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If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. --Mark 9:43 (NIV)
My sister has weak knees. Her ability to compete on our high school's track team was cut short (quite literally) when her knee gave out to the point that it needed to be surgically repaired. The first procedure didn't solve the problem. Despite the use of a supportive brace during certain activities, she experienced another knee injury requiring even more extensive surgery.
This week my sister will be undergoing a procedure on what she considers her "good" knee. She has decided that she would rather endure the pain and recovery time of an aggressive surgery now, while her knee isn't in such bad shape.
Her choice to deal with the problem aggressively and as completely as possible, is how each of us should seek to rid our lives of the plague and pain of sin. In some cases, the only way to effectively deal with the problem is to, metaphorically, cut it out of our lives completely. If we were to allow even the tiniest opportunity of sinful behavior to take root in us, we run the risk of scarring the tissue of our consciences. The problem with a callous heart is that it is far less sensitive to the prompting of the holy spirit. As each error in judgment and every indiscretion takes its toll on our hearts, we become desensitized. Where a tender, tactile spirit once lived, we allow something hardened and callous to dwell.
To keep this from happening, we need to schedule an appointment with the Great Physician, and ask him to carefully and completely remove the root of sin within us. The double-edged blade of his Word will cut cleanly enough, but it will hurt considerably. Fortunately, if our hearts are still sensitive enough to feel such a sting, then we are not too entrenched in our sin to be saved. The pain of cutting sin out of our lives is a temporary experience compared to the comfort and healing we find in obeying God's commandments. As the Holy Spirit works in us, we will wonder why we ever let ourselves limp along with such sins weighing us down, and why we didn't look to cut out the root of our infirmity sooner.
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