The Disciple’s Greatest Danger

Tom Pennington |

February 3, 2021


The disciple’s greatest danger, not surprisingly, is sin. Its threat comes primarily in two ways: in causing others to sin, and in tolerating personal sin.

Six affirmations

How serious is God about sin in the life of a believer? In Mark 9: 32-48, Jesus makes six distinct affirmations about sin’s danger, and explains how to deal with it.

1) Tolerating our own sin is the greatest danger to our souls. Jesus says that anything that causes us to sin puts us in such mortal danger that we have to be willing to take extreme measures to protect ourselves. Anything that causes us to stumble is extremely serious and a great danger.

2) Eternal punishment in hell is a reality. Most people in our world cannot allow the possibility there is such a place. But Jesus Himself taught that there are only two alternatives after death: Dwelling in God’s kingdom, or in the fire that can’t be put out. If our Lord doesn’t return, every one of us will die. And according to our Lord Jesus, we will open our eyes in one of two places. Let the reality of that burn into your soul and make sure you know Jesus Christ.

3) Sin is what will ultimately send a person to hell. Jesus specifically says that a pattern of sinning will be the reason for being cast into hell. It’s a pattern you see throughout the New Testament. Individuals will be condemned to hell because of sin – because of transgression against the law of God.

4) Nothing is more important than your soul’s eternal destiny. Jesus taught that it’s more important than keeping the most precious things in this life. Think for a moment of all the things like relationships, your body, its health, that are most precious to you. Giving up those things to have eternal life is worth it.

5) Be radical in hating sin and killing it whatever the cost. In Mark 9, Jesus told his disciples that they must hate their sin in all of its forms and be willing to kill it whatever the cost. It’s a constant theme of the New Testament. You must kill sin in all its forms. You cannot play with sin and not be terribly burned. John Owen, the English Puritan, famously said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

6) Make your ultimate goal pursuing a pure and holy heart. Jesus taught these same truths early in His ministry. In that context, He emphasized that the heart is the real issue.

Call to examine

Our Lord says those who claim to be His disciples but are tolerating an ongoing pattern of sin may not be truly His, and end up being cast into hell. Are you willing to take radical steps to deal with your sin?

If you’re not really in the faith, Mark 9: 32-48 should drive you to Jesus Christ.