Where are all the one-eyed, left-handed, peg-legged Christians

(Timothy Loraditch) #1

Jesus says in Matt 18:8,9 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it 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. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

I know there are lots of stumbling Christians, but not many that seem to take this verse literally. I have to admit I would rather be a one-eyed, left-handed, peg-legged Christian in heaven than be thrown in the eternal fire. What do we do with these verses?

(Melvin Greene) #2

I, for one, am one of those stumbling Christians, @tfloraditch.

I do not take this passage of scripture literally, for I can sin just as easily with one eye, foot, or hand. I do take it very seriously. This passage of scripture tells us that we are to be radical in our approach to dealing with sin in our lives. Even if it means great discomfort and pain. We may even feel crippled in some way, by giving up a personal sin. It may be something quite ”harmless” in and of itself, but for some reason causes us to stumble, or it has become an idol that hinders us from reaching our full potential in serving our Lord.

(SeanO) #3

@Melvin_Greene Wow - great point about putting an eye out not being a means of heart transformation. What we need is a new heart - a heart transplant - not one less eye :slight_smile: Paul makes this point well in Colossians - treating the body harshly cannot heal the heart of evil. Only Jesus can do that!

Colossians 2:20-23 - Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

(Timothy Loraditch) #4

So do we have a contradiction in the word here?

(SeanO) #5

@tfloraditch No my friend. Jesus is using hyperbole. In Luke 14 Jesus tells us to hate our father and mother, but one of the ten commandments is to honor your father and mother - what’s up? Jesus is using exaggeration to show us that even if our family abandons us, we must honor Him first. He is not telling us to literally hate anyone - in fact, Jesus quite clearly tells us that if we do not provide for our parents and call it honoring God, that is hypocrisy.

Matthew 15:3-7 - Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites!

When Jesus advises us to pluck out a sinful eye or cut off an unruly hand, He is employing a figure of speech known as hyperbole. Hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration or an intentional overstatement. Examples of hyperbole in modern speech would include statements like “This bag of groceries weighs a ton,” “I’ve been waiting forever,” and “Everyone knows that.” The apostle Paul uses hyperbolic language in Galatians 4:15. Hyperbole, like other figures of speech, is not meant to be taken literally.

Jesus’ purpose in saying, hyperbolically, that sinners should pluck out their eyes or cut off their hands is to magnify in His hearers’ minds the heinous nature of sin.

(Matt Western) #6

:slight_smile: hehe. Loved your title on the topic, really got my attention. I’m imagining Pirates of the Caribbean movies for some reason. Not sure why my mind went there. :slight_smile:

I remember listening to a particular episode from ‘Exploring My Strange Bible’ that looked at the similar words as part of Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the mount in the section on Lust being the same as Adultery. Tim Mackie worked his way through it and talked about the similar language. If we took it literally then all Christian men would be one-eyed and with no right hand because we all have lustful hearts. Actually Tim Mackie ends the postcast in a slightly humorous way saying that actually your eye and your hand are not the body part that is the problem. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: (he doesn’t get crude, just uses a bit of humour to really get a person thinking about it). Also, that’s not going to fix the problem, I can just as easily lust with my left eye.

Also interesting that in the Old Testament, the prophets of Baal in the account of Elijah on Mt Carmel were using all kinds of self mutilation in order to get Baal’s attention. Perhaps an unrelated thought, but there are no passages in Scripture where God actually requires mutilation like the pagans practiced…

I did find a few interesting links on looking at where Jesus teaching is hyperbole, intentionally shocking to make a point… this one was kind of an interesting starting point. https://anchorforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/greg-beale-on-recognizing-hyperbole-in-the-teachings-of-jesus/

I guess both lust (in Matthew 5), and causing little children to stumble (Matthew 18) are equally bad. Little children in the context of Matthew 18 could be actual little children, or people that are young in the faith. I love the promise in 18:5 - if we help actual children, we are actually helping Jesus. Then in verse 6 it says better to have a milestone about a persons neck and cast into the sea than cause children to stumble (and the the warning in verse 8 as you mention).

Perhaps the point of Matthew 18, is an encouragement to Christians to help both actual children and people young in the faith, but a major warning against causing them to stumble (maybe linked to the weaker brother principle in Romans 14?)… It’s a responsibility that’s worth taking on.

(I tried to find the Exploring My Strange Bible pod cast episode specifically covering Matthew 18, but I couldn’t remember which one as it was a while ago when I listened to them all. It may be one under the ‘Matthew Marathon’ which was teaching from the whole book of Matthew https://thebibleproject.com/podcasts/exploring-my-strange-bible/ )…

just a few thoughts… hopefully helpful…

(Timothy Loraditch) #7

@matthew.western I was going to look for a good picture of Long John Silver for my original post but didn’t find a good one.

I agree that I don’t need two eyes hands and legs to sin. Often looking intently into these things reveals more about Christ and how the Spirit works. It looks like you have some good sources here. I will check them out.

I still have this feeling there is something more here.

(C Rhodes) #8

@tfloraditch. My thoughts may have already been addressed, but I was reminded of a song that was sung in church when I was a little girl. “I’ve been saved all day no evil have I done!” I often wonder if that is a song that the 21st century Christian can honestly sing.

We seem firmly entrenched upon the notion that we will sin. But there was a time when the collective church lived with the assumption that sin would not continue after salvation. I wonder if we are too invested in the ability to sin and forgiveness always being present.

Perhaps the distinction comes in separating the notion of being human and fallible as oppose to drifting into sin. When I counsel with younger people there seems to be a reserved option that allows for sin. But it is viewed as an outcropping of being human, not one of engaging ourselves in besetting sin.

I think the radicalization that JESUS suggest is not considered wise, realistic, or attainable. But I believe JESUS was advising the value we should place upon our relationship with Him. What would a church look like that, collectively, was radical about maintaining individual relationship with the Lord?

(Melvin Greene) #9

You bring up an interesting point, @cer7. I’m sure there are some, shall we call them “Carnel Christians”, who are a little lax in their efforts to live a life that glorifies God. If I’m to be totally honest, I find myself asking for God’s forgiveness almost daily. I don’t believe that it is possible for those of us who have been born again to live a totally sinless life. We still have to contend with our fleshly desires. But, we are not to “let sin reign in our bodies.” Once we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we should no longer have the desire to continue to live a sinful life.

(C Rhodes) #10

@Melvin_Greene. Common sense demands that your conclusions are correct. However, when I consider the difference between being human and subject to failure, it does not equate to being human and subject to sin.

I can’t get past scriptures that read, “yet without sin!” Hebrews 4:15. What I know about the Lord is that relationship with Him becomes more focused, deliberate, and richer over time. I think there is more.

I believe that the role that ‘passing time’ plays is really indicative of my ability to honor, love, and learn more about the Lord. Time becomes a partner because it takes me that long to relinquish my desires in order to enjoy a deeper relationship. What if I became willing, sooner?

You may be familiar with the quaint parable about the person ushered into Heaven and taken to their mansion. Only to discover rooms of unopened gifts. Gifts never known because of a tendency to live beneath privilege.

We usually conclude that those unopened gifts are natural desires never received. But what if those unopened gifts are spiritual in nature? I can’t get past the impression that there is more. That we are just barely scraping the surface in our relationship with GOD.

What if we lived as if the only true relationship is the one we have with GOD? What if we lived like all other relationships were an outcropping of the Primary relationship with GOD? And what if we were radical about that Primary relationship? What would that look like, feel like?

(Melvin Greene) #11

Well, I definitely agree with you that in this existence we don’t realize our full potential in our relationship with Christ Jesus. All throughout our lives as Christ followers we should continually strive towards an ever deepening love and understanding of Jesus. We will never reach a level where we can say, “I’ve made it. I can go no further in my relationship with Christ.” At least this side of heaven. As you said, “We only scratch the surface.” The thing is, we won’t fully know because of our sinful nature. Even though sin no longer has control over us, it’s still there to trip us up.

I’m not sure what exactly you meant when you said, “…when I consider the difference between being human and subject to failure, it does not equate to being human and subject to sin.” So, I won’t comment on that until you clarify that statement. The scripture you referenced, Heb. 4:15, was talking about Christ Jesus as our high priest who can sympathize with us since he was fully human and tempted in every way, but was without sin. Jesus was indeed sinless. He was not born in sin and therefore never sinned. That, unfortunately, does not describe us and it is impossible that we will be sinless. But the beauty of Christ’s redemptive act of dying on the cross is that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and the security of our salvation!

Your rhetorical questions really highlight what Jesus was talking about when, in using hyperbole, he tells us to gouge out our eye, or cut off an offending hand or foot to keep us from sinning. What would life be like if we were that radical in living for God? I think it would be as close to heaven on earth as we could possibly be!

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(C Rhodes) #12

My statement identifies with the grace ascribed to the infant and young child. Though born into a world with a propensity towards sin, the young are not considered sinners until they are old enough to make the decision to sin. A lot of our failings are due to the limitations brought to our human shell through the behavior in Eden. But until we choose sin, we only have the propensity for sin, not sin itself. Being human means, we are fallible, not that we will sin despite salvation.

And it is okay that we will not agree on those doctrinal points. In summation such debates are not worthy of too much attention. Because, neither belief will preclude anyone from knowing Heaven as home or Hell for an eternity.

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(Melvin Greene) #13

Thank you for clarifying your statement, @cer7. I’ve really enjoyed our discussion, as I hope you have. I know we shouldn’t spend a whole lot of time discussing peripheral things, but I do enjoy corresponding with people who encourage me to think differently about ideas.

Thank you @tfloraditch for raising such an interesting topic!

God bless!

(C Rhodes) #14

@Melvin_Greene. Oh yes, very enjoyable. Keeps me praying the entire conversation against being dogmatic and single-minded. It is not always enjoyable to talk with others, today we can be so manic in our insistence that opposite trains of thought mean a failure to accept or respect. Have a fantastic day!