Cutting Off Hands to Combat Sin

Cutting Off Hands to Combat Sin April 3, 2018

 

It’s too bad complaining is such a pagan thing to do, because I have a list. However, having just come off of Easter weekend, and since for the Christian, every day is Easter, I can’t complain. So I’ll just tell you plainly, sans drama, the haps.

Half of the people in my household have been struggling with an infection. One seems to be on the mend. The other is worse after three rounds of antibiotics, so perhaps it’s time to look at the real possibility that what we’re dealing with is not an infection. We’ll do that tomorrow.

My thyroid hurts and I’m going to try and get on oral meds instead of topical meds. I’ve opted for topical due to my stomach not being able to tolerate any oral meds, but I’m going to try, try again because my levels are better on oral. Adrenals just have to suffer because again, tummy prefers only miniscule amounts of oral meds.

Also, I have the crud. Or allergies? I never get allergies.

I thought my sneezing, itchy face, runny nose, chest tightness, and fatigue was definitely a bug, but then I realized I’ve slowly been getting worse since Easter, when I brought home a lily I had dedicated to the church service in honor and memory of my Dad. It’s gorgeous, and I desperately want it in the house with me until it’s warm enough to plant. However, I kicked it out on the doorstep. It’ll probably die. If you want it, let me know. It’s yours. I wouldn’t be happy for you but my Dad, in his glorified state, would be most delighted.

Oops, I said no drama.

What I really want to talk about is my rotting finger. Stay with me here because I have a point, albeit a quick point, because my strength is already waning. The third finger on my right hand has a most vexatious rash. It’s been diagnosed as both eczema and shingles, on different occasions. Looks more like eczema to me but responds best to shingles meds, which … (shocking!) make my stomach sick. Shingles meds clear up the rash, but since I’d rather have a rash than be sick, I choose the rash. It starts as clear blisters which itch like Baloo’s backside in Jungle Book. Then once the itching subsides, the blisters dry up, as well as however many layers of skin are under it. Then said skin cracks. Then bleeds. And if I put even one lil’ dab of moisturizer on it, it will break out all over again.

Wicked.

The same finger also has a deep cut, thanks to Fang-Face Puppy’s razor teeth.

Also, a large, cruel spider bite.

It’s enough to make me wonder if I want the finger still attached to my body, or if I’d be better cutting it off.

My father-in-law who has only nine and a half fingers could probably put an end to my wondering.

My friend who is missing a part of her pinky probably has something to say about it as well.

But my finger offends me, see, and though it’s ridiculous to the reader that I would even consider cutting it off, in the midst of the itching, cracking, burning fire, the prospect of amputation (to the writer) seems more than reasonable. Medical experts say an amputee will have phantom pains. He or she will continue to feel whatever body part is amputated for a time, but the key words there are for a time. Whereas now? All I have to look forward to is itch, scratch, dry out, crack, burn. Repeat. No end in sight, unless death comes unexpectedly.

Amputation seems at least one notch higher than death.

The Bible agrees.

And if you 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. (Matt. 5:30)

Isn’t that a strange verse? Who (besides looney tunes me, maybe) would cut off their hand? But of course, the main point in this passage is not the gruesomeness of amputation. It’s the seriousness of sin. Matthew is saying we should take sin so seriously that we are willing to become an amputee rather than offend God.

I talked to someone about this recently. The right hand was not causing the sin, although in one sense, most everything we do involves our hands. But there was an object both hands were using to sin, and so I said, “Get rid of it. My trash man comes tomorrow, and I think you should go dump it in my trash can right now.”

I think the one in the battle with sin was shocked. The offending object was expensive. But what is more valuable than a limb? And yet, the Bible tells us to cast that away. The Coats Revised Version might go like this:

Trash man’s coming tomorrow. Cut off your right hand that causes you to sin and throw it’s away! 

Question is:

What is offending us? Meaning, what is causing, or at least assisting us in our sin? An object can’t make us sin. Sin originates in the heart. But we use many limbs and objects outside of ourselves to commit sins. Maybe for you it’s your iPhone. Or the television. Or your hot rod car, which begs to be driven twenty (err, fifty) miles over the speed limit. Maybe it’s Little Debbie cupcakes. Or the good looking co-worker who seems to understand and love you better than your spouse.

Is it better to quit your job than be tempted with an affair? God answers that question with a question and a statement:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10)

This passage is talking about ongoing, unrepentant sin. It’s not saying if you’ve ever committed one of those sins, you’re hellbound, no ifs ands or buts.

But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

The point is, if a professed Christian practices ongoing, unrepentant sin, she can rest assured she will not, in fact, inherit the kingdom of God.

How ongoing is ongoing?

Is that a question we really want to ask? If we are desperate to figure out exactly how far we can push God, then our hearts are in the wrong place. The better plan, the expected plan of Christians, is to pick up the armor He has given us (Eph. 6), and fight the good fight.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Rom. 6:1-2)

If we are God’s, we will be grieved by our own sin, and strive to never offend Him again. There is grace for the times we cave to temptation. But if those times look oddly similar to an unbeliever in duration and severity, perhaps we need to reevaluate whether we are truly in Christ, or whether we have merely attempted to obtain fire insurance.

Fire insurance isn’t actually a thing. We either convert to Christianity, or we don’t, and “they shall know us by our fruits (Gal. 5).” If the fruit of the Spirit isn’t slowly but surely becoming a reality in our lives, we are not His. His rules, not mine. Please don’t throw rotten spinach at the messenger girl.

Gosh. What a Debbie Downer I am today. Everyone is sick and I’m rambling on about how horrible sin is and insisting we will all go to Hades if we don’t put the kabosh on it. Well that’s one (true) way to look at it. But another way is to remember that the Great Physician will someday heal all our sicknesses for all eternity. He is risen! Death and sickness have been conquered. By the power of God, sin should no longer reign in us.

So God takes sin seriously. The simple point today is that we should, too.

Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. (Rom. 6: 12-14)

 


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