Causing to Sin
42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where
” ‘their worm does not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Bad News, and Good News
We actually indirectly covered this passage while going through Joshua – for a refresher, check this posting out.
But let’s start with the bad news, and that is hell is a reality. Hell is a terribly politically incorrect idea, one that a lot of people, even some people who claim to be Christians, don’t believe in. It just seems out of character with a “good” God, and why would a “good” God want us to be there? These arguments can be so compelling at times that it may sometimes bring us to a point where we question whether hell really exists, or if God is really all that good?
But people often forget one aspect of hell, and that it is a consequence of our choices. God’s heart is for salvation, and that can’t be denied, because he was willing to sacrifice his only Son to open a way to heaven. And this sacrifice was not just for a few, but as we know from the famous words of John 3:16 – it was for the whole world. Hell is not really God’s desire – it is a consequence of the choices we have made as individuals, and as a species. For every perversion you read in the news, for every time we walked by as people suffered around us, for every moment that we decided that we would be God over own lives, or over the lives of others, or over the very planet, we have been building up judgment against ourselves. And that is what hell is – it is the judgment that we have earned for ourselves.
Reading these tough ideas in Scripture can be discouraging – things about demons, hell, judgment, things that most people would ridicule you for believing. But don’t run away from these things, because they are a part of Scripture, and a part of our faith – they serve that incredibly important purpose of waking us up from our spiritual slumber, of preventing us from becoming too caught up in the world and how it operates and thinks. And that is precious.
And believe it or not, this passage provides a wonderful encouragement as well – that heaven is going to be so wonderful, that any sacrifice is worth it to stay in. Part of what Jesus is communicating to us is that you could lose your hand, and the Kingdom of God would still be worth it. Lose an eye – still worth it. This is not masochistic asceticism we’re talking about here – we are talking about a place so wonderful, so beautiful, that any price is worth it. Just imagine what heaven must be like then…
1. What is difficult about the concept of hell for you?
2. Does the reality of hell have any positive effects on how you think or act?
3. What aspect of heaven are you looking forward to the most? If you don’t know what heaven will look like, refresh your memory here.