Tearing and Cutting
It’s important to remember Jesus wasn’t establishing a new law system for mankind to achieve righteousness but showing them their desperate need for mercy. The religious of Jesus’ day distorted the application of the Law – they thought it was achievable and were filled with self-righteousness. It was as if He was saying, “So you want to achieve righteousness through the Law? Here are the full implications of living under the Law.”
Matthew 5:29–30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. In 1st century Jewish thought the right eye and hand were more valuable to man than the left. Don’t miss the tone of sarcasm in Jesus’ words as He speaks to the Pharisees who were quite proud of their righteousness and yet blind to their own sin. “So, you think you can keep the law, do you?” The Law shows all men guilty and if you attempt victory by self-discipline this is what you must do; pluck out your eye.
You can’t battle sin in your own power. If you are going to battle sin in your own power you must be ruthless with it beginning with plucking out your eye. In Islam they attempt to deal with men’s lust by covering women but do you think it works? Do you think if a man who had lust in his heart and went blind he couldn’t lust anymore? Lust begins with the eye.
Deal immediately and decisively with sin. Jesus was trying to point out just how horrible our sin is. You can’t negotiate with sin – it must be rejected immediately and decisively. The Bible and your own experience teach you this is true. He is saying, however valuable a thing may be to you, if it is going to trap you and cause you to stumble – get rid of it, throw it away. Remember, you can’t do it yourself; focus on Jesus and remember you died to sin. The solution to sin isn’t focusing on sin at all. Yes, we acknowledge it for what it is but our attention is on the cross. Galatians reminds us to walk in the Spirit and we’ll not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Sin management just leads to more sin, the sins may change but they will only increase. The Pharisees, who perfected the art of sin management, can see the blatant sins of others and be completely blind to their own.
Jesus dealt with sin so we can experience freedom from sin’s punishment and power. The unbeliever can discipline themselves in some respects; the best they can accomplish is some form of self-management. Jesus came to set us free from both the penalty and power of sin. Do not think you can deal with sin in your own power.
The purpose of the Law is to show us our sin. The whole purpose of the law, as Paul reminds us, was to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Unless we are clear about the doctrine of sin we shall never truly understand the New Testament way of salvation. The Law shows us the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the demands of the law, the punishment meted out by the law, and the eternal consequences of evil and wrongdoing.
The Law confronts us with the holiness of God. We think we are good because we haven’t allowed the full intent of the Law to show us our sin in the presence of God who is completely holy. We want to talk about how we avoided the act and Jesus tells us we need to pluck out our eyes because we are all guilty.
God’s love is only real to those who see their sin. Only when we understand our exceeding sinfulness do we begin to grasp the love of God. Why don’t we love God as we should? It is because we never realized what He has done for us. Sin is not merely a matter of actions and deeds; it is something within the heart that leads to action. The fact that you have not committed the act of adultery does not mean you are guiltless. We have nothing to boast about.
Luke 16:15 “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. The soul, He says, is so important that if your right eye is the cause of your being trapped by sin you should pluck it out and get rid of it. It’s better to lose one part than the whole of you in hell. The word translated hell here is ‘Gehenna,’ which was the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned. The end of sin is chaos and destruction. We must learn to hate sin. We must hate sin and yield ourselves to the indwelling Spirit. You remember how the Psalmist puts it, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” We must train ourselves to hate sin.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. The Lord first speaks about the eye and then to the hand for even greater emphasis. He’s just making it perfectly clear to us that nothing we have in this body is worth perishing. What is it that is holding you in bondage? Let God take it from you; it’s not worth perishing over. I don’t know what’s keeping you from receiving Jesus but it’s not worth it!
I hope you’re having a great summer. Please be in prayer about how Abba would have you to give to the church. We are praying for a summer in which the church thrives and we see His provision for our new buildings.
You are loved!