Relying on God to Fight Against Sin That Spreads Faster Than the Pandemic
Translated by Allan Liang
Mark 9: 42-50
According to official numbers, to this date, there are around 4.8 million individuals infected by the coronavirus, and 310 000 deaths - how frightening and sorrowful a virus. In the trembling-inducing passage of Scripture today, Jesus warns us that the spread of our sins is far more frightening than the spread of any pandemic. Some versions render “to sin” as “to stumble” or “to fall”, meaning that it is an exceedingly devastating thing for a person to either cause another or oneself to sin. Furthermore, what is emphasized is that there is no excuse for causing the littlest among the people to sin and for the sins committed by oneself. As the previous passage of Scripture spoke of, the one who gives another person a cup of water in Christ will be rewarded accordingly by God (Mark 9:40). The word ‘hell’ occurs many times in the New Testament (Mathew 5:22, 29, 30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 33; Mark 9:44, 46, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6), and aside from the occurrence in James 3:6, each time it is spoken by the mouth of Jesus, referring to the place of eternal judgement for the wicked. The symbolism that Jesus uses in verse 49 originates from the Old Testament offerings made with the burning of fire and seasoning of salt (Leviticus 2:13, Ezekiel 43:24, Romans 12:1-2). The “if” found in verses 43, 45 and 47 mean the same thing, but is a method of literary layering and of exaggeration. Using the hands, feet and eyes, important organs of perception, Jesus symbolizes the sin that penetrates all areas of us, and intends to inform his disciples of the greatness of the temptations of sin, and the necessity of relying on God at all times in order to kill and expel the habits of sin, and to accept the enormous costs, knowing our sufferings are so ever brief and insignificant (verses 43-47) compared to the eternity of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). This is the path of sanctification, and the LORD, full of mercy, will graciously lead every Christian through all fiery trials and oppressions, and through Him will they put to death all sins. May God help us fight continually against sin and evil, until the point of shedding blood (Hebrews 12:4), so that our lives of light and salt may be revealed in this generation, as bright lights shining radiantly, fully manifesting the Word of Life of God (Mathew 5:13-16, Philippians 2:14-16, Ephesians 4:1). Cutting off all sin’s sources and means of spreading results in an ultimate difference of eternal life and eternal judgement. Let us reflect upon our spiritual growth after believing God - how many people have we caused to stumble? Let us alone ask for God’s pardoning and forgiveness. How have we relied upon God’s grace to wage war against our sins? If we do not repent, our final outcome is perishment. Repentance is grace from the Spirit of God that humbles the inner heart of the sinner, and brings it to submission, resulting in external changes. It includes six types of special components: firstly, sight of sin (Acts 26:18, Luke 15:17); secondly, sorrow for sin (Psalms 38:18, Luke 7:38); thirdly, confession of sin (2 Samuel 24:17, Luke 15:18), fourthly, shame for sin (Ezra 9:6, Luke 15:21); fifthly, hatred for sin (Ezekiel 36:31, Romans 7:13); sixthly, turning from sin (Isaiah 55:7, Ephesians 5:8) (selected from “The Doctrine of Repentance”, Thomas Watson). From the perspective of the growth of the Christian life, the sins of the tongue are most severe (James 3:1-6). Personally, when I reflect upon my sins of the tongue, my rashness, stubbornness, quarreling and lack of self-control (James 1:19), my repentance often remains at the third, or fourth component, and does not have the characteristic of hating one’s sin to the point of disgust, so that often I repeat the same sins, unable to turn from them. May the Lord show mercy and renew me. Dear brothers and sisters, what about you? Let us speak with words seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), and be built up together with our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Please carefully read Mark 9:42-50, meditate, reflect and pray: Through the pandemic, let us think about our lives of repentance in our everyday living, whether it is specific or general and lacking in substance. In respect to the six components of repentance, which component do I remain on? May God help us continually repent and be sanctified.