you cant leave this one thing out
You Can’t Leave This One Thing Out
I have decided to make lemonade, but I want to leave one ingredient out. I am going to make lemonade with no sugar. That is a fairly important ingredient. It is like working on a puzzle for a few days only to find that one piece is missing and it can be completed. The lemonade leaves a bad taste in our mouths, and the incomplete puzzle grates on our nerves. In the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus tells this man that there is one thing missing. Sometimes we feel like we can go on with just one thing missing, because we think about the insignificant things. Tail light, rearview mirror, door handle. But take away one wheel, the serpentine belt, the steering wheel and see how far you get. This account is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; it is interesting how each account adds detail or flavor to the story. Matthew tells us that he was young Luke mentions that he was a ruler, and Mark mentions that he came running to Jesus. This is known as the story of the rich young ruler. The whole account revolves around a missing piece, and I submit to you this morning that the missing piece is peace. This man is not at piece with God. I want to consider three things about this man and preach a message called, “You can’t leave this one thing out.”
1. His Interest. A Desire to find the missing piece. I think that anybody who is wiling to run to Jesus at least has some interest in spiritual things. He has at the very least, youthful enthusiasm. As parents we are excited and moved when our young children can’t wait to get to church, or look forward to the family altar time. We are elated that there is some interest in spiritual things. This man had a great future ahead of him. He was young, he was a leader, and he was rich. No doubt we are sometimes envious of people like this, and may even ponder trading places for a time just to see what it is like. But understand, this man who seemed to have it all was missing something very important. In spite of his religion, in spite of his worship, rituals and traditions, he had no peace. He had no assurance that he had in fact inherited eternal life. I like the fact that he came to Jesus with zeal and vigor. I like the fact that he openly and honestly sought the Christ. At least he sought out the right person for the answer. Remember the story of Namaan in the OT. He had a lot of things going for him, but he was a leper. He was given some advice to go see the prophet, but instead he went to the King of Israel. He couldn’t help him. When he finally got counsel from Elisha, he was not willing to dip himself in the Jordan River. Interest in spiritual things is not enough o obtain eternal life, and I want to use these last two points to show you why the rich young ruler missed it.
2. His Ignorance. Not knowing how to obtain it. He was certain that peace with God had something to do with keeping the Law. He wasn’t a killer, thief, liar, or disrespectful to his parents. In all of his keeping of the Law, he failed to recognize the wickedness of his own heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
He failed to see that eternal life is not based on human merit.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. We look at the early life of Paul, when he was still known as Saul of Tarsus. He too had a seemingly bright future ahead of him. He was proud of what kind of man he had become.
Philippians 3:5-6 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. It was after he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus when he realized it was hard to kick against the pricks. The Jews were so concerned with keeping the letter of the Law, they missed the spirit of the Law.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. The important matter concerning the Law of God is heart obedience to the Law of God. Many people are able to put on an outward show of religion, but Jesus said that these are whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.
Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. When we cannot see our heart for what it is, and we continue to miss the mark of God, we will merely deal with sin at the fruit level. I think most of you realize if you do not get to the root, we will be revisiting the issue again and again. When it comes to the matter of eternal life, it is not found in the righteousness of the law, it is found by having faith in Christ.
Philippians 3:9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: The rich man in his ignorance asked what can I do? Eternal life is not obtained by doing. Example of the Philippian jailor. Sirs what must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Paul could have easily said, “You can’t do any thing!” Everything that can be done has been done. It is finished!!
3. His Idolatry. Man’s attempt to replace the missing ingredient. First I want you to see the question of Christ in verse 18.
Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. If you are going to toss around words like good, you have to recognize me as God. Isn’t that the problem with much of the cults and false religions? They want to call Jesus good—man, prophet, teacher, etc. but they will not admit that He is God.
It is important that we note that Jesus dealt with commandments in two parts. He started with the second section that deals with man’s responsibility to man. The first commandments, however, deal with man’s responsibility to God. When Jesus addresses the rich young rulers stuff, He is addressing his idolatry. Now a devout Jew would never think of having images and idols in their homes, but we have to see idolatry in a greater view. When he is told to sell all of his stuff, he is being asked to place God first in his life. You cannot serve God and mammon. We have an illustration of this truth in the OT story of Elijah and the widow. Make me first a little cake. God knows how to get our attention and to knock our idols down. We could consider the plagues of Egypt and see how attacked the false gods of the Egyptians with the various plagues. If Christ were speaking to Pilate He could have said give up your political aspirations, and desire to please the emperor. If it were Judas—forsake your desire for notoriety and to make a name for yourself in Jewry. What are your idols this morning? I don’t think I have any. Well, what have you placed before God? What has been dipping into your tithe and missions giving? What keeps you from prayer and devotion? What keeps you home and out of the Lord’s house? What is keeping you from making peace with God and inheriting eternal life? Don’t go away like this young man did. Sad, sorrowful, and grieving.
You can’t leave this one thing out. Come and make peace with God this morning. Come give your idols up.