Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"Luke 10:25(HCSB)
For three years, the Lord Jesus presented Himself to the lost sheep of the house of Israel as their promised Messiah. He was the Saviour Whom prophets foretold would save His people from their sins, and long after Jesus explained to Nicodemus that a man must be born again to receive eternal life, we discover a lawyer who was an expert in the Law of Moses, who also came to the Lord Jesus to a seek an alternative way of salvation by asking the question, "Teacher, what must I DO to INHERIT eternal life?"
This young man was an expert in the Law of Moses. He had strictly obeyed the letter of the Law and was self-righteous in his own eyes. It appears that this question was designed to demonstrate his own perfect righteousness before the admiring crowd, for we read that he asked this question to test the Lord Jesus rather than humbly recognising his sinful state, his lost status, and his desperate need for salvation.
This learned lawyer had developed the legalist view that keeping the Law was the route to eternal life. This legalistic scholar had developed a perspective which meant that he had to DO something in order to obtain eternal life. This student of the Mosaic Law approached Jesus under the assumption that eternal life is gained by carrying out works of the Law - and that getting into heaven requires a person to DO something in order to obtain everlasting life - but Scripture clearly teaches: A man is NOT justified, reckoned righteous, or in right standing with God by works of the Law. We are justified only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation... trusting in Him by grace through faith, for He alone has saved us from our sin.
The question that this young man asked was the WRONG question and was based on his own self-righteousness and not his sinful state. He missed a truth from Moses in Deuteronomy 6, which says: "It is not for thine own righteousness, nor for the uprightness of thine own heart, art thou going in to possess their land." And as Paul rightly judged in Romans 10: "Because they (Israel) disregarded the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God's righteousness."
All the good works and self-righteous acts produced by man are filthy rags in the eyes the Lord, for only in Christ can true righteousness be found, and all who trust in Him for salvation are clothed in HIS righteousness. We are accepted in Christ, and those who are found in Him, cannot boast of having our own righteousness, for we have been clothed in HIS perfect righteousness. Godly righteousness comes through faith in Christ - the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Many today are seeking to enter heaven through their own righteousness simply because they are asking the wrong question (What must I do to INHERIT eternal life?) which demonstrates a legalist mind-set and a trust that one's own works are sufficient to earn eternal life. And this question will always receive the same answer: "You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, and with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength, and with ALL your mind; and your neighbour as yourself." And this is an impossible task in our own strength.
How important to ask the correct question, which is: "What must I do to be SAVED?" which is answered with the words: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." When the Philippian jailer asked this question, it demonstrated a man who recognised that he was lost and needed a Saviour. His question was not what must I do to INHERIT eternal life, but what must I do to be SAVED… and the answer which was give to Nicodemus many years before was once again repeated: "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus died for my sins so that by faith in Him I will not perish, but have everlasting life. Keep me from legalistic thinking that I am able to do something to add to Christ's finished work on the Cross. Thank You that by faith in Him, I have been forgiven of my sins and received eternal life as a free gift of grace, not of works of Law (lest I should start to boast in my own righteousness), but only by grace through faith in Christ Jesus my Saviour. Praise His holy name, AMEN.