Q: Since losing one eye or one hand will not conquer lust, why did Jesus give such a command?
A: This command is not to be taken literally, but rather figuratively, because if Jesus had wanted to stop men from lusting, He would have instructed that both eyes be removed. Yet, even without eyes, men lust with their hearts.
It is through our eye “gate” that we receive the images and signals that direct our hands and feet. The right eye influences the entire body and is usually the dominant eye. Jesus emphasized the power and importance of the eye when He said, “The light of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22).
The greatest damage that comes as a result of lusting with our eyes is that we train them to focus on the delusions of immorality and become spiritually blind to the realities of life. This blindness allows us to rush headlong into sin, ignoring the consequences of our actions. (See James 1:14–15.) The term right hand is rich with symbolic meaning. It represents one’s honor, authority, power, protection, and security (see Acts 5:31; Romans 8:34; Luke 22:69; Psalm 20:6, 16:8). These important qualities are lost or damaged when we lust.
Jesus used this analogy to communicate the important truth that the damage we do to others and ourselves when we lust is far greater than any limitations that would come with the loss of a right eye or right hand.
But how can we teach our eyes not to lust? If we fully dedicate our eyes, hands, and heart to the Lord (Romans 12:1–2), we will be able to die daily to the lusts of the flesh. We can also make a covenant with both eyes (Job 31:1), training them to see women as Jesus saw them (Hebrews 4:15–16).
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