Temptations To Sin
(Mark 9.42-48; Luke 17.1,2)
6It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the deepest part of the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks! 7The world is in for trouble because of the way it causes people to sin. There will always be something to cause people to sin, but anyone who does this will be in for trouble.
8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! You would be better off to go into life paralyzed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the fire that never goes out. 9 If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out and get rid of it. You would be better off to go into life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.
As usual, Jesus is more concerned with the root of a problem than the fruit of a problem. He is more concerned with the causing of sin than the committing of sin. It’s easier to focus our concern upon the sin committed rather than the cause. We frown upon the pregnant teen but fail to address the emotionally-absent father whose absence drove the daughter to look for male companionship. The sin itself is so much more obvious. The cause is often less apparent; it requires discernment. Perhaps this is why Jesus says “there will always be something to cause people to sin”.
We tend to point our finger “out there” to that “something” that causes people to sin, that even causes us to sin. But Jesus once more takes us to the root. The cause of sin is as close at hand as our own hand, and as in plain sight as our own eye. We are often our own cause for sin.
Jesus makes it clear that there is a cost to leading a righteous life. Cutting out the things that cause us to sin forces us to examine our true priorities in the pursuit of holiness. We may not have to cut off our hand, but what about cutting off the internet if it causes us to sin? We may not have to cut out our eye, but what about cutting out junk food if it causes us to fall into gluttony? It’s not that we can’t cut out the internet and junk food; it’s that we don’t want to. And that is exactly the point—we don’t want to! This is the root of the problem with sin that we must ruthlessly and diligently address.
Holy God, I can’t please you without pursuing holiness. Give me the discernment to see what causes me to sin. Grant me the courage to cut out what must be cut. Allow me to pursue the beauty of holiness so that our intimacy is unhindered. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen