteousness. We could call it “Monopoly righteousness.” God tells us that we must leave the play currency to deal in His currency, His goodness, if we’re to have any status before Him and get to heaven. Man’s status has no real value in heaven. So, to summarize our ABC’s, we must first of all admit that we are less perfect than God, and therefore we have a right to be barred from his presence.