Summary: Jesus calls us to recognise the devastating consequences, namely an eternal place in Gehenna, when we allow sin to impact our lives. We need to take radical action against our sin.
You Can Listen to the Full Sermon Here:-
“Cut Off Your Sinning Hand”.
What would it take for you to cut off one of your limbs?
Aron Ralston …
If you have seen the movie 127 hours it is a movie about him.
Aron Ralston was a rock climber climbing in a narrow canyon.
While he was in the canyon a large bolder feel and pinned his arm.
He couldn’t life it. He could chip it away.
He was stuck for 127 hours … more than 5 days.
He only became unstuck by cutting off his own arm.
That is a radical decision isn’t it.
Cutting off limbs!
These are radical decision to make when you are in a serious situation.
But the serious situation might not be a physical one. It can also be a spiritual one.
Let’s see what I mean by turning to Mark 9:42-50
What stands out in this section? “Cut off sinning limbs!”
In these words we are again faced with a Hard Saying of Jesus.
As we look at these verses I hope we immediately realize that Jesus doesn’t literally mean, “Physically take a knife and cut off, or take out, the offending body part.
We know this is true because it wouldn’t take long for all Christians to lose both their eyes, both their hands and both their feet. Because that is only 6-sins worth … isn’t it.
We also know that cutting off the offending part doesn’t actually stop the problem. There are plenty of Christians who are missing limbs … hands and feet … or who cannot see - but still sin.
So this is not literal. Mind you that didn’t stop Origen, a church father from the 2nd century from castrating himself because he was struggling with lustful thoughts.
So, if it is not literal, then what is going on?
Jesus is teaching us how serious sin is.
There is a word in Greek … a key word we need to focus on.
Different Bible versions have different translations.
cause to stumble
cause to sin
cause the downfall
The Greek word is skandalizw. It is pronounced - skandalidzo
It sounds like the English word “scandal” or “scandalous” … doesn’t it?
When we put this all together we get an understanding of the focus of Jesus.
Jesus wants us to assess whether we have caused a sinful scandal.
The scandal reveals itself in two ways.
We may cause a scandal by hindering the faith of the little ones who believe.
Now don’t limit the description of “little ones” only to little children who are learning the faith.
Yes children are part of the picture - because we go back in the context to Mark 9:36-37 where Jesus uses little children specifically as an example. But notice that Jesus clearly calls them “little children” not “little ones”. So children growing in the faith are in mind, but so are others.
The little ones are also those who we look down on as not being as spiritually advanced as ourselves. In the context in Mark 9:38 John stops a unnamed man performing exorcisms because “he was not one of us”.
He is from the outside.
He is different.
He may not do it the same way as us.
He is a man, someone who is obviously effective enough in their faith to successfully drive out demons, but still considered to be a “little one”.
That is the context. And in that context Jesus says, don’t cause a scandal to their faith.
In Mark 9:33-34 the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest.
If some are the greatest, then that implies, that some are not so great.
What does that attitude - what scandal does that create - for the little ones?
A new church is planning to start in a new city, or a new suburb. “We are going to take this city for Jesus”, they declare. They don’t honour the hard long term work put in by other churches. They don’t connect with local churches to see how they can work together. Sometimes they don’t even live in the area - they are outsiders.
What does this do to the faith of the “little ones” - those who are different.
Is that a scandal?
There are some members of churches who are lifted up. When they don’t attend a service people talk about how they missed their contribution.
There are some members whose absence is not missed.
They are treated as insignificant.
They are on the fringe.
They are tolerated and not embraced.
What impact does this sort of attitude have on faith?
Is that a scandal?
Jesus doesn’t have a specific example in mind. He has all the examples in mind. All of those situations where the faith of another is tripped up, or leads to them causing offend, or brings about a downfall because of the fragile spiritual ego of those who think they are superior.