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April 27 Eliminate any cause of temptation

Matt 5: 29-30 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out*~and throw it away*~! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. :30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off*~ and throw it away*~! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.”

Jesus had just made one of the most condemning statements in the Bible: “Everyone who looks on a woman [or man] to lust for her [or him] has committed adultery with her [or him] already in his [or her] heart” (Matt 5:28).

Sin begins with the lustful thought of a sinful act: “Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.”

Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin . . . If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted” (Job 31:1, 7–-8).

The phrase “[your] eye causes you to sin” translates skandalizo, which means to “set a trap or a stumbling block,” which describes how a person is led to sin or violate his conscience by what he allows his eyes or mind to desire.

The noun form of the verb is the trigger or spring of a trap on which the bait is placed, which, when touched by the animal, causes the trap to close and ensnares the animal. If sin begins in the mind and heart, then we must program our minds to desire and love what Christ honors.

Even the elimination of external harmful influences will not change a lustful, covetous heart into a pure heart, but it can prevent the continual feeding of lust and the vicarious enacting of sinful acts until they become inevitable.

Paul saw the solution to controlling our thoughts: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).

We control our thoughts by what and whom we listen to, read, or watch. Our heart dictates these decisions by what we believe to be most fulfilling. Be honest. Confess. Forsake. Plan to fill your time with thoughts that honor Christ.

“Lord, teach me to be as offended by sin as You are. Give me the commitment to take the steps to eliminate and avoid every source of temptation to violate Your word in my life.”

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