Jesus said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire” (Matthew 18:8). Most people read this and think Jesus was only speaking figuratively, that He did not really mean a person should physically cut off his hand or foot. Rather than debating that point, let us concentrate on one thing that is certain: Jesus said we should be serious about cutting sin out of our lives.
How Do We Approach Our Sin?
Do we approach the sin in our life this way? Do we take drastic measures to cut sin out of our lives? In the Church today, the pervasive teaching of “just believe” causes many believers to tolerate their own sin with an attitude that God understands how hard it is for us, He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, and He gives us a bit of a pass when we sin because of Jesus.
In reality, He calls us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), for “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Before you take offense at this teaching, pray for an open heart and mind, and then read each of the referenced scriptures. (This might also be a good time to read Jesus Said Don’t Take Offense at His Teachings.) If you have been struggling with specific sins for a good part of your Christian walk, and are still in bondage to them, now is the time to change your mind (repent) and approach things differently. Do not put this off. Jesus said your salvation depends on it.
Sin No More
In a well known story in the Bible, a woman caught in the act of adultery is brought before Jesus by the teachers of the law (John 8:2-11). Jesus disapproved of both the judgmental attitude of the leaders and the woman’s sin (John 8:7, John 8:11). One sin was no worse in Jesus’ eyes than the other. When there is sin, Christians are to restore each other lovingly, not with a harsh attitude of condemnation (Galatians 6:1). Equally important, while we love the sinner, we hate the sin (Romans 12:9). Jesus said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” She was forgiven by Jesus, but admonished to go and sin no more. How can we read this and think that, if she continued to sin, she received a pass from Jesus?
Think of the difficulties and fears she might have faced in repenting and leaving this lifestyle: It was too hard to stop, she really loved the man she was sinning with (who was not her husband), she was afraid to be alone, and/or maybe he took care of her financially. Any of these reasons would present difficulties, and a drastic change in her life or lifestyle, in order to heed Jesus’ call to stop sinning.
Jesus did not care about those excuses, He just said, ”leave your life of sin.” The call is to repent (change your mind), trusting in the power of God to change you from the inside out. No excuses, just repentance, faith, and a determination to cut it out by the power of Christ in you.
Call to Action
If you are a Christian, get serious about cutting sin out of your life. Focus on deliberate sins that you indulge in and know are wrong, rather than sins that happen occasionally and that you immediately regret (for those, follow 1 John 1:9 to immediately confess and receive forgiveness). Some examples of ongoing, deliberate sins are not forgiving someone, being a chronic complainer, disobedience in tithes and offerings, and speaking disrespectfully or negatively about other people (these are sins I used to indulge in regularly).
Sit in a quiet place with this teaching and review the referenced scriptures again. More than likely there is one deliberate sin that already stands out in your life and weighs you down. If not, pray and ask God to bring to your mind the sin He wants you to cut out of your life once and for all. When it has been identified, use a concordance or online Bible to find scriptures about that particular sin. Then, follow these steps:
- Repentance comes first. If you have not yet repented of that sin, you must do so. This means change what you think about it to what God thinks about it, as revealed in the Scriptures studied. (If needed, go back and review Jesus Said Repent.) Agree with God 100% about the sin and resolve in your mind that it is evil, without any justification or excuses on your part.
- Ask God to teach you how to yield to the mind of Christ in you, to see this particular sin for what it really is. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
- Ask God to give you a heart that would do ANYTHING to get that sin out of your life (Psalm 51:10-12).
- Last, use 1 John 1:9 to confess the sin and receive God’s forgiveness.
- Also pray 1 John 3:6, agreeing with God that you will not continue to deliberately sin, which is possible by the power of Christ in you (Colossians 1:26).
- Now pray daily to thank God for His forgiveness and delivery from this sin. Pray in a way that acknowledges that the forgiveness and the delivery have already been received by you from God (Praise Him!).
Going forward, each time you are tempted to indulge in this sin, PRAY for God’s strength to protect you from the temptation. Every time you slip and fall into the temptation and actually sin, PRAY using 1 John 1:9 to ask and receive God’s forgiveness, and to renew your desire to cut it out.
Depending on how long you have made excuses for this sin, and how strong it is in your life, this may be a long, torturous process. However, victory is assured if you persist in following what Jesus said to cut sin out of your life. This is what faith is all about. Do not believe the lie from Satan that you cannot change. God is the potter, you are the clay; God can change what He created (Isaiah 64:8)!