Summary: Anything that would hinder us in our walk, our work or our service must be radically amputated from our lies and replaced with that which will glorify God.
Radical Spiritual Amputation
On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking through Blue John Canyon, in eastern Utah. While he was descending a slot canyon, an 800 pound suspended boulder, became dislodged, as he was climbing down from it. It crushed his right hand and pinned his right arm against the canyon wall. Ralston had not informed anyone of his hiking plans, so no one would have been searching for him nor would a rescue crew ever spot him in the narrow slit of Blue John Canyon where he was pinned. If he did not get free he would die there. After being trapped for five days and seven hours, he used a dull pocketknife and cut off his forearm. He then repelled nearly 70 feet and hiked three hours before he was rescued by a helicopter. Wow! Incredible isn’t it? What if you were faced with the same dilemma, with the same set of circumstances, would you be able to do what Aron did? Its got to be a tough thing to lose a limb. But he had no other alternative. Either lose a limb, or keep it and die. Which choice would you make? In our text, Christ addresses the need for amputation, not physical but spiritual amputation. While Christ's immediate context was in reference to unbelievers - "the removal of whatever is keeping them from coming to Christ and trusting Him as their only means of salvation" ...whether it be family, pleasures, riches, or tradition, the principle of radical spiritual amputation applies to not only non-believers but also everyone of us who claim to be followers of Christ. Radical spiritual amputation is called for on three occasions.
I. Amputate anything that hinders your walk with the Savior
A. Verses 44-45 'And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
B. You do not remove things to make yourself acceptable to God. But you must remove things that keep you from coming to Christ and from walking with God.
C. We all hold on to things that keep us from fully following God, Jesus told the story of a diligent young man who wanted to know how to get into Heaven. We read in Mark 10:17-27 (ESV) "And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
D. The tragedy is that when Jesus gave him an answer, the young man walked away in sadness. The answer is not that his riches were wrong in itself, but that his riches controlled his heart. They took precedence over God. You see, Money itself does not hinder with our walk with God… but the love of money does.
E. Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."