January 15 I Tuesday
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away…. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away….”
We cannot read the opening verse apart from its context of adultery. There are some who have thought to apply this teaching literally, but this does not deal with the real problem. Cut off a hand, and you still have a one-handed thief. Rather, this teaching refers to a discipline of the body where we bring our hand or eye under control. We must train ourselves to deny ourselves the opportunity to act on temptations of sight and touch, the primary agents of sexual arousal.
I once spoke with a new convert to Christianity who told me he was struggling with sexual temptation. During our conversation, he asked if he should cancel his subscription to an adult magazine, and I said, “I think it’ll help, yes.” With access to pornography now a click away, some of us might need to develop new resistance strategies, such as downloading website blockers or finding people to keep us accountable.
If we continually put ourselves in a position where temptation is readily available, it is like throwing gasoline on a fire and saying, “Why doesn’t it go out?” Feed temptation and it only grows. This is true not just of sexual sin but of anything that may tempt us. It is easy to think, “Well, I’ve already thought the sin, so I might as well do it,” but this is just taking the road of least resistance. As Paul wrote to Timothy, we are to train ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 4:7). Training requires discipline, which, in this case, means making the choice, as much as it is in our power, to cut those things from our life that tempt us.
Our bodies make wonderful servants but terrible masters. Though a lifelong battle, disciplining our bodies is what it takes to bring them under control so we can live effectively as Christians. The function of discipline is not to create godliness within us, working from the outside in, but to engage the life of Jesus that is already within every believer, working from the inside out. Paul instructed, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). Our responsibility is not to work in holiness, but to work out the consequence of God working in us. As it is the driver’s responsibility to release the resources of what is under the hood of a car, it is disciplining our bodies that enables God to function in and through a Christian who obeys orders.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, I pray for the discipline to cut those things from my life that tempt me. Thank You that as I discipline my body, You will be at work in me and through me.