Throughout the Gospels, we see the life of Jesus as He went about doing good (Acts 10:38), modeling perfectly what it was like to live a life completely submitted to the Father (John 8:29), showing us exactly what God the Father was like (Hebrews 1:3; John 14:9), and reconciling the world back to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:19). While walking the earth, Jesus spoke some very life changing and profound things. However, some statements that He made would appear to seem very hard to understand which, some have misunderstood. While dealing with the subject of adultery in what is known as the “Sermon on he Mount”, Jesus said he following:
Matthew 5:29-30 – NKJV – If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
He made a similar statement in Matthew 18:
Matthew 18:8-9 – NKJV – “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. 9 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.
So, what exactly does Jesus mean by this? Does He mean that if there is a certain sin in your life that you are to literally gouge out your eye, cut off your hand or chop off your foot? Will that stop you from habitually sinning or doing wrong?
Believe it or not, there are some religious sects that have arisen that believe in this type of practice. But this is not what Jesus was saying at all.
First, understand that, when trying to make a point, Jesus spoke some things in what is known as a “hyperbole” which is defined as an “exaggerated statement or claim that is not to be taken literally”. For example, if a person says “ I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse”, that doesn’t mean that person will literally grab a horse and swallow it whole, which would be impossible, but to express how extremely hungry they are. So why did Jesus use hyperbole’s in these verses? Because He wanted to show the seriousness of habitual sin. In other words, if there is a certain area in our lives we struggle with that is causing you to “stumble” and bringing a hindrance to your fellowship with God, you may have to take extreme measures to cut that particular area out of your life to preserve your relationship with the Lord. The Bible says we are to guard our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). While we are called to live righteous lives, not in our own strength, but by the power of God’s strength through the Holy Spirit, we all have struggles from time to time in various areas. But for some of us, certain things seem to ensnare us more than others.
Hebrews 12:1 – NLT – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
For those areas we struggle with that entangle us more easily than others, we may have to take extreme measures to avoid them until we are stronger in that area. For example, let’s say you are a born-again believer who loves Jesus, faithful to your church, committed to family and doing the best you can to live a godly life. But at the same time, you have a struggle with alcohol consumption. You cannot seem to just have one “small” drink and be OK. One drink sends you into a tailspin that could take you weeks to recover time after time, year after year. It may be that you may have to remove all the alcohol from your home, avoid any liquor stores or the alcohol isle in the grocery store, and ask someone to be an accountability partner as well as some godly counsel until you grow stronger in that area. That’s what we believe Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5 and 18. Not “hacking” off your hand or “poking” out your eyeball if you see a bottle of alcohol!
But no matter what your struggle may be, you can always call upon the Lord who loves you and ask for His supernatural grace to help when facing your strongest temptations. Remember, we can do nothing in our own strength, but through Christ, we can do all things (Philippians 4:3).
Hebrews 4:16 – NLT – So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.