“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'”
– Jesus, to the disciples (Mark 9:43-48)
Dangerous. Toxic. Deadly. When dealing with poison, it’s not enough to simply slap a label on a jar and leave it on the shelf. It must be disposed of carefully and quickly.
Sin is just as deadly. That’s why Jesus taught that we should aggressively avoid sin’s contamination, for our actions have eternal consequences.
Christians have long been taken aback by the harshness of Jesus’ statements about sin. Some have understood these sayings literally and have maimed their bodies in order to cut off temptation.
But Jesus was not encouraging self-mutilation (an idea contrary to Scripture); He was driving home the truth that we must deal with sin at any cost. We must attack sin at its roots before it attacks us. Better to live with less than to die with more.
We must be on the offense when it comes to avoiding temptation.
For the one trapped in the sin of pornography, it may mean cutting off the internet cable.
For the one often lured into places where sin reigns, it may mean handing the car keys to a friend.
For the greedy, it may mean giving away entire paychecks and downsizing a lifestyle.
For the glutton, it may mean fasting.
Whatever the sin may be, Jesus teaches us to take drastic measures to avoid it and conquer it. Like cancer, if allowed to spread, sin will take over our minds and hearts and then rule our very being. Often, amputation alone stops the spread of physical disease. In the same way, only ridding our lives of the practices or possessions that cause us to sin can stop evil from spreading to other areas of our life.
Jesus forcefully warns us to take sin seriously. The temptations we flirt with will be the sins we fall to. We must not seek to explain away, excuse, rename or minimize sin. Instead, we should call it out by name and then do whatever it takes to kill it.
Eternity hangs in the balance.