The answer to this question depends on our relationship to Christ. Connected to Christ, we are good. Disconnected, we are not.
A good illustration would be the branch of a tree. Christ is the Tree of Life and all the branches connected to Him are good and fruitful.
Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches”. Christians are connected to Christ and remain or abide in Christ by faith.
As we obey Him, we produce fruit just like a natural branch. But, of course we are talking about the supernatural Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The answer to the goodness question depends on where we have placed our faith (our connection).
I am the vine: you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5-8
Over and over God makes the point that He wants us to be fruitful and multiply. Christ used this example in the parable of the tenants. The faithful, obedient tenants produced good fruit. The rebellious tenants rejected the Owner. Our choices determine our goodness. Without Christ, we may think we are good but we are deceived into self righteousness, thinking I am good enough and don’t need Christ….. my good works are fruitful…..I’m ok. But, all of us must see this very important truth to become good:
We are born into Original Sin. We are not born into goodness. We inherited a sinful nature from our first parents and that sin must be removed for us to become good.
Sin is the problem. Sin makes us not good. Sin deceives and corrupts so much that we can think we are good when we are not. Only the Holy Spirit can truly convict us to see that we are sinners needing a Savior. That salvation and restoration to goodness comes through trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
It does not come through infant baptism, it does not come through self effort in any religion, it does not come simply because we are human beings.
We must choose Christ to be good because only God is good and the Source of all Goodness is in the Vine.
Understanding Original Sin is the first base necessary to see our fallen nature and need for forgiveness, All of us have sinned. All of us fall short. All of us will be found guilty (not good) if we do not deal with Original Sin properly.
An essay by Richard Phillips provides a thorough explanation of Original Sin and how God has graciously provided our need for forgiveness.