Cut Off Your Right Arm!
You have probably read of the amazing feat of Aron Ralston, the young man who amputated his own arm to save his life. The fascinating account has captivated all who read it.
Aron loved to climb mountains and hike in the wilderness. Utahs Canyonlands National Park was the setting for this incredible incident. During Arons most recent outing, while he was climbing down from a mountain, a huge rock shifted and pinned the young man to the narrow canyon wall. His efforts to budge the 800 to 1,000 pound boulder were in vain. For five days Aron waited for rescuers to come but finally concluded that they would not arrive. If he would be saved, he would somehow need to save himself.
Ralstons strength was ebbing and his water and food were depleted. The young man carefully planned what he must do and then, carefully, deliberately executed his plan. The only way to save his life was to cut off his right arm, below the elbow! Using his pocketknife, he cut skin, tendons and muscles of his arm, using a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. He then gathered up his remaining strength and rappelled 60 feet to the canyon floor. Amazingly, the young man began a five-mile walk until he met hikers who aided in his rescue. Aron was willing to take shocking, drastic, heroic measures to save his life!
As I think of this incredible emotional and physical feat, I am reminded of our Lords startling statement: “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:30). Jesus made similar statements about tearing out the eye (v. 29) and cutting off the foot (Mark 9:43-48) to keep from falling into sin. Although this may be hyperbolic language, our Lord wanted to make a clear, unmistakable point. We must take whatever measures necessary to avoid sin! We must be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to escape the entanglement, power, and slavery of sin! Cut off the right hand, tear out the right eye, cut off the foot, if this is the only way to put an end to sin!
Do you and I look at sin with this kind of seriousness? Do we trifle with sin, play with sin, or even deliberately indulge in sin? Do we consider sin as a simple, allowable “mistake” that has no serious consequences? God knows better! “The wages of sin is death,” says Paul (Romans 6:23). “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die,” adds the apostle (Romans 8:13). “The person who sins will die,” writes Ezekiel (18:20). The Hebrew writer speaks of “the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13) and the “terrifying expectation of judgment” because of sin (Heb. 10:26-31). Yes, sin has dreadful, catastrophic, eternal results!
If we really believed these warnings of God about the seriousness of sin, we would run from it! We would cut off occasions of sin in our life! We would not want to touch it! If certain companions lead you into sin, run from them (1 Cor. 15:33)! If looking at or reading certain literature leads you to sin, throw it away! If certain entertainment leads you to sin, avoid it! If going to certain places puts you in an atmosphere where you are tempted to sin, refuse to go there! If listening to certain music makes you think of sinful attitudes and actions, renounce it! If anything in your life makes sin more enticing, more tempting, more desirable, or more likely, turn from it! Be willing to take any drastic measures necessary to put an end to sin in your life!
If we realized how much God hates sin, how much it violates His holy character, and how tragic are the results of sin, surely we would not take sin so lightly. Ralston knew that he had to take painful, drastic action to save his physical life. And we need to take even greater action to escape sins slavery and results. Are we willing to make such a sacrifice? With the help of God, through the sin-sacrifice of Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can repent of sin, turn from sin, and walk in holiness. Be willing to do everything and anything to cut sin from your life!