WITH MAN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE
What did Christ say? He said, "How difficult it is for those who have riches to go into the kingdom of God. For it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (vv. 24-25). Here is the purpose behind Christ’s confounding of the young man. He wants us to realize that with men these things are impossible. I am not saying that the Lord demands everyone to sell all his possessions before he can be saved. He was making all those who thought that they were able realize their real situation. God only wants to show man that he is unable. Man’s life is an impotent one. There is no possibility for him to become able.
If man would confess his inability and give up before God, everything would be all right. O young man! O young ruler! Why do you have to depart sorrowfully? It is right to recognize your inability. But it is wrong to leave sorrowfully. What you could have said was, "Lord, I cannot do this. I have no way. Save me." If you had said this, everything would be different. The Lord’s purpose is not for you to turn away, but to make you see that you are not able.
When a man says, "I am able," God becomes unable in him. But whenever man becomes unable, God will become able. When we have exhausted our strength, God will manifest His power and glory.
THE HISTORY OF THE ISRAELITES
Let us look a little more into the history of the Israelites. After God gave the law, the children of Israel seemingly responded in a good way. They said that all the Lord commanded them, they would do (Exo. 19:8). The first commandment that God gave was that there should be no other God besides Him (20:3). Moses received this commandment on the mountain. But even before he came down, the children of Israel had already built themselves a golden calf, saying, "This is our God." They promised easily that they would obey God’s commandments. But God showed them that they were unable to do so. This happened to the children of Israel. It happened to the young ruler. It is also happening to us. Over and over again, God is showing us that we are unable.
WHO CAN KEEP GOD’S LAWS?
Well, then, who can keep God’s laws? This is the second crucial question we have to ask. Please remember that every commandment in the Bible is unreasonably demanding. Every rich man has to sell all his possessions, give to the poor, and then follow Jesus of Nazareth. What is this? Is this not unreasonable? The demands of Christ are so severe; they take your life! He says that whoever loves his father, mother, or children more than Him is not worthy to be His disciple. Neither is any worthy of Him who will not take up his cross to follow Him (Matt. 10:37-38). Is this not asking for your life? The clause concerning the bearing of the cross is especially so. The modern equivalent of the cross is to take a criminal to the execution ground with his hands and feet bound and then have him dragged through the streets for public ridicule. If you cannot be like that criminal, you are not worthy to be His disciple! Is not He demanding our life?
Again, He says, "Love your enemies" (5:44). Mere forgiveness is close to impossible for us. Yet He talks about loving. Hence, we have to see that all of God’s commandments are impossible to keep.
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 14, by Watchman Nee)