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Summary: What does it mean “Cut off the eye or hand that sins”?

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Matt 5:29-30 (Jesus) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. NKJV

Is this referring to parts of our human body? Does just one of our eyes cause us to sin? No, but when our will yields to our sinful flesh, that results in sin. And there is no evidence in the scriptures of believers cutting off body parts to avoid sin. Or was Jesus referring to parts of the body of Christ, that is, to Christians in the Church who are in sin themselves and are a cause for other Christians to sin too? Just a few verses later, Jesus says this,:

Matt 6:2-3 (Jesus) Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a

trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets,

that they may have glory from men…(in other words do not engage in charity to

be seen and admired by others). But when you do a charitable deed, do not let

your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Clearly here the left hand and the right hand do not refer to parts of the physical body but to people who are parts of the spiritual body, the Church. Therefore if one of those parts of the body of Christ, a spiritual eye or hand or any member of the body, sins and causes other members to sin or be tempted, Jesus says they are to be cut off from that body of Christians. Jesus makes it even clearer that the body parts refer to people in this passage:

Matt 18:6-8 (Jesus) "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea…woe to that man by whom the offense comes! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off…” NKJV

Is there an example of this cutting off of a Church member in the New Testament? Yes:

1 Cor 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you…that a man has his father's wife! And you are puffed up and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Cor 5:5-6 Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus…Do you not know that a little leaven (sin) leavens (spreads to) the whole lump (the whole Church)?

A body of believers that willfully tolerates the open sin of one of its members (who clearly won’t receive correction and repent) is in acute danger of being contaminated (leavened) by that sin. Therefore Jesus says in the opening scripture “It is more profitable for you that one of your members (of the Church, who sins) to perish (assuming he won’t repent even though his flesh may been damaged to save his spirit) than for your whole body (all the members of that Church who condone it and hence sin themselves) to be cart into hell”.

1 Cor 5:13 …Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."


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