An Offer You “Can” Refuse
Robert Wurtz II
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! (Mark 10:17–23 KJV)
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus he came running. He had a zeal to make Heaven. All indicators were that he wanted to be right with God. However, as Jesus placed His hand upon the controversy that God had with this religious young man, it became evident that he wanted right with God on his own terms. He referred to Jesus as a good teacher (Master) until he heard what Jesus said. We do not call teacher’s “master” today (although it would get interesting throwing the word master in with pastor in a church setting). Nevertheless, Jesus didn’t go in for flattery or vain titles. He did not fraternize either. Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Jesus shot down the blandishments and told the young man the truth. Though he came running to Jesus excited; he walked away from Him sorrowful. This is a sobering case.
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. (Mark 10:21)
Many people come to God and make a pretense of repenting of sin — when in reality they have not turned completely to God. They are knowingly holding back a part of themselves. As with the Israelites, so with individuals; “Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” (Hosea 4:1 KJV) As God had a controversy with Israel and Judah, so too, He has a controversy with sinners. What a person does with that controversy will determine whether or not they go on with God.
Many, even now, have some sin, as did the rich young ruler, which is standing directly between them and God. The minister may not see it, but Christ does. John Wesley comments on this verse saying, “Doubtless for the dawnings of good which he saw in him: and said to him – Out of tender love, One thing thou lackest – The love of God, without which all religion is a dead carcass. In order to this, throw away what is to thee the grand hindrance of it. Give up thy great idol, riches. Go, sell whatsoever thou hast.” Though he had thought he outwardly kept all the commandments — his “god” was his stuff. We must remember that we are not at liberty to pick and choose what sins we repent of. We must repent of anything and everything that God puts His hand on in our life. Sins that place other ‘things’ on the throne of our heart are paramount to idolatry and a violation of the 1st commandment and the great commandment. Anyone or anything that is standing between us and God is an idol — no matter what or who it is.
A Great Myth of Repentance
Some people are not as cut and dry as was the Rich Young Ruler. They will try to hang around and come to church without any intention of repenting of the controversy they have with God. It would be as if the Rich Young Ruler ignored Jesus’ words, kept his riches, and began following. Because he was innocent of “the obvious sins” he could say to Jesus “all these have I kept from my youth.” He would have gotten past most gate keepers, but he did not get by Jesus. Someday the Lord will separate the sheep from the goats. Why would He have to? Because many have tried to do what I just stated. They ignored the controversy and came on to church because people don’t see their heart state like Jesus does. God has a way of pointing out the idols in the heart. This is what God showed Ezekiel in the first several chapters of his prophecy.
Richard Owens Roberts wrote a section in his, “Seven myths of Repentance” stating, “When anyone resorts to selective repentance, the tendency is to repent of the glaring matters, the things of which everyone knows he is guilty. There is no potential for selectivity in genuine repentance. Even if someone in your church is caught in adultery and sheds buckets of tears, and makes no self-defense, and admits openly and candidly to an adulterous relationship, it is not necessarily repentance. You have to be sure that the underlying cause of adultery has been turned from, and that cause in most instances is pride. Take as an example, a woman who forsakes her three children and her husband and runs off with a local university professor. When she is confronted by the church, she at first says, “Well, if you knew that beastly fellow I’m married to, you’d understand.” But the church is very earnest in bringing her to repentance and so finally she says, “Well, I admit that I did the wrong thing.” Do we then rejoice? I’d want to get underneath and discover whether she had turned from the pride that made her think she didn’t need to be bound to this miserable man.” People often repent of the ‘symptoms of sin’ but they never repent of sin itself-, which is rebellion against God, and His authoritative word.
And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
When we are determined to keep our sin there is nothing left to do but to walk away. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking God will overlook our sin. He has already declared how He will judge sin and there is no changing that. Why deceive ourselves? If we hold on to some sin we are trading our soul for it. We are trading an opportunity to have an eternal relationship with God for it. For what? Some fleeting pleasure? Some relationship? Some material thing? Jesus, unlike many ministers, will let you walk away. He wants you to know what you have done so that perchance down the road you may truly repent. it is dangerous to hang around churches that allow damnable sins in the name of “love” and “acceptance.” The story of the Rich Young Ruler is clear. God makes us an offer of forgiveness and eternal life, but it is an offer we can refuse by holding on to our sin.