Romans 3: 19-24 (NIV)
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
We have two very different children. Our daughter is aware that the world has rules, and she is eager to live within those rules. Our son, on the other hand, loves to make his own rules. He is disappointed when the world does not to conform to his rules. Either way, my children find themselves like every other child — unable to know much less follow all of the rules.
I thought of the children earlier this week when two very nice young men came to my office. The young men were telling me about their home countries with pride and shared with me that they were part of a world religion that does not believe in eating pork — but that they enjoyed bacon. This conversation took me back a decade or two ago when our family friends were part of a different world religion that was devoutly vegetarian — but they liked to eat fried chicken at a local fast-food restaurant. They were from different world beliefs, but they still struggled to follow the rules. These examples reminded me of how hard it is for anyone to follow rules — man-made or God made.
In the case of man made rules, the rules focus on living civilly and healthfully together. There are consequences to breaking man made rules. The speeding cameras that catch you and send the photo with the speeding ticket remind me of this from time to time. In the case of God made rules, however, the laws exist to help us understand our unrighteousness. We can’t follow all of the rules and live righteously. Our righteousness ONLY comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, and this is available to anyone who will put their faith in Jesus and believe. This offer is richly extended to rule breakers around the world who acknowledge the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So, the Rich Young Ruler (who I remind you would look great on your church’s pew) couldn’t get past the fact that he had tried to follow the Law since he was young and put aside his pride to acknowledge his need for a savior. He was so full of himself, that there was no more room for Jesus. The Rich Young Ruler did not want to be wrong; he had spent his life trying to be right. Unfortunately, we have to realize that we are all wrong — inadequate under God’s law. We need a savior, and the only one who can do the job is Jesus.
Dear God, let us be humbled by your law and realize that we are but filthy rags in your sight. Help us be humble enough to accept the savior in our heart and to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. Remove what you must, Lord, to make room for you.