Jesus said, “And if your hand causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, the unquenchable fire.” ~ Mark 9:43 (CSB)
Sin is a serious matter. The wages of sin is death, Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. A single sin against an infinitely holy God is worthy of death. It is sometimes difficult for us to truly grasp that concept since we have made so many sins acceptable—”What’s the harm, after all, in just a little white lie,” we might say to justify ourselves.
But the curse upon the world in Genesis 3 began with a bite of fruit. It wasn’t the nature of the act itself, but what it declared. Our first parents drew lines. They chose to side with rebellious disobedience than with righteous obedience.
So, we should not look at our own lives and say, “My sin isn’t that big of a deal; I’ll be okay.” Instead, we should understand that all sin is serious and must be dealt with in a serious way. This is why Jesus said what he did in Mark 9 about cutting off your hand or foot if it causes you to sin rather than to spend eternity in hell.
Here, Bible scholars recognize that Jesus spoke in hyperbole—language that is exaggerated to make a point. Neither we nor the original followers of Jesus understood him to mean literal self-mutilation. We do see in Jesus’ words, however, the serious nature of sin and how we must deal with it in serious ways.
If greed is what besets you and you rack up debt, struggling to maintain control over your spending, then you may need to cut up credit cards and let your spouse be in charge over the household income. If pornography traps you time and time again, then you may need to ditch the smart phone, buy accountability software, and/or keep yourself from unsupervised access to the internet. If you can’t control your tongue through what you say on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, then you may need to delete your accounts.
These are the types of serious ways that we deal with sin. To some, these ways might sound extreme, but sin is deadly. Sin results in pain and death, both temporary and eternal. So, as John Owen wrote centuries ago, let us be killing our sin before our sin kills us.