Daily Readings: Exodus 5-6, Psalm 19, Matthew 18
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
I am going to go out on a limb and suggest Jesus isn’t a huge fan of the sin we allow to maintain a foothold in our lives! This idea of gouging out your own eye wasn’t just some over exaggeration Jesus threw out casually when shooting from the hip one day; it was virtually one of his greatest hits! We saw him give the exact same advice when delivering his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus takes the sin in our lives extremely seriously!
We know, as Christians, that we are saved by our faith in Christ and accepting him as our Lord and savior. We cannot avoid sin entirely. We are human and live in a broken and fallen world. We are incapable of perfection, which is why Jesus came to earth to present himself as the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. However, Jesus wants us to accept him as our savior AND our Lord. Not just our savior. So what does that mean to accept Jesus as the Lord over our life?
Well, for starters it means praying the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 19:13.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
David does not pray that God would keep him from all sin. We will always have moments of weakness and sin in the moment. There will be stumbling blocks that we don’t see coming. David prays that God would keep him from willful sins.
There is a huge difference.
Through the help of the Holy Spirit, God wants to help us get better and better at conquering all of our sinful impulses that previously ruled our lives. However, it may take some time to allow God to fully break down our former habits, especially deeply ingrained ones. However, we can immediately choose to turn away from willful sins.
If you struggle with Alcoholism, be honest with yourself about what your triggers are that put you back into your old habit patterns. Stay away from bars. Avoid putting yourself in situations that tend to take you down that path. Get all of it out of your house. Let Jesus gouge it out! If you struggle with pornography and tried to quit over and over again without success, have you been willing to put accountability software on all of your devices and not just your computer? Have you taken legitimate steps to say, “No more! Jesus, I want you as LORD, not just savior.” or have you simply prayed about it without gouging it out? The list goes on.
If we are unwilling to take legitimate steps to gouge out these sins from our lives, then they become willful sins. They are no longer, caught off guard and didn’t see the stumbling block coming, type of sins. We are actively choosing to allow them to maintain their foothold. We want Jesus as simply savior, but would prefer avoiding embracing him as Lord over our lives.
Here is the thing, life is so much more rewarding, peaceful, and rich when we let go of these things! Jesus isn’t calling us to a bland, lesser version of life where we no longer “get to sin”. He is calling us to so much more!
A close friend of mine, Jason Redoutey who helps run Hearts Alive and Free Ministries, once said something to me that hit home. “Satan wants us to believe that sin is the fun stuff that you don’t get to do.”
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Earlier in Psalm 19:7-8 we read this from David:
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
We should gouge sin out of our life with passion, not to “earn salvation”, but to allow Jesus to give us the good stuff! I have found over and over again in my own life that the words of David are true. When I am walking closely with Jesus and allowing him to work on my heart, I naturally desire to follow his commands. Sin no longer is the “fun stuff I don’t get to do”. Instead, by gouging it out of my life, God truly does give joy to my heart, wisdom to my decisions, and refreshment to my soul. Jesus loves you like crazy and wants you to experience the good stuff! He wants you to live life to the fullest and to cast off the millstone from your neck!
And that is something I would sign up for every day of the week!
Thought to ponder
What sin do I struggle with in my own life? If I am honest with myself, would God tell me that it is a “willful sin” like David spoke of because I have been unwilling to gouge it out? How can I gouge out this sin from my life so that Jesus refresh my soul even more and give me even more joy in my heart?
As always, thank you for reading! Your comments are a constant source of encouragement. If you think this post would be a help or encouragement to someone else, feel free to share it!