- Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.”
- Mark 9:45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell.”
- Mark 9:47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell.”
CUT IT OFF, CUT IT OFF, THROW IT OUT
Consider this your warning: this lesson will be rough. It requires you to be blatant and honest about the sin in your life. It asks for you to truly look at the individual motivations behind those sins. And it will ask you to look at the stark reality in front of you. If you want your life to transform, honesty is required. If you want a different life, it is time to stop the denial that we can all take comfort in and realize that the most comfort we can ever receive is from the Father God who calls us to a better life.
“There is enough working against me in this world, why would I choose to sin and willingly make my life worse?” These words, spoken years ago by a member of my small group stick with me to this day. She wasn’t bemoaning her existence. She simply understood that life is hard enough, our flesh wars against our spiritual desires, and we have Satan prowling around as well. She simply saw that an y temporal pleasure that may be derived form sin was not worth the added stress it would bring.
Jesus offers a similar take on the issue of sin.
Read Mark 9:40-47. What stands out to you?
An interesting aspect about this section is that we read verse 40 and so easily point fingers at others, identifying people who need to be cut out of our lives or the church. Those finger-pointings may very well be true. But it is when Jesus says to cut our own body to eradicate sin, we suddenly pause. If our own body part creates the same struggle, we hesitate. Why would we maim our own body?
Maybe the better question is why would we so easily maim the body of Christ for the same sin committed by another person?
We want grace for ourselves, yet declare judgment on others. This must change. Let me be clear: there are sins committed that need to be addressed, and after the proper procedure it may very well be that a member of the church is cut off. But our first reaction should always be to consider our own sinfulness and deal with that. For sins in our own lives are far more prevalent than sins that lead to being asked to leave a church body.
In that vein, let’s explore our own sinfulness and the context we create to allow such sins to flourish and prosper in our lives.
In what ways have you permitted sin to reign in your life?
What excuses do you use to allow yourself to ignore the problem?
For each of those sins, what does God really say about them? Spend some time exploring the scriptures to find out what God really says. So often we imagine what God says or take someone else’s word. It is in seeking it out for ourselves that we can see the context God uses to allow the Spirit to speak to our hearts on the matter.
If you are a follower of Christ and are calling Him Lord, shouldn’t His words trump your excuses? We would all probably agree that yes, His Word should be the guiding instruction in our lives. But why isn’t it?
Review the sins you listed as being allowed to reign in your life. For each one, list the need (or perceived need) that sin fulfills.
We each move ahead of the will of God, taking what is not yet ours, for many reasons. It may be arrogance that says you know better than God. It might be fear: fear of missing out, of never getting the need met, or of being different. It may be indifference to the instruction and timing of God. Whatever the reason, every sin has a root motivating factor. I repeat: every sin has a root motivating factor.
For each sin you listed, spend some time in prayer and identify the possible motivation feeding the sinful behavior.
It is when you start to understand the root motivation that you and God can address the motivation rather than addressing the sin itself. Just like a cancer that causes weariness, treating the weariness alone will not solve the problem. The cancer itself must be eradicated, then the weariness will solve itself. If a sin’s true motivation is fear, addressing the sin will not make the fear go away. Addressing the fear, however, will result in the sin being less and less attractive because the fear will no longer be a driving force.
Review your lists. Restoration happens when we are honestly laid bare before the throne of the One who loves you more than you can imagine.
RESTORATION OR AMPUTATION?
Jesus obviously takes sin seriously. He would advocate amputating a sinful limb for the health of the whole body. And He desires restoration and healing.
So which would you prefer? Amputation? Or healing?
It seems a silly question. Of course someone would want healing, right? But healing takes work. It takes an honest assessment of self, time spent in confession before Jesus, and the determination to make things right. Healing takes work.
Refer back to the list of needs you identified in the previous exercise. Using your concordance or an online Bible search, explore what scripture says both for and against each of those needs. For example, many sins are motivated by the need for love. Scripture tells us what/whom we should love and Who is the source of love. It also describes the dangers in loving the wrong thing or looking toward the wrong source for love and fulfillment.
Once you have completed that, follow the same steps for each motivation you listed. Find scriptures both for and against each of those motivations.
Dig around the roots of your sin, prayerfully explore what the Word says, and ask Jesus to heal you. Eradicate the sin from your life and you will experience a life more abundant than you can dream. For His yoke is easy. And His burden is light.