Babies tell lies. By the age of only 6 months, they have learned to pretend to be hurt, cry, and then look around to see if anyone is paying attention. How about you: Do you lie? Have you ever? According to a communication study done in 2010, the average human tells 1.65 lies a day (that is if the subjects were telling the truth). If you say you have never lied, that’s just the most recent one. Lying is breaking the Ten Commandments.
Jesus was confronted by a wealthy young man, wondering what he needed to do to get eternal life (See: Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough). Jesus told him to obey the commandments.
““Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”” (Matthew 19:18-20)
Notice that the man was lying when he claimed to not lie. His idea of keeping that commandment was, “I usually don’t lie – at least not very much… unless it is really necessary.” But “keeping” the commandments means always. The standard for attaining “eternal life” is absolute perfection! We see this in Jesus’ response:
“Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
If you want eternal life, if you want to earn a place in Heaven, you must be perfect. Startling, but logical because, if God let’s imperfect people into Heaven – even somebody with smelly feet – it won’t be Heaven any longer. Nobody qualifies for Heaven because nobody has been perfect.
But there is a way: Jesus told the man, if he wanted to be perfect, to sell his possessions, give to the poor and follow Him. That is not a universal formula, since many of those who follow Jesus are already poor. Jesus was not requiring a life of poverty. But that young man was convinced that his money was his life, his security, his happiness.
“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:22)
He was unable to trust and follow Jesus, because, his money was more important. Trusting Jesus doesn’t require giving everything up, it means letting go of everything. Trusting Jesus means that nothing else is more important to us than Him, that nothing else has a greater hold on us than He does. That is why Jesus then told His disciples that this kind of trust is very tough for those who are rich (verses 23-24).
“When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” (Matthew 19:25-26)
It is impossible for man to attain perfection and qualify for Heaven. But God has made it possible for us through Jesus. We are “credited with perfection” (righteousness) when we let go of all our other “security blankets” for life, trust Jesus and follow Him.