Past Righteousness

Mark 10:19-20 — 19 “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a little boy” (NIV).

Jesus tried to show the young ruler who He was, but he wasn’t getting it. So Jesus rattled off a handful of commandments, and the young man quickly replied that he had followed all of them since he was a little boy. He likely thought to himself, “Jesus will be impressed with all of my good deeds. I’m sure He will tell me that my righteous acts make me worthy of heaven.”

Many times Christians do this very thing. They try to impress God with their righteousness, but He is not concerned with how good of a person you are. Isaiah equates our righteous acts to filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Notice how Jesus responded to the young man’s boasts. Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Aren’t you glad Jesus doesn’t knock you upside the head when you are lost and confused? He loves you too much to condemn you and give you what you deserve, but He will not force you to know Him. He gives the rich young ruler yet another chance. Mark 10:21 says, “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (NIV).

Here Jesus taught one of the most valuable lessons a Christian can learn. Past righteousness does not equate present obedience. The young ruler bragged about the good deeds he’d done, but Jesus was more interested in his obedience right then.

Listen to me. A lifetime of righteous acts will not save you, but a lifetime of obedience will. The young man walked away from Jesus unwilling to do what was asked of him. What is God asking you to do today? Will you do it?

Ezekiel 33:12 — The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys (NIV).

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