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Jesus shows the Futility of Salvation by Human Effort
by Clifford Tate 
03/20/13
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Matthew 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” NKJV

The story of the rich young ruler coming to our Lord Jesus Christ is so well known even non-believers have heard about it. Here was a young man considered rich by all who knew him or knew of him. How he got his wealth was not disclosed for us or what he did with his wealth on a regular basis is also information we were not given. Most of us have placed our focus on his earthly wealth and rightly so, but that is not initially where our Lord focused His attention. Although the man’s wealth was near and dear to him, he also had a misguided view of himself morally and spiritually.

This young man no doubt grew up in a family with a Father and Mother who were devout Jews who went to the synagogue regularly and took him along. The young man probably knew much of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) or at least the main stories of the origin, pilgrimage, struggles, and overall history of the Jewish people. The young man probably no doubt was circumcised on the eighth day and knew the tribe that made up his family heritage. The young man probably heard the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees and came down on the side of the Pharisees because he believed in life after death as did the Pharisees.

The question he asked our Lord reveals what he had been taught all of his life and he now wanted this new Rabbi that was growing more and more popular among the common people to confirm his belief and give him a list of “good things” he could do to assure eternal life for him in heaven. When our Lord ran through the commandments with him, he confidently asserted the certainty that he had kept all of them from his youth. This man was not trying to be pious. In reality, he truly believed he had kept them all because he no doubt pattern his religious life after that of his Father and Mother as well as the other men and women of the Synagogue he regularly attended. The young man truly believed he was a “good person” and he meant no disrespect to our Lord or any of the people standing around listening.


The sin of human “goodness” is probably the worse sin on the planet next to unbelief/atheism. It is the sin practiced every single day for years and centuries in Synagogues, Muslim Temples, Churches, and other places of religious worship. It has always been easy for the “good person” to look inwardly and not see the sin hidden down deep in the heart that is so desperately wicked. Jeremiah said our human hearts are so sin sick that we don’t even know them. Such was the case of this young man and many of the people of his family, friends, and fellowship that really did not understand how depraved we all are from the womb. This is why our Lord said according to Marks account of this discord, “He looked at him and loved him.” Our Lord sees the humanly sweetest, dearest, and kindest person on this earth apart from the Holy Spirit’s regeneration and the new birth as depraved. Listen to the words our Lord gave the Prophet Isaiah many centuries before He ever was born of a virgin, died on the cross, and rose the third day about the works or deeds of the “good person”:

Isaiah 64:6 For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags {or} a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God's favor, hurrying us toward destruction]. QAB

Please listen to the words of the Prophet if you are counting on your Church/Denomination membership, your giving to a charity, your good deeds outweighing your bad deeds, water baptism or infant baptism, your outward keeping of the Ten Commandments, any religious rituals observed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly please stop and turn around and look up at the cross of Calvary. The Lord Jesus Christ shattered this young man’s perceived “goodness” by reaching into his heart and exposing his covetousness. The first sin we commit condemns us all before God the Father for the wages of sin is death, but the sin we hold onto, we grip tightly, we justify vainly, we practice regularly, or we obstinately won’t turn from is the sin that will keep any person from the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Jesus Christ because He (God the Holy Spirit) is here now to convict of sin and God the Father right now requires all men to repent of sin (turn from it) or all will go away from the Lord Jesus Christ just as this rich young man did because he would not let go of his sin of covetousness.

Job 35:6-7 If you have sinned, how does that affect God? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what have you done to Him? If you are righteous, what do you [by that] give God? Or what does He receive from your hand? QAB

Our Lord made this very clear to the disciples when they realized that this perceived “good man” was not going to be saved. They were perplexed and wondered, if he can’t be saved and we thought of him as a “good man”, then who can be saved. Our Lord said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Salvation from sin is not the work of any man’s human effort, but it is the Divine work of a loving God that intervenes in the life of a man or woman and recreates them internally and then adopts them as His son or daughter giving them Resurrection Life that enables them to live differently for the rest of their earthly life and then makes them completely perfect after death. If anyone is reading this and the Spirit of God has pricked your heart and made you agitated because you consider yourself to be a “good person”, then rejoice because He is beginning the work of conviction that I pray will spring forth into eternal life today bringing you to Jesus Christ The Only “GOOD PERSON”.

“Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.” Martin Luther

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...

Sincerely in Christ,


Clifford D. Tate, Sr.

Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…



If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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