As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
- Mark 10:17-22
“No one knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of an evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is the only man who knows to the full what temptation means – the only complete realist.
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I spoke of “carnality” yesterday and how the natural man, one who has not accepted Jesus, is incapable of understanding the spiritual conflict within someone who is saved. He does not understand anything spiritual. A. W. Tozer and Oswald Chambers both agree on this point. C. S. Lewis, from this quote, seems to agree with them also.
I wrote my testimony a few months ago, and in that testimony, I characterized myself as the good little boy who always went to church, never got in trouble, and always did what his parents said – a very boring story of the before salvation portion of a conversion testimony. But the key is that I knew that there was something missing. I wasn’t a good little boy at all down in my soul.
I may not have committed the bad outward sins, but I harbored ill-will toward those who had done me wrong. I had bad thoughts, just never followed through with the bad deeds. Since I grew up on a farm, lived in a neighborhood with no children my age and then returned to the farm, I was a very happy introvert. I needed no one, but I wanted that to change. Something said, “You are not meant to be a hermit.” When you are a hermit without God in your life, you are a god unto yourself, even when in a crowd.
I have often thought of what Jesus thought when the rich young ruler, as many describe him, claimed to have kept all the commandments since being a young boy. Did Jesus play a video tape in His mind of all the young man’s sins as He calmly told the young man to give away his great wealth?
Lewis is right. None of us are ‘good,’ except Jesus who was able to resist temptation.
And to think, Jesus, the only one who could resist temptation died to save those who have a great track record of giving in to temptation. I wrote in one of the Deviled Yeggs stories that counting to ten did not work for Detective Sgt. Yeggs. He might have to count to 100 or a thousand, but what did Jesus do? He quoted Scripture.
You don’t have the Scripture at the ready unless you read and study God’s Word. And whenever you quit keeping your eyes directed toward Jesus, the source of our strength, you have already started to slip away, becoming more vulnerable to the temptation.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.