Etikettarkiv | offend

If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off (Matt. 18:8)

Did Jesus exaggerate when he asked us to cut off body parts which cause us to sin? 

Jesus wasn’t joking in the below listed verses in Matt. 18:1-9. One could say he was using a ”hyperbole” (Greek hyperbole ”exaggeration”) which means to exaggerate to create emphasis or effect as a rhetorical device or figure of speech, or one could also suggest he meant exactly what he said.

Matt 18:1 1At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Mark 9:42–48 describes Jesus’ words in a similar way, and Gehenna is described ”Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”.

Jesus speaks to his own believing disciples. He doesn’t say that sinning results in reduced gifts in heaven but rather that we are risking to end up in hell which is rather serious. Maybe we prefer a Jesus who turns a blind eye to our sins, but this only works IF we repent from them (and thereafter live in righteousness). Only then are the past sins removed. It’s amazing that God has arranged so that we can be completely cleansed from our sins and get access to his Kingdom! Jesus went through a lot of suffering to make this possible. So, does Jesus suggest that we should cut off body parts if they make us sin? Yes, I believe he does, but think about it…When we stand there ready to chop off a hand with an ax, wouldn’t we rather CONFESS our sins, REPENT and avoid sinning?! Wouldn’t that be a much better alternative? This is an offer provided to us by Jesus. John says:

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.

Now, THAT is a much better alternative and it doesn’t contradict what Jesus says in Matt 18:8. Note that Jesus doesn’t say ”If you have sinned you must as a punishment cut off that body part that made you sin”. We shouldn’t think that Jesus wants us to cut off body parts when we have sinned because that is not what he is saying. That wouldn’t make the sin be undone. He rather means that there are no acceptable excuses to sin IN THE FUTURE. Whether we are talking about kleptomania, mythomania, pyromania, gluttony, fraud, adultery, outlived homosexuality or alcoholism, there are no valid excuses to continue with those sins, and we can’t blame our sins on anyone or anything. We can never excuse our sins with ”I’m born this way” or that we don’t have a choice because we just obeyed our bodies. Paul says:

1 Kor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Who in their right mind would say ”I know I could confess my sins and repent and I would be cleansed from all my sins BUT I prefer to chop my hands off to make absolutely sure I won’t sin with them again”? That would be rather foolish. It’s not certain that it will always be easy to avoid living in the flesh, but all things are possible for Jesus. Without the aid from the Holy Spirit it might be difficult to bring our bodies into subjection, but if we let ourselves be guided by Him we can make it. Prayers, fasting, persistence and support from other christians might very well be needed.

Matt 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Notice that it’s a sin ”to lust” after a woman. It’s not a sin to accidentally meet a woman and find her amazingly attractive, and you might be forced to be around pretty girls on a daily basis at work or somewhere else. It’s a sin to look at a woman in reality or on pictures/films with the aim ”to lust”, and it’s a sin to intentionally seek situations that can make you be tempted and which can lead to sin. Even if we avoid clear traps and tempting situations, Satan might still present them to us. We can’t escape from living in this world. A tempting thought doesn’t have to be a sin in itself. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert and I’m sure he desired to get something to eat and had such pictures in his head when the devil brought up the topic. It would have been a sin for Jesus to eat during a time when eating was not allowed, but despite the tempting thought he still chose to not give in for it and sin. God sees our hearts and he knows very well what we do or don’t do to avoid tempting situations, and also what we do to get out of difficult situations that we are already in and which we never even asked for.  God doesn’t ask for the impossible.

We all stumble in many ways + No man can tame his tongue? (James 3:8)

We all stumble in many ways + No man can tame his tongue? (James 3:2 NIV + James 3:8)

Some people who are searching through the Bible in order to find verses which support sinning sometimes try to use the half verse in James 3:2 to persuade themselves and others that no one can ever stop sinning and/or that it’s not that serious if we fall.

It’s interesting that many of them despise the NIV version and vehemently explain what a terrible translation it is and yet they prefer to use NIV in THIS particular case since they prefer the word ”stumble” before ”offend” which the KJV uses. The rest of the passage in James 3:2 offers a solution to the problem, that if any man offend NOT in word then he is also able to bridle his whole body – which seems like a good idea. James doesn’t say this is impossible but compares with other situations where man has successfully made horses and even large ships obey him.

James 3:2 For in many things we OFFEND all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (KJV)

What does ”offend all” mean? The transliteration is ”ptaiomen”/”ptaió” which indeed means ”to cause to stumble” or ”stumble”. The only passages in the Bible where this word is used are in the following verses, apart from James 3:2:

  1. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
  2. Romans 11:11 I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.
  3. 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.
  4. James 3:2 For in many things we OFFEND all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (KJV)

There are other Greek words that are translated as ”sinning” and/or ”falling away” such as ”pipto” and ”ekpipto” but they are not used here. Another significant word is ”skandalizo”, which is often translated as “fall away” and “stumble” and this is used when Jesus tells his disciples “You will all fall away because of me this night” (Matthew 26:31 NAS). Skandalizo also is the word used in Mathew 24:10, where Jesus talks about a “falling away” in the end times maybe due to persecutions. ”Skandalizo” is also used in Mark 4:17, where Jesus tells a parable about seed falling on rocky soil to describe believers who “fall away” in times of trials. In Luke’s parallel passage the Greek word behind “fall away” is ”aphistemi” – the root from which the Greek word for apostasy is drawn. So there are words that contain a much more serious risk for a christian than the Greek word that is translated as ”stumble” in James 3:2.

So let’s remember that when Jesus said ”Sin no more” he uses a different Greek word than in James 3:2, and the same goes for other places in the Bible when we are told to avoid sinning such as when Paul said ”Awake to righteousness and SIN NOT”. Stumbling doesn’t seem to be as serious as sinning or falling away.

Revelation 2:Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

No man can tame his tongue

Another verse that is often used to support sinning is ”No man can tame his tongue” which is also mentioned by James. He explains that animals have indeed been tamed by man and man can even make horses obey and large ships, but when it comes to the tongue it seems generally impossible for man to tame it. But he doesn’t conclude that this is therefore normal behaviour and totally acceptable for a christian in any way. He says that the tongue boasts, that it can lit a fire, is a world of INIQUITY, DEFILES the body and it is set on fire of  HELL. Would James ever claim that this is a totally acceptable for true christians? Of course not! He says ”Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, THESE THINGS OUGHT NOT TO BE”. Of course James would never say that something that causes INIQUITY and defiles the body is accepted and normal. Iniquities always separate us from God!

If ”no man can tame his tongue” means that it’s never possible to avoid lies and slander, then James is in contradiction with himself. He says a few verses later:

14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and LIE NOT against the truth”

Lie not? Didn’t James know that no man can tame his tongue and must always lie? Obviously James is not saying that it’s acceptable to not tame his tongue even if it seems generally impossible. He is saying that we should, because these things should NOT be so, and he says departing from the truth (which lying and slandering is) is DEVILISH, and not taming a tongue would result in envying and strife which is in turn the foundation of EVERY EVIL WORK. There is a famous commandment which says ”You shall not LIE”. Is James saying that we can just as well forget about this commandment because no man can tame his tongue? Of course not. James says:

1:26″If any man among you seem to be religious, and BRIDLETH NOT HIS TONGUE, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain”.

The entire context from James 3:

2For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body3Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, THESE THINGS OUGHT NOT SO TO BE. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and LIE NOT against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, DEVILISH16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and EVERY EVIL WORK17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.