You may recall Jesus' followers posing this question as recorded in Mt. 19:25. They were very troubled after witnessing a rich young ruler come to Jesus asking what good thing he should do to have eternal life (Rom.7:18) and then demonstrating his righteousness by his professed faithfulness in keeping the commandments
of God, or 'the law.' Tragically, however, he went away very unhappy because his trust or faith was in his wealth and his own righteousness instead of in Jesus and His promise of heavenly treasure.
So, why was this so disturbing to the disciples? Well, keep in mind that the attitude of that day was that wealth and success were often seen as a sign of God's approval. But there were also many poor and sick and that
might be viewed as a sign of God's disapproval. So, if a wealthy, devout Jew couldn't make it into the kingdom of God, then what could the poor, the afflicted, the unchurched, the commoners or a handful of fishermen, for that matter, possibly do to achieve
Well, I believe that the disciples came face to face with a difficult but absolutely necessary truth.....their unworthiness.....their own unrighteousness! And that
was exactly what the Master wanted them to see.
If we make a Biblical comparison between God's righteousness and man's righteousness, we find that there is really no
comparison; we simply don't have any. Eccl. 7:20 like Rom. 3:10 puts it brief and to the point.
"There is none righteous; no, not one."
Take the great prophet of
God, Isaiah, who certainly didn't see himself as so great when he, in humility acknowledged that his righteousness was as filthy rags. And truly, our righteousness will never be more than filthy rags compared to the perfect righteousness of God. In Mt. 5:20 Jesus tells His followers that their righteousness must
exceed that of the Pharisees, who spent their whole lives trying to perfectly keep the entire law, and couldn't do it.
Knowing this, then, shouldn't we who sincerely
seek after righteousness ask the same question as the disciples? Who then can be saved?
"With man this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Jesus entered our world in perfect righteousness and met the full requirement for salvation; not His, but ours, because we can never do enough works to fulfill God's absolute standard of righteousness. But then, there's
Jesus, the lamb of God, without blemish, full of truth and grace; the one-time-only sacrifice for our sins and imperfections. And when we realize that we are weary and heavy laden from striving and working to achieve His righteous standard and we come to Him, He
will give us rest in Jehovah's salvation..... oh yes, the good works and maturity will follow, not as proof of our righteousness but of His.
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them
as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God in Him."
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
And don't forget Paul's encouraging reminder to all the believers in Eph. 2:8-9 and please note that he is writing not of a work that Jehovah God will do, but of a work that Jehovah God has already done.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."