Summary: Jesus expects us to deal ruthlessly with our own sin.
A Holy Amputee
I’d like to read the following from a Grand Junction, Colorado News Article from May 2, 2003:
With no water and as little hope of survival, Aspen mountaineer Aron Ralston, 27, used a pocketknife to amputate his own arm and free himself from a boulder weighing 1,000 pounds that feel and trapped him for five days in a remote desert canyon in eastern Utah.
Pinned in a 3-foot wide slot canyon . . . Ralston cut through his own arm below the elbow Thursday morning, applying a tourniquet and administering first aid before rigging anchors and fixing a rope to rappel to the bottom of Blue John Canyon and hiking out to meet rescuers.
Ralston told rescuers that on Thursday morning he realized he would not survive unless he took drastic action. He had run out of water on Tuesday.
Ralston’s pocketknife amputation was not the first in the region. In October 1993, Colorado fisherman Bill Jeracki cut off his leg at the knee when two boulders fell on his leg while angling alone in a remote canyon stream. Trapped and yelling for hours, Jeracki made the decision to sever the limb after the weather took a turn for the worse and he became concerned for survival. He used hemostats from his fishing kit to close the severed artery and vein, then crawled a half mile back to his truck and drove to find help.
What motivates men like Aron and Bill to take such drastic measures? It is the will to live, to survive. It is far better to live without an arm or a leg, than it is to die alone in the wilderness. It is the same thing that motivates cancer patients to undergo surgery to remove a part of their body so that they can survive. It motivates diabetics to undergo amputation of a foot or a leg, so that they can continue to live.
How important is eternal life to you? What lengths would you take in order to live a life of holiness, one that pleases the Lord?
Jesus has been preaching his famous Sermon on the Mount to His disciples. He has been challenging them to think beyond the external rules and regulations of the law to the heart of the matter. He has been urging them to live a life of righteousness that exceeds the religious men of His day. To Jesus, it is the heart of the matter that really matters.
Last week we looked at how he clarified God’s desire for obedience to the 6th commandment: Thou Shall Not Murder. In it we saw that God is opposed to those who treat others in anger. To insult a brother or to condemn a brother with our words is just as much a violation of God’s Holy Standard as to actually kill them.
And now Jesus moves on to the 7th commandment.
Read Matthew 5:27-30
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
These are very strong, serious, and difficult words for us to hear. We prefer to think of Jesus as the kind, forgiving, and compassionate savior who told the men who caught a women in adultery, and brought her but not the man to Jesus: “He who is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone.” We remember that Jesus stooped down and said to her that He did not condemn her, but we also forget to mention that He urged her to now go, and sin no more.
Is sin serious to God? Does God expect His children to live holy lives? Should we do everything we can to resist and flee from temptation? Or is grace and forgiveness cheap? Can we go on living the way we want to as forgiven Christians with no thought of discipline from the Lord?
1. We live in a sexually immoral society.
Since the 60’s this country has been on a downward spiral towards destruction. What once was rare and frowned upon by society has now become common-place and even desired.
Pornography used to be reserved for the back alley and streets. Only deviant men pursued pornography. And then came playboy and penthouse. Soon pornographic movies were moving out of the back alley and on to the main street theatre. Then came the advent of the internet age. Now pornography could move into your own bedroom and living room.