You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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 5:27-30)
Pastor John’s Notes
Here Jesus continues with the pattern of quoting the law of God then amplifying it. Adultery begins with lust. They are the same thing, only one exists in the mind while the other is in the actions. Jesus wants us to get serious about rooting out all evil, not only evil actions but evil thoughts as well.
The violence spoken of here is shocking, and that is its intent. Jesus is using hyperbole: an intentional exaggeration to drive home a point. Nowhere in Christian history or tradition do we see Christian communities advocating self-mutilation, but something is lost in translation here. In the ancient world, particularly among the Romans, acts of brutality in judicial punishment were common. If you got caught stealing, you might lose your hand. If you look at the governor’s wife the wrong way, you might lose your eyes. In Jesus’ statements of brutal justice, it is you yourself who are cutting off your hand or gouging out your eyes. The point is that you must become the judge of your own actions and must become intensely serious about rooting out the sin in your life.
Lord, help me to get serious about the sin in my life. Teach me how to become a righteous judge over myself. You have shown me the terrible danger of unrepentant sin. Now show me how to root out the sin that threatens my future with you.