In Danger of Hell
July 6, 2021
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).
Jesus affirms the reality of a literal hell of fire that awaits the unrepentant sinner. (Matthew 5:22) But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire, Matthew 5:29-30, which is repeated in Matthew 18:8-9, and Matthew 10:28, And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Fifteen times in the Gospels Jesus warns us of the reality and terror of this place created for the devil and his angels. In today’s world, and in many of today’s churches, the subject of eternal damnation is treated almost as a joke. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go to hell, so we eliminate the idea of eternal punishment from our mind and theology (but sadly, not from our vocabulary). Yet Jesus taught us of the reality of hell because it is real, it is horrible, and it will be inhabited by all who reject Him as Lord and Savior.
Now the warning given in Matthew 5:29-30, which is the same warning given in our text today, is a severe warning against causing others and causing self to stumble in faith and to fall into the trap of sin. Those responsible for this action are guilty of sin and in danger of hell. However, because the Christian will never be threatened by the prospects of an eternity separated from God in the torments of hell, in no way lessens the severity of the warning. Those who offend a Christian by causing him/her to stumble and fall in faith are guilty of offending Jesus Christ, and God does not take such offenses lightly.
Therefore, the Christian should take every precaution and every step necessary to keep him/herself from sin so as to not cause a fellow Christian to stumble in faith. Paul the Apostle wrote (1 Corinthians 9:27), I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Paul understood that personal, unrepented of sin is not only a hindrance to others, but to himself as well. It quenches the Holy Spirit in his life. It prevents him from being a powerful, effective, and fruitful witness for Jesus Christ to others, and keeps him from ministering to the saints with a pure heart and clear conscience.
“Lord Jesus, remind me daily of the severity of causing myself and others to stumble because of my sin. May I follow the example of Jesus and the Apostle Paul in keeping my hands clean, my heart pure, and my life wholly devoted to You and Your Word. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”