Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What does this verse tell us? It's quite hard to understand.

Matthew 18:9

“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”

share|improve this question
    
How can one tell the eye that causes the sin from the innocent eye. To tear out the wrong eye would be an even worse sin. This verse is very complicated. The root cause of the sin could be invisibly hidden. Good question. –  gideon marx Dec 1 '13 at 19:37
    
You need to read Matthew 18:6-9. It's the temptation. If you are tempted to do something, the cause of the temptation needs to be eradicated so that you won't have the desire to do it again. E.g., it's better to be blind instead of constantly being allured to adult porn. That way, you lose the temptation of seeing it. This doesn't eradicate the hearing temptation, but you get the idea. Get rid of each temptation, one step at a time. –  Buhake Sindi Dec 4 '13 at 1:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sin is not something we as Christians should fool around with. The same applies to non-Christians as well, for that matter. Consequently, we need to get tough with sin and tough with ourselves when it comes to nipping it in the bud.

Of course, a man could avoid lusting after a woman by blinding himself in both eyes, but such an extreme measure, interestingly enough, would not cure lust! I suggest that is why Jesus talked about plucking out one eye, not two.

It's pretty clear, to me at any rate, Jesus is using hyperbole, which is a figure of speech which exaggerates deliberately for best effect. If Jesus had said,

"If you are aware of what is causing you to sin, you need to have a little conversation with yourself in which you rebuke yourself and promise God you'll not sin again,"

His words would not have had the impact as would His words about eye-gouging. He knew that, of course, and He knew His words would cause His listeners to stop and analyze what they'd just heard, and in doing so they would've gotten the message. In essence, Jesus was saying

"Get tough on yourself. Make a clean break with sin and with anything that causes you to sin. What you thereby 'lose' for my kingdom's sake will be rewarded richly in the kingdom to come. If you refuse to make a clean break with sin, you may just find yourself in hell one day because of the very thing you refused to give up!"

Very sobering words, indeed, for believers and unbelievers alike. Sinful, earthly pleasures are but for a season, but at God's right hand in heaven, there are joy and pleasure forevermore (Psalm 16:11). In other words, a little pain now will yield eternal rewards. Our rejection of pain now will yield eternal regret in hell. The choice is ours to make.

Allow me to alter Jim Elliot's famous words ever so slightly:

"He is no fool who gives [up] what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Jim Elliot, a missionary who sacrificed his life attempting to bring the gospel to a murderous tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest, was speared to death by the very people he came to serve (the Aucas). He was an eye gouger.

share|improve this answer
    
Please correct me if I am wrong but if I follow your logic correctly you will refrain from sin (pluck out your eye) to get pleasure in heaven. Or to avoid punishment in hell. Is this what you are saying why all people should say no to sin? –  gideon marx Dec 1 '13 at 19:56
1  
Yes, but not quite as baldly as you put it. We need perspective. We can either underestimate the heinousness of sin in this life to our own detriment (temporally and possibly eternally) or we can get serious about our sin, realizing how it grieves God, and in so doing reap eternal rewards instead of the momentary pleasures of sin (Heb 11:24,25). That pleasure could come from promiscuity, taking vengeance, gossiping, slandering, loving money, having a short fuse, looking out for number one, and so on, but that kind of pleasure is short-lived and leaves us only wanting. On the other hand . . . –  rhetorician Dec 1 '13 at 20:36
    
Thanks for clarification. –  gideon marx Dec 2 '13 at 7:01

I could literally mean “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”

That's fairly straightforward. Eternal intense, unimaginable, agonizing suffering, or temporary pain and blindness... The choice is yours.

Kind of puts the real requirements for goodness and holiness required of us by God into perspective. We all think "We're not so bad", but if you ever get a real understanding of God's requirements, you realize that there's no way we can attain to that level of perfection. None of us is good enough to get to heaven. Thankfully, He provided the lamb of God to pay the penalty for our sins, since we can't.

However, it is typically used as a hyperbole to make a principle clear:

If you have things in your lift that are causing you to sin, get rid of them. It's better to have temporary loss in this world than eternal loss. Love the things of God, and get rid of those things that are not Godly, that cause you to stumble.

Companion verse: John 12:25.

share|improve this answer

In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus is covering Salvation and what it means and giving tips on how to live the Christian life.

In verse 9 did Jesus mean to physically gouge out your eyes? Probably not any more than when he told Nicodemus that he must be born again did mean to physically go back into the womb and start all over.

In both these incidents Jesus was referring not to a physical process, but a spiritual process.

consider:

Matthew 5:27 and 28 KJV

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

What would seem more feasible is that Jesus was saying wickedness is not confined to actions, but that we must also clean up our minds. And in order to do that it is not going to be easy. Remember the old saying that it will cost an arm and a leg. The meaning there was that it was going to be really expensive, and in verse nine the connotation is probably similar.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.