MARK 9:43, 45, 47-48: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’” NKJV
OBSERVATION: How do we overcome destructive patterns in our life? How do we break the cycles of sin? Is that answer to climb up a mountaintop and separate ourselves from these temptations? Or, is there something more practical that we can do?
I find it interesting that this discourse Jesus has with His disciples comes after Peter, James, and John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Peter, in awe of what he was seeing, suggested building three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah so that they could stay there. This was not Jesus’ plan.
We cannot live on the mountaintop. We have to face reality!
I have witnessed so many believers over the years who have wept at the altar begging Jesus to set them free – only to continue in the same struggle they brought to the altar. The fault is not in Jesus’ unwillingness to deliver us from our sins. In fact, Jesus has already provided us the victory over sin through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.
Then what is the reason so many continue in patterns of brokenness and sin? It is because they fail to take the practical advice that Jesus has already given us. Jesus taught using hyperboles. These were extreme exaggerations to illustrate a very practical truth. Such are the admonitions of Jesus to cut off your hand, cut off your foot, and pluck out your eye. Jesus was not advocating physical punishment to overcome sin.
Jesus was calling us to common sense!
One thing we learn quickly is that, even though we have been fully forgiven of our sin, we still battle with it. The old man has been crucified with Christ but he continually tries to reassert himself and drive us to old patterns from which we have been set free. Each one of us battles with our own inner weaknesses. We usually hide these from others. However, if we are to walk in the victory with which Christ has set us free, we need to be aware of them and use some common sense in dealing with them.
Our hands are what we employ for good or evil. Our feet are what carry us on the pathway of sin or righteousness. Our eyes are the gateway of our soul. They either fill themselves with light or with darkness. Paul gives us the same practical advice on what we are to do with our physical members in Romans.
- “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14 NKJV
Now, let’s get real. We can use our hands to pick up the things that lead us to sin or use them to reach out to serve others or lift them in praise to the Lord. Our feet can take us down pathways of temptation or they can lead us to places where we can enjoy the fellowship of believers who are growing in their faith. And, our eyes can either peek at the dark shadows of sin, or they can gaze upon the beauty of creation and fill themselves with the Word of God.
We have a choice in how we use our earthly members!
I will never forget the testimony of a man who was delivered from alcoholism. He had spent every night drinking in a familiar bar that was on his route to and from work. When he gave his life to Christ the Lord delivered him and the Holy Spirit prompted him to take another route home from work. The route with the bar was the shortest way home. Yet, this man knew that if he continued to take this route he would be faced with his old life and temptation each and every day.
He obeyed Jesus and – cut off his foot! (Changed his way home.)
In this day of darkness and digital everything, we have a daily choice of what we are going to do with our hands, our feet, and our eyes. We can use them to walk by old temptations or we can choose an alternate route. We can sanctify our hands, feet, and eyes for God’s purposes or we can slip back into old patterns. God has provided us with the victory and set us free to make the choice. We are no longer under the bondage to sin – yet we can still fall into sin if we are not wise. Paul reminds us, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”
We are free to choose today how we will use our hands, our feet, and our eyes!
Lord, grant me the grace to choose wisely and for Your glory!
In Jesus Name!