THE WORDS OF JESUS
Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 12
“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.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 5:27-30
The word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
These teachings cut through all the devil’s obfuscation and philosophical conundrums surrounding the matters of sin and go to the heart of the matter. They are the basest teachings of life. They are extraordinarily difficult to understand, hard to accept, and most difficult to do. Most people, when reading the Bible, will choose, at their own peril, to scan through them quickly and move on to more pleasant reading.
Here, Jesus is quoting from the Law of the Old Testament found in the Ten Commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ Jesus is teaching that the fulfillment of this law begins, not with externals, but within ourselves; But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus then seems to contradict Himself as He goes on to say, ” 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”. Is He now suggesting externals (the eye and the hand) are the cause of your sin? No, He is not.
There is no contradiction here. Jesus, once again, is building a bridge for us to cross. He is building a bridge from the natural world to the spiritual world of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is building a bridge from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He is not negating the Old Covenant. He is fulfilling it.
Jesus is the New Covenant, and He is teaching, (that is, The Word of God is teaching us), (1), how to understand The Word of God and find wisdom, (2), how to revere and to properly fear The Word of God, and (3), how to perform The Word of God in your own life.
I have a heard a myriad of sermons on these verses, and without exception, preachers, pastors and Bible teachers rightly add the remark that Jesus did not mean that you are to literally ‘tear out your eye’ or to ‘cut off your hand’ if they cause you to sin. Jesus often uses hyperbole or ‘reductio ad absurdum’ to emphasize the point of His teaching.
Or is He?
I have seen and read of those who have had a limb snared in an accident or a trapped by a building collapse, and the only means of escape and saving one’s life is to sever the limb from their body.
There are examples that a limb or a body part is so affected by decline or disease that it is causing nearby organs to fail; or that a cancer is spreading, endangering the life of the person and excision is the only way to save the patient’s life.
Jesus is emphasizing the immediate urgency and the critical nature of being snared by habits of sin. Persistent sin always brings death. James 1:15 tells us, “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.” This is the insidious nature of sin and in this case even “looking at a man or a woman with lustful intent” is the same as adultery, even if you don’t see the immediate connection.
Jesus is framing this dilemma using a ‘binary trap’ to make this point. It is ‘one or the other, but it cannot be both’. Choose life, or allow death to make the choice for you.
The bottom line here is, “It is better that you lose one of your ‘body parts’ than if your whole body be thrown into hell.”
It is easy to see that this is no casual or joking matter. Jesus has opened a window of sorts, a portal, so you and I can peer in the wondrous spiritual world of the Kingdom of Heaven to find our help.
(It is breaking my heart as I write this to know that some will dismiss the Word of God as mere fantasy or some religious-speak. Others will pick and choose as if choosing from a self-improvement list of classes, deciding which class it pleases them to attend. Let’s PLEASE, please, dear friend, do not make that mistake.)
The Word of God is powerful and accurate and without error, far beyond our ability to understand. The Gospel is the power unto salvation. It is prophetic by its very nature – it will tell the Truth to you and through you once you put it in your heart.
It requires faith, obedience and endurance. It will save your life, and it will give you a life worth living, both now and forever with God.
Your Brother and Friend,
PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 11 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder.”
NEXT: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 13 – “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you…” Matthew 5:31-32.