Matthew 5:29

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:29

“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out 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 be thrown into hell.” – Matthew 5:29

This verse comes from Jesus’ sermon on the mount.  Let’s look at the two verses prior to our focus verse.  “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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28.  These two verses are introductory to what he says right after that.  First, He quotes a command in the law.  “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14.   It is probable that the Pharisees taught this as regarding the outward act only for this is predominantly how they saw the law.  However, Jesus clarifies this when He told them that just lusting after a woman is adultery, as an inward act of the heart through desires.

Then He goes on to declare the following.  “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out 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 be thrown into hell. 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.”  Matthew 5:29-30.

Now, this is not necessarily to be taken literally.  What He is alluding to is that whatever it is that causes us to commit adultery must be removed.  If looking at a woman causes it, then we must not allow ourselves to be tempted by what we see.  The general idea here is that whatever it is that causes us to sin, we must either get complete control over It or get rid of it.  For example, if we see some money on a table at a restaurant and we have a strong desire to take it, we must either get control of our desires and go on about our business, or if that is not possible, then we need to leave and remove our self from the temptation.

We must address this immediately, for the longer we allow the temptation to continue, the greater the probability we will give in to our desires.  With theft, it is in stealing what we want or coveting what another has.  With adultery, we will either do the deed, or we will lust after the person.  And as Jesus said above, simply lusting after anything will cause us to sin.  It is not enough to not act it out, but we must not desire to act it out.

I want to encourage us all to be in fervent prayer that we will all be able to keep our desires in check.  We must not allow temptation to cause us to sin.  God will help us in this area, and we need to rely on Him when we struggle with it.  Remember, it is not just the act that is wrong, but it is the lust and covetousness that goes along with it.  We must control both so that we can honor and please God with all we have and all we are.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Mark 9:42.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 9:42 

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” – Mark 9:42   

In our focus verse, we read what Jesus thinks of those who cause one of His people to sin. This does not necessarily refer to little children regarding age, but of those who belong to Him, His disciples, and followers, essentially Christians. If a small act of kindness towards others done in Jesus’ name will be eternally remembered, so will any cause for stumbling. And the punishment is severe: it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. In other words, it would be better if he drowned. Mill stones in ancient times were either turned by hand or by beasts, chiefly by mules. These last were of the larger kind, and the original words denote that it was this kind that was intended. We see this is Matthew’s gospel. “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. This was one mode of capital punishment practiced by the Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and some other nations. The meaning of Jesus’ word is, it would be better for him to have died before he had committed the sin. To injure, or to cause to sin, the feeblest Christian, will be regarded by Christ as a most serious offence, and will be punished accordingly.

Then in the next verses, Jesus speaks of being  ensnared by sin ourselves. “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,” Mark 9:43. And also “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell,” Mark 9:47. Tragically, some have taken these words literally. He did not intend anyone to cut off their hands or pluck an eye out. Bodily mutilation doesn’t do anything in controlling sin. Sin is more a matter of the heart than of any particular limb or organ. If I cut off my right hand, my left hand is still there to sin. If I pluck out my left eye, my right eye is still there to sin. Or if I completely dismember my body, I can still sin in my mind and in my heart. Jesus was not talking about mutilating ourselves, He was speaking about sacrificing what is necessary not to sin.

Now, in both instances above, He says it is better to have only one eye, or one hand, to enter the Kingdom of God then to have both and be cast into hell. The idea here is what we see in the following verses. “And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” Mark 8:34-35. As said above, this was not a demand for physical self-mutilation, but of the costliest sacrifices.

We must do whatever is necessary to avoid temptation to sin. If reading certain books tempt us to sin, we must get rid of those books. If listening to certain songs tempts us, then we must stop listening to that song. And as I learned the hard way, if certain people tempt us to sin, then we must avoid those people unless we are able to witness to them without being tempted. We must be willing to sacrifice those things that causes us to sin, whether by actions or thoughts. It is better to give these things up and enter eternal life, then to hold onto them and enter eternal torment in hell.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Psalm 119:165

Verse of the Day Devotion Psalm 119:165 

“Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” – 119:165

Over the next couple of days as we approach the New Year, I will be looking at verses that I believe we all, including myself, should focus on as we approach and go into 2022.  I am preparing myself to focus my attention on how I want to think next year.  Thus, the verse selections for this week.

The writer of Psalm 119, who many believe to be David, makes it clear that it is the words of God that bring him peace.  From the first verse to the last, this chapter speaks of the author desiring to keep God’s commandments and ordinances, which encompass His Law, His word, and His ways.  And it also speaks of His judgement which he has stated is righteous.  For instance, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.” Psalm 119:1.  And then, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant, For I do not forget Thy commandments.” Psalm 119:176 (Last Verse).  And as you carefully read through the entire chapter, you will see that practically all of them speak of His Law, which is His words and ordinances. 

And how can we keep and follow in His ways? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.” Psalm 119:9.  The verse does say young man, but I believe that everyone is alluded to here, for we all can keep our ways pure by keeping His word.  It is imperative that we know His word and what is expected of us, and the only way we can do this is to read and study it.  And this speaks of one of my New Year goals for 2022, not that I do not do it now, but to make it a greater focus of my time.  And as we see in our focus verse, we are not just to do it simply out of duty,  but also because we love it and we love the one who gave it to us. Remember what Jesus spoke of as recorded in the gospel of John.  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:10-11.

So we see here that when we strive to keep His commandments, then we declare our love for Him and we have peace because our joy is complete.  And Jesus is the perfect example, for as He was perfect in that He kept His Father’s commandments we must also keep the commandments given to us by the Father.  And we find these in His Word.  And as the writer of Psalm 119 said, “Seven times a day I praise Thee, Because of Thy righteous ordinances.” Psalm 119:164, we should also give thanks to God for His Word, for by it we are able to please Him and declare our love to Him.  

And according to our focus verse, it brings peace to us. “Those who love Thy law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.” Psalm 119:165.  What is essentially being said here is that those who love His Law will keep it, and by keeping His law will have great peace.  And speaking of us when we love His law we can have great calmness of mind. We will not be troubled and anxious. We will believe and feel that all things are well-ordered by Him and will be brought about with the best result. We, therefore, calmly leave all with Him. As a matter of fact, the friends of God have peace and calmness in their minds, even amidst the troubles, the disappointments, and the reverses of life. The love of God is the best and only way to secure permanent peace in the soul and thus nothing will cause us to stumble.

This is a beautiful promise of God, and thus I have made it one of my New Year resolutions to do all I can to know and understand His word greater then before.  And the way I can do this is to study and follow His laws, loving them beyond everything else so that I will not struggle to keep them.  And if I do that, then I will be at peace during all hard times, for I know that God will bring me through.  And I pray that you desire to do the same, to love His word and to keep it so that you will experience the same peace.  There can be no greater life than to live it with the peace of God alive in our hearts.

God Bless you All.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.