Mark 9:42-50: Deal ruthlessly with sin.
“42 ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung round their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where ‘“the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.’ ” NIV UK
Sin in never less than serious. To perceive the ‘exceeding sinfulness of sin’ would be to understand God’s perspective on judgment and Hell. It would be unbearable, but oh what insight it would afford. We would never again critique God for banishing anyone from His presence. We would grasp how awesome is the work of the Cross, and understand just about everything that is important about life and death and eternity.
Sin must be repented of, otherwise it will take a person to ‘’hell’’ (43).
Jesus’ point is surely that there must be a radical, ruthless repentance: ‘We must be ready to part with what is dearest to us if it leads to sin. Removing sin from our heart may be very painful – like cutting off a hand, or a foot…we must do whatever is necessary to remove that sin from our lives.’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied New Testament Commentary’, p.250.
I heard on the radio this morning the story of a liner that was sunk by an over-zealous U-boat commander at the outset of one of the major wars. He thought it was a military vessel, but it was full of civilians; many women and children were on board. One hundred lives were lost. But it doesn’t take a great gaping hole to sink a ship. The tiniest hole in the bottom of a boat will eventually allow it to fill with water and sink.
Don’t play around with sinful tendencies. Take radical action. Plug the hole before you sink!