Luke 18:18-30 No-one is Good

18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack.Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See,we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

No-one is Good

No-one is good.  Shocking.  Well not really.  I have been thinking about this for a while.  Evil people do good things.  Hitler was nice to children (as long as they were blonder than him).  However, we define people as good very easily. Our society thinks that it is good for us to think of people as good, so why would Jesus object?  If people assume that they are entirely good, they have no needs.  Modern skeptics think that Christian leaders have created needs, or have promoted the sinful nature of man, in order to control people.  However, what if the condition of man is terrible.  Wouldn’t it be better for mankind to know.  The rich, young, ruler in the passage is generally a decent chap.  He has kept all the laws about loving one’s neighbour.  However, Jesus presses into where his heart is with regard to God.  It is a heart estranged from God that is in truth a desperate condition.  The Rich Young Ruler has amassed great wealth and his security rests in that.  This is evil.  This is the banality of evil.  Those who boast about making wealth are doing evil in James 4.  What is the big deal with wealth?

Money is neutral, but the love of money is the source of all kinds of evil.  Evil is that which departs from God or detracts from God.  Evil is a moral term only making sense if there is a God.  Otherwise, good and evil are emptied of meaning to the point that they express personal preferences at best.

Jesus establishes a moral absolute and then he shows that no-one measures up – particularly the rich.  The disciples are astounded that the rich do not enter heaven, but Jesus tells the disciples what in affect means that no-one can work their way to God.  God will provide a righteousness of his own.


It is good to be reminded that I am not good.  I find it hard to believe that I am worth something when I know I am not good.  However, you have made me good.  You have changed things because I am dependent on you and not myself.


  1. What does the rich, young ruler ask Jesus?
  2. How does Jesus respond?
  3. Why does Jesus not just welcome the ruler?
  4. Is mankind good, evil, both, or neither?
  5. How do people try and prove to others that they are worthy?
  6. How do you respond to the picture below?



About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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