Lessons Of A Lifetime

Keeping The Commandments
Or
Keeping An Eye On The Prize
Sunday April 17, 2022

Scripture To Consider:
“Now behold, one came and said to Jesus, ‘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 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?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”                   Matthew 19.16-22

Something To Consider:
The rich young man in our lesson today asked the much-asked question, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” The driving desire to earn one’s salvation is not a new concept, though it is a misconception of mankind. Wise men and women of every generation are driven by worth and value. Therefore, we have great difficulty with the biblical concept that eternal life is a free gift from God, unearned and undeserved.

In our text we find that this man possessed great wealth. And yet, in his heart he knew his riches had no eternal value. He sensed his falling short of gaining entrance into eternal life, for the riches of this world have no lasting value. What is it that we foolishly value more than eternal life in Christ? Is it our retirement fund? Is it our physical fitness? Is it a spouse, a child, or a grandchild? If the truth were to be known, what is it, or who is it that has more value to us than the Word of God concerning eternal life?

Though eternal life is a free gift, Jesus explained, “But if you want to enter into life [eternal life], keep the commandments.” And in an attempt to narrow the list, the rich young man asked of Jesus, “Which ones?” In other words, surely Jesus, You do not mean all of the commandments?

Therefore, Jesus graciously met him on slightly easier terms by naming five commandments. “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not bear false witness [or lie]. Honor your father and your mother, and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, how are we doing with this short list of commandments presented to the rich young man? Can we answer as he did, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” As for me, I cannot!

Something Else To Consider:
Our keeping the commandments can never earn us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. What is it therefore, that is beneath the surface for Jesus to bring up the keeping of the commandments or the law of God? Many, if not most questions of life can be found within the Word of God, if we are seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness!

The apostle Paul gives us the answer to our question in Galatians 3.24-25. “Therefore, the law [or commandments] was our tutor [teacher] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But, after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Once the law or the commandments has revealed to us our need for Christ as Savior, we are spiritually awakened to the truth that we now live by a new law of love, the love of God in and through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, are we keeping an eye on the commandments of Christ? Or are we following after the false commandments of men as Jesus warned in Matthew 15.8-9, when He stated; “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

Are we as guilty as the religious hypocritical so-called leaders of Jesus’ day? If we are not keeping the commandments, according to Jesus in Matthew 15.19; “For out of the heart [of an evil person] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, and blasphemes.” If after further spiritual inspection, we find we are guilty, the only hope is our true repentance!

Something More To Consider:
In other words, the commandments, the law of God, points us to the true prize, Jesus Christ. Paul writing in Philippians chapter 3, speaks to all who ask the question, “What do I still lack?” For Paul proclaimed, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The rich young man was not willing to let go of his great possessions and wealth. He was very much aware that his keeping the commandments did not guarantee his gaining eternal life. He fully understood there was something very important missing from his life. And yet, for whatever reason, his financial fortune was more important than his keeping an eye on the prize of all prizes. Keeping an eye on Jesus, the prize of all prizes, will gain for us eternal life as well as new life in Christ here on earth.

Are we willing to be found by Jesus keeping His commandments? Are we willing to be found by Jesus keeping our spiritual eye on the eternal prize of new life in Jesus here on earth, and therefore gaining eternal life the moment we breathe our last earthly breath? If not, we will as the rich young man, go away sorrowful for all eternity!

A Few Final Words:
Keeping the Old Testament commandments is a good thing if we understand they are directional markers pointing people to Jesus Christ, the true prize of eternal life. Keeping the New Testament commandments, such as, according to Jesus; “You must be born again.” “Come unto Me.” “Take my yoke upon you.” “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.” And, “If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.”

In other words, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God, is indeed the eternal prize of great price that we are to be keeping our spiritual eyes upon. Let us, therefore, be found as the author of Hebrews 12.2 declared; “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross [a symbol of suffering and shame], despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And in following up in Hebrews 12.3, the writer encouraged us by stating, “For consider Him [Jesus] who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you [we] become weary and discouraged in our souls.” Yes, our keeping the commandments of Christ are important. And yes, our keeping an eternal eye on the prize of Jesus is also eternally important!

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your commandments that point us to Jesus. Now help us to keep an eye on the prize of Your Son as we approach these most difficult end times. In Him Always, Amen!

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