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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Mark 9 : 42-50

“Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”- Mark 9:50

The reading today focuses on causing a young believer to stumble, the reasons for stumbling, and effect of such actions. 


Jesus uses exaggeration for an effect, to state the seriousness of causing spiritual injury to others. “Cut it off” should be taken figuratively, it means to take whatever drastic action is necessary to avoid sin. The imagery of hell (frequently called Gehenna) comes from a garbage dump outside the walls of Jerusalem. Jesus’ hearers were familiar with the smoldering fires that always burned there. [NKJV Study Bible] 


In Mark 9:42 Jesus calls these believers “little ones” – referring to new believers. What could cause them to stumble? - the behaviour of a supposedly mature believer! Such behaviour from an older believer is referred to as “sin” by Jesus and He uses strong words to rebuke. In Mark 9:42 He says such a person, who causes a young believer in Christ to stumble ought to be cast into the deep sea and make sure he does not rise up from there! Utter destruction! Dear reader, please understand the seriousness of becoming a stumbling block!  


Jesus expounds possible sources of sin that can affect others - the hand (Mark 9:43), the foot (Mark 9:45) and the eye (Mark 9:47). The impacts of these sins are the same – unquenchable hell fire! The hand tells evil actions, while the foot - evil paths and the eyes - evil perceptions.


Jude 1:11 expounds these sources:  the way of Cain, the error of Balaam and the rebellion of Korah. 


The way of Cain: What was the way of Cain? – Jealousy. As we read in Genesis 4:3-16, Cain became jealous of his brother when he saw God accepted his offering. 1John3:12 “…. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” God gave equal chance to both Abel and Cain to bring an offering; Abel understood God’s will in this aspect and obeyed. However, though Cain had the same knowledge, he was self-willed and tried to approach God in his own standard. He failed to receive His acceptance, which led to jealousy, anger, quarrel and murder - evil actions

 

The self-will of Cain caused him to sin. In Gen.4:7 “….if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door…….” How many believers were affected by the consequences of our self-willed actions?

 


The error of Balaam: Numbers 22:12-22 tells us Balaam’s error – Greed.  Again, like Cain, Balaam knew the will of God concerning his action. (Num.22:12) Yet when more money was offered (Num.22:17) Balaam’s second attempt led to the stumbling of God’s children and his own destruction! Rev.2:14 “…. The teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel….” The greed of Balaam led him to give wicked advice to Balak to cause many of God’s children to stumble and perish - evil path. 1Tim.6:10: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.”


The rebellion of Korah: Numbers 16:1-3 tells us what the rebellion of Korah was— the quest for Power.  Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the 250 men, rebelled against the authority of God’s servants Moses and Aaron. Num.16:32-35 tells us how Korah and the others who joined with him perished! What a sad end due to - evil perceptions! 1Sam.15: 23 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”


Our key verse tells us to “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” Salt as we know, cleanses and helps prevent decay. To have salt within ourselves is to allow God’s purging of those sins that cause other brethren to stumble and also preserve our soul from being affected by the decay in the world.  Then our living at peace with others helps us not to cause offense.


To Heed:

“See then that you walk circumspectly,

not as fools but as wise…”

(Eph.5:15)

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