God is a God of grace. But, He’s also pretty tough on sin! In fact, He has no tolerance for it at all.
Matthew 18:8-9 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off. What a drastic prescription! Obviously the Lord is not intending for us to take that admonition literally – if we did, the wheelchair and crutches industries would be the biggest in the land! What He is speaking of is the utter ruthlessness with which we must deal with sin in our lives.
I must be ruthless in dealing with any identified area of sin in my life! There is no “peaceful coexistence” with sin in the life of a disciple of Christ. There can be no tolerance of certain sins because they don’t seem so bad, or “I’ve always been that way,” or “I’ve tried to change, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me.”
My standard must be His standard: zero tolerance for sin in my life.
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Obviously I cannot achieve that perfection (“perfection” means full maturity) on my own.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
It is only as I allow Christ to live His life through me that I can meet the “perfect as my Father is perfect” standard. But that has to be my goal. I cannot be satisfied with anything less.
That’s not to say that I must live in perpetual dissatisfaction with my life because I inevitably fall short of that standard. The point here is not that I must achieve perfection, but that I not tolerate sin without dealing with it. That doesn’t mean I will never fall short. I will. But it does mean that I don’t accept falling short as normal. Instead, when I do sin, I deal with it:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I must confess and repent of my sin rather than just accepting it.
The point the Lord is making is that anything that leads to sin in my life must be eliminated. If watching a certain TV show leads to sinful thoughts or actions, I can’t keep watching that show. I’ve got to “cast is from me.”
If being in the company of a certain person tempts me to sinful thoughts or actions, I can’t afford to be around that person, no matter how good a friend they may be.
“Cut it off and cast it from you,” “pluck it out and cast it from you.” Not only am I to get the area of sin out of my life, but then cast it far away from me. That means no dabbling or even touching, no nibbling around the edges. Cast it away!