The Difference Between Good and Grace

 “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.” –Psalm 14:2-3


What is Good?

If there is anyone we could consider “good” it would be a Man after God’s Own Heart. We learn of this man throughout the books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

  • He was chosen as a child to eventually be king of Israel. (1 Sam. 16:1-13)
  • God’s will was evident in his life when his gift of playing the lyre brought him into service under King Saul. (1 Sam. 16:14-22)
  • God’s hand was upon him when he faced Goliath as a boy (1 Sam. 17)
  • God had his hand of protection on him when Saul became jealous of him and tried to kill him numerous times. (1 Sam.18:6-16 through the end of Saul’s life in 1 Sam. 30)

Even though we all know the story of David, what he became renown for was his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the second-hand murder of her husband to cover up that sin. After Nathan exposed David’s sin, David cried out to the Lord, repented and turned his life around. He lived and died living a life that was pleasing to God.

How could a person have God’s selection, determination, guidance, and protection upon them if they were not good?

Better yet, how can a man who has sinned so greatly come back into good graces and still be considered a man after God’s own heart?

We read above in Psalm 14, a psalm written by David himself, saying that there is no one who is good. David was a man who was the epitome of commitment to God. Even in the light of his sinful nature, God still considered him faithful. But David didn’t say, no one is good; but look to me as an example. No, he said no one is good, not even one. He included himself.


What is Grace?

This passage is echoed in Romans 3:10-12. Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome about the difference between living under the law and living under grace. The people of David’s time lived under the law. They had to make frequent sacrifices to absolve themselves of their sin. They only had the promise of a future permanent solution. They could only be good if they followed the law as instructed to the teeth.

The people of Paul’s time were born under this law, had grown up with it, and were accustomed to following it. But God had a plan to relieve man of the burden of the law. Not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17) It was a plan to make man qualified to be good apart from the law. God’s plan was called grace.

This new grace came through Jesus Christ. It was different from the law that man had lived under since it was given on Sinai. Before, man had to work for forgiveness. They had to follow the direction of the law, and make sacrificial restitution for sin to be clean. Although, under law or under grace, man remained the same, sinful. And man will always be sinful. Only now they have the redemptive power of grace through Jesus Christ. But this does not discount the law. Without the law, man could not appreciate grace. This grace was not given to cover sin, it was given to cancel it out.


Grace and Sin

First of all, man had to see their sinfulness. Much like David’s sin had to be brought into the light, so ours must. His revelation was through the law. God reveals ours through Christ. The revelation we receive is that we are all sinners, but there is a way out, believe in His Son.


“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” –Romans 3:21-23

God’s grace did not cancel out sin, it still exists. It did not instantly make us all free from our sinful nature. And it certainly did not make any of us good. Sin is still in the world, we all are bound by our human nature, and no matter how “good” any of us are it will never be enough to get beyond the sin that permeates each of us. We all fall short; daily, hourly, minutely, secondly.

But, just as we are all sinners, we are also all now under the grace of God. This passage in Romans continues:


“…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” –Romans 3:24-26

Gods free gift of grace, through His son’s redemptive sacrifice. A propitiation by his blood. I love this word, ‘propitiation’. Merriam-Webster defines ‘propitiation’ as the act of regaining the good will of. It is mainly used to describe that act toward appeasing a god’s wrath against someone. Jesus was a sacrifice that was a means to appease God’s wrath. In the Greek propitiation is hilastērion. It is used only twice in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, the translated word deals with the lid of the Ark of the Covenant–also known as the mercy seat. When priests offered sacrifices, the blood from that sacrifice was sprinkled upon the lid to appease God’s wrath. This sprinkling was the proof that the sentence of the Law had been carried out; the shedding of blood. This had to be done frequently in order for the sins of men to be covered.

The covering of sins was only temporary. Imperfect men making imperfect sacrifices, resulting in a temporary fix, until the next time one sinned. Romans 6:23 begins, “For the wages of sin is death…” Only death and the shedding of blood could pay the debt of sin. So the sacrifice had to be repeated, over and over again because the blood of an animal was only temporary.


The Temporary Fix, Fixed

God knew there would eventually have to be a once and for all sacrifice to appease his wrath against the sin that man would always find himself in. The sacrifice had to be perfect, just as the animal to be sacrificed had to be without blemish for the priests. Only the blood of any created being on earth was never enough. Everything had an inherent sinful quality. So God made a way. He sent his son into the world, fully God/fully man to be that perfect sacrifice, devoid of sin, for us all.

Romans 6:23 continues, “…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus died for the sins of man. Not just the “good”, but everyone ever born. His sacrifice is perfect, it appeased God’s wrath once and for all. The best part is there is nothing anyone needs to do in order to earn this appeasement. It is a gift, and that gift, once accepted through faith, cannot be taken away. There is no, “You need to do this to be saved.” NO! It’s already been done


“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” –Romans 2:8


Faith is not what saves us. Grace does. It’s the grace given THROUGH faith. It is a gift all men now share. We are not bound to the law David lived under. We no longer have to make frequent sacrifices that only covered our sins. We have the perfect sacrifice that erased those sins. Jesus’s sacrifice was complete. Once and for all. Past, present, and future.

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