Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." - Mark 10:28 NASB
Taken alone, it almost sounds as if Peter is bragging about his spirituality. “Look at how much we have sacrificed. Clearly we’re worthy of being disciples.”
But as I ponder this story of the rich young man, I believe he was a little nervous about his own salvation.
Check out the rest of the conversation:
Jesus: "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at His words.
Jesus: "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Disciples: "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus: "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."
Peter: "Behold, we have left everything and followed You."
(From Mark 10:23-28 NASB)
I am thinking Peter has some covetousness sloshing around in his not yet Spirit filled life and felt a bit of conviction when Jesus sent the rich young man packing.
But Jesus’ speaks words of comfort to Peter and those who have left all and followed.
They have tender spirits toward the Lord, and when they see Him deal with others in His unrelenting manner as He did with this privileged youth, there is a tweak of condemnation that grips them.
Jesus immediately relieves that tension with His answer:
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” - Mark 10:29-31 NASB
Relief with just a touch of mystery, in any case.
Today, I am speaking to those of you with that sweet tender spirit that assumes every hard saying is for them.
Jesus’ words to the rich young man were specific instructions about his specific sin. It is what we call conviction.
Conviction is a tool the Holy Spirit uses to lead us to life. It comes with specific leadings to specific actions we can take. Conviction is redemptive and life giving, and if you follow the specific leading, you will find life.
In the case of this rich man, who walked away sad, conviction if ignored will end in condemnation and death. As James tells us:
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. - James 4:17 NASB
When you hear the voice of the Spirit drawing you toward some specific changes in your life – Go for it!
The voice Peter was hearing was not the voice of the Spirit. In fact condemnation often doesn't have a voice at all. It more often comes as a darkness in your spirit. When it has words, they are vague and broad – you’re a failure – you always betray God – you never please God – you call yourself a Christian?
These are lies that originate with their ugly father.
When those vague feelings of guilt overwhelm you, take them to Jesus like Peter did. [Tweet this] Jesus, what about me? How can I ever keep Your standards?
Jesus words to him were direct and to the point. – You have given up everything for Me and for My gospel – you are Mine – Do not fear.
There will be a day when Jesus’ words will be specific and condemning. At the judgment condemnation will be specific and eternal. “Depart from me, you who work iniquity. I never knew you.”
But today, if you will hear His voice and walk in the way He leads you, you will never hear those words.
Are there lies you hear that drag you off course, that throw you into a funk?
Bring them to Jesus today.
Walk in the light.