May 19, 2024


Mark 9:42-50 - Temptations to Sin 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43And 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, to the unquenchable fire. 45And 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. 47And 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, 48'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' 49For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt 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.


In Mark 9:42-50, Jesus gives a stark warning about the seriousness of sin and the reality of hell. He says that if anyone causes a little one who believes in Him to stumble into sin, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone hung around their neck and be drowned in the sea. Jesus then goes on to use hyperbole to emphasize the need to take drastic measures to avoid sin and hell. He says that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, it is better to cut it off and enter life maimed than to keep it and be thrown into hell, where the fire never goes out. Jesus describes hell as a place where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' He says that everyone will be 'salted with fire.' Jesus concludes by saying that salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness it is worthless. He exhorts His followers to 'have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.' The overarching message is that sin is deadly serious and we must be willing to go to great lengths to root it out of our lives. Hell is a real place of unending torment that awaits those who refuse to repent. As believers, we are to help each other flee sin, not cause others to stumble. We must have the preserving 'salt' of God's grace and truth in our lives.


This passage should cause us to tremble at both the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the terrifying reality of eternal punishment in hell. Jesus could not be any clearer - sin is to be violently rejected, not casually excused. He uses vivid hyperbole to get the point across. Of course Jesus is not advocating for literal self-mutilation. The hand, foot and eye represent those things in our lives that lead us into sin. It could be a relationship, a job, a habit, a form of entertainment, etc. His point is that we must be willing to cut off anything that causes us to sin, no matter how precious it seems to us. Losing a hand would be better than losing your soul for eternity in hell. Hell is an awful reality that Jesus spoke about more than anyone else in Scripture. He describes it as a place of 'unquenchable fire', where there will be 'weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Here He says it is where 'their worm does not die.' The worm represents the gnawing anguish of a tormented conscience that will never be relieved for all eternity. The unending, conscious punishment of hell is a dreadful thought. But we must take Jesus at His word. He died so that we would not have to endure God's wrath forever. But for those who reject Christ, hell awaits. As awful as the doctrine of hell is, in a way it is a mercy that Jesus warned us about it so graphically. He desires that all should reach repentance. As Christians, one of the most unloving things we could do is to make light of sin or fail to warn people of the judgment to come. We must never cause a 'little one' (a young or weak believer) to stumble into sin by our words or example. We will be held accountable. At the same time, we are to have 'salt' in ourselves - the salt of God's preserving grace and truth - and live at peace with each other. We need each other's support, accountability and encouragement in the fight against sin. May God give us His perspective on the deadly seriousness of sin. May He fill us with holy fear and reverence for His name. And may He empower us by His Spirit to put sin to death, violently if necessary, knowing that in Christ the victory is already won. Hell is real, but so is the amazing grace that rescues us from it. Let us proclaim that grace while urging all people to flee to Christ, the only Savior.


Our Holy God, we tremble at Your words about the reality of hell. Forgive us for the many times we have excused or made light of our sin. We know that our sin is an affront to Your holiness and it was for our sin that Jesus died. Thank You for the cross, for rescuing us from the eternal punishment we deserve. Give us a healthy, reverent fear of You. Help us to see sin as You see it. Give us the courage to cut off anything in our lives that leads us into sin. We cannot do this in our own strength - we need the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to have 'salt' in ourselves - the preserving power of Your grace and truth. Keep us from leading others astray by our example. Instead, make us instruments of Your grace, proclaiming the good news of salvation to all. Give us a passion for the lost, knowing their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. Use us to snatch them from the fire. Thank You that in Christ, we need not fear hell. Thank You for the glorious promise of eternity with You. May that promise motivate us to holiness and spur us on to love and good deeds. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, amen.

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Consumed by the Unquenchable Flames - A Solemn Warning to Flee Sin's Deadly Grip

Consumed by the Unquenchable Flames - A Solemn Warning to Flee Sin's Deadly Grip

This image was generated by AI from the devotion text.