1st Principle Group


Gospel-centered counseling, coaching, and training

Just Bad....or Dead?


"Jesus does not offer to make bad people good but to make dead people alive."  -Ravi Zacharias

This quote was in a chapter of Ravi Zacharias’ book The Grand Weaver that I’ve been reading the past few weeks. I’ve been mulling over these words, trying to let them settle to the deeper parts of my soul (I’ve been told I need to try reading lighter stuff sometime…) I still can’t say I’ve figured out exactly why it has hit me so hard – but I want to understand it, I want to see with eyes that see the dead being given life.

Most days I wake up and realize that I’m a sinner – ask for forgiveness and feel better. I live as if I’m mostly bad, but by God’s grace I can be good! Intellectually I can tell you all about Romans and what sin has done/continues to do, what grace means, what restoration looks like etc. I can intellectually talk all about the new creation – and how God is restoring all things to himself. And I really do believe these things to be true.

But deep down – I often live as if I’m just bad, needing to be made good.

If something is bad, the implication to ‘make it good’ kind of seems like you can just add stuff to it, or change it around a bit and it’ll get better. If I have a bad day and come home and my wife has made me a delicious dinner and tells me we’re going to watch that movie I’ve been dying to see – my day no longer seems so bad. Some might say that it was ‘redeemed’ even. This is a beautiful thing – there are a lot of bad things in this world that need to have good added to them…But it’s not enough.

It would also imply that his work on us is like a surgeon – going in to take out the bad ‘disease’ inside of us. It would be a tumor removal, some maybe are trickier than others but all in all, with a little spiritual anesthesia you would hardly feel a thing! You would need some time to recoup of course but after a few days in the hospital - you’re all set for eternity!

What is the root of my thinking? I have to wonder if it is because I am constantly comparing myself to other people…at least I’m not that bad. Grace is for me – absolutely – but I deduct way less from my spiritual bank account because I’m generally good. Look at what some of these people are doing! They are truly, spiritually, dead.

Here’s the problem with my often subconscious thinking that I’m only ‘bad’ – I’m actually dead.

Jesus had to come not because the world is filled with ‘bad’ people who needed to be made ‘good’ – he came because we’re all dead. Death is final. You can’t bring something back that has died. There is a reality to loss that is otherworldly – we cannot comprehend it in this life because it doesn’t belong here. Here’s why this is so altering: everything is under the curse of death. Everything. When I see friends struggling with their marriage, addictions ruining the lives of people I care about, death entering a family and taking away the comfort and love that was built over years and years – death has shown up on the doorstep, often unannounced.

This can’t be happening to us. Our marriage was stronger than this! I can’t believe you keep struggling with this same sin. I can’t believe they’re just gone.

Death is not only when we take our last breath. It is with each breath that we inhale the fumes of the fall, slowly (sometimes not so slowly!) adding to our physical and spiritual decay. It is why Paul, in a moment of terrifying clarity while writing to the Romans exclaims: “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

Until we realize the state of our being in this world – we will never fully appreciate the grace that comes from Christ. I cannot make myself alive. I cannot make myself good. I need a complete overhaul. I need life – “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

Full disclosure: I don’t feel like I understand that Ravi Zacharias quote all that much more even after writing this and thinking about it. But I do feel like tomorrow, when I wake up and start my day, I will take a moment to check if I’m hoping to just ‘be good’ – or if I’m asking to be made alive.

How can we help one another move toward life rather than just being good?