Did The Rich Young Ruler Really Keep God’s Commandments? An Insight From The Lord

The rich young ruler rejecting the Word

Matthew 19:16-22

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

The question that Jesus posed to the young man was a rhetorical one. Jesus knew the answer to His own question. He wanted the young man to realize that no one can keep the commandments as a way to make it to heaven but that the commandments pointed to his shortcomings to God’s standard.

18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The last one wasn’t in the 10 commandments “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus wasn’t just talking about the 10 commandments but all of God’s law. What’s interesting is that the “love your neighbor as yourself” is the hinge on the door which holds it up and without it, it will fall down. Read below

Matthew 22:34-40

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Without loving people it will be impossible to love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Read below

1 John 4:20

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”

Jesus knew that he didn’t keep the whole law especially the ones that He mentioned because the rich young ruler rejected the hinge that would have kept his faith from falling down.

21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The phrase “If you would be perfect” does not mean to be without sin, error or fault but it means to be right in God’s eyes.

Now Jesus gets to the root of his problem.

Jesus said to him,

1. “sell what you possess and give to the poor” which means “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
2. “and come, follow me.” which means “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

If the young man really kept God’s commandments and according to Jesus, “to love your neighbor and to love the Lord with all your being” is the hinge that holds the whole law which the rich young ruler affirmed to have kept. The young man would have helped the poor and followed Jesus but it proved that he wasn’t really obeying God’s Word because the two commands to love the Lord and his neighbor was not being kept. Jesus exposed his unwillingness to commit to the Lord by rejecting that which he claimed to follow.

If the young man had truly loved the LORD with all his heart and loved his neighbor as the Word of God commanded him, he would have believed in Jesus as his Savior and Messiah and would have accepted His invitation to follow Him. 

The sad part was that the young man was never following God even though he thought he was. If anyone accepts God’s Word but is unwilling to live according to it, that person has deceived himself.

James 1:22

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.