Luke 18:18-21, A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
When Jesus was questioned about the way to obtain eternal life, He responded to the rich young ruler with a short version of the original commandments. Interestingly, they were all commands which dealt with man’s relationship with man. He then was told that each of these commands has been kept since the young man’s youth. Think about what must have been a quick and easy answer from this young man.
In the event of adultery, that must have been an easy yes or no. I wonder if he knew anything about lust being the same as adultery in the eyes of God. (Matthew 5:27-28) Have you ever looked at someone with a level of desire that was inappropriate?
What about murder? In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus discusses the matter of anger and its internal sinfulness. Maybe you haven’t taken a physical life, but have you hated so deeply that a person is spiritually dead to you?
There is also the action and concept of stealing. It’s entirely likely that average people have never resorted to mugging or fraud. This young man being rich was not likely to have ventured down this road. There are ways to secretly steal from or defraud people. Remember, a man can even “rob God.” (Malachi 3:8)
There is that sticky issue of false testimony. It is a very simple command to never tell anything false or untrue. Exaggeration would clearly fall under this category, as well as, embellishment, untrue statements about this or that, you get the point. Maybe the young man was never a fisherman! How do we fare in that category? Possibly failures all around.
“Honor your father and mother.” It is possible we have been honorable to the faces of our parents, but have we ever said something about our parents behind their backs that we would never utter to their face? Have we ever done something our parents told us not to do? Have we ever done something we know our parents would disapprove of, for the lack of a verbal statement we know they would make?
I’m not sure where this young man was on this list of commands, but I know I have failed on numerous occasions in life. I am not proud of my failures, but I am remorseful. If the original commands were designed to do anything beyond giving us a moral code of right and wrong, they would demonstrate our need for repentance. This young man could have been a moral example of faith and loyalty to God. I’m doubtful, but I didn’t know him. I do know people in general. Knowing myself, and most people around me, I am extremely aware of our need for salvation. The element missing in the young man’s question was that his question focused on the result. He assumed he was already saved, and just wanted to collect his reward. He may have even been relieved when he heard the initial part of Jesus’ answer. It was when salvation issues became personal that they became impossible. One can give answers without honesty or in-depth consideration.
Always beware of easy answers to eternal questions. Jesus made His point to a young man who had a long way to go to qualify for the prize he was seeking. The greater question for us is this – What are you unwilling to do to find eternity with God? When you answer this, you will know what will cost you your salvation. Remove the boundaries of our souls, and we will find riches and reward we could never have imagined from the hand of God.