Deal Radically With Temptation
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30 ESV)
The context here is the seventh commandment and Jesus gives direction that sounds over the top. “If your right eye…[or] your right hand is causing you to sin….” I take this to mean, the eye is lusting or the hand is touching somebody it should not. Jesus’ advice? Go to counseling? Take a cold shower? No. His direction is way more radical. Gouge out the eye and cut off the hand. Isn’t Jesus the prophet of love? This sounds really over the top. From a human perspective it does, but that’s not the perspective Jesus has. Jesus is looking at this from the eternal perspective and he sees the eternal destiny of the person whose eye is perpetually lusting and whose hand refuses to repent and continues to touch.
If you could choose between having one eye and an eternity in heaven or have both hands and an eternity in hell, which would you choose?
Now that’s an easy decision—heaven with no eyes and no hands would be better than eternity in hell with a thousand eyes and a thousand hands. The choice isn’t the eye or the hand; it is the person the eye or hand is sexual with versus heaven. Her or heaven? Him or heaven?
But Jesus, wait, what are you saying? Don’t you realize that I am a Christian? I go to church. I give a little money sometimes. My parents are Christians. Come on, we all sin and you died for sin, so I’m okay, right? Sexual sin doesn’t matter because in the end I go to heaven, right?
What is Jesus really saying? You can’t sin sexually and go to heaven? No. What he is saying is that you can’t be in an ongoing condition of lust and immorality that willfully chooses the sin over God’s will and go to heaven. You are making a choice that reflects the true spiritual condition of your heart. Who is your God? Who are you serving?
Professing Christian men in particular with whom I have pleaded turn from Miss Eyelashes and just shake their head. They will not. No matter what it costs them. They will not. It’s not that adultery takes us to hell as much as it reveals a heart that never tasted of the goodness of God—especially as that direction of life becomes solidified. David repented. It’s a psalm in the Bible; psalm 51. God forgave him but the consequences of his actions tainted his story the rest of his life.
What does dealing radically mean? Compare David to Joseph. The rich and powerful wife of Potiphar sought to seduce Joseph, finally grabbing him to drag him to bed. What did Joseph do? He ran.
Run. Cut. Get rid of. Eliminate. Get off Facebook. Break off the relationship decisively. Get rid of the iPad. Stop going by where she works. Get out of there. Do whatever it takes. Deal radically with it before she takes you to hell.
There is hope in all this. We have men and women in our church whose lives were once obsessed with sexual sin but now have found freedom and purity. They have a new heart; a new love. The gospel of Jesus is powerful and will free us from any and all bondages. Our heavenly Father wants us free and gives us his Spirit to purify us from all defilement. So there is great hope. Let’s be reminded of it again from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis added):
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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