The Good Person Fallacy

February 9, 2020

David Sorn

When you believe there are “good people” and “bad people,” you won’t understand Jesus’ message.

The Good Person Fallacy

February 9, 2020

David Sorn

When you believe there are “good people” and “bad people,” you won’t understand Jesus’ message.



Before we get into the Gospel of Luke this morning, I need to tell you about something that has happened at our church.

We need to go back to August…6 months ago.

While in the thick of our building planning, we discovered that our architects had had a miscommunication with the city of Blaine about the setbacks required for our future building & parking lot.

A setback is how far your building and parking lot can be from the road.

Obviously we can’t have our parking lot touching Lexington Ave.

Well, what happened, was we learned that our parking lots had to be set a lot farther back from the road than what was previously communicated to us.

So our piece of land, in a sense got skinnier, and thus, the usable land became smaller.

It isn’t a problem for what we’re building now, but it will be a problem for when we expand in the future.

In fact, it would put us around 80 parking spots short of where we need to be when it comes time to expand.

80 parking spots translates into around 175 people.

175 people we wouldn’t have parking for.

It’s a pretty massive long-term problem for our church.

The city was unable to accommodate what we needed…and we…were stuck

And then…an idea came into our heads.

We thought, you know, there is land for sale just to the south of us.

1.5 acres in fact.

(Show Our Land + 1.5 acres slide)

But, with today’s economy, it’s going to cost 300-400k to purchase…money that we don’t just exactly have laying around.

But then we thought… “Listen, God can do anything.”

Has He not proven that to us over the last few years??

In Him, all things are possible!

So I had our key leaders begin to pray, and pray, and pray.

And then, I called up the owner of that land and explained the situation we were in.

And I said to him, “I think your piece of land is going to be difficult for you to sell because half of it is the pond, and the rest of it is quite narrow.”

“So, I’m wondering if you would consider just donating that land, for free, to our church??”

He paused for a second, and said, “Would you guys pay for the appraisal (that’s like $1,500), and I said, “Absolutely.”

And he said, “Yeah, if I like the appraisal, I’ll do that.”

So we wait 4 weeks for the appraisal to come back.

It comes back at $305,000.

And the owner says, “Unfortunately, that’s not the price I was looking for. I want it to be at least $385,000.”

Which, it’s his choice…he’s the one who was even considering making this extremely generous move

So, I call our bank, and they say, “I think you should just give up. You could get another appraisal, but you could chase appraisals until you’re blue in the face.”

And I said, “I don’t have $385,000 sitting around somewhere to buy this land, and this is our only option for getting the parking we need to reach more people in the future…

…And I like to operate where we’ve giving God opportunities to move.

You can’t walk on water if you don’t get out of the boat.

So, I call the land owner and say, “Do you have an appraiser that you like??”

He says, “You bet.”

So we pay another $1,500 to get it appraised again, and wait another 4 weeks!

But this time it appraises at $435,000.

So the land owner reaches out to us and says, “I’m going to give that land to your church…for free.”

(Show Our Land 8 acres slide)

And so now, we own…8 acres of land!!

And what we’ll do, in the future, when it’s time to expand, is shift these ponds over to the south…so we can expand our parking lot…and have plenty of room for all those who want to come and hear!

Praise God.

I need to tell you something.

Over this journey for the last 5.5 years, you’ve heard me tell you many times about my struggle to have enough faith that God would come through during the hard times of this process…and yet God kept coming through.

I feel like this story was a result of the increased faith of our leaders.

I feel like, 3 years ago, I never make that phone call to ask someone to donate their land.

But we just have seen God move over and over and over again…

That I just felt… “Yeah, it’s a crazy ask, but how hard is it for our God to put that idea in someone’s mind?”

Not hard.

The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask”…so let’s ask.

And so, I’m able to share this with you now, as all the details have been worked out, we’ve finally closed on the land…and it is officially ours.

Isn’t God good?


(Lost & Found Series Slide)

We are jumping back into the book of Luke this morning…

…which is 1 of 4 books in the Bible about the teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

(Page 847)

(Renovation App)

At Renovation Church, we spend about half of our year, teaching verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible…

And we are in the middle of a 3-year journey through the Book of Luke.

And the middle section of Luke is full of challenging teachings from Jesus…today is no exception.

(Luke 13:1-5) – NIV

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Okay, so some in the crowd come up to Jesus and they bring up two recent tragedies.

One of them is an atrocity and one a natural disaster.

If you look at verse 1, the wording is actually a bit cumbersome, and thus a bit confusing in the NIV, but it makes a lot more sense in other translations.

Basically, Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, had Galileans killed while they were offering sacrifices at the temple..

And not only that…he had their blood mixed with the sacrifices that were being offered there.

Now, the people don’t overtly say it, but Jesus hears in their voices what they’re really thinking.

They’re thinking, “These people who have died in such a horrible way, surely must have done something horrible to deserve that kind of death.”

This was common thinking in Jesus’ day.

Now, there are facets of that kind of thinking that seem pretty foreign to us.

But there are other parts of it…that are actually quite similar to how most Americans think today.

In fact, I want to show you that there are two common ways that Americans philosophically approach suffering and God…

and I want you to see how Jesus doesn’t subscribe to either of our most popular philosophies.

Here’s the first:

1st Incorrect Philosophy: Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.

This is an incredibly popular philosophy in our country right now.

We like to say that this person is having a good life because they are a kind person and they worked hard.

And that person is having all sorts of troubles because, well, they’ve been incredibly mean & selfish their whole life.

In many places around the world (particularly the East), this isn’t a philosophy but a theology.

It’s called karma.

What goes around comes around.

It’s the idea that if you keep hurting other people…your karma will pay you back for all of the wrong you’ve done.

People in America talk about Karma a lot…but less often do we hear it described as a reason for death

In fact, a principal just got put on leave last week for connecting Karma to a famous person’s death.

But that is exactly what the crowd is saying to Jesus.

They’re saying “Since these people died such an awful death (a tower fell on them!) surely it’s because they were “bad people” who did awful thing? Right??

I think many people are prone to believe in things like Karma because it’s a simple way to look at life.

But it’s surely not logical.

When the planes hit the 2 towers on September 11th, we’re the 2,606 people who died in the World Trade Center all bad people, but the people who got out, good people?

This kind of thinking defies logic if you actually carry it out.

And Jesus is not having it.

But there’s a second incorrect philosophy that people hold to today that is quite similar:

1st Incorrect Philosophy: Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.

2nd Incorrect Philosophy: Bad things are happening to good people, so God can’t be real (or isn’t worth following)

This looks, at first glance, like the opposite of the first philosophy.

But it’s not.

It’s actually just the first philosophy with an angry mask on.

See, one of THE main reasons that so many people become agnostic in this country is because something bad happened to them…or to a family member.

And so they say, they can’t believe in or follow God anymore.

But what’s underneath that?

What’s underneath Philosophy #2 is just “Philosophy #1”

See, they believe that bad things are not supposed to happen to good people (like themselves or their family)

But because something bad has indeed happened, they feel like they can’t believe God exists.


What they’re actually saying is that the primary litmus test they use for determining whether or not God is real, is this:

Does God hold to my standard of doing good things for good people and bad things to bad people…

And if He doesn’t, He’s not real.

Well, wait a minute, hold on a second.

Where did you get that standard from?

And how is your standard superior to how God chooses to operate?

Can you prove that God owes you a good life?

Can you even prove that people are “good?”

A 3rd WAY

Now watch this, Jesus is going to completely blow-up the framework of the question that asks: “Don’t good people deserve good things and bad people bad things”…

His answer is going to be completely counterintuitive to our culture and the wisdom of this world.

And because of that, this is actually going to be a bit hard to hear

Look at the verse again:

(Luke 13:2-3) – NIV

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

According to Jesus, the real question is not, “Why did the others die?” but “Why am I still alive?”

He’s saying, “Don’t tell yourself that these people who are suffering are “bad people.” You’re just as bad. And unless you do something about that…justice will fall on you as well.”

I told you this was going to be hard to hear.

The Bible clearly teaches that we were born innately sinful.

We are unable to do good on our own.

(Romans 3:10) – NIV

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

In other words, “there is no ‘good person,’ not even one.”

And so therefore, tragedies and disasters should not shock us as if they are coming upon “good people.”

Because of sin, evil is present everywhere in the world…in all of us

And God doesn’t owe us anything.

Many today believe in what I would call: “The Good Person Fallacy”

A fallacy is a mistaken belief that is based on an unsound argument.

And the idea that there are “Good people”…is a fallacy.

And it can be found nowhere in the Bible…and if you look hard enough at people…and your own life…it can be found nowhere in reality too.

We are all sinners.

And God owes us nothing.

But if you keep operating under “The Good Person Fallacy,” you’ll be extremely frustrated with God, and with life.

Jesus is saying, “When tragedy strikes…it should cause us to say, “If God had given me what I truly deserve, that could have been me.”

And unless we repent… and turn from our sin to God (repent means turn)

Something far worse…and eternal… will befall us.


Jesus continues…

(Luke 13:6-9) – NIV

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

This passage is quite connected to the one we just read.

Jesus is saying that one day judgment will come to all of us.

We will die and meet our Maker.

And our Maker will see, if there is any fruit on our tree.

And here’s where these two passages come together.

There are no “good people” who earn their way to God by being good…by somehow producing their own fruit (fruit is always a metaphor for good deeds in the Bible).

But there are people who have the evidence of God working in their life (that’s the fruit the Bible talks about)

So, you have to make sure you’re asking yourself the right question

It’s not: “Have I done enough good so that God will reward me for being a good person”

God owes us nothing. No one is good.

If you could get to heaven by being good, God would have never let Jesus be murdered on the cross for you.

The question is: Have I repented of my sin and trusted that Jesus died for me…and is their fruit from that?”

Is their evidence?

Could people look at my life and see (not me striving to be good), but see God in my life? Supernatural change?”

To some of you, this actually sounds like bad news.

Letting go of believing there are “good people,” sounds rather dark to you. Sad.

But I assure you this is actually good news.

Jesus’ message is good news!

You’re hearing it as bad news because we’ve been overly-conditioned to think of ourselves as the Savior.

And that we’re good people (not like those murderers, and traffickers, and the terrorists, and on and on)

But the more you think of yourself as a “good person” the less you will think you need Jesus.

I think this news is better than you think it is:

We are unbelievably sinful…through and through.

God will never look at us and say, “There’s a good person…who does good works without me”

No, He sees all of you sin, but He loves you anyway

He sees all of your sin…and still went to the cross to die in your place.

Think about this:

He doesn’t love you because you’ve been a good person…

He just loves you.

Isn’t that better news?

Think with me: If you have to be a “good person” first to earn God’s love, some of you know…you’re up a creek without a paddle…your life has been a mess.

And the rest of you are going to just start lying to yourself…and pretending that you are good…

When deep down, you know your life is full of sin.

No, the answer is what Jesus said it was…repent…to admit that you’re not good.

But turn your life over to Him…because He loves you even though you’re not good.

That’s real love folks.


If that’s true, and you’re realizing it…you must surrender your life to Jesus…who loves you more than anyone ever will…because He sees all of you…and still loves you.

Some of you for the first time…and for others of you, it’s time to come back to Him

If you’re “not good,” and He loves you anyway, you must repent.

You know, Repentance is a word that comes out of a culture and time much different than ours

It comes from a world where there were no street signs, or maps, or a GPS in your smart phone

It was easy to get lost.

But at some point, you had to say, “I’m wrong. I’m going the wrong way, and I must admit it.

“Something has convicted me of it, and so now I will trust that conviction and turn back the other way”

But that’s never easy to do.

It’s not easy to humble yourself and say, “I’ve been walking in the wrong direction…and my life isn’t working.”

Or to say, “I’ve been giving myself the credit…assuming I could get to heaven by being good”

“When in reality, I deserve your justice for my sin…and I need Jesus to forgive me.”

That’s HARD to do.

And so, so many people put it off.

And for those of you that are already believers…

Maybe you’ve just been wandering or drifting from Jesus lately…

And there, too, it’s hard to admit that you’re going in the wrong direction…and to repent…

Which is something we are to do often as Christians.

And listen, no one here has forever.

Look at verse 7 again:

(Luke 13:7) - NIV

7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

At some point, our tree will be cut down…our life will be over.

And it will come rather unexpectedly.

Maybe in tragedy,

The death of Kobe Bryant is an important reminder to us that we have no idea when our life will end.

Maybe death will come unexpectantly or maybe with just the rapid disappearance of time

Think of it this way:

If you’re a young parent, you know, that perhaps the most annoying thing in the world is when an older person sees you with your young kids and they come up and say:

“Cherish every moment! In the blink of an eye they’ll be 18.”

I always want to respond, “Well, in the blink of an eye, you’ll be facing the judgment seat of God,” but that feels like an overreaction.

But it’s true.

Life goes fast.

Stop putting this off.

And my friend, God wants nothing more than for you to turn your life over to Him…so He can save you and start growing supernatural fruit in your life.

Verse 8 is the heart of Jesus for you.

(Luke 13:8-9) – NIV

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

God has been showing you mercy after mercy.

He is giving you chance after chance.

He has you here today…to speak his love into your life one more time.

The NT says it this way:

(2 Peter 3:9) – NIV

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God could have rightfully taken any one of us from earth already.

There are no “Good People”

None us, after He reads our exhaustive list of sins on judgment day, could say, “Now do you see what a “good person” I am?”

He could have taken your life already, but out of his love for you…He keeps giving you more time…to repent.

But who knows how many years He will keep giving you

At some point the Master will return to His vineyard, and if you haven’t depended on Him for your salvation, if you haven’t believed in Him…

…if you’re still banking on the fact that you’re a “good person”…you will perish.

And I beg you, please, surrender your life to Him.

You don’t know when your time is over.

If you’ve never believed that Jesus is your Savior (that He died for you) before…

I want you, before you go to sleep tonight, kneel down beside your bed…repent of your sins…turn the direction of your life…and start following Him.

He will forgive you…come into your life…and change it forever!


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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