Discuss Human Excellence Every Day…?

Perhaps someone will say. ‘Why cannot you withdraw from Athens. Socrates, and hold your peace?’… I tell you that no greater good can happen to a man than to discuss human excellence every day … and that the unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

Found this quote by Socrates the other day, which got me to thinking. One thing came to my mind. That there is no way, as a believer of Jesus Christ, I could discuss human excellence everyday, nor in good conscience talk about humans being extremely or outstandingly  good. But could any Christian?

Many people will admit they have sinned, but not many will admit that their sin is so serious that no one can be considered righteous or essentially good. To the typical American today, they have sinned, yes that is true, and they still do good things. They point to unbelievers who do good deeds every day, obeying the law, providing for their families, giving to the needy, etc. Is Paul using hyperbole here? Is he exaggerating to make his point? No, he is not. This is God’s judgment on fallen humanity. What is the standard for righteousness, the standard by which we shall all be judged? God’s law. In biblical categories a good deed is measured in two parts, outward conformity and motivation. We look at outward appearance but God reads the heart. For a work to be considered good it must not only conform outwardly to the law of God, but it must be motivated inwardly by a sincere love for God. From this perspective it is easy to see that no one does good. Our best works are tainted by our less than pure motives. Renowned British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once said,

“Our best performances are so stained with sin, that it is hard to know whether they are good works or bad works.” This is a true statement. God demands perfection, and we do not perfectly do what God commands ever.


The fact of the matter is that God is not hiding. In the Garden of Eden who hid? God? No. Adam and Eve hid from God. He was looking for them.

In Luke 19:10 Jesus says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

This passage shows that Jesus is the one seeking and saving. Sinners do not seek God. They might seek after the benefits that God can give them, but they do not seek God Himself.


Men have no fear of the holiness and justice of God.

Ephesians 2:1-6 says: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”


One Comment on “Discuss Human Excellence Every Day…?”

  1. Michael,

    Lately I’ve begun to think of “the Flesh” as more than a set of desires and motivations that motivate the unsaved (and occasionally the saved), it is all that; it is ultimately a principle that is counter the “the Spirit.” The Flesh is humanity left to itself, while the Spirit is humanity inhabited and enabled by God himself. What makes our acts of righteousness unacceptable is the fact they durive from this principle, which is as unacceptable to God’s as any other act of idolatry a human being could commit. The improper motivations and actions are simply the outward maifestations of operating according to this principle (Gal 5:19-21), and differ from the motivations and actions that characterize one operating according to the principle of the Spirit (vs 22-23).

    Just a thought. Dave

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