Why do bad people do good things?

However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan…  31  But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.

2 Kings 10:29 & 31

People like to ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  Here is a similar question: “Why do bad people do good things?”

King Jehu (Israel in the North), may have appeared to be a good king since earlier in this same chapter (v.18-28) we read that he killed all the priests of Baal (a false god of the Canaanites, that the Israelites frequently were tempted to worship instead of God). This action appears to be laudable since Baal worship was altogether detestable to God.  That Jehu accomplished this purging of Baal worship by lying, trickery, and deceit is another story for another day.

However good Jehu may have appeared to be while ridding the land of Baal worship, scripture is even more clear that Jehu was not a godly king (v.29 & 30).  After all, he followed in the “sins of Jeroboam,”*  and “took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart.”

What do we make of bad people doing good things?  First, God providentially uses even sinful people to accomplish His sovereign will.  Second, since no amount of good deeds can undo sinful deeds, Jehu was not a good king.  And let us not make the mistake of thinking that one’s good deeds can outweigh and undo one’s sins either in our lives or the lives of people around us.  The only way to have one’s sins forgiven is to trust in Jesus Christ, who alone can forgive sins.

*The “sins of Jeroboam” were related to the false worship of golden calves concocted by Jeroboam, the first king of Israel when Israel split into two nations (Israel and Judah) immediately after Solomon died.