His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Jesus, do you really mean it?

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I’ve had some interesting comments to a short post that showed up on this blog back in May (Do not call anyone on earth “father”). One comment claimed that Jesus did not mean this instruction to be taken literally, and that I was therefore just Catholic-bashing. Well, I have to admit, it is sometimes difficult for me to resist the temptation to “bash” certain Christian denominations. It just seems to me that many of them have wandered too far from the truth. However, in all my posts I try to avoid “bashing” anyone, and instead, just focus on the “truth.” Yet I know I’m not always successful.

Anyway, today I would like to take a look at this concept of whether or not Jesus intends for us to take certain things He said as literal instruction. And if we are not supposed to take something as literal, what is the point Jesus is trying to get across to us? I’ll offer up two examples of scripture, as points of discussion.

The first scripture comes from the 18th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus proclaims:

“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” (Matthew 18:7-9)

Does Jesus really mean this? Should I gouge out my eye because I gazed lustfully at someone who just walked by outside? And if I did, would my lack of eyesight really stop my lustful ways? I can pretty much guarantee you that lust could still enter my heart, with something as simple as a casual touch of a hand. I don’t need to see to lust. So was Jesus wrong? Don’t count on it.

It seems clear to me that in this passage of scripture, Jesus did not intend for us to take Him literally, simply because the actions He proposes will not really fix the true root cause of the problem. For the example I’ve given above, the root cause of my lust resides in my heart and in my mind, not in my eyes or even my hands. Okay, am I then supposed to cut out my heart and brain? That doesn’t sound very biblical. The conclusion I come to is that Jesus was illustrating a point, not giving literal instruction.

Maybe we can all be happy that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said (if you choose to agree). Though He did not expect us to take His instruction in Matthew 18:7-9 literally, He did have a point. But my purpose here is not to focus on that right now, but to look further into this idea of literal vs. non-literal meanings. I’ll leave it to you to dwell on the point Jesus made in Matthew chapter 18, if you choose. (you can read more of my thoughts on this topic in my post of September 10th)

But now I’d like to go a bit further into Matthew, for the second passage of scripture I wish to look at. This passage is the source of the verse I sited in the “Do not call anyone on earth father” post:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12)

First, what does your heart tell you? Is this illustration, or literal instruction? If you still don’t know, then what does your mind tell you? Read it again, and if you like, read the entirety of chapter 23 to gain the full context.

The best answer is the one that comes from your heart. Yet you can help your heart come to the right answer by using your mind. Read the Bible; learn from Jesus how He feels about such things as pride and humility – He’s telling you in verse 12. And with your heart, learn from Jesus why He is telling us to not call anyone on earth “father.”

Please comment and let me know what your heart is telling you.

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Author: C.J. Penn

Reflections on a double life... I'm just a wanna-be writer. What's it like trying to do serious writing while also being consumed with a full-time engineering job? Between the two, I sometimes don't get much sleep. But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some work on my book before heading off to work. I'm also passionate about the truth of God and Jesus, a truth that is not always visible in the outward view of the Christian religion. It's this passion that has pulled me out of bed to write for over 6 years now, still working on the same book, a book about truth. Will it ever be finished? God knows.

8 thoughts on “Jesus, do you really mean it?

  1. I do appreciate alot of the points you made in your article but Im afraid Im one of those christains who read and take the Bible quite literally….and yes that means if your right hand offends you, you should cut it off….if your eyes offend you…pluck them out…insane I know…but who are we to question God?

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  2. Hello Candyadderley,

    But do you agree that gouging out your eye, or cutting off your hand will not really address the true root cause of the sin? And if Jesus did not intend us to take this instruction literally (just for the sake of discussion), then what is the message He’s trying to get across to us?
    Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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  3. Just because the purpose of an exhortation is greater than the commandment itself does not mean that the commandment is not to be taken seriously or to be interpreted so as to make it of none effect. If that were so, all the law could be disregarded by those who say, “it’s not meant to be taken literally.” There would be idolatry, blasphemy, disobedience, dishonour, slaughter, adultery, theft, treachery, and covetesness and people would dismiss it by saying, “Oh, he he, He didn’t really mean what he said.” This is not what Jesus taught.

    The prophet Isaiah said of Christ, “he will magnify the law, and make [it] honourable.” This is what Jesus did when he commanded not to break the least its commandments, that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, that anger with a brother or a lustful look at a woman without any subsequent action is sufficient to bring one in danger of judgment and to pluck out eyes and cut off hands that offend rather than be condemned.

    The purpose of the law has always been for the knowledge of sin, to stop every mouth from justfying itself, to cause all men to become guilty before God, and as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

    We ought to know that we cannot be justified by the works of the law. Jesus did not intend people to pluck out their eyes or cut off their hands. He intended them to receive the righteousness which is by faith. If they do not, they better start plucking and chopping because he was deadly serious and he meant what he said.

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  4. Ben,
    Thank you, and I agree with everything you’ve said. Your last paragraph in particular reminds me of what I believe Jesus’ point was by instructing us to pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands. I need to think about it some more, but I just might post my thoughts later today.
    May God bless you,
    E.D.

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  5. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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  6. Thank you very much for the kind comments Sandra.
    E.D.

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  7. Google thank u for the truth jesus is the son of god amen

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  8. i dont understand. how can anyone say He’s talking to lost ppl/those working the law? He’s addressing OUR sin issues right here. grace gives you no license to sin therefore there is no license to sin against GOD. we’re to be holy, stay on the straitway, faithful and true to GOD we serve, ask for forgiveness from GOD as Jesus demonstrated to us in the Lords Prayer. if you cannot exercise self-control (one of the fruits of the spirit) over your body, you remove whats causing you to sin against GOD. Literally. if you cannot fully submit, cannot fully surrender b/c of those wicked hands, cut them off. read what it says and tell me who Jesus is talking to. if He is the only way to heaven, then He’s only talking to those who believe in Him in the first place. He’s addressing OUR sin issues:

    Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: —

    so we see He says enter into the Kingdom of GOD with one eye. only through our faith in Jesus shall we enter into the kingdom of GOD but also, the part that is watered down and cast away in these last days, we must follow Him. trust and obey is the theme of the entire Word of GOD. you cannot throw away the trust and you cannot throw away the obedience>

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