We read in the Bible about Jesus and how he brought about radical life transformation in the form of:
- Damascus Road conversions
- Thief-on-the cross forgiveness
- Mary Magdalene sacrifical devotion
- Woman-at-the-well contagious discipleship
But what about those of us who grew up in a Christian home (or more generically, a “religious” home), a stable family, have never rebelled, are rule-followers, and always do the “right” thing. When we read the Bible, we may not “see ourselves” in the lives that Jesus touched, so how do we know we need Jesus? Did Jesus come to save us too?
First and foremost, it is imperative for us to know that no matter how “good” the Good Girls are, our “good works” are not good enough to earn our place in God’s presence. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” And in case you’re a predominantly New Testament girl, Paul confirms this in Romans 3:10 saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” So, to Jesus, our outer “goodness” — the “righteousness” of our own striving — does not meet the standard of a Holy God. Apart from Jesus, our “goodness” is still like filthy rags. Our propensity for sin may look different than the rebellious girl next door, but our sin-stained souls are no different to God.
“God Has No Grandchildren”
As a Good Girl, our Christian upbringing is most definitely a blessing to us, but it will not save us from eternity in hell if we do not claim this faith for ourselves. Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” And Romans 14:12 says, “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Jesus himself said, “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24). There are many other Scriptures that point to our individual need to respond to God in faith. These are only a few.
Having worked on Anne Graham Lotz’s ministry team, I heard her say on numerous occasions, “God has no grandchildren.” Can you imagine being the daughter of THE Reverend Dr. Billy Graham? Talk about spiritual coattails! And yet, Anne will be the first one to tell you that if she were to try to stand in the shadow of her father on Judgment Day, she would be denied a place in heaven. God has no grandchildren. No matter how “good” or religious or spiritual or Christian of a family we come from, at some point, we must make our own decision to follow Christ. Our parents’ faith will not save us.
It is easy for us “Good Girls” to mistake our “rule following” for Christian-living, when it may be more akin to Pharisaical legalism or self-reliance. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness’” (Luke 11:39). Jesus goes on in this passage to warn the Pharisees repeatedly of presenting an outer “good” image, when the reality of their hearts was sinful.
This can be tricky for a Good Girl. Because, it’s not the good deeds and “rule following” in and of themselves that are wrong. As Christians, good deeds are required! In fact, James says clearly that faith without good deeds is dead (James 2:14-26). In that context, good works that are done in response to Christ’s transformation of our heart are evidence of our faith.
But this should not be confused with trusting in our own Good Girl rule following and “good works” as the means of our salvation. Scripture is abundantly clear that all the rule following and good works we can muster will not save us. Our eternal salvation is only secured by God’s mercy and grace through faith in Jesus (Titus 3:4-6).
This is a danger of living the Good Girl life because “being good” is easy for us to do, even if, in reality, our hearts are not close to the Lord. As a Good Girl, this will likely be something we need to watch for, and perhaps repent from, daily.
Old Nature, New Nature
It is our “nature” to be a Good Girl, but when we are saved, God commands us to put off our old nature, and put on our new nature. This can be tough for us Good Girls because we may not think we need a radical lifestyle transformation. We keep on doing the “new self” Good Girl things, which look an awful lot on the outside like the “old self” Good Girl things. But that is the key: the kind of “old self-new self” transformation Jesus works in us originates from the inside-out; not from the outside-in (Ephesians 4:22-24 and Romans 12:2). We may not need a radical lifestyle transformation, but we very well may need a radical heart transformation.
When we reflect on the true nature of our heart, us Good Girls might especially find sin lurking there in the form of pride or selfishness or resentment or greediness or self-reliance or idolatry. It’s easy to “hide” these sins, masterfully masked by our Good Girl exteriors. But do not be fooled that these sins of the heart are any less destructive than sins of the flesh. The heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23) and eventually, our life will reflect what we keep there. When sin lurks in the heart, it inevitably begins a slow rot unto death of friendships, of marriage, of commitment, of life. As David confronted his own sin, he knew the only path to a transformed life was through this heart, so he prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Good Girls Need Jesus Too
In case you’re confused, let me be clear: Being a Good Girl is good. It truly is. We probably saved our parents a lot worry and grief; we tend to bless those around us; we typically don’t bring external destruction to our world. But we must be equally clear that those are benefits of being a Good Girl in this life. All through Scripture, God shows us that His primary concern is with our eternal life, which is determined by the state of our heart. For our life in eternity (which, incidentally, drastically impacts our life here on earth also, but that’s a post for another day) we cannot depend on our upbringing, or rely on our good deeds, or look to the “goodness” of our outer self. But rather, we look to the inside. Because on the inside, “Good Girls” look like everyone else (Romans 3:23). We have a heart stained by sin, unacceptable to a holy God. The only hope for a Good Girl — for all of us — is Jesus. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, then we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Yes, Good Girls need Jesus too. We all need Jesus.