If Your Hand Causes You to Sin, Cut it Off

When we read the words of Jesus – “if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” – Some might consider the concept to be very extreme?

The words Jesus spoke concerning “… if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off”, as well as “… if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it outare found in the Bible in the gospel of Mark (Mk. 9:43 & 47).  In order to grasp the significance of Jesus’ seemingly extreme statements, it is imperative to begin with the premise that the words of the Bible are intended to direct the reader into “… spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). With this premise firmly in mind, we can then gain greater insight from the words delivered by the messenger from God to the Old Testament prophet Daniel revealing that “… many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt” (abhorrence / loathing) (Dan. 12: 2).  With this insight we then begin to understand that the statements of Jesus’ being addressed here vividly illustrate that the choices we make in our temporary existence, experienced in the present physical realm, can have a catastrophic affect on our future eternal existence, experienced in the spiritual realm.

There are those who question whether Jesus truly intended for His words to be taken literally. This advances the question: “Would Jesus really advocate self-mutilation?”  They point out that Jesus, on occasion, seemingly utilized hyperbole (exaggeration, overstatement) to give greater impact to His statements; and thus we need to take His statements with a “grain of salt”. This tends to open the door to the implication that Scripture contains error and that we need to take these statements, along with other statements by Jesus and perhaps all of Scripture, under careful scrutiny. In doing this, mankind (the created) has very subtly elevated himself to a position as judge over God (the Creator), the author of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Thes. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; 2 Pet. 3:15, 16).

Even Christians, who truly believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, erroneously may attest to their high view of Scripture by saying “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”. Again, very subtly, these devout Christians can leave the impression in the minds of their hearers that Scripture needs their approval to be valid. In reality, it would be more accurate to say, “The Bible says it – that settles it”. This would leave the hearer with the clear message that Scripture (in the original autographs), were inspired (breathed out) and superintended (overseen) by our sovereign (supreme authority) God — so that all Scripture is inerrant (without error) (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21).

When we consider that the word “everlasting” in the Daniel 12:2 passage means eternal, forever, perpetual, without end; and that Scripture makes it very clear that mankind is destined to experience an eternal existence, the question then arises “Will I experience eternal life or eternal dying?” It is hard to imagine that one could die eternally. It would seem that dying would go on only so long and then come to an end. However, a closer look at Mark 9:42-48 should quickly dispel that idea (also see Mat. 25:46).

43“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—44where ‘Their worm does not die
 And the fire is not quenched.’ (Isa.66:24)
45And 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—46where ‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
47And 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—48where
‘Their worm does not die
And the
 fire is not quenched.’

So, back to the question – Would Jesus really advocate self-mutilation?  In view of the evidence Scripture presents that if the members of our body cause us to sin (Mk. 9:43, 45 & 47), then we must consider their temporal worth in relation to our eternal destiny. If our eye causes us to carry out lustful thoughts or if our hand is the instrument by which we carry out acts of vengeance; and if their removal would eliminate the propensity to indulge in sinful acts and assure our eternal destiny – then Jesus’ words should definitely be taken literally.

If, on the other hand (no pun intended), after gouging out our eye or after cutting off our hand, the propensity to sin still remains, we then simply become a one-eyed luster or a one handed avenger and we have not addressed the root of the problem. Scripture teaches that the propensity to sin resides in the heart and mind (Jer. 17:9-10; also Mk. 7:20-23). The question then arises – “How can the propensity to sin be removed from my heart and my mind so that I no longer engage the members of my body in the carrying out of acts of lust or vengeance?”

The short answer is – the propensity to sin will always be there as long as I continue to assume in my heart and mind that I (the created) am superior to God (the Creator) and therefore competent to pass judgment as to the validity and efficacy of God’s words of doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). I need to renounce the throne from which I preside over my personal world and surrender it to the true King (Jesus) revealed in Scripture.

How do I place myself in subjection to God?

            Click here – YouTube – Three Ball Gospel Illustration (6:29 min.)
                        Primarily for adults but children can grasp the concept as well.

            Click here – Gospel Presentation – Ilze Luneau, Luneaus Basketball Family (6:19 min.)
                       Primarily for children but adults can entertain the kid inside themselves.

            Click here – Door to door Gospel Presentation – Pastor Steven Anderson of
                       Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe Arizona (10:00 min)
                       Primarily for adults but children can grasp the concept as well.

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Scriptures cited in the text are noted here for your convenience.

Col. 1:9 –  … we … do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

2 Tim. 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 Thes. 2:13 – 13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

2 Pet. 1:20, 21 – 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Pet. 3:15, 16 – 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Jer. 17: 9-10 – 9  “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10   I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

Mk. 7: 20-23 – 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

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