Before beginning one of his hootin’-tootin’ revivals in a big city years ago, the flamboyant, travelling evangelist, Billy Sunday, wrote to the mayor of the city asking for the names of people with spiritual problems.
The mayor sent him a phone book.
St. Paul would have appreciated that. “There is no difference,” the apostle wrote, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
So a wealthy young man fell at Jesus’ feet and asked an urgent question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The young man had asked a “law” question. Jesus gave him a “law” answer that he might see his great need of a Savior.
Jesus gave the man a catechism lesson, reciting in random order the Commandments: “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
With a straight poker face the man fellow replied: “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”
He was serious. This is how he saw himself. Outwardly his life appeared morally clean. His life had not exploded into scandal on the front page. He was a pillar of church and community, paid his taxes, kept his marriage vows.
But as St. Paul once put it, “The law is spiritual.” It is not merely an external thing meant to be kept by the hand. It is a spiritual thing meant to be kept in the heart , by the heart and from the heart.
Any clod knows that merely going through the outward motions is not enough to maintain a relationship – between parent and child, between husband and wife, between God and His people.
That’s why Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, rightly explained the law in terms of the heart – equating the lustful look with adultery, the hateful heart with homicide. The law is meant to be kept inward, spiritually, perfectly.
Who has? Who can? Not you. Not I. Not one! The common denominator!
Jesus can! Jesus did! For us! For all! In our stead! Our common Savior!
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!”