Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20 - by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Hebrews 5, Ecclesiastes 7, Jeremiah 35-36 
Today's scripture focus is: Mark 9:42-50

Temptations to Sin

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 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,[b]to the unquenchable fire.[c] 45 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. 47 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,48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.[d] 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 at peace with one another.”

We are sinful. We are separated from God by our sin. This passage speaks to the severity of sin. John MacArthur says:
This is a very unique portion of Scripture. It is full of graphic terminology, dramatic acts, severe warnings and rather violent threats. It really is a passage about radical discipleship and the language bears testimony to that. It calls for radical behaviors. And it shows us just how radical it is to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Our Lord here, in these verses, is calling for radical discipleship. I think this is a message that is highly necessary for the day in which we live when under the name of Christianity and even evangelical Christianity, there is so much superficiality. The language here is severe, extreme, fanatical and radical language. And that fits the radical nature of our Lord’s invitation to true discipleship.

What does it mean to a radical disciple? John MacArthur says:

When we think of something radical, we think of something revolutionary, or something severe, or as I mentioned, something fanatical. But really the word is both. It is a word that refers to something that is fundamental and fanatical, that is intrinsic and intensive, that is essential and extreme. Therefore, it is a great word to use as an adjective for a discipleship because discipleship is something fundamental fanatical, something intrinsic and intensive, something essential and something extreme. The basics of being a disciple are really radical.
Now such a call to radical discipleship, as we have just read in this passage, is not new to the ministry of our Lord. It is consistent with the ministry of our Lord. Our Lord has had an evangelistic ministry. He has been calling people, inviting people into the Kingdom of heaven, into the realm of salvation, to come, repent of their sins, believe in Him, receive forgiveness and eternal life and become His disciples, His true follower. But His calls have been very radical. He has told people they need to repent of their sins. They need to turn from their sins. He has told them they have to deny themselves. They have to be willing to forsake all family ties, all earthly relationships, hate your father, your mother, your sister, your brother and hate even your own life. He has told them that it may be the forfeiture of their money, the forfeiture of their earthly future, certainly the control of their life. They are to be willing to die, maybe even be crucified and then to follow Him in total submission. This is radical discipleship and this is radical salvation. 

Radical discipleship. Radical salvation. They go hand in hand. Our separation from God as a result of sin is not something that is easily wiped away. God's plan to save us from the punishment of sin was totally radical in every sense. God chose to send His a live in an imperfect a perfect son of God and then be crucified for my sin and your sin and everyone's sin so that we can live in actually is radical and unbelievable. This warrants a radical following. We need to make sure that we are leading others to Christ by our words and actions and not leading others to sin and against what God has ordained.  John MacArthur suggests:

How is it that we can lead others into sin? I can give you four simple, general answers to that question. Number one, by direct temptation. You all understand that. You tempt somebody to sin, you invite someone to sin, you invite them to sin morally against the laws of God, against the commandments of our Lord by direct solicitation. You invite people to lie, to gossip, to cheat. You invite people to love the world, you draw them in to ungodly enterprise as activities, entertainment, whatever. You understand that.
But there’s a second way, and that’s by indirect temptation. You provoke them to jealousy by flaunting what you have. You…you provoke them to anger by indifference or unkindness, like your children, you know, Ephesians 6:4, “Provoke not your children to wrath,” by inattention, lack of affection, lack of forgiveness, lack of kindness, overbearing expectations. You can do it directly or indirectly.
Thirdly, another way that you can cause people to stumble is by setting a sinful example, simply by doing things that people see that are sinful which path they perhaps will follow. Romans 14, it can be flaunting your liberty which will then lead someone else to do the same but because that conscience has not yet been liberated to understand the full freedoms in Christ, Paul says, it’s destructive because this is training a person to violate conscience and that has a very bad outcome. You have to be careful of the example that you set. Just when you don’t think people are watching, the truth is, they are.
So either by direct temptation, indirect temptation, by setting a sinful example, or maybe, fourthly, by just failing to stimulate righteousness. Failing to encourage godliness, what does the church do when it comes together? Stimulating one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10:24 and 25, “and much the more to see the day approaching.”
So in any of these ways, overlapping, intertwined ways, we can lead others to sin. And our Lord says, “You’d be better off to die a horrible death than to do that.” This is…this is the strongest threat that ever came out of the mouth of Jesus to His own people and it calls for radical love and love seeks someone’s best, love seeks to elevate, love seeks to purify, love seeks to bless. 

We are human. We all fall short and we all have sinned and most likely participated in one of the above ways of causing others to sin too. Thankfully, God gives his grace in abundance to those who repent. That is truly radical.

Tomorrow's scripture focusMark 10:1-12
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Hebrews 6, Ecclesiastes 8, Jeremiah 37-38

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