Jesus uses famously shocking language to arrest our attention. He wants to cut through the deceptive fog machine of the human heart to penetrate and hit the real you. So, he says in Matthew 17:8-9, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
Jesus is not here speaking of mutilation of the body. He’s speaking with hyperbole—the language of an extreme exaggeration— to make the point. And the point is, it’s better to go through life without an arm or foot than it is to go to hell. It is better to be impaired than in hell. Sin is not something to be trifled with.
The apostle Paul writes that sin is to be put to death (Col. 3.5ff, Rom. 8:13ff). Rather than domesticate, we are to slaughter sin. In other places, we are told to flee sin (1 Cor. 6:18). We are not to sit idly by, loitering in the gates of damnation. We must flee. Charles Spurgeon writes:
In contending with certain sins there remains no mode of victory but by flight. The ancient naturalists wrote much of basilisks, whose eyes fascinated their victims and rendered them easy victims; so the mere gaze of wickedness puts us in solemn danger. He who would be safe from acts of evil must haste away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark, to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant. Who would wantonly enter the leper’s prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? He only who desires to be leprous himself would thus court contagion. If the mariner knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it. Cautious pilots have no desire to try how near the quicksand they can sail, or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel. . . . The devil I am to resist and he will flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.
The devil I am to resist and he will flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.
Followers of Christ will be greatly aided in this endeavor by implementing an often overlooked priority. We must hate sin. Jesus wants us to hate sin and its effects. We cannot domesticate sin like it is our pet, but rather, we must hate it and its effects.
Do you hate sin? Do you hate what sin is doing? Every tear, every ounce of pain comes from sin. It fuels every hearse. Every grieving widow wails because of its might. Sin provokes every wail of hurt. Every bit of shame is sourced in sin. Every regret and burn mark upon the soul is the handiwork of sin. Every biting word is loaded with the sting of sin. Every prideful thought is concocted upon the conveyer belt of sin. Every bit of injustice is deputized by General Sin. Every betrayed heart aches because sin has made its presence know. Every bit of corruption is a footprint of sin. Every bit of neglect demonstrates sin’s attention. It’s all sin. Sin is the greatest evil on this planet. Will you not hate it?
But more than this, Christian, hate sin because it’s the instrument that killed our dear Lord Jesus.
We cannot domesticate sin like it is our pet, but rather, we must hate it and its effects.
Imagine a man whose brother had been murdered, going to his home to sort out his belongings. In the course of going through the tool shed, he finds the murder weapon, a bloody knife. Can you imagine the man cleaning off the knife and putting it in his own shed? No, of course not! He couldn’t bear to set his eyes upon that knife much less use it. The instrument of his dear brother’s death must be far away from him, for he hates it with an overflowing hatred. So too it must be for us as Christians, we behold the great knife sin, and we must have it far from us. We cannot clench sin, harbor sin, love sin, delight in sin—because it was sin that slew Christ!
Oh, friends, be done with sin. Flee from it. Kill it. Hate it more than anything. Hate it for what it is and what it has done. And, hate it for how it cost our precious Lord Jesus his life.