42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
My hand doesn’t cause me to sin. It might sometimes be an accomplice, but it’s never the mastermind. Even less my foot. It doesn’t even drive the getaway car. Not even my eye is the cause of sin.
So why did Jesus use that illustration? He knows where sin comes from. Ultimately it’s my old sinful nature that he set me free from when he died in my place. But I’m free from its power now. I have a choice about sin now. This is great because I can choose not to sin, but unfortunately when I do sin it was also my choice.
I think Jesus used that illustration because he wanted me to think: If it’s not my hand or foot or eye, what is it that makes me choose the sin I hate? It’s going to be different for me than it is for you, and it will undoubtedly change over time. For example, perhaps I’m hurting people today because I’m grumpy from that computer game I played for too much of last night. Perhaps wanting to be seen as right is making me critical of people who disagree with me.
It may not be my hand but the remedy is still the same: cut off whatever it is that causes me to sin. Even if I’m as attached to it as I am to my hand. Even if it’s as painful as plucking out my eye, I need to pluck whatever causes sin out of my heart.
And then we get onto where I’m causing sin in others…
Father, I really don’t want to sin. I really love you much more than the things that cause me to choose things that hurt you. I really need the Holy Spirit to show me what needs to be cut off and plucked out.
Written by David Cornell