ESV - 43 And 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.
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Iv asked myself this same question.. the only real thing I can recommend is to pray and ask God for complete understanding. then read it 3 or 4 times. Then pray and ask God what this means in your life.. the cutting off the hand or foot. or even plucking of the eye is a parable.. the true answer comes from true prayer with God and waiting for the Lord to answer.
Hyperbole is common in nearly all languages. We use them in English. For example, "If I told you once I told you a million times."
When you said that I died.
We have nothing at home, we need to go the store.
She cusses so bad she would make a sailor blush.
I was so sick I died. (Or nearly died.)
I'll break every bone in your body if you do that again.
I'm gonna kill you.
These are a few examples. There are many, many in the bible.
Cutting off one's hand or plucking out the eye doesn't take away the desire to sin. I believe Jesus was using "hyperbole." We have can see the proof in this by some people who have been convicted of sex crimes. Through physical or chemical castration has not removed the desire to commit these crimes again. The only real way to deal with sin is to deal with the mind. The mind is where the issues of life are dealt with. If Christ cannot gain our mind, no amount of mutilation can defeat sin.
In the Gospel (Mathew, Mark,Luke and John) there are a lot of Jesus words, speech; were spoken in a parable and a symbolic language (Mathew 13:3; 10; 13; 18; Mark.4:2; 11; 13; Luke 8:4; 10; 15:3; 21:29; John 10:6).
Hand, foot, eye (Mark 9:42-49) are parts of the human body/flesh, it symbolizes a flesh desires (Galatians 5:19-21)
"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).
Live by the Spirit, not by the flesh!
Shanna is correct that sin is slavery and we must ask the indwelling Spirit for help in combating temptations to sin.
Matthew 5:30 says virtually the same thing and that statement was made in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching under OT law there, before His crucifixion, and was explaining you can't get to Heaven by your own righteousness as many of the Pharisees thought and believed.
Many Christians don't yet understand that since the new Covenant, (which we are now under), we don't obey OT law because Jesus fulfilled it by dying and being resurrected.
You have to read the Bible knowing that all of it is informative but not all of it applies directly to you. Know where, when, and to whom the Bible is speaking when reading it and you'll have a much better understanding.