Dealing with Sin
Dealing with Sin
If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”
Our natural tendency in our sinful state is to minimize the severity of sin. We make excuses and strive to justify our actions. We like to categorize sin by our view of its severity. We regard some sins as abhorrent, while others we justify. We rightfully condemn murder and theft but justify our bitterness and anger towards others. We condemn dishonesty but fudge on our taxes and justify it by stating that “they get their fair share.” In our natural, sinful nature, we recognize sin in the lives of others but justify and minimize our own. What we do on a personal level, we do on a societal level as well. Person sin becomes the product of society's ills rather than the treacherous condition of our soul.
For all our justification of sin, sin always has destructive consequences. Let me repeat this because we need to let it sink in: sin, no matter how insignificant in our eye, always has disastrous consequences! It destroys our lives, and it destroys others. In our culture today, instead of confronting sin, we justify it. The answer to addiction is to legalize it. The answer to sexual perversion is to explain it as an identity question rather than a moral issue. However, all sin is a result of our own choice and results in spiritual death (Romans 3:23).
In Matthew 18:8-11, Christ confronts us with the severity of sin in graphic language. At first glance, his response seems over-the-top and radically extreme. If we took his words literally, we would all be maimed, crippled, and sightless. But in the graphic language, Christ first points to the severity of even the most minor sin. Using this visual language, Jesus clarifies that all sin must be repudiated and rejected. In God’s sight, there are no misdemeanors or felonies. All acts of sin, from looking at something with greed to taking the life of another, separate us from God and bring the judgment of eternal hell. Because of its severity, it is better to live with the impairment of the body than to be facing the reality of hell.
Second, Jesus points to the importance of eliminating the source of our sins. Instead of justifying our sins, we must take radical steps to remove them from our lives. However, here we are confronted with the conundrum. If dealing with sin was only a matter of removing body parts, then that would be easy (although we would all be maimed for life). However, the problem goes far deeper, for scripture makes it clear that the source of sin is our heart, the place where our sinful desires and lusts prowl. The only way to deal with sin is to change our hearts completely. This is the problem: how do we change our hearts and souls? Jeremiah points out in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”
The answer lies not in ourselves but in the power and work of God. Sin requires a radical response, where we cut it off at its source. So ingrained is sin in our soul only God can eradicate it. Ezekiel writes, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). God can do what we cannot change our heart and desires.
If you are struggling with sin, the answer is not found in “buckling down and being more disciplined.” It is only found in surrendering our lives to Christ and asking him to do what we cannot: Change our hearts. We are changed only when we submit to God and ask him to establish his will in our lives daily.