In case you don’t want to take time to listen to the sermon, I have transcribed the second part of it…
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
There were some in the history of the church who took these things literally and cut off fingers, and cut off hands, and cut off other parts of their bodies. I don’t think that is what Jesus has in mind here. What He is instead doing is using hyperbole, to help us to understand how drastic the nature of this matter is. I have written under this passage in red pen…”Sin must be dealt with!”
Sermon prep is where you find it. Yesterday…well…Friday during co-op I went in, flushed the toilet to make sure they were working, and then used the toilet. The second flush didn’t work. So I spent three hours yesterday working on our DWV system. DWV stands for Drain, Waste, and Vent. And you can just imagine what the “W” in there refers to.
Well, I did what I usually do. I went up on the roof and tried to drive a snake through the plug in the drain pipe. It didn’t budge. So I went and got a closet auger to make sure that it wasn’t an issue in the toilets themselves. And finally I went up on the roof and poured in about eight gallons of hot water to soften it, and I was finally able to get the snake through it.
Understanding how these things work, I think I can tell you what happened. We’ve been using a lot of toilet paper. And since those are 1.6 gallon toilets, they don’t really flush very well. If they were used constantly throughout the week, things would be fine. But they are used on Sundays, sometimes on Tuesdays and sometimes on Fridays. So what happens is that some of that toilet paper doesn’t get all the way through, and it adheres to the walls of the pipe. And over the course of the week it dries, and come the next weekend there is some more. And it appears that it is getting through, but there is more and more building up. And every week it gets in there and dries…and hardens…and builds up.
And it is deceptive, because every time you would go in there and flush one of those toilets…it would flush…the first time. And then the second time, it wouldn’t.
So what I finally had to do was get up there on the roof and pour hot water through, which would soften what was there. And remember, I have been able to get the snake through there for the last three months. But we finally got to the point that what we have built up in there is so dry and so hard that the cold water going through the system won’t dissolve or soften the blockage, but in the course of a few hours would seep through. I had to use hot water to do soften it.
And you know, it could have been the case that everybody could have used the toilet in the ladies’ restroom that is below where the plug was. Because the line below that is four inch, instead of three inch, and it has more capacity. But guess what would have happened over time? Sooner or later that would have gotten plugged up, too. Because we don’t use those toilets enough to maintenance that pipe the way it needs to be. So…it gets dry and hard, and that would happen below that toilet as well.
Do you understand that this is a parable. It is a metaphor for sin. What is going on in our lives…our sin…Jesus says ‘cut off your hand, your foot, pluck out your eye’…our sin is more drastic and nasty than what gets backed up in those pipes. Isn’t that an image?
What happens is…”I’m won’t address this thing. I’m going to let this go because I don’t have it within me to face it down. I don’t have it within me to face down the person…I don’t have it within me to face down my own desires…I don’t have the ability to take on the shame of dealing with that in my life, for whatever reason or purpose. And it’s not causing me that much trouble right now.”
Guess what happens if you let it go. It ‘sticks to the walls of the pipe.’ It hardens. And as you don’t deal with it more of that nasty stuff goes through…some of it goes through, but most of it sticks…until finally the pipe is clogged. I can only begin to imagine what it looked like upstream of that plug by the time I finally got it out. And I could go to the other toilet. I’m sure we could have a few embarrassing moments with our men using the Ladies’ restroom. We could all go to that other toilet, but the time would come, because we don’t maintenance it well, that it would be plugged up there too.
That is a picture of what it is like when we don’t deal with our sin.
Because, in many ways it doesn’t matter how minor we think that sin is. Because either it is going to get bigger and bigger and things will get plugged up…or else I am going to work from that ‘little sin’…the Puritans said it and I will say it…sometimes the result and curse of sin is more and different sin. So I just get further and further off the mark. Because if this is OK, then maybe this is OK, and then this is OK, too…and sooner or later I just get so bound up in it that my heart gets hardened just like it was hardened in that pipe.
You have to deal with it.
Now that I think I know what the problem is, I think I know what the solution is. Every time we are in here we need to run about ten gallons of water through one of those toilets, so that everything that is fresh in that pipe can get swept out into the septic tank. When we were not doing that, what did I end up having to do? I ended up having to go up on the roof, and run through a snake, and pour through hot water. And if that hadn’t worked…well, I have a couple of fittings in the Suburban, and tomorrow I would have ended up under the building, cutting that pipe out, cleaning it out and putting it back in.
Imagine that in our lives, people. Imagine what that would be like. What would the spiritual equivalent be of having Pastor Brainerd cut out six feet of pipe, clean it out, and put it back in place…as opposed to running ten gallons of water through the system every time it is used? Because Jesus says that if your hand or foot cause you to sin…cut it off and cast it from you…if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you…that’s cuttin’ the pipe out and cleanin’ it out kind of stuff, isn’t it?
We all have these things. If my family were to look at you and tell you the truth, they would tell you that there have been, and are, issues that they will not bring up to me, because I am too arrogant and prideful to just deal with them, and some of them are pretty nonsensical. I have these issues, and I am overgeneralizing from my life to yours. In my life they need to be dealt with and I am preaching to my own hurt…and I am preaching to your hurt, too. Because I can virtually guarantee that in every life I am speaking to there is something like this embedded in there that needs dealt with. And for some of those things it is going to be like cutting the pipe out and cleaning it out. With others it is merely a matter, as I sent an email to you men last night, of keeping short accounts.
It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Glory be to God.