[Jesus said] “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. . . . And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”
Does today’s Bible passage seem like strange words from Jesus’ lips and make you raise your eyebrows a bit? Am I really supposed to mutilate my body so I don’t end up in hell?
No. Jesus hasn’t lost his mind. And no, you are not to start cutting off body parts.
But Jesus does want you to understand that there is a part of you that would like nothing more than to spend forever apart from him, suffering in a place of pain, loneliness, and death. This ugly part of you is called your sinful nature. You were born with it. You received it from your parents. It’s the part of you that is bad to the bone—totally selfish, utterly hateful, and completely opposed to God’s will for you.
Fight against the desires of your sinful flesh every moment of every day! Say “no” to all that is sinful and “yes” to all that is pleasing to God. For spiritual strength, work out and exercise each day with God’s Word and prayer. Attend a worship service each week to “pump up” your new self (the part of you that loves God, trusts him, and wants to do his will). When you give in to your sinful nature and sin, don’t despair. Take your sin to Jesus and confess it. Stand beneath his cross and see him on it for you, wounded, bleeding, and dying to pay the full price for your sins.
Restored and forgiven by Jesus, continue with confidence the struggle that is your life. It won’t be easy on this side of heaven. But in Jesus, you will win eternally!
Jesus, help me in my daily struggle against my sinful nature. When I fail, forgive me. Give me strength to overcome temptation and live a life that pleases you. Amen.