Once again it seems that Jesus is speaking directly to me when he interacts with the rich young ruler in Chapter 10 of Mark. I like to think I’m a good person. I haven’t broken any of the “big” commandments. I’ve never murdered anyone or committed adultery. (Of course, this omits the occaisional murderous thought or harmless flirtation). I don’t lie (unless you count lies of omission — why stir up conflict?). Coveting — well not usually material things, but maybe I do envy those who seem to have an easier life than I do. I try to put God first, although pressing matters get in the way sometime. I guess you’re getting the picture. Just like the young man in Mark, my “goodness” does not stand up to close examination. It’s laughable. I’m a sinner, like you, like everyone else. All of my good deeds are tainted with self-interest and egotism. Often when I sin, I’m not even aware of it. Other times, I know I’m making a wrong choice, but I excuse or justify it. I sin because it’s easier, it’s convenient and above all, it’s who I am. It comes naturally.
Then there’s the human race as a whole. We want to think we’re getting better and better, but it’s simply not so. The holocaust was not a one time event — instances of genocide happen over and over. Slavery was abolished with the Civil War — it’s going on in other ways in other places. Check into almost any history book and you’ll find that even organizations and programs intended to do good, often become corrupted and evil.
What are the implications of this? Well, we don’t just make mistakes, so even a great teacher won’t keep us from sinning. We can’t just chalk our sinning up to traumatic experiences, or the way we were raised so we need more than a therapist. A good friend can guide us and point out some of our sins, but she can’t be around 24/7 and isn’t privy to every sinful thought. There’s only one answer. We don’t need a teacher, or a counselor, or a good buddy in order to become a righteous person — we need a savior. Nothing else will work, nothing else will do.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9
For more study on the book of Mark see: