Jesus is finishing up His instructions to His disciples in the house in Capernaum. Certainly not the last of His instructions overall, but the last of this session. The main point in this section is, if it is in your way of serving Him, GET RID OF IT.
Jesus starts by turning His attention back to the child He has been holding during their discussion. Jesus says that anyone who causes on of His little ones who believe in Him to sin, they would be better off dead and thrown into the sea. In other words, they will face Jesus, the one who drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip, over it. He takes it personally when someone hurts His children.
I know, we see a lot of people hurting children in our days and not much seems to happen to them, BUT they will be held accountable. We may not see justice here on Earth but God will require an accounting for their actions at judgement time.
Does this include people who hurt children accidentally or inadvertently? I don’t believe so. But those who habitually entice children through deceit or manipulation into sin, or compel them through coercion or intimidation into a sin will encounter God’s judgment. That judgement will be worse than death and it will never end.
Jesus’ warning doesn’t only apply to children in the physical realm but spiritual children as well. Someone who causes a new child of God into a sinful lifestyle is just as guilty and deserving as someone who causes a physical child to enter into a sinful lifestyle. This would certainly include cult leaders who pervert the gospel to serve their own sinful appetites. They will NOT get away with it in the end.
Jesus next addresses personal sin. If you are anything like me, you have (or have had) vulnerable area in your life where sin can creep in. Jesus says to get rid of whatever it is that is creating those vulnerabilities. I don’t know if Jesus is being literal here but He could be. If your hand or foot or eye is leading you into a habitual path of sin, get rid of it! Physically or spiritually cut it out of your life! Don’t let it get between you and God. Don’t let it keep you from Heaven.
Does this mean that every time I sin I should amputate? I don’t believe so, but if you have an area that habitually and perpetually brings unrepentant sin into your life, it’s time to excise it. There is also a difference from having a vulnerable area or weaknesses and having areas that drag you down into sin. If you are still troubled by your sin, you are still reachable by the Holy Spirit. When you get to a point that you have justified your sin in your own heart and don’t care what God says about it, you are in serious danger!
This would be described as salt losing its saltiness. The salt and light of your testimony is now worthless because of your sinful lifestyle. This reminds me of the many television evangelists that fell right before our eyes many years ago. They had begun calling sin acceptable and adopted a hidden sinful lifestyle. They continued to portray the appropriate behavior of a Christian in front of the camera but behind it, their lives reeked of unrepentant sin. Once their sins were uncovered, their testimony was useless. Their saltiness was gone.
King David learned this lesson with Bathsheba. His eye definitely caused him to sin. He went quite a way down that road before he was able to hear the rebuke from God through Nathan. David was refusing to label his own actions as sin, but he was still tender hearted enough towards God that he heard the rebuke he received and repented. He didn’t repeat the sin again. I suppose he essentially “cut his eye out” to prevent it from happening again.
Father God, do I need surgery? I pray I haven’t made it that far. I do know I have to shore up my defenses again in several areas. I’m not ready to name them publicly but You know them in my heart and I will name them privately with You. I will admit that anger at being interrupted is still plaguing me. I am still struggling with this but don’t know how to cut it out of my life, short of not doing anything so I wouldn’t be interrupted. I’m certain that is NOT the answer. What I need to excise is my attitude of self-importance that says what I’m doing is more important than the needs of others. Sometimes it is, but that doesn’t mean I should get angry or frustrated. I know it is a complicated issue in my home, but God, help me not slide into sin over this. Help me have a loving heart and a willing spirit.