In this passage we are face to face with the fact that the essence of sin is to put self in the place of God.
This quote is from William Barclay in response to Romans 1:18-23.
Simply restated, the essence of sin is selfishness:
- in the garden, Eve wanted what she wanted more than what God wanted
- Adam wanted Eve more than he wanted God
And from then on, our constant downfall has been to want what we want more than what God wants – this is what we call sin.
What would it look like to want what God wants more than what we want? Jesus addresses this question continually, telling us to love God and love others. Not just follow the rules, but truly change what we want. Love motivates us to put others first.
When the rich young ruler asked Christ how to be perfect, Christ told him what he could do. The ruler responded that he had done all of that, so Jesus told him to give away all he had and follow Him. In other words, if you think you’ve kept all the rules and that makes you perfect, try changing your wants. Give up what you want, totally and completely.
This is hard, really hard. Harder than passing through the eye of a needle. The only way for this to happen is to allow God to change our hearts and to put His will first.
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”