“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.”
What a violent scene. Jesus talking about gouging out eyes and being thrown into hell is not usually the picture of him that we imagine. However, it’s not an uncommon topic for him. Jesus talks often about the punishment of sin. In short, it’s hell. While we won’t go into the details of that, Jesus makes it very clear throughout the gospel that those who don’t believe, and therefore whose sin remains unforgiven, will go to hell. It’s important that he emphasizes this point, because that is the whole reason for the good news he was there to bring. He was there to save us from those things.
We know from Jesus himself that those who believe in him will follow his commandments. The book of 1 John also talks a lot about the fact that true believers walk the way Jesus walked. If that is the case, then for Christians, there must be a lot of emphasis on living the way Christ asked us to live. We fall short of that most of the time, which is why we need grace and forgiveness, but usually we don’t take our sin seriously enough. We have become so accustomed to the idea of forgiveness and mercy that we’ve forgotten that those who go on sinning in the same way are just as bad if not worse than those who don’t know Jesus. This is because they have heard the good news of Jesus and have chosen to act against it. Of course, there is no limit to the forgiveness that Jesus offers, but forgiveness only comes to those who truly repent. That repentance is what Jesus is talking about in this verse.
He is telling us in very graphic detail that we cannot take sin lightly. The consequences of sin are dire. Your eternal soul is at stake. If we allow ourselves to go on sinning without changing, without repenting, we separate ourselves from God because we’ve chosen to believe in our own flesh and desire than in God’s word. Jesus makes is very clear that we have to be careful not to fall into this trap. He says it would be better to pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin than to go on sinning and end up eternally separated from God. His point is that we must take extreme measures to repent and to keep ourselves from continuing to sin. Am I telling you gouge out your eyes or cut off your hand, well no. However, I am asking you to think about your sin struggles. What are the sins that you continually fall into despite knowing full well that you shouldn’t? Now, what would you do if I said that the next time you sinned in that way, you would die immediately? What measures would you take to make sure you didn’t do it again? That’s how serious sin is. Those are the extreme measure we ought to be taking to repent from our sin and to make sure we never go back to it.
Help me to remove the obstacles from my life that cause me to sin. Help me to keep my eyes focused on you and to live the way Christ did. Forgive me for the ways that I have fallen short, and help me to repent whole-heartedly back to you.
In Jesus’ Name,