Matthew 18:8-9: If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Who would cut off their hands or feet or gouge out their eyes? I don’t think that Jesus is exaggerating here. The point that he is making is that if there is any sin in our life that might cause us to stumble (i.e., lose our faith), we should remove anything in our lives that would lead us into that sin.
I read a story about a man whose habitual drinking had become a problem for him and for his family life. He confessed to his counselor, “When I drive home from work and drive past a tavern, it’s as if there is a powerful magnet that just pulls me in.” The counselor asked where he worked and where his home was. It turned out that the bars weren’t anywhere close to the most direct route home.
If drinking is a problem sin, then don’t have liquor in your house. If watching pornography is a problem, then put Covenant Eyes on your computer. If spending too much is a problem, write down every expense and share it with your spouse or a trusted friend every month.
But in the end, every sin is always a problem of the heart, isn’t it? Paul offers a solution for the sins that dwell in our heart. “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12) Jesus performed a surgery on your heart when you were baptized. You died to sin and you live in Christ. Cutting off the sin that offends you is something that happens every day as you live a life of repentance in Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me not to give in to the sins which trouble me the most! Satan would have me believe that I cannot rid myself of them. But I know that in you and in my baptism, all my sins are forgiven and sin cannot master me. Remove from my heart any sin that entangles me so that I might live my life for you. Amen.