John D. Barry
2 Chronicles 31:1–32:33; 1 John 2:15–17; Psalm 104:16–35
“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you! For it is better for you that one of your limbs be destroyed than your whole body go into hell” (Matt 5:30).
We might struggle to relate to this outspoken Jesus; we prefer gracious Jesus, offering us a pardon from sin through His sacrifice. We like friendly, loving Jesus, who wraps His arms around us even when we act disgracefully. Jesus is all of these things, but He is also very serious about sin.
One of the most tragic trends in church history is the increasingly casual attitude toward sin. We so badly want people to receive God’s grace that we’ve stopped expecting others—and ourselves—to fight against sin. Yet Jesus knew that fighting sin was necessary. In Matthew 5:30, He is not suggesting that we can be sinless by our own merit; salvation comes solely from the free grace He offers through His death. Jesus is telling us that we must rip sin out of our lives. Doing so is how we experience heaven on this earth that is, at times, nothing short of a hell. Jesus is building on what He knew about idolatry and the need for it to be completely abolished.
When the Israelites were confronted with their idolatry, they ripped it out of their lives: “All Israel … went out and shattered the stone pillars, cut down the Asherahs, and destroyed the high places and the altars from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh to the very last one” (2 Chr 31:1). We must do the same. What are we idolizing? What is causing us to sin? We need to rip that idol out or rip that arm off. Otherwise our sins will continue to torment us and prevent us from knowing God.
John the evangelist perhaps put it best: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because everything that is in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of material possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
Let’s allow the things that are passing away to be destroyed so we can embrace what is eternal.
What sins do you need to remove from your life? How can you do away with the things that are causing you temptation?
This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.
John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.