I once heard of a man who went to his doctor because his side was hurting. After a brief examination, his doctor informed the man that he needed to have an appendectomy right then. The patient was not convinced. And politely told his doctor, “I think I’ll get a second opinion and let you know what I decide.”
To this, his doctor replied, “No you won’t. If you leave here today, you will die. You will be dead within 24 hrs. if you don’t have the surgery.”
Often when it comes to our sin, we take the same exact view as patient. When we are confronted about our gossip, or about your infidelity, or my greed, we tend to minimize the other person’s concerns. We blow off our spouse; we ignore the pleas from our kids; and, we discount the concerns of our small group leader. Our sin is not that big of a deal. Christ died for it. We are done here. Move on, please. I’m do not need surgery. I am fine.
Although this is often the approach we take when coming face to face with sin, this is not Jesus’ approach to sin. In Mark 9:43-50 Jesus says these shocking words,
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell,[a] to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
Sin is not small matter to Jesus. He tells us to flee it at all cost. Even if we have to cut off a hand or a foot or pluck out an eye to be free from sin, the cost is worth it. Sin is death and all who love, minimize, and ignore their sin are on the path to death both physically and spiritually. Those who love Jesus will not coddle or ignore their anger, their porn addiction, or their frequently lies. They will confess them. They will seek out help from their pastor or from another mature man or women in the faith. They will do everything and anything they can to be free from sin.
Now a quick aside, I do not think Jesus is telling us to physically mane ourselves to achieve victory over our sins. Think about it for a minute. Jesus did not tell Peter to cut out his tongue because he denied Christ three times during the crucifixion narrative. And Jesus does not want us to cut off our hands because we steal, to cut off our feet because we speed through stop signs, or to pluck out our eyes because we look at porn. We do not sin because of our body. We sin because of our hearts. Our hearts and our thinking direct the actions of the body. Jesus clearly states this truth back in Mark 8:21-23,
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride,
We sin because our souls are corrupted and not because our bodies are fallen. Rather than encouraging us to hack apart our bodies, Jesus is calling us to sacrifice all for righteousness. He is calling the angry man to work fewer hours so that he can sleep more and spend more time with his family, creating a home of peace. He is calling the porn addict to give up his smart phone and to burn his computer. He is calling the drug addict to surrender his stash and to turn himself into the police. He is calling the liar to confess his sins to his wife, pastor, and friends. Jesus is saying we must being willing to lose all, including our good reputation, our friends, our family, our wealth, and every worldly thing to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we do not, we cannot reach heaven.
At some point, all of us will be tested. Everyone will face the pressure of divine inspection. The lies that masked our want of faith will be ripped away, revealing all the deeds that we have done in secret (both good and bad). The reality of whether or not we trust in ourselves or in the great physicians for salvation will be made known.
Those who refuse to flee from their sin will die. They will be cast into the fires of hell. Don’t mistake this. We may not take our sin seriously. We may not think, we have an illness leading to death. But God does. He is not fooled. He will judge us for our sins. All who love sin will die. And all who flee from sin will find eternal life.
And it is not enough for us to be around Christians. It is not enough for us to come from Christian families. It is not enough for us to flee secular friendships and to come to church. We must have true life within our very souls. Notice what Christ says in verse 50.
“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be a peace with one another.”
If we embrace sin, if we view sin as insignificant, and if we love lawlessness, we are not the children of God. I once heard an old-time preacher tell a family that they had good genes and that he expected a lot of them spiritually because they were descended from a godly lineage. It was a nice sentiment. But, it is not true. Grandma’s righteousness does not mean you will be righteous. Your parents faithful church attendance does not mean you are a going to heaven even though you are always mean. Walking the aisle, talking to your pastor, getting baptized, and memorizing Bible verses does not compensate for your constant lying. The man, woman, and child whose life is characterized by disobedience cannot be redeemed or fixed by his or her surroundings. Salt that has lost its saltiness is worthless. Faith that clings to sin is worthless. Do not be deceived.
But that is not the end of the story. If you love sin, you can stop today. You can repent of your sin. You can confess that your are evil and in need of God’s righteousness bought for you by Jesus’ death on the cross. And then you can confess Jesus as Lord. If you do, he will liberate you from your sin. He will make you salty again. He will save you. He will fix your broken relationships; he will give you peace on earth and in heaven.
Guys and gals, God is good loving and full of glory. Anything we give up including wealth, prestige, power, and earthly satisfaction will be more than made up for in Christ. As John Piper often says, “We are most satisfied when he is most glorified.”
Our patient from before had an option, surgery or death. He choose surgery. He cut out part of his body so that he might live. He listened to the doctor and found life.
Friends, lets listen to our heavenly doctor. Let’s take sin seriously and cut it out of our lives so that we too might live.