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Should We Really Cut Off Our Hand if it Causes Us to Sin?

We should abhor anything that distracts us from righteous living. This is the attitude Jesus is inviting us to adopt when He uses figurative language to gouge out the eye and cut off the hand that causes us to sin.

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Published Oct 10, 2022
Should We Really Cut Off Our Hand if it Causes Us to Sin?

Sin is a very big deal to God. It was the game-changer in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden after they had sinned, and a wedge was driven between them and God. One moment they were enjoying fellowship with God, and the next, they were scampering away in fright.

To redeem mankind and restore the injured relationship, God had to offer a hefty sacrifice. He offered his only son to die on the cross to atone for man’s sin.

God dealt ruthlessly with sin, and He wants us to adopt the same attitude. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges the multitude to do all it takes to veer off sin.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right-hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mathew 5:29-30).

Jesus used a rather strong figure of speech to bring the message home — do all it takes to steer clear of sin. But what does gouging out your eye and cutting off your hand really mean? Here are five things you need to do to deal ruthlessly with sin.

1. Ruthlessly Eliminate the Things That Lead You to Sin

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).

If we are being honest, we can easily pinpoint the things that easily lead us to sin. Perhaps we are unequally yoked with unbelievers, which makes us disobey God.

Perhaps we are caught up watching TV shows that are not honorable. Paul invites us to throw away the things that hinder us and the sin that easily creeps up on us.

For example, when I realized that I was spending hours on end on Facebook, I uninstalled the app from my phone. I “threw” the app away because it was causing me to waste precious time.

Admittedly, it's not always easy to cut off these habits, objects, or even people that lure us into sin. It can be downright uncomfortable and painful.

That's why Paul admonishes us to walk with endurance the race marked out for us. We also have to remember that the narrow gate that leads to life is difficult, and only a few people find it (Mathew 7:14).

Living righteously is far from easy and calls for endurance. But in the end, it leads to life.

2. Heed God’s High Standard of Holiness

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mathew 5:48).

God’s standard for holiness is very high. So much so that He invites us to be perfect just as He is. Does that sound a tad baffling? Can human beings achieve perfection?

God doesn't throw words around, demanding from us what He knows is impossible to attain. Consider Job of whom the scriptures record that he was blameless and upright, feared God, and shunned evil (Job 1:1). No wonder God could brag about Him.

While it is true that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), He invites us to trudge the path of Holiness.

Jesus warned that anyone who looked at a woman lustfully had already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28). He raised the bar for holiness in full confidence that His followers could achieve it.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1).

John's desire was for the church not to sin. But if they did sin, they were not to despair. Forgiveness was available because Jesus had atoned for their sins. But what would please the father most is if they did not sin.

3. Leave No Room for Sin

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14).

We are called to be proactive in dodging sin. Oftentimes, our ignorance and complacency leave ample room for sin. But God desires that we seal up any loopholes that cause us to stumble. The scripture above asks us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This implies a deliberate daily exercise of pursuing holiness. Putting on the Lord Jesus means abiding in Him, following His example, relying on His power, and being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

This is not a one-day event but a daily exercise. Paul said that He died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). Job made a covenant with His eyes not to look upon a young woman lustfully.

He did everything within his power to steer clear of sexual sin. It's in our daily pursuit of holiness that the chances of sinning or stumbling are obliterated: when we seek to make no provision for the flesh so that we don't fulfill its lusts, when we sow in the Spirit we reap life, but when we sow in the flesh, we reap corruption.

4. Work Out Your Salvation with Fear and Trembling

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling(Philippians 2:12).

Salvation is a free gift, and we are justified through faith, not works. However, that does not remove our responsibility to stay connected to Jesus. Paul asks the Philippian church to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

This means that we cannot rest on our laurels after receiving salvation. We have to maintain an attitude of reverence and awe toward God.

He has declared that although heaven is His throne and the earth His footstool, He seeks and looks upon those who tremble at His Word (Isaiah 66: 2), those who heed His commands in absolute reverence and fear.

We cannot afford to make light of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We have to hate sin and repeatedly choose the narrow and difficult path. We have to fear God and accord Him the respect and awe due to Him. Consider the words of Peter to the church (2 Peter 1:5-8).

We should not take our salvation lightly but should do all it takes to ensure that we are gradually conforming to the image of Christ. Working out our salvation with fear and trembling is a sure way of steering clear of the things that lead us to sin.

5. Despise Worldly Desires

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Paul had one desire — to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to participate in his sufferings. He knew that He could not achieve his goal if He held onto earthly pleasures and sin.

He, therefore, despised anything that threatened to dampen his zeal for God. He considered it garbage. He realized that no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4).

This is the same attitude we should uphold in our quest to live holy lives. We should abhor anything that distracts us from righteous living. This is the attitude Jesus is inviting us to adopt when He asks us to gouge out the eye and cut off the hand that causes us to sin.

For further reading:

What Does it Mean to Crucify the Flesh?

What Does it Mean that ‘The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things’?

What Does the Bible Say about the Lust of the Flesh?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/digitalskillet

Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected].


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