“On Your Mark”
Heart Surgery (Chapter 9 Verses 42-50)
The stumbling of a young disciple is future (v42a), and now with the would be stumbler (sin is not strong enough), he changes to the present tense. In other words it would be better for the stumbler now to be cast into the sea and that with a millstone about his neck, than for him to carry out the future deed of ever stumbling, spiritually destroying the young disciple. Because of the guilt, the penalty that that would bring upon him. It is the enormity of the crime Jesus seeks to convey to us. In the next verses (vv43-47) Jesus turns to the idea of snaring ourselves (Matthew 5.29; Matthew 18.8). But again the thought is of a spiritual fatality, not just sinning. On what basis do those bodily members work, the eye, the hand, the foot? Of their own accord? No! They are motivated from the heart, the evil that lies in the human heart is the source, the fountain (Jeremiah 17.9; Matthew 15.19). So if you actually removed one of each of those limbs you would still have another of each to carry out those evil deeds. The answer? The heart! It must be changed, cleansed, purified, unless it is changed there is no hope (John 3.3; 2Corinthians 5.17). If you had gangrene in your foot, you would willingly have the foot removed in order to save your life, everyone would agree with that? But in order to remove the hands, feet, eyes that are used to offend, all of them, would mean eventually cutting away the whole body, absurd. Yes! The alternative? Carry on with sin and face the consequent everlasting hell? Jesus is seeking to drive home the message, we need to make every effort, exertion, to escape hell and gain heaven. So what is the answer, there must be another way? Well if we have been taking heed to Jesus teaching thus far, we will know, we will realize the heart needs to be changed, converted, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, then we will be able to control those members.
The fire spoken of (v48), is beyond human comprehension, it is unquenchable, it is eternal, and it is Jesus who tells us of it, he whose word cannot be broken (John 10.35). I believe in the doctrine of hell not because I am a sadist, but because my Saviour teaches it, so clearly, so definitely. And if he is wrong there where else is he wrong? There are far too many professors who pick and choose what they are going to believe from the Bible. They, I think, need to take heed to this very teaching. They need a change of heart (Matthew 18.3).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)