Answering The Atheist
June 29, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 26
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Has there ever been a just, righteous, good or perfect person? Some passages say no (ie. 1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14:3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23, etc.), but other passages say yes (ie. Genesis 6:9; 7:1; Job 1:1, 8; Luke 1:6; James 5:16; 1 John 3:9, etc.). Is there a contradiction?
Has any man lived perfectly? Only one, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:15). All others have sinned. Each passage which the questioner identifies as “no” texts acknowledges that man has sinned, that we have fallen short of God’s glory, that man chooses to do evil rather than good. But what of the other texts, those listed as “yes” texts, which indicate that men can be “just, righteous, good or perfect person(s)”? Let’s see.
Genesis 6:9 identifies Noah as “a just man, perfect in his generations.” And again, 7:1 says, “I have seen that you (Moses) are righteous before Me in this generation.” Had Noah lived perfectly, without sin in the first 600 years of his life? I will neither say “yes” nor “no”, for it is not revealed to us. Certainly, it is possible, as God has supplied man with commands which we can keep. The trouble is, we have all turned aside, we have all gone astray, we have chosen to walk in our own ways. Perhaps Noah had not yet, but eventually he did (Genesis 9:20-21). However, even if Noah had sinned previous to this, God could still call him “a just man, perfect in his generations”. Though we have turned from the Lord, we can be made perfect in His sight if we will come to Him, seeking His forgiveness. He desires to free us from our sin (1 John 1:9). Thus, John is able to write, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin...” (3:9). God has cleanses us from our sins, and we walk in His ways, and thus are pure in His sight.
Can we walk without sinning? Yes, Paul declares it to be so. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, man has sinned, and thus, has become imperfect, unjust, unrighteous and bad before God. However, God has supplied forgiveness, and has given us instructions which we are able to keep, and so, man can be found just, righteous, good and perfect in the sight of God.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible