“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
- Matthew 5:27-30
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
- Philippians 1:23-24
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
- Ephesians 6:18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
- Philippians 4:6
“Paul found himself between a rock and a hard place. He wanted to be in heaven but needed to be on earth. In a temporal sort of way, I share the same frustration.
“But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and watch the Super Bowl … yet to remain in the pulpit is more necessary for your sake (Philippians 1:23-24, Swindoll Paraphrase).
“Now don’t get me wrong. I love to preach. It’s one of the few things I’d rather do than eat—as my wife can testify. But I also love football. With only minor adjustments, both of these ‘loves’ can be maintained without much difficulty … except for one Sunday a year. Super Bowl Sunday. On that particular day I freely admit, I have a conflict.
I’ve thought of all sorts of alternative plans:
– Have church on Saturday.
– Place a tiny TV on the pulpit shelf and bow in silent prayer several times (to check the score).
– Put a walkman in my suit coat and wear an earphone.
– Ask an usher to signal the score periodically.
– Preach a very short message—then “slip out”
– Call in sick.
“Conflicts are common. Unfortunately, they are seldom as light-hearted as this one. Some are, in fact, desperately serious.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The finishing Touch
This morning during the philosophy “lesson”, I discussed Jerome’s conflict with Cicero and how he swore off all writings except for the Holy Scripture. He also wrote Bible commentaries and letters, but somehow he rationalized that they were not the same as “Cicero.”
I used the text above from Matthew, from the Sermon on the Mount. If something causes you to sin, cut it off or cut it out. Literally what Jesus was saying, but I equivocated that we need to cut off, remove in some way that thing that causes us to sin.
I did not belabor that point, but let’s consider a television show that gives you impure ideas. I am sure that you can think of one. If not, you can say “the Nightly News” just to give yourself a mental image.
Most televisions these days have parental controls. You can block the television show or you can set a password. Of course, you are the one that did the blocking or setting of the password. You could undo what you did just to watch the television show – just – this – one -time. But maybe, just maybe, if you love Jesus enough, you might think about why you blocked yourself from watching the show in the first place. It’s like the suicide prevention commercial says. If you lock your gun in a safe or locked case, it gives you time to rethink what you are about to do. The same goes for anything that causes you to sin.
I am like Rev. Swindoll. I love American football, but since I live on the east coast, the night games often do not end until near midnight. I have only stayed up to watch the end of three or four night games in the past three years. I told this to a friend, and he said that I am NOT a fan of football. I tried to argue that I was. I just liked a good night sleep more, but I may have to reconsider. “Fan” is short for fanatic. The only thing that I am fanatic about these days is Jesus. And even then, I know when to turn the television off and go to bed. For night football games, it is at halftime.
You do not need to cut off your hand, if you can remove, or at least make it really hard, to engage in an activity that leads to that hand causing you to sin. Or eye, or whatever other body part.
While “information” is available with a single click of the mouse these days, we can find things that improve our lives, but we can find things that will tempt us. It is up to us to keep ourselves from those temptations. The tools are even available, but will we take the time to use them?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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