Opinions are divided among Christians as to whether Jesus is speaking literally or figuratively here, but nothing is to be gained by changing the literal meaning. It would be more profitable to do this literally and enter into eternal life with one eye if our eyes caused us to sin, than to be cast down to hell as a result of that sin, with two eyes. And to further emphasize the seriousness of sin Jesus went on in V30 to include the right hand, and in chapter 18 and Mark 9, He also included the foot (CP 5:30; 18:8-9; Mk 9:43-48). Jesus spoke like this to impress upon us the fact that sin is so serious, and hell so terrible, that sin must be dealt with in a radical way if need be, to save us from hell. Every influence of sin in our lives must be opposed and rejected, whatever the cost (CP Psa 101:3; 119:101; Pr 4:27; Isa 33:14-16; 56:1-2; Lu 11:34). Mt 5:29 is a continuation of Christ's teaching against lusting with our eyes and committing adultery in our heart in V27-28, which provides a ready example of how a man's eye can lead him into sin (CP Mt 5:27-28).
The most notable example of a believer's eyes causing him to sin is King David in the Old Testament (CP 2Sam 11:2-4). Note here the progress of sin: at first David simply glanced down and saw Bathsheba bathing herself, but he continued to look upon her and saw that she was very beautiful; then he lusted after her -
he made enquiries as to who she was and arranged for her to visit him; this gave birth to sin - he then committed adultery with her. And this is exactly how the Bible says it will happen (CP Jas 1:13-16). There is no sin in being tempted - the sin is in yielding to temptation. When inner lusts respond to outward enticement, sin is spawned (CP Mt 15:19). Christians must be particularly careful always to abstain from taking pleasure in scenes of immorality such as those shown in films, television or pornographic literature (CP Col 3:5; 2Ti 2:22; Jas 1:12; 1Pe 2:11).
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