There is a song we sing at Christmas about being good in order to get presents. One line says – So, be good for goodness sake! But, do we fully understand how to be good? Goodness is an attribute of God we sing about and have created slogans around – God is good all the time – all the time God is good, We see that goodness is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Yet, do we really understand goodness in a context other than the opposite of being bad or naughty?
Aside from avoiding being naughty, what does it mean to ‘be good?’ We may know how to be good for goodness sake (in order to get something) but do we know how to develop goodness that brings us in line with the goodness of God? These 7 Steps will show you how to be good and live in God’s goodness.
Definition of Goodness
What does goodness mean? Bible Dictionary has a wonderful definition of the spiritual depth of goodness:
“Goodness in man is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.”
Goodness is far more than just saying you will be good. It is a moment-by-moment choice to follow God and be like Jesus. It is the constant putting ‘off the flesh’ and ‘putting on’ the new man in Christ.
- a deliberate preference
- a firm and persistent resistance
- choosing and following all moral good
- a deliberate habit
- moment-by-moment choice
It is a change of heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit in which the flesh is crucified daily,
“I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day!” 1 Corinthians 15:31 HCSB
“My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!” Galatians 2:20 TPT
“Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us.” Galatians 5:24 The Voice
In the Old Testament, there are three Hebrew words (Tobh, Tubh, and Checedh) which are translated in various ways depending on the Bible version, showing the meaning of goodness. In the New Testament, the words for goodness are chrestotes, chrestos, and agathosune.
- In the Old Testament, Tobh or Tubh are translated as good. Checedh is translated as abundant in goodness, plenteous in goodness, abundant in lovingkindness, and the goodness of God endureth continually, mercy, and lovingkindness.
- In the New Testament, chrestotes and chrestos are translated as the riches of His goodness and the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. While agathosune is translated as full of goodness, gentleness, goodness, faith, in all goodness and righteousness and truth, all the good pleasure of His goodness, and every desire of goodness.
Ephesians 5:9 TPT, connects goodness with light – “And the supernatural fruits of his light will be seen in you—goodness, righteousness, and truth.” The biblical concept of goodness is that of a deep and lasting quality we must intentionally possess.
How to be good is explained repeatedly in the Bible, and though it can seem elusive or vague, it is neither. The problem we encounter with goodness is that it only continues to be an active aspect of our lives through determination and sacrifice. The scriptures we looked at above tell us a part of how to possess goodness. Here are 7 Steps to the Goodness of God.
How to Be Good
One – Maintain An Overarching Desire to Please God
The very first key to make goodness an active part of your life is to have a deep, overarching desire to please God! Without that, we will falter. That feeling of desire to please God can come and go depending on your circumstances. But, the determination in your heart must be an absolute, settled fact. No matter how you feel, your heart’s desire is to please God.The very first key to make goodness an active part of your life is to have a deep, overarching desire to please God! Without that, we will falter. That feeling of desire to please God can come and go depending on your circumstances.… Click To Tweet
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
Two – Make the Effort
Make every effort “effort” is the Greek word spoudēn and it means – (a) speed, haste, (b) diligence, earnestness, enthusiasm. From speudo; ‘speed’, i.e. despatch, eagerness, earnestness. We are the ones who have to make the effort.
God has given us access to His goodness through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. But, it is up to us to exercise diligence, and speed with eagerness and earnestness. If you are given a present but you never open it, you don’t really possess it and it doesn’t benefit your life in any way. If you open it and then put it in the closet, never using it, the same thing happens. It’s there but it doesn’t benefit you. It’s up to you to use the gifts you are given by God.
Three – Walk in Jesus’ Footsteps
In some areas of the Christian life, God’s will is crystal clear. One of those is that we are to follow God’s ways and be like Jesus. Jesus said there was a path that was narrow and few would find it. This is the path toward His goodness and righteousness. We can choose not to walk there or to follow in His footsteps. This is what the Word says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ ” Jeremiah 6:16 NIV
It’s not that God is some cruel taskmaster demanding obedience or punishment will follow. Instead, He asks, offers, and tells us the good that will come as we follow His ways. Jesus did not demand that we be like Him. Instead, He demonstrated a life of faithfulness and goodness, died so we could have it, and then gave us the Holy Spirit to help us. But, we choose.
- “anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:6 The Voice
- “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NIV
- “I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 TPT
- “Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration—a sweet healing fragrance.” Ephesians 5:1-2 TPT
- “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” John 14:15 HCSB
- “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 HCSB
Four – Change Your mind-Set
I’m including a long section of Scripture exhorting us to have our minds set on the Holy Spirit
“because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:2-9 HCSB
We have been set free from the law of sin and death. It’s important to remember this when the enemy comes our way or when we are tempted. Sin was condemned by Jesus and we are not to walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If our mind is set on the flesh and its desires, we will sin. But, we have the ability to set our mind on the Spirit where we find life and peace.
We can change our own minds and, it is our responsibility to do so, Colossians 3:1-2 HCSB says, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.“
Colossians tells us two things – seek and set. These are important words that put the responsibility on us. We must seek what is above and set our minds on what is above. What does that mean? Does it mean you are so ‘heavenly minded that you are no earthly good’? Absolutely not. That is not the example set by Jesus or the apostles. In fact, the early church was very heavenly minded yet, their impact in changing the world around them was completely positive and has lasted for over 2,000 years!
They didn’t go sit in a cave and wait for the world to come to them. Instead, as Jesus commanded. they went into all the world sharing the good news of Jesus’ love. With their focus on heaven, they changed earth. How? By seeking and setting!
Five – Crucify the Flesh Daily
“I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day!” 1 Corinthians 15:31 HCSB
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV
I remember the first time I heard a message on crucifying the flesh daily, and it sounded so deeply spiritual. But, when I went home and tried to figure out how to do it, it suddenly seemed impossible. I can’t climb up on a cross and die every day. I can’t beat my body every day to force it to die. So, how in the world do I do this?
We have to live in this body of flesh until God calls us home. Even Paul said he failed. If he couldn’t do it, how can I? In Romans 7, Paul talks about the failures of the flesh saying that, even when he would purpose not to sin, he still did. In Chapter 8, he gives us the answer to overcoming the flesh, to dying daily. I will not quote the entire chapter here but I encourage you to read Chapters 7 and 8 of Romans and take notes on the actions Paul outlines. Here are just a few of them.
Live In Jesus
“Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King,because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 TPT (full chapter).
As we live in the freedom Jesus brought, a new law takes effect. It is a law of freedom from sin and death.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” John 1:4 NIV
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 NIV
Walk According to the Movement of the Spirit
“Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives. If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. ” Romans 8:4-6 TPT
Crucifying the flesh means taking our focus off the flesh and putting it on the Holy Spirit. Get to know Him, His voice, and His leading. A mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace!
“You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God’s law and is incapable of following His path. So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh.” Romans 8:7-8 TPT
Maintain Your Focus
Dying to the flesh is a daily process requiring focus, humility, and submission to God.
“If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you.” Romans 8:11 TPT
Live in God’s Light
God will cast His light on us so that every part of us, including that body of flesh, will shine in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.
“You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.” Romans 8:15-17 TPT
Remember Who You Are
In order to remain in the Spirit, not the flesh, we need to constantly remember who we are and whose we are. It’s easy to forget that you are a child of God and joint-heir with Christ. The flesh distracts us, turns our eyes to itself, and condemns us, making us feel unworthy. But, those feelings are lies. The truth of who you are lies in who God says you are. Reject condemnation and the lies of the flesh.
“for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has?But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.” Romans 8:24-25 TPT
Maintain A Sense of Expectancy
The world tells us to give up, succumb to the negative. But, God says to wait expectantly for what we have never seen. Hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation. This defeats the flesh.
“A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.” Romans 8:26-28 TPT
Accept God’s Invitation
Through the Holy Spirit we can pray as Jesus prays for us to align our lives with the will of God. Knowing God’s will is possible. Here is a wonderful, 4-part Bible Study from Resounding His Love to help you find God’s will for your life – The Path of God’s Will.
Then, God works everything together for our good. When? When we love Him and accept His invitation to WALK according to His plan. It’s not an invitation to just sit and wait to die. It’s an invitation to live fully and to walk – to take action on the plan He reveals to you.
“But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 TPT
Remember That God’s Love is With You Always
Love is a powerful force and, while human love can be fickle and selfish, God’s love never is. In order to fight the flesh, we must continually remember the all-powerful, wonderful, pure, holy, consuming love is God. He never withdraws it from us.
“Give thanks to the great God of the heavens! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalm 136:26 TPT
The power of God’s love is far greater than we can imagine. Zephaniah 3:17 says that God renews us with His love. His love changed the world. His love brought about the greatest sacrifice of all and defeated death. This is the powerful and pure love that abides with you at all times.
Six – Live in the Fruit of Goodness
Everything God is and has is ours. Everything. Through the Holy Spirit, we have His goodness. Do we possess it in a perfect vessel? No. Yet, that does not change God’s intention toward us nor cause Him to withdraw His goodness from us. God is good all the time! We can be as well.
Our emotions and incorrect thoughts are what cause us to believe we are failures or can never achieve God’s will for us. It is up to us to take authority over the emotions and to take those thoughts captive. We can do it because God gave us the power.
You will still have emotions and faith-killing thoughts. Having them is not a sin. Acting on them is. While you may not conquer emotions overnight, through persevering faith you will be victorious! Also, when circumstances are rough, remember that you are good and have goodness overflowing in your life. Repetition is the key.
Seven – learn to Live in Victory
We don’t have goodness just because we decided to be good. We have it because we are made in the image of God, He has given us His nature, and the Holy Spirit is constantly growing His fruit inside us. The Bible is a positive book. God is a God of hope – never defeat. He is a God of victory – never defeat – and His desire is for us to live the same way.
- “But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 TPT
- “Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!” Romans 8:37 TPT
- “God always makes his grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of his endless triumph. Through our yielded lives he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 TPT
Whatever you may be feeling right now, remember those three verses. No matter how things look, Christ includes us as partners in His endless triumph. If you are spreading the fragrance of God everywhere you go, you are walking in His goodness and victory.
In order to build your faith and live out His goodness, you need to be in the Word and it needs to be in you. It’s vital for you to find verses that speak to and build you up. Then, activate and apply them to your life by writing them down, speaking them out loud, and praying them. Do that over and over. Do it for a lifetime.
When you find a new one that speaks to your current circumstance or battle, add it. As your life changes, so will those Scriptures. The enemy cannot win against the Word of God, and you can’t lose when you stand in the Word.
Knowing how to be good is as easy as knowing what God says, believing it, and putting it into action in your life!
Click Here to get a free copy of the How to Be Good Prayer and Scripture Card. Click on the folder that opens, then download each document, or just print from your computer.
**WM uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit this page – Scripture Citations.
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