Cutting Off Your Hand – Matthew 18:8

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. – Matthew 18:8 ESV

If a 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-mutualization. Rather he is telling us to cut out of our lives anything that could easily lead us to sin, whether it 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 than 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, and cleanse ourselves from those things that cause us to sin.

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