Matthew 19:16 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." 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." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" 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.
"What good deed must I do to have eternal life?" is a telling question. When a person asks this question it tells us that the person is depending on himself to gain eternal life. It tells us the person does not know how just God is. It tells us the person does not know the penalty for even one sin. It tells us the person thinks he is worthy of eternal life by what he does. This is the condition of many people. If many people were asked if they would enter heaven (eternal life) upon death many would respond, "I've tried to be good. I think I would." Each person that responds that way is like the rich young man.
Jesus response to this man is an example for us to follow. Jesus defined good for the man. Good is a person who keeps all the commandments God has given (verse 17). Jesus listed the commandments that applied to the man's relationships with other people (verses 18-19). The commandment "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," summed up all the ways God has told us to relate to other people (Matthew 22:39-40; Leviticus 19:9-18), including how to respond to the truly poor. Mark 10:21 tells us that Jesus loved this man. Because Jesus loved this man, He pointed out his sin by answering his questions. Jesus answered the man's question, "What do I still lack?" by instructing him to sell all he had, give it to the poor and to follow Him. Jesus told the man what he needed to do in order to be perfect and have eternal life. What was the man's sin? The man did not want to help the poor by giving up his wealth. He was selfish and dependent upon on his wealth and not generous and dependent upon God. The man left knowing he was not perfect in Jesus's eyes.
Are you able to use the Law (God's commandments) to help a person see his sin? A person must first see his sin before he will desire a solution for his sin problem. Are you willing to expose another person's sin for him to see his true condition before the just God who created all things? It is the loving thing to do. A person cannot experience God's salvation in Jesus Christ without first admitting he has sinned. Jesus called people to repent of their sin and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). We need to follow His example and truly love people.