In the holiday movie A Christmas Story, all that ten year old Ralphie wants for Christmas is a an official Red Ryder B.B. Gun. The only thing standing in the way of his obtaining this prize possession is the constant refrain (led by his mother): You’ll shoot your eye out! As most ten year old boys know, those words are DEATH to owning anything moms deem as “dangerous weapons” (slingshots, pocket-knives, and rubber-band guns included!). Just when Ralphie thinks he has found a way to circumvent all of the naysayers, the dreaded refrain is heard once again…and again…and again! Does Ralphie ever get his Red Ryder BB Gun? If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll simply reassure you with these words: “Thank you Dad!”
Obviously, shooting one’s eye out is not to be taken lightly. Over the years I’ve met a few people who have lost an eye due to some tragic accident or trauma. The very descriptions of how such accidents occurred is NOT for the squeamish! I think that most of us can relate to just how painful it would be to lose an eye in ways better left unsaid.
So imagine you are listening to Jesus in the first century, and He teaches this: If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:29 ESV) Tearing out your OWN eye sounds quite painful to me. And that’s exactly the point! Jesus is calling us as his disciples to deal radically and ruthlessly with our sin. No coddling! No attempting to live at peace with the very sin(s) that would destroy us. Jesus is calling us to take the pursuit of holiness seriously–VERY SERIOUSLY!
Jerry Bridges, in his classic book, The Pursuit of Holiness, writes: Can you imagine a soldier going into battle with the aim of “not getting hit very much”? The very suggestion is ridiculous. His aim is not to get hit at all! Yet if we have not made a commitment to holiness without exception, we are like a soldier going into battle with the aim of not getting hit very much. We can never be sure if that is our aim, we will be hit–not with bullets, but with temptation over and over again.
It is only by learning to deny temptation that we will ever put to death the misdeeds of the body. Learning this is usually a slow and painful process, fraught with much failure. Our old desires and our sinful habits are not easily dislodged. To break them requires persistence, often in the face of little success. But this is the path we must tread, painful though it may be. (Bridges, pp. 97-98)
More than 350 years ago, Puritan author, John Owen wrote:
Do you mortify [work hard at killing sin]? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.“
John Owen understood what was at stake! Do you? Do I?
How thankful I am for the gospel! But it is not a gospel that makes peace with any sin in our lives. The very Apostle Paul who could write: “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16), could also write: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). There’s no contradiction between an evangelical view of the Gospel, and a ruthless, death-dealing approach to the sin in our lives. In fact, it is ONLY the gospel that enables us to have any measure of real success against sin–any sin!
So let’s move forward in our obedience to Christ, not with the weak arm of the flesh, but in the sin-destroying power of the Spirit. And let’s also remember that according to Jesus, there are far worse things than losing an “eye” or even a “hand” (Matthew 5:29-30). FAR WORSE!
Since the first T4G in 2006, I (and several men from our church) have been privileged to attend this biannual conference Louisville, KY. I have considered it one of the spiritual highlights of my walk with Christ, as well as one of the most beneficial conferences to me in my ministry as a pastor. This year’s theme is Unashamed. The following video is just a reminder of what it means to live out the Gospel “Unashamed” in evangelism.
I happened to see a video this morning in which Bill O’Reilly was arguing with Laura Ingraham over O’Reilly’s complaint that conservatives need to do more than “thump the Bible” in making our case against gay marriage. Not only was O’Reilly incredibly arrogant and rude, but his colossal mistake highlights the key issue in the culture war today.
In this video, Doug Wilson sits down with well-known British author and columnist, Peter Hitchens, to discuss our nation’s current rush to curb violence by means of gun control legislation. A great ten minute conversation that is definitely worth your time to view.