Can we achieve holiness if we really wanted to?

"Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16), but "No one is good but One, that is, God" (Mark 10:18). How can God command us to be holy when He knows we can't attain it? The key is in one's approach. A rich young ruler and the Apostle Paul represent the two approaches.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus as described in Mark 10:17-22. The young man was decent, having followed most of the commandments. Christ, however, added that he must sell all he had and give to the poor. Does obeying the commandments plus giving to the poor equal goodness? No, Jesus was simply addressing his priorities. His wealth had pre-eminence, not God. Looking for loopholes, this young ruler, in futility, sought to conveniently and independently be good.

Contrast that with Paul, previously named Saul, who was walking to Damascus when confronted by Jesus. Saul did not bother trying to find a loophole. He simply said, "Lord, what do You want me to do" (Acts 9:1-6)? Obedient to Christ, he turned his life over to Jesus that he might have holiness in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

Our good deeds will never lead to "goodness" (Romans 3:23). Around the holidays, people whip themselves into a frenzy trying to be good, but are ultimately disappointed. If you want to be good, it can't come from the inside and go out. Invite Jesus in and He will bring His "goodness" to you (Revelation 3:20).

Taken from Adrian Rogers' weekly newspaper column. Used by permission. 2001, The Commercial Appeal.