Matthew 18:8 - 9
NKJV - 8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
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I take these verses to mean that if something in your life is causing you to sin, then the best thing for you to do is to quit that something altogether. That may be difficult to do, and it may cause you great frustration (sadness, disappointment etc. Etc. Etc.) to not be able to do or have that something anymore, but ultimately, you'll be better off, because that something will not push you into sinful behaviour anymore, and you can look forward to eternal reward.
Jesus used rhetoric quite a lot to make a point. What he meant was our position was hopeless! In less than a day we would have no arms legs or eyes! What we need is repentance to God and to accept Jesus as Lord. Remember without that we are all lost.
I have always found this passage of scripture and what Jesus taught us to be one of the most profound and meaningful in knowing our Lord. I understand this as follows: It is better to be without sin, to live in times of trouble and affliction and to be one with God (enter into life), than to be living in sin enjoying the physical enjoyments this world offers, whether it be wealth, or physical beauty, etc., or having eyes that only see the physical world around us, and be separated from God, which is death (everlasting fire). Cutting off a hand that keeps us doing sinful things, or plucking out an eye with which we see only the physical world, removes those detrimental things that prevent our living a.k.a. being alive in truth with God. Remember Jesus IS 'the life' as denoted in this passage you quote. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." We are 'born again', new, in HIM. The old sinful man is DEAD (once, and now we have life forever in HIM!) John 3:3: Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:35: "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not a see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." ANYTHING that holds us back from being one with God (sin) and saved (from sin) by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is an obstacle to be overcome, and it is better to cast out those things that keep us from Him. While this is rhetoric, it is deep truth too! Of course it is not the eye or hand that does the action that is deemed sinful, but the heart. It is far, far better to be without those things that inhibit our union with God than to hold onto them, and that includes a hand or an eye - whether literal or not. For death is certain without Christ, whereas everlasting life is guaranteed with him. Hallelujah! I hope this helps you understand more what Jesus meant about living or being alive, truly alive, or in life with Him. Blessings, in HIM, Lynn
Many of the aphorisms delivered by Jesus during His ministry serve to illustrate our utter inability to meet the righteous standards of God. They demonstrate our desperate need for a savior. This appears to be the intent of Jesus' rather shocking comments in Matt 18:8-9 and Mark 9:43-47 which are recapitulations of what He had said in the Sermon on the Mount (in the context of lust) as recorded in Matt 5:29-30. The intended impact of these truisms was to jar the legalistic Jews (and us!) to the realization that we are all helpless and hopeless apart from the atoning, redeeming intervention and mediation of God’s Messiah. We are as incapable of cutting off our own hands and feet or gouging out our own eyes as we are of saving ourselves through perfect obedience to the Law. And yet, perfection is precisely the standard we are required to meet (Matt 5:48). Our choices are limited to two: (a) either we perfectly fulfil the Law of God in letter and in intent or; (b) someone else fulfils it and His perfection is credited (imputed) to us. The graphic word pictures painted by Jesus in these passages show us the folly of thinking we can do it ourselves. Our only hope is a worthy savior to whom all our sin is imputed and whose perfect righteousness is imputed to us. I have talked with those who believe these passages should be considered literal commandments from God for us to follow today, or at least they claim that belief. However, I noticed they still have all their body parts. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). God does not command us to mutilate them to save us from His wrath. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that it was Jesus’ mission on earth to save us (Luke 19:10). In Matt 18:8-9, Jesus is making the case that if we insist on trusting our ability to assuage the wrath of Almighty God by obeying the Law, these are examples of how perfect (and extreme) that obedience must be. Salvation through the Law requires a level of active obedience that is well beyond our capabilities. Our only realistic hope of salvation is the grace of God through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
If something is standing between you and God, that's not allowing him to use you to your full potential for his kingdom. Drop it like the bad habit that it is, it's far better to suffer the results of it here than to not be of full service to the Kingdom.
I always recommend the sandwich method (before and after) of seeing the larger context, when studying a biblical passage. Chapter 18 opens with the question of who is the greatest in God's kingdom from the disciples and Jesus answer them, "Whoever humbles himself like this child..."(v. 4). Follow the train of thought: whoever receives this person receives me (Jesus), but for whoever causes this person to sin it's better to drown by millstone. Verse 7 continues the topic of "cause...to sin," "temptation," or "stumbling block." Jesus pronounces judgment on the world for its temptations to sin. He says that they must necessarily come. Jesus then narrows the judgment on those who become the source of temptation and stumbling block for His followers. There are two ways to view the command in verse 8 "to cut off" your hand or foot. The first is in the context of a community of believers where one member causes another to stumble therefore cut the stumbler off. The second interpretation may be within oneself rather than a community. I tend to lean towards the the latter based on three reasons: 1) This metaphor of bodily mutilation was first taught in Matt 5:29-30 in the context of lust within self. Since literal cutting off of an eye or a hand cannot stop a person from lusting, it was meant to show the seriousness of sins and our inner faculties that cause them. 2) It is possible for a believer to cause fellow believers as did Jesus' disciples by jockeying for higher positions. 3) Jesus already addressed the context of community in verse 6 so it would make more sense for him to warn individuals to take our inclination to stumble others very seriously especially by not accepting those who are humble and lowly like children were in ancient societies. Tying in the theme of humble being great, Jesus goes on to teach the preciousness of even one lost sheep to the Father.
This is a good question and it is important to note that Jesus used hyperbole, or extreme language, to describe our distance from him and His righteousness, in the Scripture. Our Jesus spoke words that stuck in the ears loudly and resonated thought so we could apply ourselves to what he would have us do, in a time when many did not have a pen, recorder or way to carry the written word. If I said 'I am so tired, I could sleep for a week'. I am trying to express I am really tired. If I said 'I told you a million times that I needed you to come over'. I am saying I told you to come over. This is one of those times Jesus is making us aware of how little we have control over the lust of our flesh. He wants us to understand that our righteousness is so unachievable that in trying to contain ourselves we would all bel eyeless and limbless. Its like when he told us in Matthew 7:5 that we have a beam in our eye to worry about before we worry about a speck in our brothers. Jesus, knowing our sinfulness and the extent of our hearts desires, showed us how clearly impossible it would be to do the work of cleansing ourselves from our sinfulness. He made it clear that he had to complete the work for us on the cross and send his Holy Spirit to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Let us look at what he says in Luke 14:26. Are we to hate our family and hate our own life? No, we are to die to loving family and our own will for our life more then God. We are to die and be born again in a new life in Christ as noted in John 5:24. When we die to leading our life, and let Jesus be Lord of our lives. We began to address the beam in our eye and the lust of our flesh through His power, direction and strength. He makes all things possible. He makes possible for us to do Romans 6:13, and cast all of the members of our body off by yielding them up to him for instruments of righteousness. Let us yield our body parts as instruments of righteousness by the power of the Lamb and thereby offer ourselves as living sacrifices, Romans 12:1.
In the Sabbath Day, anyone should stop/ cease doing his own work and come to rest completely. Unless one was condemned to death. Jesus is saying that no one can reach to the salvation through his own struggle or work (through keeping the law), rather only through Him. One should cease his own work (cut off his hand, eyes, works of his body) and should believe in Jesus Christ for one's salvation.
The command in Matthew 18:8-9 may appear extreme and it is. Should a believer actually "cut it off" [hand or foot]? Maybe so in extreme cases. For example, a medical doctor who performs abominable Abortions should probably cut off his hand immediately. Also, what this doctor could do is to "get down on his Godless knees and ask the Lord for forgiveness" and stop performing Abortions immediately and permanently. The alternative to this command for most of us would be to "let this command sink in very well", as they say. Jesus Christ appears to be telling us very forcefully that a lost hand, foot or eye is nothing compared to an Eternity in the Eternal Fire. Think about it. In my own case, I had a problem with Pornography which I have overcome because of Matthew 18:8-9. I did not want to "pluck it out" [the eye] so I said to the Lord "I refuse the temptations of the Devil and will have Life in Your ways" [see Psalm 119:37]. It has been difficult given the instant access available on the Internet. Hopefully, this serious problem is now gone forever, with the continuing help of the Holy Spirit. The Pornography problem led to and fed a Masturbation problem. Again, I did not want to "cut it off" [the hands] so I have now stopped the "spilling of the Seed". Again, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this problem has ended. The important message here from our Lord, in my humble opinion, is to turn from future Sins and to repent for our past Sins. If we continue to commit serious Sins using our hands, feet and eyes then we should be prepared for the Lake of Fire. Amen.
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