WHAT WAS THAT LORD?
MATTHEW 18:8-9 NKJV
8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Jesus was known for saying things that confounded people, irked people, and made them fighting mad. In our two verses today, what He said in these two verses has confounded people for years.
If you take Jesus’ words at face value, it sounds as if He is advocating for self-mutilation. To cut off your hand or foot or to pluck out your eye is way beyond extreme. Unfortunately, some people with serious problems have used these verses to harm themselves. I am sure the enemy had a hand in their self-harm. He steals, kills, and destroys.
But this is not what Jesus was saying. In John chapter six, Jesus shared about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many people took His words at face value and walked away from following Him. Jesus would go on to tell the ones who stayed that His words were spiritual, words not meant for the flesh level of understanding. His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).
And this is exactly what we see in today's verses. Hands represent actions. Feet represent our walk, our way of life. Eyes would imply our focus and what we look at. Our hands and feet do not operate independently of our heart and mind. Someone caught stealing cannot rest on the defense that his hands made him do it. A person found in an area that they had no business in cannot make the excuse that it was the feet’s fault. Our focus and attention are not a function of what our eyes wanted to see. As If we tried to make our eyes do the right thing, but they just persisted in looking in the wrong direction.
What Jesus is speaking of is cutting off the flesh nature, not cutting off the bodily extremities. The apostle Paul would write to the church in Galatia, encouraging the same principle. In Galatians chapter five, Paul spells out the actions of the flesh versus the spirit. Then in verse 24, Paul says that those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Again, these are spiritual truths. Paul never wanted anyone to actually go through the act of harming themselves by any form of physical crucifixion. To crucify the flesh means to say no, to not give into the desires of the flesh nature.
Does saying no to our flesh feel good? Absolutely not. To crucify our flesh is quite different from pampering our flesh. We all have desires that we have to control. Our flesh nature still wants to do the same things after we become new creations in Christ as it did before we believed. Even the apostle Paul said that he disciplined his body and brought it into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27). None of this sounds like a walk in the park. Saying no, crucifying, disciplining the flesh is not easy. But it leads to life.
Jesus gave us insight into how to walk in a higher way, a more spiritual way, a kingdom of God way.
We will have to control what we do. Our actions are to reflect Him.
We will have to control our walk. How we conduct ourselves during our time on earth is to glorify God and serve as an ambassador for Christ.
We must constantly monitor our focus. We tend to become what we consistently focus upon. A friend of ours says we become what we behold. A challenging but doable task in our day of constant input.
And as we do these things, we can begin to live life on the level that God designed for us.
Lord, show me areas where I can grow in saying no. I never want to be ruled by my flesh.