How dangerous is sin to you? Reading the extremes Jesus tells us to go to in avoidance will shock you. Part 3 of the series: "Peace with one another."
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*not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript
PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER
PART THREE: CUT IT OFF
Recently I saw a post on social media. It was a Christian post, which I saw many believers sharing. Maybe it is just me and my over analytical mind, but I took issue with the way it was being shared. This is what it said:
If you’re having sex before marriage, go to church anyway. If you were out drunk all night the night before, go to church anyway. If you can’t quit that disgusting habit, go to church anyway. Church is a hospital for the broken, lost, empty, confused, desperate, and rejected. Every sinner has a future, and every Saint has a past. How do we break the chains of addictions and bondage? By prayer, prayer for you and prayer with you! There isn’t a single person in the four walls of the church that doesn’t have something they hate or regret about their past. We’ve all made mistakes, and will continue to, but His grace is enough!! There’s things that I’d want to admit outloud about myself, but God knows. And He loves me none the less. So whatever you’re doing, whatever you will do… go to church anyway, it might just change you life!
There is a lot good in that statement. No matter how lost in sin you are, come to church anyway. This is a place where you come to find healing. But at the same time it is saying God’s grace is enough, it is denying the fullness of the power available to us through Jesus death and resurrection. His grace heals you by removing sin from your life and you from sin. Grace has the power to set you free to live differently.
You and I have no place for sin our lives. The church has no place for sin. This church is a place where you and I bring our sin so it can die. So, yes, come with all your ugliness, but only to let it go and claim the life Jesus has made available to you.
How serious is Jesus about us being separated from sin? Our passage for this message will not mince words. The question for today’s message is “what is the number one threat to peace in the church?” The sermon title is “Cut it off.”
42 “And if anyone cause 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, where “ ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
The answer to our question for this message is obvious. What is the number one threat to peace in the church? It is the very same thing that is a threat to peace in our hearts. Sin. Jesus was serious about rescuing us from sin that He came and gave up His life on the cross. This was not so we could continue living in sin, but to be set free from it. Sin only steals, kills, and destroys. In the biblical text before us, Jesus outlines the extremes you and should go to remove sin from our lives.
Verse 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.” This statement may tie back to the verses we read a couple weeks ago. Remember, Jesus uses a child as an example putting others ahead of ourselves. For peace to have a chance, you and I must be last. Here, Jesus explains the failure of when this happens. Sin is the result of putting ourselves first, often at the expense of others. If by our careless pursuit of self, we sin and entice others to do so that is a heinous crime against the Law of God.
How big of a deal is it? Jesus says, “It would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around their neck and drowned.” A millstone was used to grind up grain, usually with a donkey pulling it. The Romans discovered another use for them, executions. They would use the method described by Jesus here, so this was a visual those listening could easily understand. He is saying execution would be better than influencing another person to sin, especially those who are believers.
Verse 43-48 “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. And if your foot 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, where “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”” As a disclaimer, Jesus is not condoning self-mutilation. God is not okay with you physically harming yourself. However, I do not want to under play the emphasis Jesus is placing on removing sin from our lives. Whatever it takes for us to remove sin from our lives, that is what Jesus did for us. Sin is a poison; it will infect everyone and affect everything so it must be removed at all costs.
A doctrine often not talked about today is that of hell. It exists because Jesus tells us that it does. No one goes there by accident, nor is it God’s will for them to do so. A person goes to hell because they refuse to believe in Jesus, meaning they confess their sin and leave the old way of living behind. It is important to note that Jesus is using imagery and figurative language to describe this place to His disciples. There is a valley near Jerusalem that Jesus and the disciples know. In the Old Testament, nearing the era of the Jewish kings, this valley was a place where the people burned their children as offerings to Molech. At this point, long removed from those practices, the valley had become a garbage dump. Fires continually burning, invested with worms. Those are the words Jesus uses to give us a picture of hell. Execution would be better than going there.
While Jesus is telling us about the importance of removing sin and sharing a warning for where sin will lead, notice there is an alternative. The better way is to “enter life.” Life that is eternal, only available through Jesus. This is the way of peace with one another. Jesus removes our sin and gives us the ability to “go sin no more.” Because of God’s grace, you and I can choose this life, and continual do so over and over again.
For peace to have a chance, you and I must remove sin from our life. This is the only way we could ever hope to be last and be about God all the time. You and I cannot accomplish this feat, it is not within our power to do so. The power must come from outside of us, and Jesus has that power. His power to heal is total healing. We must stop being okay with the sin in our lives and bring it to Jesus so it can die.
If we want to have peace in our church, as fellowship we must stop being okay with sin. Jesus was so serious about us separating from it that He recommends chopping off body parts to avoid sin. You and I make up the body of Christ. Should a hand, foot, or eye be covered in sin then we must cut it off. What I mean is if a fellow believer is living in unrepentant sin and is unwilling to seek forgiveness, then we must put them outside the fellowship. Not because we want to, but so this hospital does not become infected. We pray for them, never giving up hope, but in the end, they must want to have the sin removed. Church, if we want to see this fellowship become the healing grounds of Christ, we must stop being okay with sin.
Peace with one another means we must stop being okay with sin. This is the only way we can put ourselves last and be about God all the time. You and I cannot be about the blessing while still clinging to the curse. We cannot enter life will still holding onto the things of death.
You were made for far greater things than sin, this world, and death. If you are a drunk, drug addict, gender confused, any sinner, come. Jesus loves you enough to take you as you are, and even more than that, He wants to give you His power to leave sin behind. Church, we are here for far greater things than social justice and morality policing. You and I get to be instruments in the rescue of the damned, but first we must lay down our pride, selfishness, dissensions, and our tolerating of sin. The sin that is here, carried in with us, Jesus wants to remove. Come let it be consumed by His holiness.
Season 1 Episode 31. "Puff the Magic Christian." The text for the message is Colossians 2:8-23. The question we are trying to answer is "How do I be a good Christian?"