I swear this verse from the Bible is going to haunt me. Mark 9:43, 45, 47;
"If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire ... If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell ... If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell".
I was sitting on the bus going into work yesterday and was sitting behind what was obviously a very zealous Christian woman. From what I overheard she was a mother and was speaking on the phone to her son/daughter (I guessed son). The mother was extremely upset because it sounded like she had discovered pornography on the history section of the internet at their home. She was speaking very angrily and upset and used the above verse and said something like;
"I am NOT going to lose my child to hell! You must do this! The Bible says if your eye causes you to sin then PLUCK it out! You are SINNING by looking at this stuff and God is ANGRY! PLUCK it out!!".
Although I could appreciate the mother's sincere love for her (what sounds like) a quite normal teenage son, I felt like tapping her on the shoulder and saying;
"Excuse me madam. I couldn't help but overhearing you. How would you feel if you got home from work today and found your son slumped in the chair with two empty eyeball sockets with blood streaming from them? And the two gouged eyeballs lying on your dining room table? Do you think that action would STOP your son lusting with his mind? And how about you madam? Have you ever looked at another person's possessions and envied them? Have you ever got so angry with someone you love that you felt like you could hit them? Why have you not gouged out your eyes or cut off your hands? That rather makes you a hypocrite does it not?".
I didn't do that and I wouldn't have. But WHEN is the church going to start thinking LOGICALLY about this statement that Jesus said? When are we going to stop being so STUPID? Do we really believe that bodily mutilation is a sufficient enough sacrifice to save us from HELL? Is that how little we think of our sin? That our body parts are an acceptable sacrifice to God to buy us a pass into heaven? Do we really think that by losing our hands and eyes and feet then we will lose the "sinning" parts of our body?
What about our MINDS? Jesus Himself said if we look at a woman and lust after her then we have already committed adultery! Why did the Lord Jesus not instruct us to perform a lobotomy?
Don't get me wrong.
This verse IS showing how radically God thinks and hates sin.
This verse IS showing the radical nature of the Law.
But the only, only, only, ONLY acceptable answer to the demands of the Law in this verse could and were met 2,000 years ago at Calvary on a hill called Golgotha. It's done already! So the radical demands of the Law have already been met! God's wrath is satisfied! And He does not want, demand or require the mutilation of our body parts to try and "stop" sinning! Because even if we did perform those drastic actions then it still would not stop sinning! And even if we did perform those drastic actions then the Law is STILL not satisfied.
Do I sound angry? I am angry. I'm angry because in MY lifetime I have heard a church pastor who boasts about being a "man of the Word" use this verse against myself and my behaviour. And I have heard this woman on the bus use this verse to condemn her son. I have heard Terry Virgo use this verse in a sermon to wrongly (I believe) illustrate something he was saying. I am angry because I think about the (possibly) secretly afraid teenager on the other end of that phone. I am angry thinking about the many thousands who could be plunged into clinical depression and guilt because they know that they are not brave enough to mutilate their bodies in this way.
I'm angry that I am 31 and I have only JUST heard true grace teaching from Hong Kong that has made it so abundantly clear that Jesus is talking about the extreme demands of the Law here - but thereby demonstrating that the demands and requirements of the Law have been met and have been met in ONLY one way! Because only ONE way could meet them!
To those who have read this and still persist in believing that this verse applies to Christians today - then I say only this. Stop being such a hypocrite. Stop talking the talk. Get a scalpel out and start walking the walk. If you really believe Jesus Christ is setting a precident for your behaviour today then send me pictures of your hewn body parts and send an accompanying testimony telling me if you are now sin-free.
To those - like me - who have secretly trembled when you have heard this verse preached or used in a condemning manner, then have hope! Jesus was talking to the worse form of legalists around and He was showing them that even this extreme behaviour was NOT sufficient enough to stop sin completely in their lives. But He did provide the answer. When He said "It is finished!" - He meant it. Put your scalpel away! Jesus loves you with all His heart! He loves you so much that He was mutilated so that you would not have to be. He had His side pierced and His hands and feet pierced so you would not even have to contemplate this.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour! (P.S: If the picture offends you then I don't apologise. If you believe that Christians should be complying with this verse literally then you are going to have to get used to sights like this).