“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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 be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell
Understanding And Applying the Text
The Law has authority over external life and requires a pure and holy heart. Christ said he did not come as a new Lawgiver. Rather he was expounding the Law which was already given. Now some may object. How could the Jewish scholars had an incorrect misinterpretation for so long. Christ acknowledged this. “You have heard that it was said…” But the age of an error does not make it true. The fact the most people believe it does not make it true. Truth is objective. My opinion does not make it so. Your opinion does not make it so. Even God does not make it so. It is true because its basis is God. And God is truth.
Christ condemned the lust of the flesh. Both those who commit the deed and those who pollute their eyes are adulterers before God. It is not the eyes that cause the sin but the heart. Christ was refuting the prevailing gross error. That it is not enough to not avoid the physical act of adultery.
I have heard that some have mutilated themselves because of this passage. But read what Christ said. If your eye or hand “causes you to sin” What is the cause of sin? It is not either the eye or the hand. It is the heart or mind. It is our innermost being. We, our being, are the source of our sin.
Christ used such extreme language to show the severity of sin. WE ought to cur off whatever hinders us from obeying God. Christ spoke this way because men allow themselves too much liberty.
If our minds were pure, the eyes and hands would obey. They do not act on their own. They are not a cause.
We are ourselves are to blame. Rather than avoiding temptation, we provoke it. We allow ourselves too much liberty.