The Principle of Radical Amputation

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

This week we tackle Jesus’ exposition of the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18).  After expanding it well beyond the borders of the simple act of adultery, Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you” (Matthew 5:29).  Right arm, ditto.  Better that than to be cast into hell.  Wow.  That kind of preaching is in short supply today.  No wonder the people were astonished at His teaching.

A friend calls this “the principle of radical amputation”.  Rather than play with sin, entertain sin, negotiate with sin, try to manage sin, leave space for sin, we should act like this is war and sin is the enemy.  Because this is war and sin is the enemy.

In the fall of 2008, I delivered an address titled “Pure Men in an Age of Impurity” at the Hope Baptist father/son retreat.  I realize how narcissistic it sounds for me to say, “Spend an hour listening to my sermon”, but spend an hour listening to my sermon.  You will hear the hard-hitting counsel of Scripture in the category of sexual purity.  It may very well help you.

Here are the two main points:

1)  Knowing the overwhelming worth of Jesus Christ is the key.  When we dabble with sin – any sin – and give it leave to come and go as it pleases, we have either never seen the pearl of great price or have lost sight of it.  Anything short of selling all – for joy over this incomparable treasure – amounts to temporary self-help.  Treasuring Jesus is the only real antidote.

2)  The counsel of Scripture can be summarized as starve, run, and amputate.  This is what Paul means when he exhorts us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

There may be things that have been your companion for a long time.  Things that need to be cut off and cast from you.  Enemies that have been treated as friends, coddled, spared, secretly nurtured.  For the glory of God, for your own happiness, for the eternal condition of your soul, subject them to the principle of radical amputation.