Mark: According to
Tasteless Salt Is Worthless
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”
This text reverts us back to Part 47, in which Christ set before them a little child and tells them that they need to become more like children in their trust to their heavenly Father and as a child serves his parents and his or her teachers, so must we also serve our heavenly Father. But Jesus in this text is now taking this a step farther in saying, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for them if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
Matthew in his gospel is a little blunter in saying, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin.” The Greek word used is skandalizo which literally mean to entrap. Jesus is referring primarily to anything that would cause disunity among brethren. Paul admonishes the mature Christian not to do anything that would cause an immature Christian to stumble (I Corinthians 8:9-13). Jesus states it would be well for a millstone to be placed around their neck. The Greek word here is mulos onikos, which literally means “an ass or mule millstone,” that is one so large that it required an ass or mule to turn it. Obviously, causing another person to fall or to sin is a serious offense in heaven. This is why Jesus continues by stating: 43 “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – 44 where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
This passage to some degree is an idiom in that it is a play on words. At least a play on words when it comes to actually cutting off your hand. How often do we reach for things that are not healthy for us or reach for things, that will draw others into sin? If this is the case, Jesus is saying, it is best if we put ourselves in a position where we cannot reach out to grasp ahold of sin. But to those that continually and willfully grasp ahold of sin, then their reward will be total separation from God, the results of which are the cleansing fire of Hell.
Speaking of fire, there are only two natural cleansing agents in this world. The Bible talks about both of them and the first is water which was used in the time of Noah to cleanse the earth of sin and also used in baptism. The second natural cleansing agent is fire.
There is a lot of confusion concerning Hell and hell fire. Let’s take a moment to talk about this because it is important in our understanding of God to understand hell and its cleansing fire.
My Bible teaches, and I hope yours does as well, that Jesus came to show us the Character of the Father. The New Testament is full of the love of Christ of which Christ came to show us the Father, then Christ love and compassion for mankind is a reflection of God’s love for all mankind.
What person to better comment on this than John the beloved disciple of Jesus, who writes in his first letter to the Christian church: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him (I John 4:8, 16).
John in his gospel also states: “Jesus said to him, ‘have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?’” (John 14:9). In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.”
Therefore, from these texts it is clear that Jesus and God the Father have the same character, the same love for mankind and wish that none would perish. If God the Father did not love fallen mankind, then would he have sent his son to die on a rugged cross, to save all those that believe in him? Of course not! Therefore, for a loving God to destroy the world by fire, a fire that never goes out is beyond human capacity to understand coming from a God of love. However, fire is a cleansing agent and if the world is to be cleansed from sin and all the effects of sin, then fire could and will be used to cleanse the earth.
Let me take this one step further. When I was a kid, some friends of ours house burnt down. Just after the fire, I heard my friend’s father say that the fire was ever lasting, yet we were standing on the property in which the house had stood, and the fire was not burning at the time. In fact, there was no smoke rising from the ruins at all. I asked him, what do you mean? How can you say that, for the fire is obviously not still burning!
His response was, “Yes the fire has gone out, but the effects of the fire will be with us always since all that we have was consumed in the fire and we will never get those things back. Therefore the fire only burnt as long as there was something to consume but upon consuming all that was perishable, the fire went out. The lesson being, so it shall be when the earth is cleansed from sin. The earth and all that is subject to sin will parish only as long as there is something to consume. Once all has been consumed in the fire the earth will be remade and it will become the home of the saints and Christ will finally set up His kingdom that has been in the hearts of his people, will now be set up upon the earth that has been cleansed from all the effects of sin.
The Bible repeatedly uses the example of the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah as a fire that is still burning. This would be difficult to be the case, since it is in the region of the Dead Sea, with many parts of it covered with water. The area has been explored and there are remnants of a great fire that burned the area. So the question is: “Does this fire still burn with a fire that never goes out?” No, the fire is no longer burning but the results of the fire last forever. So it will be at the end of time. The fire that cleanses the earth will only burn as long as there is something to burn and God being a God of love would never sustain life to have them suffer in hell’s fire forever and ever, because that would be inconsistent with a God of love who sent His Son to show us His true character.
Jesus continues his lesson to the disciples by stating if your foot or your eye causes you to sin, to cut it off or pluck it out. The lesson to be learned is to turn away from that which causes us to sin and do not spend time lustfully looking at the things of this world. Instead, turn our eyes upon Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus, longs to have earth’s children turn to Him, repent and accept His saving grace.
Jesus finishes by pulling the metaphor of Salt out of the Sermon on the Mount. 49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but it the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another.”
Salt is a preserving agent, while fire is considered as a purifying agent. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, salt was used in every sacrifice. Its presence signified that only the righteousness of Christ could make the offering acceptable to God. So it is with the Christian that lays of self and selfishness upon the altar of sacrifice. The fire of the sacrifice purifies the life and when mingled with the righteousness of Christ, then those Christians that come through the afflictions of life and a life with Christ will be rewarded with peace. Not only should they have peace within themselves, but they should have peace with each other. Christ is looking for a people, that will allow his righteousness, his preserving power to save us from the cleansing fire of judgement. But, that will only happen when we cut off from ourselves anything that gets in the way of salvation. Whoa be unto those that purposely cause any to fall into sin for God will not hold them guiltless.