And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God…
I. THE QUALITIES WHICH CONSIST WITH THE STATE HERE DESCRIBED.
1. Religious knowledge. You may have an accurate creed, an extensive acquaintance with the Bible, a power to discuss with clearness and precision controverted points, without the will being influenced, the affections purified, the life and conversation regulated.
2. A life of blameless uprightness and integrity. Many things may tend to preserve you from the commission of great sins, besides real love for God, e.g., a prudent regard to your own well-being and well-doing in the world.
3. Strong convictions of sin, and even consequent amendment. You may, like Herod, do "many things," and yet neglect "the one thing needful." Outward reformation is not necessarily the result of an inward moral change.
4. Carefully maintained habits of public and private devotion. The form may be kept up long after the spirit has vanished.
II. THE REASONS PEOPLE REMAIN IN THIS DANGEROUS STATE.
1. A want of real and heartfelt love to God. We must give God and the things of God not only a place, but the first place in our heart. The service He requires is that which springs from a real preference of Himself.
2. If God is not loved, something else must be receiving an undue share of the affections; for man must bestow them somewhere, whether in the attractions of his calling and profession, or in the cultivation of refined and intellectual tastes, or in an idolatrous fondness for the comforts of social and domestic life. The more naturally amiable a man is, the more beloved, the more honoured, the more respected for his social and moral worth, for the largeness of his charities, for the constancy of his friendships, for the kindness of his heart, and for the blameless purity of his life, the greater danger there is lest that man should be ensnared by mere human approbation, and close his eyes to the danger he is in of falling short of the kingdom of God.
III. NOW, WHAT IS THE MORAL VALUE OF THE STATE HERE DESCRIBED? If a long journey were set before me, it would be some comfort to have one to say, "Thou art not far from thy journey's end." If all through life I had been proposing to myself the accomplishment of some great object, it would be some comfort to know I was not far from attaining the object of my ambition. This is on the supposition of continual progress, constant advancement towards that object. But the spiritual condition we have been considering is that of a person who is standing still — continuing year after year in the same state of dead, motionless, unadvancing formalism, ever seeking, but never striving to enter in at the strait gate, ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. What, then, is the moral value of being, and continuing, not far from the kingdom? There is a door. We must be on one side of it, or the ether. There is no paradise of mediocrity. How sad to be overtaken by the avenger, when close by the city of refuge — to have made shipwreck of our souls, when just within sight of the harbour!
(D. Moore, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.