Sabbath, May 4, 2019

Lesson 18 – A Great Hindrance to Entering the Kingdom

“Jesus touched the plague spot in the young ruler’s heart, which, if not healed, would destroy his soul. He showed him that he was not keeping the commandments of God, since he did not love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself. Jesus offered to make him His companion and a laborer in bringing souls into the kingdom of heaven. The young man had wealth, education, position, and influence, and was therefore qualified to work intelligently and successfully for the Master. But his love of the world prevented him from accepting the invitation of Christ.” –Review and Herald, March 21, 1878.

Life and death question
1. Who came running to the Master one day and, before speaking, knelt before Him? Calling Jesus “good Master,” what willingness did he reveal?
Mark 10:17 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?

“The young man who asked this question was a ruler. He had great possessions, and occupied a position of responsibility. He saw the love that Christ manifested toward the children brought to Him; he saw how tenderly He received them, and took them up in His arms, and his heart kindled with love for the Saviour. He felt a desire to be His disciple. He was so deeply moved that as Christ was going on His way, he ran after Him, and kneeling at His feet, asked with sincerity and earnestness the question so important to his soul and to the soul of every human being, ‘Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 518.

2. In His answer, what was Jesus asking him and us to take to heart? Why did the Master list only the commandments that are related to one’s neighbor?
Mark 10:19 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.

“The Lord desires every one of us to be decidedly in earnest. We cannot afford to make a mistake in spiritual matters. The life-and-death question with us is, ‘What shall I do that I may be saved, eternally saved?’ ‘What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life–a life that measures with the life of God?’ This is a question that it becomes every one of us to consider carefully….” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 98.

“In reply to this question Jesus told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he would obtain eternal life; and He quoted several of the commandments which show man’s duty to his fellow men.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 518, 519.

“He [Judas] had come to Christ in the same spirit as did the young man who had great possessions, who inquired, ‘Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’… In this requirement Jesus touched the plague-spot of his heart–selfishness and covetousness.” –Review and Herald, August 15, 1893.

3. Comparing the young man’s answer to the prayer of the Pharisee in the temple, what similarity is there? How deep was his understanding of the commandments, as indicated by his quick response? 
Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Luke 18:11, 12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

“The young man answered without hesitation, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?’ His conception of the law was external and superficial. Judged by a human standard, he had preserved an unblemished character. To a great degree his outward life had been free from guilt; he verily thought that his obedience had been without a flaw. Yet he had a secret fear that all was not right between his soul and God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 391.

“Jesus looked with love upon the young man, and faithfully pointed out to him his deficiency in keeping the divine law. He did not love his neighbor as himself. His selfish love of riches was a defect, which, if not remedied, would debar him from heaven.” –Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 210, 211.

“This ruler had a high estimate of his own righteousness. He did not really suppose that he was defective in anything. He thought that there was no defect in his character….” –The Youth’s Instructor, May 20, 1897.

One thing you lack
4. Knowing what was in his heart, what counsel did the Lord give him to fill his spiritual void? What similar counsel is given to us?
Mark 10:21 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.

“He needed the love of God in the soul. This lack, unless supplied, would prove fatal to him; his whole nature would become corrupted. By indulgence, selfishness would strengthen. That he might receive the love of God, his supreme love of self must be surrendered….

“But self must yield; his will must be given into Christ’s control. The very holiness of God was offered to the young ruler. He had the privilege of becoming a son of God, and a co-heir with Christ to the heavenly treasure. But he must take up the cross, and follow the Saviour in the path of self-denial.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 519, 520.

“He told him that if he would have eternal life, he must obey God’s requirements, lift the cross, and follow Him.” –The Youth’s Instructor, May 20, 1897.

“After calling attention to His own self-denying, cross-bearing life, Jesus entreated the young man to come and imitate His example, telling him that he should thus lay up treasure in heaven.” –Review and Herald, January 15, 1880.

5. If he was not willing to leave all and become a disciple of the Son, what must be said of his past service for the Father? Who had really been and now continued to be his master?
Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

“His exalted position and his possessions were exerting a subtle influence for evil upon his character. If cherished, they would supplant God in his affections. To keep back little or much from God was to retain that which would lessen his moral strength and efficiency; for if the things of this world are cherished, however uncertain and unworthy they may be, they will become allbsorbing….

“His claim that he had kept the law of God was a deception. He showed that riches were his idol. He could not keep the commandments of God while the world was first in his affections. He loved the gifts of God more than he loved the Giver. Christ had offered the young man fellowship with Himself. ‘Follow Me,’ He said…. He refused the offer of eternal life, and went away, and ever after the world was to receive his worship.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 520.

“This world-loving man desired heaven; but he wanted to retain his wealth, and he renounced immortal life for the love of money and power. Oh, what a miserable exchange! Yet many who profess to be keeping all the commandments of God are doing the same thing.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 211.

Overcoming every hindrance
6. Describe the great hindrance that keeps many from the Lord’s kingdom.
Mark 10:23, 25 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!… 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

“As the young man turned away, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.’ These words astonished the disciples. They had been taught to look upon the rich as the favorites of heaven; worldly power and riches they themselves hoped to receive in the Messiah’s kingdom; if the rich were to fail of entering the kingdom, what hope could there be for the rest of men?” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 393, 394.

“Heaven’s treasure could be obtained only by exchanging the earthly and temporal for the eternal.” –The Youth’s Instructor, May 20, 1897.

7. When do riches become a serious problem, barring the way into the kingdom of heaven?
Mark 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Psalm 62:10, last part … If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
Luke 12:15 Take heed,… for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

“Now they realized that they themselves were included in the solemn warning. In the light of the Saviour’s words, their own secret longing for power and riches was revealed.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 394.

“The Lord reveals man’s relative estimate of time and eternity, of earth and heaven. He has admonished us: ‘If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.’ Psalm 62:10. They have a value when used for the good of others and the glory of God; but no earthly treasure is to be your portion, your god, or your saviour.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 170.

8. When the disciples heard this, what did they exclaim? What did the Lord say about how to overcome this serious obstacle?
Mark 10:26, 27 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. 
Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

“To the rich no less than to the poor are the words of the Holy Spirit spoken, ‘Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.’ 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. When men believe this, their possessions will be held as a trust, to be used as God shall direct, for the saving of the lost, and the comfort of the suffering and the poor. With man this is impossible, for the heart clings to its earthly treasure. The soul that is bound in service to mammon is deaf to the cry of human need. But with God all things are possible. By beholding the matchless love of Christ, the selfish heart will be melted and subdued. The rich man will be led, as was Saul the Pharisee, to say, ‘What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Philippians 3:7, 8. Then they will not count anything their own. They will joy to regard themselves as stewards of the manifold grace of God, and for His sake servants of all men.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 394, 395.

For additional study
“The kingdom of heaven is of a higher order than any earthly kingdom. Whether we shall have a higher position or a lower position, will not be determined by our rank, wealth, or education, but by the character of the obedience rendered to the word of God. Those who have been actuated by selfishness and human ambition, who have been striving to be greatest, who have been self important, who have felt above confessing mistakes and errors, will have no place in the kingdom of God. Whether men will be honored as members of the royal family of God, will be determined by the manner in which they bear the test and proving of God that is brought to bear upon them in this life. Those who have not been self-denying, who have not manifested sympathy for the woes of others, who have not cultivated the precious attributes of love, who have not manifested forbearance and meekness in this life, will not be changed when Christ comes….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 60.