Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (NIV)
When the rich young man came to Jesus, the Lord would not allow him to perpetuate the myth that we can get to the God-life on our own terms. He won’t allow us to live in that myth either.
He won’t allow us to be double-minded in discipleship, where we agree to follow after Jesus but then get sidetracked—chasing hypothetical moral or intellectual dilemmas down trails that get us nowhere nearer righteous living, let alone into the kingdom of heaven.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that our many “what ifs” about discipleship keep us from the “necessity of obedience.”
We get so wound up trying to understand each step along the way —or, like the rich young man, trying to figure out that one thing we must do—that we become enslaved by doubt. Yet our freedom is found in simple, single-minded obedience to Jesus.
We must do what we know we’re supposed to do, and as we take each step of obedience, Jesus will reveal the next thing for us to do. Otherwise, we end up picking and choosing which commandments to obey, and our lingering debates lull us into thinking we are in a negotiation with Jesus when, in fact, we are simply disobeying him.
Bonhoeffer writes that the rich young man is actually attempting to “preserve his independence and decide for him self what is good and evil.” And that echoes back to the Garden and the hiss of the snake: “Did God really say that?” Surely there must be more to this than what God says?
Ask Jesus to question you in the places where you remain independent of him. Where are you still trying to decide for yourself what is good and what is evil?
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This devotional © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NASB)
“Wherever you are, be all there.” —Jim Elliot
“Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God. . . . Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more.” (Job 11:13-16 TEV)
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7 NLT)
Jasmine is my beautiful and tenderhearted cockapoo. She knows it is wrong to go near an old barn that’s on the edge of my property, but she saw a black cat run behind it and took off for a playful chase.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a cat. It was a skunk, and Jasmine was quite surprised to get a face full of stink. She smelled so bad that I didn’t even want to bring her into the house, but I sequestered her in the bathroom while I figured out how to get her clean.
On the Internet, I found several home remedies for removing skunk stink. The recipes called for ingredients such as tomato juice or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and I think one listed dark chocolate (Okay, I made that up. The dark chocolate was for me).
These mixtures removed the bite of the skunk stink, an eye-watering, garlic-like perfume, but the overall smell was still there. By then it was almost midnight, so I took an old blanket, put it on the floor of the bathroom, and that’s where poor Jasmine had to spend the night.
The next morning, I went to the pet store and found a remarkable de-skunker that removed every bit of the stink and left Jasmine smelling wonderfully clean.
The reason I share this story is because it helps illustrate what Jesus has done for you. The Bible says, “But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8 TEV).
Jasmine knew she was forbidden from going near the barn, but temptation appeared in the form of (what she thought) was a black cat. Sin is always deceptive, and it always costs more than we think it will. Jasmine thought she’d have some fun. Instead, she ended up with the stink of sin all over her.
I still loved Jasmine and wanted her to come into the house with me, but I couldn’t let her have the run of the house while she carried the stink of sin. She needed to be cleansed. Otherwise, the stink would permeate my home.
That’s how God views our sin. He can’t let us into heaven until we’re cleansed from our sin. Otherwise, our sin would stink up the whole place. Jesus came to cleanse us from our sin, and his bloody sacrifice washes us whiter than snow (Psalms 51:7). When we confess our sin and obediently trust Jesus, we can walk confidently into God’s home, knowing he will welcome us as his daughters and sons (1 John 1:7).
Take time today to thank God because you “have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace” (1 Peter 1:2 NLT).
You are welcome to reprint this for use in your church. Please add this tag: © Copyright 2011 Jon Walker. Used by permission.
Jon Walker is the author of Costly Grace.