The ability to see is a priceless gift from God. Far too many of us live our lives without any gratitude for our sight. Not only do we live without gratitude for it, we misuse it. We use technology, cell phones, cameras, computers, televisions, projectors to record and to view things. These are not merely entertaining. They are educational. They can ensnare us.
The eye is a “gateway” to the mind and the soul. Jesus spoke of this ability to see and our responsibility to guard it. He said, “If your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand offend you cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 4:29-30).
“If your eye offends….” Matthew uses the Greek word skandalon from which the English word “scandal” is derived. Literally it has reference to baiting a hook or a trap. The bait on the hook or trap lures the victim to destruction. If your eye is like that—baiting the hook—then “pluck it out.” Whatever leads astray or entices to sin must be eliminated. Radical surgery must be taken to remove the source of sin—not just sin.
This is a painful process which we have to go through. It often involves those things which are very important to us and very prized by us. It might be some hobby, some practice, some idea, some friend, or any number of other things that have come between us and God. It has become an offense. We have set our eye on that and cannot see the Lord. We must remove it!
Moral promiscuity is a serious matter, not just to God, but to the whole of society. The Seventh Commandment of the famous Ten Commandments is devoted to adultery. The ancient Jews punished adultery with death. When Jesus uttered those words in Matthew 5:29-30 (“If your right eyes causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you….”) He was referring specifically to sexual sin. This is a problem in our visually-oriented society perhaps more than at any other time in history – advertisements, televisions, videos, dvds, commercials and magazines are largely oriented to our sensual-sexual desires. The prime way to “hook” a man’s or woman’s attention is to excite this desire. It is this very thing that Jesus had reference to when He spoke of our sight offending us, scandalizing us.
Those commentators who have written on this passage have noted that Jesus was not literally talking about gouging out the eye or cutting off the hand. His speech, they say was figurative, but the point is very obvious. We ought to remove that which gives rise to sin in our lives. Enticing books, suggestive amusements, compromising friendships, or other tempting things must be “cast” away from (“cut out of”). We must do it without mercy. Whatever “traps” us—the object, book, show, song, company, thought must be removed from us.
We can control where we look. Our eyes are tools that God has given us to see into our world and they are at our command. I can decide where I will look and at what I will look. I must control my sight and I can control where I look with the help of God’s Spirit.
This matter of regulating sight is not legalism. It is a matter of self-discipline. However, we must guard against legalism—putting down rigid laws and rules about what you can look at, where you can look and how long you can look. Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient” (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). We must not attempt to regulate the lives of others, but I can regulate my own life. I can decide where, at what and for how long I will look. The one that is most common today is that of television and the computer. I can decide when, how long and what I will see on tv or on the computer monitor. It is a matter of self-discipline. Paul describes his self-discipline. Paul describes his self-discipline in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection….” We must be careful to guard what we see that our vision might always be clear and clean. We must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). He is our source of personal discipline that enables us to direct our vision.
The content of our vision is related to the development of our souls. Someone has said, “We are what we eat.” In another sense “we are what we see.” This is what Jesus was saying in Matthew chapter 5. “If the eye offends…” was His way of saying that we need a changed life that we might have control over our vision. The source of the problem is not the eye. The problem lies beyond that in the heart. A changed heart will mean that we have a new direction in which to look and new things at which to look—even, as was pointed out in the last article, a new environment in which to see (perspective). Jesus Christ has come to rule the eyes because He is on the throne of the heart. He is in control of things.
The change that God brings into our lives is preparation for the new life after this life. In the last analysis this is the whole purpose of God’s transforming work in Christ. It is to make “pure hearts” for that pure place in His presence where sin cannot dwell. Jesus said it like this, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in heart have new eyes, new light and a new perspective. They are totally prepared for the new environment of the presence of God.
There is much more that can be shared in these critical times. I look forward to hearing from you as to how seeing right and thinking good have transformed you and those around you. Reach me through email at email@example.com , or by snail mail at Dr. Jerry Hopkins, P.O. Box 1363, Marshall, Texas 75671.