In this lesson, based on Mark 9:43-50, you will discover Jesus calling His followers to radical discipleship which calls for radical purity in their life.
Radical discipleship calls for radical purity. Following Jesus means honestly dealing with the sin in your life. As a believer you must confront the beliefs and behaviors in your life that dishonor God and others. Today we are going to take a look at something Jesus said about following Him and purity.
Mark 9:38 says, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” 39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded. 42 “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’ 49 “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other” (NLT).
Radical discipleship calls for radical purity. As a follower of Jesus, you do not want to take sin in your life lightly. If the doctor told you, you had cancer then you would take drastic measures to fight that cancer and remove it. Jesus wants you to take the same approach to the sin in your life. We are told in 1 John 1:8, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (NLT). We all have sin in our life and Jesus wants us to take the sin in our lives seriously. When you start dealing with the sin in your life you are answering the call to purity. Jesus is not wanting us to simply clean the surface, but to do a deep cleaning our lives.
In our house we have a vacuum cleaner that when it sucks the dirt off the carpet you see it go into the cylinder as you are vacuuming. When it gets full, you take it out, dump it, and keep going. But we also have this vacuum that uses water and chemicals. This thing will pull junk up that is nasty from deeper within the carpet. Jesus wants us to go deeper and deal with the junk in our life that we can’t see, that is hidden. He is calling His people, you and me, to a deeper level of purity.
Jesus gives us some wisdom and insight on dealing with the sin in our lives and pursuing purity in Mark 9. Let’s unpack and apply it.
Radical purity calls for commitment
Number one, radical purity calls for extreme commitment. Radical discipleship involves intense dedication. Jesus wants His followers to deal radically with anything that is sin in their lives. Jesus said in verse 43, If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. Before we get to deep into this you need to understand that Jesus was using hyperbolic language. This is a figurative language technique where exaggeration is used to create a strong effect. We do this all the time today. For example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” “This suitcase weighs a ton,” “You are killing me with this” “If you change that channel one more time I going to break every one of your figures,” “It’s raining cats and dogs,” or “I would love to have that but it would cost me an arm and a leg.” You get the idea. Jesus is doing the same thing here.
Jesus is not telling us to mutilate the body. He is not saying we should actually and physically remove a foot, cut off a hand, or to gouge out an eye. A person with one eye, one foot, or one hand can just as easily sin as someone with both feet, both hands, and both eyes. Jesus is making a very significant point about the kind of attitude we should have toward the sin in our lives.
Jesus knows that it’s not your eye, your foot, or your hand that’s the problem. It’s your heart. There is a problem on the inside. Back in Mark 7:20 Jesus said, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you” (NLT). Then in James 1:14 we are told, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (vs. 14-15, NLT). Jesus knows that the hand, foot, and eye are not the problem. He knows it’s a heart problem. His point is about you approaching and dealing with the sinful actions in your life. This hand, foot, and eye all represent something.
Hand: Purity in what you do
The hand represents what you do. Jesus is calling you to radical discipleship that calls for radical purity in what you do. Jesus is saying remove some of the things you are doing that place temptation in front of you. Remove the temptation.
Foot: Purity in where you go
The foot represents where you go. Jesus is calling you to radical discipleship that calls for radical purity in where you go. Jesus is saying stop going to some places or hanging around some people that cause you to walk into sin. Remove the temptation.
Eye: Purity in what you see
The eye represents what you see. Jesus is calling you to radical discipleship that calls for radical purity in what you see. Jesus is saying remove easy access from sinful things you don’t need to see that will lead you into sin. Remove the temptation.
Jesus is saying deal seriously with the gateways that lead you into sin. As a believer, you are in a battle against sin and the selfishness in your life. Jesus is calling you to a deep commitment to purity in your life. A purity that honors God and honors others. This is radical discipleship.
Radical purity reveals your salvation
Number two, radical purity reveals your salvation. Jesus says it is better to take drastic measures to be pure than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell or to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’ What is Jesus saying here? Let me state it and then explain it. Jesus is saying that if there is no battle against the sin in your life that is an indication you don’t have eternal life. When you are born again and become a follower of Jesus the Holy Spirit moves into your life and begins a life long transformation that leads you away from sin. You now love God and want to please Him by obeying Him. This does not mean you are perfect and will never sin. It means your hatred toward sin in your life is becoming stronger and stronger. One of the indications that you are a believer is that you are concerned about the sin in your life and are fighting it.
Ephesians 5:25 says, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (NLT). This includes every area of your hand, foot, and eye: what you do, where you go, and what you see.
The Psalmist put it this way in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (NLT). He is saying, “God, I want to know what’s right and what’s wrong, what honors You and dishonors You so I can do what pleases You.”
Jesus said in John 14:23, “All who love me will do what I say…. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me” (vs. 23-24, NLT). When you love Jesus you want to obey Jesus.
Radical discipleship calls for radical purity which gives evidence for your salvation. The very fact that you are aware of the sin in your life and you are addressing it with determination is a sign that you are a believer. This battle with sin is normal and we should expect it. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7, “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God” (v.1, NLT). Then later in Philippians 4 he says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (vs. 8-9, NLT). The very fact that you are doing these things give evidence of your salvation.
Those who are committed to following Jesus do not have to worry about the unquenchable fires of hell and where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out. Radical discipleship that involves radical purity reveals your salvation.
Radical purity produces spiritual maturity
Number three, radical purity produces spiritual maturity. This answers the question, “Why should I be so intense about fighting the sin in my life?” It produces spiritual maturity, depth, and influence. Jesus said it this way beginning in verse 49, “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Let’s break this down into bite size pieces.
Radical purity produces growth
Jesus says, “For everyone will be tested with fire.” The literal translation says, “everyone will be salted with fire.” Many translations word it that way. The phrase “salted with fire” was common to them, but not to us. So what does it mean? That phrase combines two things, salt and fire. These two elements were both used in the Old Testament sacrifices (Ezra 6:9; Ezekiel 43:23-24; Leviticus 2:13).
- The salt was used to preserve things so that it would last. The salt represents endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness.
- The fire was used to burn various sacrifices. When an offering or sacrifice was burnt it symbolized complete devotion. You are giving it to the Lord with no way to take it back. So the fire came to represent sacrifice and suffering.
When you put the two together, salt and fire, you have faithfulness and sacrifice. What Jesus is saying, “Your faithfulness with be tested over time by sacrifice and suffering that comes from your dedication to radical discipleship that pursues purity in your life.” When you pursue purity for God’s glory in your life you will be tested and you will have to sacrifice some things in your life. There is no way around it. Over time your faith and spiritual maturity increases and deepens.
Paul put it this way in Romans 5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (vs. 3-4, NLT). You will be tested, but the test is to produce growth and depth in your life.
James put it this way in James 1, “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (vs. 3-4, NLT). You will be tested, but the test is to produce growth and depth in your life.
Radical purity produces influence
A radical commitment to purity with help you growth. Also, radical purity produces influence. Purity is victory over the sin in your life. When you are pursuing purity, you are pursuing victory. This is why radical purity produces influence. Others will see your purity and those areas of victories make Jesus attractive to others. You become an influencer for the kingdom of God. Jesus says, Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves…. Jesus just used salt as a preserving agent, now He is using it as a flavoring agent. Whether you like it or not, salt makes things taste better. Potato chips taste better with salt. Popcorn taste better with salt. French fries taste better with salt. Salt is good for seasoning. It adds flavor and sometimes it brings out the taste better. The purity in your life brings out the flavor of Christ in your life. It gives your life spiritual seasoning. Jesus says, You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves. This is not something new that Jesus is teaching. He has already told them back in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth” (NLT). Salt preserves and brings out the taste. Jesus is saying your purity will do the same. Radical discipleship produces radical purity that influences and impacts the world around it.
Radical purity produces peace
Then Jesus finishes this section by saying, “live in peace with each other.” To live in peace with others calls for radical discipleship. Radical discipleship means you focus on your sin more than others, you change your life for others, you are faithful and sacrificial for the long haul, you pursue purity in order to influence and deepen your walk with God and as a result you will “live in peace with each other.”
Jesus is calling you to be radical in following Him. Jesus is not interested in you simply being interested in Him, Jesus is calling for 100% commitment. He wants you all in. Following Jesus means dying to yourself daily. It means taking up your cross every morning for the kingdom of God. It means sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, endurance and willingness to go through valleys and trials for His glory and the benefit of others.