Bible Reading: Mark 9:42-50.
The Lord continued instructing His disciples on the need for self denial. In this discourse He showed how radical sons of Adam need to be to be true disciples of Christ.
1. We need to practice self-denial to persevere in the Christian life. v43 - 48.
The mortification of the flesh, which means to put to death the sinful tendencies of the body, is a necessary part of living a victorious Christian life. No-one in Christ's day took the command to "pluck" out the eye, cut off the hand or cut off the foot in a literal manner, nor did the apostle Paul, who wrote much about controlling the sinful appetites of the body. This kind of language refers to a strict disciplining of the body and all its carnal lusts.
It is the Christian's responsibility to never give free reign to the desires of the flesh. They need to be put to death.
This mortification of the flesh is the work of God's Spirit sanctifying and purifying us more and more. To die to sin is Biblical language for ceasing to feed the flesh, or encourage it. Believers are to count themselves to be dead with Christ. A key passage to study on this subject is Romans 8:12 -14.
Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
To walk in pride and forget the Lord's commands to practice self-denial in all aspects of our lives will set us up for a terrible fall. Such falls always hurt the church and cause grief to our fellow believers.
2. We need to practice self-denial to maintain purity of life and worship. v49.
The simplest view of this text is best. Just as salt was used in O.T. sacrifices when offered up to God, we are called to worship God in purity of heart and life. Our spiritual-sacrifices must come from a pure heart full of devotion to the Lord.
The statement of the final verse seems to expound the depths of the Lord's analogy of salt in the Christian's life. "Salt is good: but if the salt has lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?" The sanctified life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit enjoying the savour of the gospel, as opposed to the stench of the world, will glorify the Lord and minister to the saints.
The closing statement sums up the whole theme of this passage,
"Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another" (v50).
The life lived in self-denial, which esteems others to be better, and submits to humble service to our fellowmen will be a life that works peace in the church. It will work peace in our homes, or wherever two or three are met together in the Jesus' name. The blessing of the Lord will be in our midst, for His presence will be assured attending with all His graces to meet the need of our souls.
Pray for deeper self-denial. Pray for greater love to serve others through the ministry of the gospel and in the Lord's church.