Guard the Avenues of the Mind

Again, we are brought back to the question of inviting temptation. How far should we go in protecting ourselves from the vulnerability to sin? Jesus laid down a very clear principle in the sermon on the mount. "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matthew 5:29, 30).

Obviously, Jesus was not talking about the literal eye or the literal hand. One could violently decimate his body and still be as wicked as ever. Christ was talking about the occupation of the hand and what the eye focuses on. If we find ourselves in a job or any physical situation which opens a door to temptation, the counsel is to "cut it off." In other words, get away from any vocation which involves an enticement that is liable to lead into sin. The Master indicated that any radical means should be used to avoid situations which might overwhelm with soul-destroying sin. Even an employment position should be abandoned rather than risk the spiritual loss of eternal life.

If we find ourselves looking at some scene which is likely to introduce sinful thoughts or actions, Jesus commands us to shut that view away from our sight by any possible means. The term "pluck it out" conveys the idea of precipitous action if necessary.

What a persuasive argument against the corrupt communication media of today!

The alluring appeal of television is probably the most powerful incitement to sin in the twentieth century. The words of Christ have a most explicit application to those who have difficulty controlling the television set. Our Lord's counsel to "pluck it out" would seem to translate into "throw it out" if the eye continues to be offended by provocative pictures on the tube. Much better, Jesus said, to lose the advantage of the educational material than to lose the soul by looking at degrading programs. If it can't be totally controlled, don't take the chance! Pluck it out!

Would Jesus ask us to deny ourselves some good thing just because a small amount of mind pollution might be involved? Yes. It is much better to lead what the world calls a narrow-minded existence—a one-eyed life—than to lead a so-called full life and lose your soul. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Saying no to desirable, fleshly things is a basic requirement of a Christian's discipleship if those things present temptations which are likely to lead into sin.

What I am really saying is that even with a spiritual mind, we need to follow the great basic principles of victory over temptation. There are places to be avoided if we want to have total victory. There are devotional requirements if we would be wholly in harmony with Christ. The avenues of the mind must be guarded if we would defeat sin in its inception.

What a tremendous difference it would make if all could clearly understand the priority placed upon a pure mind. Satan has created a deceptive, artificial world of the flesh which makes a powerful appeal to the mind of every man, woman, and child. Only by recognizing the snares and appropriating all the weapons of Christ's warfare will we be successful in resisting temptation.

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