Week 2: Lessons From the Pharisees
Day 5 – No “To Do” List – Principle in Action, Part 2: Luke 18:18-30; Mark 10:17-31
As I read through the Bible, there are certain stories that just fill me with disappointment and sadness. The story in Luke 18:18-30 is one of them. Here a rich young man comes to Jesus, wanting to know what He must do to have eternal life. It is very clear that he is looking for the way by which he can earn his way into heaven; that is his first mistake. It can’t be done. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags… and if you study out that word “filthy” you find out that those are really filthy rags. This young man could no more earn eternal life than I could go to the moon by closing my eyes and counting to ten.
Jesus even makes this clear in the first part of His answer to the young man. He says, “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, and that is God.” First of all, He is saying: Only God is good. You have called me good. Are you recognizing me for who I am? But His answer also points out that only one is good, and that young man is not the one. Jesus reminds him that he knows the commandments, and then goes on to list five of the Ten Commandments. The young man replies that he has kept all of them.
So, Jesus goes a step further. “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
When the rich man heard this, the Bible tells us that he was “very sorrowful”. The corresponding passage in Mark 10 tells us that he “went away grieved”. How sad. So close and yet he was held back by that same old problem. He was willing to follow the laws and the traditions, but not willing to step into the realm of giving all that he had and exercising mercy and judgment.
Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The disciples were shocked at His words, apparently they had assumed that if anyone could have eternal life it would be a rich man – as if they could buy their way into Heaven. But in the passage in Mark, Jesus takes the time to clarify what He means, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
If the rich man had been willing to sell everything that he had and to follow Christ as Jesus had suggested, he might have seen that his Messiah had come and that faith in Christ alone would cause him to inherit eternal life, but instead, he continued to rank his security in this life higher than his place in eternity. He could not abandon the comfort and safety found in his riches. How sad to have missed heaven and the sweetness of a life with Christ for that.
This story relates back to two of the most important principles that we have discussed over these first ten blogs: 1. Being wiling to give all (“Sell that ye have”) and 2. The problem of willingness to follow a system of rituals, standards and traditions, and yet failure to exercise the very thing that God uses to prove the sincerity of our faith – mercy and judgment.
May this not be said of us.
What are you trusting in? The works of the law do not save us. Exercising mercy does not save us. Nothing that we can do, will save us. The rich man came looking for a To Do List of ways he could gain eternal life. We can never be good enough. We can never do enough. Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin. He died so that we would not have to. He rose from the grave to conquer death and provide eternal life to all who would come to Him for salvation.
Though it was obtained at great price, our part of His plan for salvation is very simple.
Recognize and confess that you are a sinner in need of Savior. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 that, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus preached over and over “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, He does not want us to continue walking in them. Our sins are what have sentenced us to eternity in Hell. Why would we want to continue to walk in them?
Believe on Jesus Christ. Do you believe that He is Who He said and that His work has paid the price for your sins IN FULL? Do you believe that God has raised Him from the dead? He is alive, in Heaven, at the right hand of God the Father.
Call upon Him for salvation. Go to God in prayer. It doesn’t have to be worded just so; it just needs to be from your heart. Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath rasied him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture sayeth, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Don’t delay. We never know what day may be our last. Tomorrow may not come, and then it will be too late.
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