From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Dr. Graham:

My atheist friend insists that the human race can live independent of religion; that goodness is a matter of mind over action. Can we be good on our own, apart from God?

— G.L.

Dear G.L.: Human nature — ever intent to live independently of God and His transforming grace — claims that environment, education and right mental attitudes can change the heart and make it pure. There is a theory that if people will live in a wholesome atmosphere, they can be good. This is the argument of humanists.

Although this may sound perfectly logical — like a good many man-made theories — it simply will not hold water. There are many who say that our mental attitude toward life needs to be changed: “If we think right, we are right.” To them the problem of evil is a psychological one. “Think positively... after all,” they say, “the Bible says, ‘As (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). The problem is that they are not putting the verse in context, for the Bible also says that the heart of man is deceitful and inherently wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

The “do-it-yourself” (DIY) rage is spreading everywhere, but it cannot be applied to living life as God intended. People are being told that they are self-sufficient and to be happy all that is required is to think happy thoughts. Such thoughts might cheer us and make us feel empowered, but they will never change us to be what God commands us to be.

We will never be “good” apart from God. The heart of man can only be changed by the Miracle Maker. Only Jesus Christ can create in us new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) that will follow the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 31:19).