I was listening to the sermon from Sunday. The preacher said that "doing the right things for the right reasons requires purity." He went on to connect Jesus telling the Rich Young Ruler that he must "follow the commandments" to Jesus calling us to be pure, and that Jesus was saying "if (we) want to be good, then (we must) live a life free of disobedience and sin."
Dang, I was really hoping for a shot at going to heaven, but I know that I am not pure.
But maybe Jesus telling him to follow the commandments was not a call to purity, but to show him his impurity. Jesus had previously stated that "No one is good except God alone." And this man was no exception. But the man thought he was.
He responded to Jesus by saying that he had kept all these commandments since his youth. But he also knew that this was not enough. In Luke's version of this encounter, the man wants to know what he still lacks.
Jesus then tells him to sell all he has and follow him. Wow. So what is Jesus saying here? Is he replacing the legalism of the OT law with monastic poverty? Or is he saying take all that you depended on in the past, your purity, your wealth, your ways of thinking of these things, and throw them out and put yourself in my care. Follow me. Love me. See the Father through me. I am the way, truth and life.
I think that would be how Paul would interpret this encounter.
7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Okay, I feel better now.