“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48, NASB).
This saying of Jesus alludes to the very last verse of Isaiah, which speaks of the punishment for rebellion against God as endless destruction.
John had asked Jesus what to do about someone who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name but was not part of the group of His disciples. Jesus answered not to be so concerned about someone doing good in His name but be concerned about false teachers. Be more concerned about someone who causes others to stop trusting in God or prevents them from ever starting to trust in God.
What’s interesting to me is how Jesus says it. He uses hyperbole. He speaks poetically, even dramatically. So He must want to make an important point to His disciples. He must want to really emphasize what He is telling them.
And He does. Sin and separation from God in this world is absolutely dangerous! It is supremely life threatening, because it determines where and how you spend eternity. So, it must be obliterated and that may require some drastic action.
Your sin problem may require a radical resolution. It may require spiritual surgery.
But, you must eradicate it, no matter the consequences.
We know this! We know this well! You can’t live in sin and live for God. The two are mutually exclusive.
So, what we really need to realize from Jesus’ overstated declaration is its underlying message: Your life on this earth is preparation for eternal life! Everything you do matters for eternity! What you are becoming in this world is what you will be in the world to come!
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NASB)