What Does It Mean to be Lost?

This is part 3 in a series seeking to biblically answer this all-important question. Part 1 is here and Part 2 here.


Today I want to let the Rich Young Ruler help us to better understand lostness:

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.(Mark 10:17-22)

We know this young man was lost because he did not heed Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. Mark makes it clear that this man went home sorrowful – away from Jesus.

What does this teach us about lostness?

#1. A Lost Person Can Be Morally Good.

This man obviously had good morals. He bragged that he hadn’t murdered, cheated, stolen, lied, or defrauded anyone. He even claimed to have honored his parents. This lost man was a “good” lost man. About as good as one can get. . . but still lost.

#2. A Lost Person Is Looking for More. 

Though this man had good morals, he still wanted more. It’s why he approached Jesus in the first place. He still wanted to know if it was enough. He still wasn’t sure. He had money. He had morals. But he was still searching for more. His heart wasn’t full.

#3. A Lost Person Sees Jesus as “Good” not “Glorious.”

The man called Jesus “Good Teacher.” But he walked away sad when Jesus asked for everything. He saw Jesus as a “good” teacher, but not as the gloriously good God. A lost person may think Jesus is “good” in the sense of being a “good man” or a “good teacher.” But a lost person does not see Jesus as worth leaving everything for.

#4. A Lost Person Can Have It All and Still be Empty.

This man was morally “good.” This man had more money than most of us will ever even think about having. But he walked away from Jesus sad, disheartened, empty. Think about this. Lost people all around us may look “good.” They may seem “happy.” But without God as their Father and Jesus as their Master – they, like we would be, are empty.

#5. A Lost Person Has Identity Issues. 

Jesus asked this man to what? Sell everything he had and give the proceeds to the poor, then come and follow Him. Why? Because the man’s identity was in his possessions. Jesus wanted him to find his identity in what would truly satisfy. Jesus loved him (see verse 21) too much to let him waste his life seeking identity in stuff. He loved him by calling him to find his identity in what would truly bring delight to his heart. . . both now and forever.

A lost person does not see in Jesus who He really is and what He can really do for them. He or she is blind to it. They cannot imagine life without money or fame or reputation or looks or __________. A lost person has yet to see Jesus as the all-satisfying and glorious and majestic and beautiful and loving God that He is.


2 Action Points:

a. Read through the list again. Remind yourself of what’s going on in a lost person’s heart. Ask God to give you His heart of understanding and compassion for them as you go about your day.

b. Ask yourself: “What would I do if Jesus told me to imagine my life without _________ (fill in the blank with where you are seeking your identity)?” Would you leave it behind to follow Jesus? Is He worth it to you?



One thought on “What Does It Mean to be Lost?

  1. […] final part in a brief series on lostness. Part one is here, part two here, and part three – right here. My purpose has been to look at several passages of Scripture, highlight a few characteristics of […]

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