cut it off
It is important to realize that the following verse is what we would call an idiom. English, and other languages, have idioms that the locals understand but foreigners trying to learn the language would not easily understand. Here is some idioms. “He got himself into a pickle” or “he got himself into a jam”. Those sayings do not mean that someone is literally inside of a dill pickle or inside of a jar of strawberry jam. The idioms mean that someone got himself into difficulty.
So the scripture below means to stop doing something…stop a bad habit that is taking the “doer” in the wrong direction. The strength of the language used indicates that forceful self-discipline is needed when things are going the wrong direction.
George M. Lamsa, who translate the Bible from Aramaic, had this to say in More Light on the Gospel (1968), p.6,. “What Jesus meant here was the destruction of the habit…for members of the body are agents of the mind….Jesus here hints that it is better for a man to lose a member of his body…than to break one of God’s laws and receive eternal punishment.”
It is possible that if someone does not pay attention when the Holy Spirit is dealing with them, that something severe can happen, in a person’s life, in a person’s circumstances, or even to the body. If somone is not willing to self-discipline, it seems that the consequences themselves of sowing and reaping have a way of stepping in as the disciplining force. But that is not God’s best way. That is someone walking out from under the protection of the Lord into difficult consequences from disobedience. That can’t be blamed on God. Moral law, when broken, brings repercussions.
Matthew 5:30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.
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