If your eye causes you to sin ...

Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Some have interpreted Jesus' words literally.. Sharia law even commands that the hands of thieves be cut off.. and totally miss the point of what Jesus is teaching. Speaking in hyperbolic language the Lord exaggerates to make the point that sin is serious business. I think that our actions would be different if we saw sin the way that our Lord saw it. The truth is that sin damages not only us but the fabric of society as a whole. Perhaps a definition of heaven is the absence of sin?

The phenomena of temptation is one that is common to everyone. We all have weak areas where temptation is the hardest to overcome. In a sense, yielding to temptation occurs when our outer being (i.e. flesh) is stronger than our innermost being. So the onus is on us to do the things that make our innermost being strong. Spiritual disciplines like prayer and scripture reading/study feed our innermost being. And each time we deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ we strengthen and exercise our innermost being.

Lord help me to feed and exercise my innermost being today.


  1. In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard interprets this passage as Jesus saying, "if you think you can stop sinning by keeping a set of rules, you might as well go ahead and cut off your hand or put out your eye." The idea is the same: sin is so serious that it can only be taken care of by a change of heart, not by trying hard to "live right." The problem is inside.

  2. Love Willard's interpretation. Thanks for sharing it.


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