“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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. 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.
Let’s face it, we live our lives downplaying the severity of sin. It is our nature to deny just how bad it really is. Our tendency is to justify not rectify. Typically our time is spent minimizing the badness of our behavior. Why make such a big deal of it? I mean, everyone sins, right?
When we examine our culture we find that many don’t even know the concept. Sin? Huh? In their defense, if we all just arose from some primordial slime and exist through some circular ‘survival of the fittest’ logic then who can even define sin. Truly, how can sin even exist without a transcendent moral law imparted by an eternal Lawgiver? To deny sin is to deny the moral law and the One who gave it. It’s no surprise our culture has no understanding of sin, at least consciously, anyway.
All of this I share simply as a contrast to the truth that Jesus speaks about sin. In His usual style, Jesus speaks directly, authoritatively and urgently to those who would listen. Ending the activity of sin in our life is so serious it supersedes the importance of having one of our our most critical bodily organs – the eye. This seems serious. ‘If your right eye causes you to sin….’. Not – cover it with your hands, wear a patch or tape it shut. No! Gouge it out. Remove it. Quickly and completely. Sin isn’t even worth your right eye. In addition to this somewhat shocking revelation, avoiding the deadly nature of sin takes precedence over the use of one of the greatest creations known to man – the human hand. ‘If your right hand causes you to sin….’. You know, the thing at the end of your arm that makes life livable? The food deliverer? The door opener? The extender of greeting? Your primary gripper?
Cut. It. Off.
Something about these commands comes across as very painful and over the top. Is He serious?
Sin is serious. It separates us from the only One who can save us when the end comes. It divides our allegiance to the One who deserves all of our allegiance. It creates a chasm between us and the One who created us. It demeans the One who died to deliver us from it. Is sin that serious? Seriously? Father God thinks so. As serious as the cross. If you want God’s opinion on the serious nature of sin you simply need to consider the cross. It was the price He paid to cleanse us of it.
Gross humiliation. Abject pain. Blatant injustice.
The implications are haunting.
May we become a people of humble purity who take sin seriously. No more qualifying. No more minimizing. No more denying. Seeing sin as God sees it clarifies the amazing nature of what Jesus Christ truly offers. He offers us His righteousness. The righteousness of the One who did not sin. The One who overcame the natural consequences of sin – death. By His death we are redeemed through faith. Seriously!
May we have the courage and commitment by the power of God’s Spirit within us to be done with sin in all forms and may God be glorified with every thought, word and deed. He has saved us from the sin of ourselves. Let us live for Him!