Our Deadliest Enemy (Mark 9:42-50)


We have to take sin seriously. This isn’t just me saying this – these are the words of Jesus. Today, our Lord reminds us of one of the most important lessons of the Bible. Going all the way back to when Cain grew jealous of his brother Abel and murdered him, God has always warned us to be on guard against sin. This deadly enemy is always “crouching at the door” of our hearts, but we must “master” it through reliance on God’s Word and Spirit. 

The Text (Mark 9:42-50)

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die

And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,

And the fire is not quenched.’

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, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die

And the fire is not quenched.’

49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

Background and Observations

• Verse 42 warns us that as much as sin hurts our own souls, it is even worse when our sin leads others into sin. Other people are always watching us. If we have publicly claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ, what we say and do will affect how others think about God and sin. If you really care about your friends and family, especially those who may be lost, then this warning alone may be enough to get you to take sin seriously. As a teacher, it is powerful motivation for me!

• Jesus is not literally telling us to cut off our hands or feet or cut out our eyes. A few people in church history have actually tried to hurt themselves physically to get rid of sin (example: Martin Luther), but it did not work. Sin remained in their hearts and no amount of self-effort could get rid of it.

• What Jesus is doing in verse 43-48 is called “hyperbole,” a form of extreme exaggeration to prove an important point. He means that sin is so deadly to our souls that we must do whatever it takes to defeat it.

• Only a personal walk with Jesus Christ can help us defeat our deadliest enemy. This is what Jesus means in verses 49-50 when He talks about His disciples needing to be purified with “salt” and “fire.” We need to rely on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to give us victory over our sin. As we meditate on God’s Word and call out to Him in prayer, He gives us His strength to resist sin and instead keep God’s commands and do God’s will. Only God can empower us to be the people that we and He wants us to be.

Questions to Think About

1. When did you first get serious about trying to overcome sin in your life? Are you serious about it right now?

2. Think about the days when you spent time seeking God in His Word vs. days when you did not. Was there a difference in your struggles against sin when you contrast those two types of days? 

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

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