I was amused when I heard about a Christmas ad campaign that ran in Washington D.C. a few years ago. It featured signs on buses that said: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake." I thought that was so odd, because what people don’t understand is that without God, there is no goodness. Without Him, we have absolutely no idea what goodness is. And my own personal belief is that people who practice goodness are manifesting the Spirit’s work in their lives—whether they believe in God or not. Outside of Him, there is no concept of goodness. He is the one who brought the idea of goodness to this world.
How do I know that there is no goodness outside of God? Did you read Judges 19? Anything in there sound familiar to you? If not, go back and read Genesis 19, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. You’ll find that the stories are almost identical. How can it be that the Israelites had fallen this far?
In both stories, we see that the absence of God from daily human life led to depravity, sexual brokenness, and an utter disregard for the treatment of fellow human beings. And not only did the men of the city demand another man (and finally consent to using a woman) for sex, but in both cases, the hosts in the house offered up their own children for such brutal treatment. It really boggles the mind.
This is what happens when we reject God in our lives. As we indulge our sinful selfishness, we turn inward, seeking only to satisfy our desires, willing to use any means necessary to get what we want. Other people become objects—means to an end. And in the process, we lose our humanity. This potential is in all of us. That’s one of the reasons I believe Judges 19 is in the Bible—to serve as a warning to us, to let us see exactly what we become when we reject God.
Only God embodies goodness. Only in Him can we find the picture of true love—of what it means to not only love others but to appropriately love ourselves. And whenever we try to meet the desires of our hearts in any other way or in any other place, we do so at our own peril. It’s frightening to see just what we can become without Him.