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Examine Scripture

Mark 9:43-48

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Removing the Cause of Sin…

Jesus taught extreme meaures for removing sin from our lives:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ -Mark 9:43-48, NAB

Let’s begin by defining the word Gehenna.  Gehenna was the trash dump outside of Jerusalem that was constantly burning.  His use of Gehenna, then, is in reference to hell.  Rephrasing His message:  it is better to cut off the cause of your sin than to let it drive you to hell.

While Jesus’ teaching in this passage may have been extreme – and I don’t think we are meant to take it literally – the idea is something that we can apply to our lives in other ways.  If something is causing us to sin, we should remove it from our lives.
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First, let’s look at objects that cause us to sin.  If you have an addiction to looking at inappropriate websites (such as pornography), get rid of it.  If drinking is causing problems in your life – give up alcohol.  Even something like  your career or current job, if it is causing you to sin, you are better off giving it up.  No object is worth the damage that sin can bring.

Another way this verse can have meaning is in our personal relationships.  Friends and loved ones may be a bad influence on us.  Now, by no means am I saying to stop talking to them altogether (but it may come to that), but you may want to spend less time with them.  Limiting our relationships with those that lead us to sin can have a major impact on our lives.

Of course, I would never ask you to do anything that I am not willing to do myself.  I may not have been an alcoholic but drinking had gotten me in to my share of trouble in my younger days.  One day, I decided to give it up.  When friends tried to peer pressure me into drinking, I gave them up too.  Alcohol was leading me down the wrong path; giving it up sent me back in the right direction.  Now, I may have an occasional drink, but I try to drink very moderately.

What is causing you to sin?  Are you willing to give it up?  It may be scary, at first, but the long-term benefits outweigh the loss.  Do not let anything, or anyone, lead you to a sinful lifestyle.  In the end, that person or that object will not have to answer to God for your mistakes – you will.  Standing before God, what sin would cause you the most shame?

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