27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 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. 30 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 5:27–30 ESV)
In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus continued to quote from the Old Testament (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:14). He amplified the extent of obedience God required. In today’s text, we continue to examine Jesus’ statements on the subject of adultery.
How may the believer in Christ combat the temptation of lust of the flesh in general, and adultery in particular? One pastor shares the following story illustrating the importance of killing one’s sin.
“On May 1, 2003, Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven year old backpacker, did something unthinkable in order to save his life. After being pinned for five days by an eight-hundred pound boulder in a remote Utah canyon, he took his dull pocketknife and cut off his right arm to free himself.”
“He had tried chipping away at the rock at first, but it would not budge. Finally, he realized that he had only two choices. Either he must cut off his arm, or he would die. On the fifth day, hungry and dehydrated, he sawed through his flesh just below the elbow in order to free himself. He walked out of that canyon without his right arm, but with his life.”
“This is the exact picture that Jesus gives us when telling us how to deal with sin that remains in our lives. Jesus is not speaking literally. If you steal with your right hand, then simply amputating it will not cure you of thievery. You could continue stealing with your left hand. And if you remove your right eye because it has been an instrument of lusting, you still have your left eye that can be used for the same purpose.”
“Our Lord’s words are intended to shock us into recognition of the seriousness with which we must deal with the sin that remains in our lives as believers. We must treat it ruthlessly. We must be willing to give up even good things (analogous to eyes and arms) in our effort to put sin to death.”
Puritan theologian John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” Owen’s understood that these are the only two options available to the believer in Christ in dealing with their sin.
Believers must not take sin lightly. We must deal with our sin ruthlessly. Pastor Sinclair Ferguson wisely notes that all mortification of personal sin will include the pain of the kill.
One of the major ways believers in Christ can mortify their sin is by separating themselves from situations, and even from people, who may be, even inadvertently, sources of temptation. We must guard our heart by what we say, what we hear, where we go and what we do when arrive at our destination.
Remember, take your sin seriously. May the Lord give each of us a spirit of repentance and faith in living for Him.
Soli deo Gloria!