It Would Have Been A Better Thing
The sermon of Jesus on the mountain is an indispensable source of foundational truths of what it means to be His disciple. In simple and clear terms the Lord outlines the character of those who would be like the Father in perfection (Matthew 5:48). The moral code of Jesus’ followers is unveiled in challenging admonitions to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). Serving God cannot be done while the heart still rests upon the decaying laurels of the world (Matthew 6:24). Wisdom will find its worth from those who heed the instructions of the message and build their lives on the rock of salvation (Matthew 7:24-27).
When Satan attacks our lives he does so on three fronts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). His battle plan is simple, direct and destructive. Temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own lusts and sin is allowed to conceive in our hearts to our failure before God (James 1:13-15). There are many things that weigh heavily against the lusts of our flesh and eyes and our pride of things in this life. Daily the devil bombards us with the subliminal messages of our desires seeking to draw us away from the fellowship of a loving Father. Life will bring its own temptation to sin living in a “crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). Often we bring that temptation upon ourselves and at what cost? Jesus offers a solution to our own dilemmas by showing us how we create our own problems.
Since the beginning of time the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye have drawn men into immorality and debauchery. Creating a man and woman in the garden was God’s way of illustrating the beauty of a union without shame. “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). After Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7). Sin brings shame. Jesus taught in Matthew 19 that His Father had hallowed the marriage union and that it should be preserved in union of one man and one woman. Adultery is breaking that union and lusting after a woman is how Jesus shows in the mountain sermon the breakdown of the mind to desire a woman in the mind. His solution was a radical surgery. The answer of the Lord is a simple yet seldom used means to deal with sin. “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” (Matthew 5:29-30).
There are many parts of the body that are vital but the eyes and the hands are two parts of the body that are important to everyday living. However, as important as the eye and the hand may be it is possible to live without them. The heart and the brain are not only vital to life but the human body cannot exist without them. Not so with the eyes and the hands. Living in blindness is a very difficult life and living without hands would make daily existence a greater burden. But it is possible to live in blindness and without hands. Facing the temptation of the lusts of the heart Jesus instructs His followers to consider how important anything would be that causes that temptation. He is not asking anyone to literally pluck out their eyes or cut off their hands. What He is suggesting is that it is important to weigh the value of anything that would destroy our soul.
Our modern world is framed with the belief that life cannot exist without certain things: television, computers, internet, smart phones, FaceBook, Twitter and a host of other technologies that we believe make our lives more comfortable. One of the greatest problems facing the church today is the influence of pornography in the hearts of men and women destroying personal lives, marriages, families and churches. Televisions are filled with satellite and cable programs exalting the immoral virtues of a world gone to seed in the devil’s bedroom of ungodliness. Smart phones are used to text unrighteous messages of unfaithfulness, sexual immorality and gossip along with pictures and videos. Social media outlets are filled with pictures of worldly pursuits, sensual provocations and wicked gossips of slander and bullying. The belief is that life demands these machines of men to bring order and happiness to our lives.
“For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12). In the great and notable day of judgment when we stand before the throne of purity and righteousness; what will it mean that we had to have our internet or we had to have that smartphone? How important will it be at that moment that we had to be on Facebook or Twitter? What value will that high end television set be with our cable bill of every channel known to man on the day we stand before God? Jesus said that it would have been better for us to not have our eyes and our hands in judgment than to allow them to cause us to lust after a woman. No one standing before a righteous judge will have any interest in those things that we have convinced ourselves we MUST have in this life.
This does not suggest that any of the modern conveniences are evil of themselves. There is no shame in the naked body found in the union of marriage. Shame comes when it is taken out of the holy union of a man and woman in marriage. What we fail to see in the deception of Satan is that he uses good things for his evil purpose. It would be easier to get rid of anything that was evil in itself but where we may fail to act is when something by its nature is good yet causes us to sin it should be removed. And we can live without it. It may be difficult (like living without eyesight) but it is not impossible! How terrible it will be to stand in judgment and say how foolish we were to allow anything to keep us from eternal life. Jesus says to get rid of it! “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched” (Proverbs 6:27-28)?
The application is long reaching. Our jobs may cause us to be less than we should be for Christ. The friends we keep could challenge our faith in the Lord. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself” (Luke 9:25). How important will that job be or our friends are if we lose our souls because of it. Nobody ever worries about how much money they have in the bank when they are dying. And when the chilling finger of death invades your heart you will not be as concerned about the internet, television and smart phone; as a matter of fact it will mean nothing to you. Life is a matter of choice. What I choose to impact my life will have a positive or a destructive influence upon my eternal life. If needed, do I have the courage to remove those things that would destroy me? It would have been better if we had removed those things.