So if your hand causes you to lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life disabled than to have two hands and go to hell, to the fire that cannot be put out. If your foot causes you to lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. If your eye causes you to lose your faith, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. In hell worms that eat the body never die, and the fire is never put out. Everyone will be salted with fire. Mark 9:43-49
Okay, here we have the classic radical repentance scripture, only I’m using a different translation –the God’s Word Translation, which phrases stumble or sin as lose faith. It gives us something to think about.
Losing faith. You know, this is really Satan’s goal. It isn’t just to cause us to lose our temper, or be bitter, or lust, get selfish, greedy, etc. It’s to cause us to lose sight of how real and good God is, or even that it matters to Him what we do.
So our goal needs to be to do whatever it takes to keep our faith.
A lot of people who do long distance running say they use a focal point to reach their goal. They find a tree or something in the distance and just focus on getting to that. Then they find something else and focus on getting to that.
If we have a focal point, something we can SEE that we’re working towards, it’s easier to make it. It’s the same way in working through our struggles. If we keep thinking about how hard it is, we get bogged down. But if we can look to where we want to end up, the way becomes clear.
I found that was true this week. I was struggling with something — one of those things that takes over your head and you can’t get rid of it. I was stuck. Then I pictured how God has worked out my schedule in the past. He has always worked out the tough situations in my life, And I realized He is going to help me find a way through this as well! I pictured the resolution God WILL help me find, and I felt so much better.
Faith is what we need. An unhampered vision of what God will do.
And Satan wants to find ways to obscure our vision, sabotage our faith.
So lately, instead of just trying to not sin, I have starting asking myself, “What is causing me to lose faith right now?”
And do you know what the answer has been? FEAR. Fear that people will think badly of me. Fear that I will fail. Fear that things won’t work out, that something will go wrong.
Fear messes me up so I keep focusing on my problems instead of God.
Fear is something I need to cut off, tear out!
Fear is something I need to replace with trust that God will guide me out of every dark valley.
Replace with humility, bowing before God and letting Him teach me.
Replace with the wonderful encouraging vision of the resolution, what God will do.
Replace with the vision of heaven.
But there’s more. I can’t just tell myself not to fear. I can’t just replace it with other things.
Why? Because I have to address the source of my fears.
This passage in Mark says, “everyone will be salted with fire.” Judgement Day is coming. And what is going to be judged? In Hebrews 4 it says, “For the word of God is alive and active. . . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. . . . Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
It is our thoughts and attitudes that will be laid bare and judged. And the word for attitudes here is énnoia, which means “settled (thought-out) opinions, attitudes.”
So it is our entrenched attitudes which will be judged. It’s not just what we think, it’s what we are intense and passionate about, what we’re invested in.
That is why I can’t just tell myself not to fear anymore. I have to figure out the ennoia that’s at the base of my fears and root it out.
That is why we can’t just stop one instance of wrong thinking. We have a whole system of thinking that’s wrong. It feels like our very self. It’s like we have to cut off a piece of our heart.
And THAT IS painful and scary, just like the picture of the girl with the gouged out eye at the beginning of this blog.
But faith is so good. When I feel it, I’m like, why was I holding onto the fear, the selfishness, the pride, and so on?
Deep change seems scary, but the truth is that it actually like walking into the sunlight.
Giving up control completely to God, giving up even our way of thinking, brings such clarity, such relief. God’s goodness eclipses everything, and it’s expanding all the time, like light swallowing up darkness.
Living by faith is nourishment to our soul. And Satan wants to keep us starved in our sins and struggles.
So let’s address those things that hamper our faith. Let’s dig down and root them out at the source.
What is the root for me? Simply a lack of trust in God. I’ve been working on asking Him, “What are you teaching me through this” instead of resenting my situations, and it has been so much better.
With faith, Satan can’t get me to lose sight of God’s gleaming goodness.
I see that the storm is passing over.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Ps 27:13