March 1: “Salvation and the Necessity of the Law”

7 Minute Read + video


Leviticus 24:1–25:46
Mark 10:13-31
Psalm 44:9-26
Proverbs 10:20-21


Mark 10:17 (CSB): “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'”


Wow! Our Verse for Today tells us that someone ran up to Jesus (they weren’t simply walking) and asked Him how they could get saved. This man’s sense of urgency was so pressing that he did what was culturally inappropriate so that he could get an answer to his question.

I suspect that this man was completely sincere. He wasn’t trying to trick Jesus like the Pharisees and Sadducees did. He genuinely wanted eternal life.

So, when we read the rest of the account in Mark 10, what does Jesus tell him?

We are surprised to hear Jesus imply that the Law was the answer to the man’s question.

Mark 10:18-19 (CSB): “‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus asked him. ‘No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.'”

“What?! Jesus reprimanded the man for calling Him “good?!” He also took the man to the Law?! I thought we were saved by grace. I thought we were saved apart from the works of the Law.”

Well, let’s let Scripture interpret Scripture. What does God’s Word say about this?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB): “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Romans 3:28 (CSB): “For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

So, if we are saved by grace through faith, apart from having to obey the Law perfectly, why did Jesus take the man to the Old Testament Law?

Simply put, the man’s heart was not prepared to receive the answer he desired. He said he wanted to know how to receive eternal life … but his heart was not prepared for the answer.

How do I know this? Because after Jesus confronted the man with the essence of the Old Testament Law (some of the Ten Commandments), listen to the man’s response.

Mark 10:20 (CSB): “He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.'”

This man, while he wanted eternal life, had a heart that was hardened by pride. He thought much too highly of himself. In essence, we’re left to wonder why he even felt compelled to pursue eternal life if he felt so righteous. So, in this condition, his heart was in no shape to receive the seed of the Gospel.

It’s like the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20). The Gospel is a seed and our heart is the soil. In order for us to receive the seed so that it can bear fruit, our heart must be tilled up. If our heart is hardened with pride, like the hardened path, then hearing the Gospel will do us no good.

So, what softens our heart, and tills it up, so that we can receive the Gospel?

The Law!

When we are confronted with the Law, and when God allows us to see our utter sinfulness and inability to keep the Law, we are broken and fall at the mercy of the court. We won’t walk up to the cross – we crawl and then fall at the foot of the cross and cry for mercy. Only then are we prepared to receive the gift of eternal life.

The man in Mark 10 said he wanted to be saved … but his heart wasn’t ready to be saved.

So, listen to what happened next. Jesus had previously confronted this man with the second half of the Ten Commandments that pertained to how people treat other people.

After the man’s proud response, Jesus took him to the first half of the Ten Commandments that pertain to how we treat God.

Essentially, Jesus saw that this man’s wealth was his god so Jesus confronted him with the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

Mark 10:21-22 (CSB): “Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'”

This man, confronted with the Law, was broken by the Law. His money was his god and he could not part with it. In front of everyone (he is the one who made this a public encounter with Jesus), he had been exposed as a lawbreaker.

So, how did he respond in his new awareness of his sin and guilt?

Mark 10:22 (CSB): “But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t stop him. He let the man go away sad.


Because the man’s heart was not prepared to receive the Gospel.

But, also, Jesus let the man go away because his grief and new awareness of his sinfulness, and the newfound awareness of the cost of following Jesus, could be used by the Lord to bring the man to repentance and faith in Jesus.

It is quite possible that the man, being in deep conviction over his sinfulness and guilt (his heart was now being prepared to receive the Gospel), eventually trusted in Jesus.

Friend, this passage of Scripture reveals to us how Jesus shared the Gospel. It shows the importance of the Law and conviction. It reveals that not everyone who claims that they want to be saved is ready to be saved. But, it also points to hope … that when someone is broken by an awareness of their sinfulness and guilt before God, their heart is ready to receive the seed of the Gospel.

I will conclude with a video that elaborates on much of what I have just said.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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