Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Passing Thought: Matthew 5:29,30—Excuses?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 26, 2011

“If your right eye causes you to sin, 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 sin, 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.”

I have always been leery of circumstances that supposedly “cause” people to sin. It is very frustrating when you’re trying to help someone from the word of God and you are told that Scripture does not apply to their particular situation because they have been diagnosed with this, that, or the other. Most prevalent when counseling people with rebellious children is the whole ADD / ADHD thing. Game over. Scripture can’t help, and since it’s a mental defect, gee, our only hope is a God-hating drug addict named Sigmund Freud.

Or, the one that cracks me up: the belief that it occurs in children that are ultra intelligent and get bored with us normal folks, and therefore act-out in sinful ways. Being interpreted: my child is sinful because he’s smarter than you are. Often, I suspect, parents go to pastors for “counseling”—not for advice, but so the word will get out that it is nobodies fault that their child is a monster. “Johnny, we know the Munster’s son stabbed you in the eye with a pencil, but it’s not his fault—he has ADHD. And such a pity because the Munsters are such a fine Christian family—we must always remember to pray for them. And of course, we must also remember to pray that God will restore sight to your right eye.”

The newest one I heard last night over dinner is a brain malfunction that causes people to become angry. Because of the brain malfunction (that can be caused by a bump on the head or a “chemical imbalance”), they suddenly feel the urge to “fight or flee.”  The person I was dining with is not the victim of this unfortunate disorder, but as we were discussing it, Matthew 5: 29, 30 came to mind; specifically, Jesus’ comment about things that “cause” us to sin.

Jay Adams often teaches that Matthew 5:29,30 refers to “radical amputation.” One should arrange their life so that they have to overcome barriers to partake in a sin. And I concur 100%, but could Jesus have also been referring to excuses? If your right hand “causes” you to sin (which is purposely ridiculous because sinful hearts cause sin, not our members), cut it off. So, if you want to use your right for an excuse, best to cut off the hand to prevent the sin. There is really only one thing that causes sin: a choice to obey sinful desires rather than God. Excuses are as ridiculous as cutting off members to prevent sin; cut off the excuse instead.

How this comes together as a passing thought / question is best summarized in something that Susan shared with me about one of my new stepsons. He has a medical condition that sometimes requires powerful steroids. Apparently, steroids make some people want to eat everything in sight, and my stepson is no exception to that group. The doctor gave him the news right after he had labored vigorously to get in shape physically, so he refused to agree to taking the medication which resulted in the following rebuke by the doctor:

“You will take the medication if I tell you to young man. And by the way, the steroids do not put food in your mouth—you are the one that puts food in your mouth—that’s a choice you make on your own.”

Hmmm. So, let’s put this together. Amputated excuse + Adam’s radical amputation + of course, help from the Holy Spirit (Phil. 4:13) = what needs to be done for a good outcome. Can my stepson rearrange his life to make excessive eating more difficult? For example, should snack foods be amputated from the household? Say yes. Should he pray about the situation? Say yes. Should alternative foods be considered? Say yes. Should other Christians be recruited to help him? Say yes. And keeping with the theme of this blog in mind: should he focus on the same gospel that saved him so that he will be overwhelmed with gratitude which will make food look completely irrelevant in comparison to Christ? Say no, and ask, “What dork came up with that counseling strategy?”


2 Responses

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  1. tadwyoming©2010 said, on July 26, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Paul you forgot to add, ‘grin and bear it’ to the strategic plan. This man must suffer. If he is not willing to suffer because he is conscious of God, maybe he would do so because he’s conscious of not wanting to be thought of as a fatty.

    Still, if he wants favor, he might kill two birds …. “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” 1 Peter 2:19.


    • pauldohse said, on July 26, 2011 at 7:10 PM

      Tad, Yes,I guess I can see that angle here. But the other one I missed was the fact that Christ’s illustration also speaks to how serious God takes sin, as opposed to “Oh well, he’s just backslidden,” or “Oh well, we can’t keep the law perfectly anyway, or “Oh well, we’re just sinners saved by grace.”

      Trying to get to your other comment and a 39 page document someone sent me, but your input is always appreciated.


      > —–Original Message—– >


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