Cutting Off Your Hand or Foot – Matthew 18:8

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matthew 18:8 NIV

If your hand or foot, or any other body part, causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away! While there have been some who have taken this literally, I do not believe that was Jesus’ intent here. After all, my physical hand cannot really cause me to sin. It has no mind of its own or ability to tempt me. Instead, I am tempted by my own desires (James 1:14), and when I succumb to those desires, sin is the result. So, if Jesus is not being literal here, what does he mean?

I believe that what Jesus is teaching us in this passage is not self-mutilation. Rather he is telling us to cut out of our lives anything that could easily lead us to sin. That could be people, places, or events. If being in a certain place, or doing a specific thing, or hanging out with certain people, challenges your ability to be holy, then remove it, or them, from your life. Don’t let the temporary pleasure that may come from them cause you to face destruction. I don’t believe that occasional sin will cause you to lose your salvation. But I do think we would do well to heed Jesus’ warning here. To cleanse ourselves from those things that cause us to sin.

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