What's Missing?

August 25, 2021

What do I still lack? (Matthew 19:20).

This is what religion does to a person. It confuses him/her. It gives a false sense of security. Note the thinking of this man (vv.16-20), “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

This man was sincere in his questions and answers to Jesus. However, his answers were far from the truth. He was convinced in his heart and mind that he had obeyed God as outlined in the Mosaic Law and as taught by the elders of Israel. But his conviction was founded upon religious tenets, not biblical truth. How do we know this? We will soon see that his religion was external. 

This man may have refrained from murder, adultery, theft, lying, dishonoring his parents and his neighbors, and that is very commendable. But by asking the question, What do I still lack? he believed something was still missing. And that’s the catch of most religions. They are performance based. They are a works program. Here’s the deal - if indeed this man had obeyed all of the commandments of God, why was his spirit anxious? Why was he concerned that he might have missed something? What brought him to Jesus to engage in such a conversation? Why wasn’t he satisfied with countless other Jews under the authority of the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees?

Jesus made it very clear in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 -7) that the Law of God was internal and external. But since the internals came first (Commandments 1-4) then the externals (Commandments 5-10), and the focus of the elders of Israel was on the externals, the majority of the Jews were just as guilty of sinning against God as their Gentile neighbors. Jesus set the record straight. (Matthew 5:27-28) You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Religion, for the most part, is a hand matter. True faith in God is a heart matter. That’s what the young man was lacking. He had a religious relationship with the Jews, but he did not have a spiritual relationship with the God of the Jews.

“Lord Jesus, continue to cultivate in me a spirit of desire to obey Your Word out of a genuine love for You and a continual fellowship with You. Help me help others to see with spiritual eyes the truth of Your Word as it teaches us what genuine faith really is. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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