The Irony of Disobedience

The Bible in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 said,

What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

ÜTruly there is nothing new under heaven. The human existence is an unending cycle of struggle and nothing is ever permanent except the capacity to commit mistake. Oh yes, man isn’t perfect and always susceptible to error. I believe that is a fact that no one can deny.

My wife and I have been doing discipleship with people of different background and age, and we both agree that only one thing is constant – no matter how well they know Scripture, people just can’t resist the temptation of disobedience. On the other hand, I suppose every Christian mentor would agree that the calling of Christ Jesus for discipleship and salvation involves TOTAL SURRENDER to Him.

The Synoptic Gospels told of a story about a rich man who came to Jesus Christ and sought to inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27; Luke 18:18-27). The man claimed to have lived according to the commandments of the Mosaic Laws (Matthew 19:20; Mark 10:20; Luke 18:21), yet Jesus implied something remains lacking. See Mark 10:21.

As Jesus looked at him, He felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

Isn’t it obvious that subsequent to following Jesus, obedience or total surrender is demanded by Christ?

See also, Matthew 19:21.

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

The same, isn’t it? The condition for obedience is required, so again Jesus said, “Then come, follow Me.” Perhaps some may argue that in other English translations, it’s “and”, not “then”. Would it matter? The instruction of Christ was clear; the man ought to obey His command first before following Him.

Finally, Luke 18:22.

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

As we can see, all three Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark and Luke – they all pointed out that though the rich man claimed adherence to the Mosaic Law, it wasn’t enough. Jesus asked the rich man to sell everything then come follow Him.

It definitely was not about living a destitute life and giving everything for the poor. See John 12:3-8.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.

Rather, it’s about the condition of one’s heart. See Matthew 6:19-21.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It was pointed out by the Scripture, his great possession or wealth became a hindrance for him to truthfully follow Christ, hence Jesus asked him to sell everything. See Matthew 19:22. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Also, Mark 10:22. “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And again, Luke 18:23. “But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”

Twice in Matthew, Jesus suggested that it is better to cut off a person’s hand if it leads him to sin. See Matthew 5:30.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Now see Matthew 18:8.

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

The point of Christ was/is to deny the ways of Adam – transgressed the covenant and dealt faithlessly with God. See Hosea 6:7.

But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with Me [God].

Christ’s desire was/is that people should come before Him with sincere intention and with complete trust and faith in Him. In other words, Christ Jesus demands total surrender.

Total surrender means putting our faith in Christ Jesus alone, not on worldly goods, exactly what the rich man was doing. The Scripture did say,

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)

It is important to note that all three Gospel writers in relation to the story of Jesus, and the rich man had its context telling their audience/readers the prerequisite or demands for entrance to God’s kingdom. See Mark 10:15. “I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then followed by the encounter of Jesus and the rich man.

Same with Matthew 19:14. “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.‘” Then we have the narrative of Jesus and the rich man.

Finally, Luke 18:17. “I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” It was followed by the same story of Jesus and the rich man.

A lot of times, as I teach the Bible, each time we came across the above passages, there seems to be a common concern among my audience, so they ask, “Do I really need to sell everything to inherit salvation?” Some would even deny the words of Christ and suggest otherwise. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ is clear and timeless. It was true for that man and for everyone else who seek to follow Jesus Christ or have eternal life – no if’s and no but’s.

The prophet of God, in Jeremiah 17:9, said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

The problem of mankind may be seem from the first humans found in Genesis, Adam and Eve. It is clear from Genesis chapter two that everything man needs for existence and enjoyment was provided by God. See Genesis 2:7-9.

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Also, Genesis 2:15-23.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Nothing was lacking for man; God allowed man to have everything He created. Oh yes, perhaps some will say, “Nope, God denied something from man – the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).”

Allow me to clear out this confusion. God denied nothing from man and everything He created was good, even the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. See Genesis 1:31.

God saw all that He had made—and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

See also 1 Timothy 4:4.

For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil was good in itself, but God made a covenant with man or a commandment as soon as man was placed inside the Garden of Eden. See Genesis 2:15-17.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In other words, man’s breaking of God’s covenant made them realized good from evil, and the evil were them – Adam and Eve – not the fruit that they ate making them evil. That’s the irony of human disobedience. The same is true for everyone, both Christians and non-Christians alike, for just as God demand faith in Christ Jesus for eternal life, so obedience is required for eternal fellowship with Him.

Now, on the topic of death as punishment for Adam and Eve once they broke God’s covenant, it must be clear that the penalty for their sin was immediate as can be seen in Genesis 2:17. “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The judgment was immediate and executed. So Adam and Eve died, but it’s obvious that it is not physically, for they continue to exist and even have children, therefore it’s a spiritual death.

The evidence of death was evident when they hid from the presence of God, and they found themselves naked. Again, nakedness here did not imply physical nudity rather a spiritual one. For after God formed both Adam and Eve, later Scripture said, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

Spiritual death clearly refers to man’s disfellowship with God; they were no longer in covenant relationship with God. Next, man was banished from the Garden of Eden where the Tree of Life was/is, so the natural consequence of humanity henceforth was to die physically due to human natural composition. Remember, man was made from the dust of the ground; see Genesis 2:7.

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

See also Genesis 3:17-19.

And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The composition of mankind was from the dust of the ground which is susceptible to erosion and decay, so the physical existence of mankind was now limited to our present reality, after which everyone returns to the dust.

The apostle Paul spoke of the same truth in his letter to the Corinthians. See 1 Corinthians 15:47-49.

The first man [Adam] was from the earth, a man of dust; the Second Man [Jesus Christ] is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the Man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of heaven.

That is the reason and purpose of God in Christ Jesus our Lord – to redeem His creation back in fellowship with Him at the Garden of Eden, where the Tree of Life is. Hence, the coming of Jesus Christ indeed was/is the essence of Gospel. See Luke 22:19-20.

And He [Jesus Christ] took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.

See Matthew 26:39.

And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

By “this cup,” both in Luke 22:20 and Matthew 26:39, Jesus spoke of His crucifixion and death as suitable offering for Him to commence His New Covenant.

See also, Matthew 26:26-29.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

The fullness of the New Covenant will be completed when Christ Jesus finally reigns in His Father’s kingdom or God’s kingdom.

Now, in Hebrews 9:15, Scripture said,

Therefore He [Jesus Christ] is the mediator of a New Covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Interestingly, Scripture continued on, so Hebrews 9:28 said,

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.

The Second Coming of Christ then is not detach, as suggested by many, from the doctrine of salvation. For it is clear that only after Jesus had appeared a second time would salvation be completed.

The Coming (First and Second) of Jesus Christ then was the offering of the New Covenant – a second and the last chance we may say for man to be restored back into fellowship with God and live eternally. But it is not a corporate spiritual restoration of mankind but individually, and only available to anyone who truthfully professed faith in Christ Jesus. Again, faith and obedience to Christ Jesus is intrinsically bind together; it cannot come one after the other as can be seen from the invitation of Jesus Christ to the rich man in the Synoptic Gospels. Again see Mark 10:21.

And Jesus, looking at him (the rich man), loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

So we see, no one can truthfully claim to have been following Jesus Christ without obedience to Him. See John 8:21, Jesus addressing the Pharisees “So He [Jesus] said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Now see John 13:36.

Simon Peter said to Him [Jesus Christ], “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Then in John 14:3-6, Jesus said,

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Do you now understand what it meant to be “following Jesus”? Jesus said “Where I am you may be also (John 14:3).” That should be clear enough, don’t you think? The call to “follow Jesus” was/is an invitation for eternity.

Now, see Luke 18:24-27.

Jesus, seeing that he [the rich man] had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

The disciples clearly understood that entrance to God’s kingdom means salvation (Luke 18:25-26). And salvation is possible only with God (Luke 18:27). Jesus Christ alone is the means by which anyone could come to the Father (John 14:6). Isn’t it ironic that many are similar to the rich man, they wanted worldly riches and eternal life? But Scripture had clearly said that “no one can have both.” See Matthew 6:24; Jesus said,

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

So the Beatitude of Jesus Christ makes sense now. See Matthew 5:3-12.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Nowhere did Jesus say, “Blessedness is having an abundance of material wealth,” so why be envious of them who have much in life? Rich or poor, we all need Christ Jesus for our salvation. Seek Him in truth and spirit. Worry not about your daily needs, for Christ Jesus promised to provide. Do not fall victim into the irony of disobedience.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Jesus Christ), and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4)

Blessings!

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Published by Eric

I am a pastor. In the course of leading Bible studies, I have noticed inconsistencies in the traditional Christian beliefs and teachings. So now I am on a journey of in-depth study of the Scripture. By the grace of God, having been liberated by the truths of the Word of God, now I am doing the ministry independently, teaching the Word of God.

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