12/14 Matthew 18:7-8

7 "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And 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 crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

The word that is translated "temptations" is also translated "stumbling blocks." The Greek word literally means "the trigger on a trap." Once the trigger is moved the trap springs shut capturing the prey. The world referred to in the verse is the fallen condition of mankind and his perversion of the good things of God. Traps take all kinds of forms. Some work on our physiology but most of them work on our imagination. They promise us things they will never deliver. Instead we find ourselves ensnared by them. The promise of sin never lives up to our imagination, and our imagination can never reach the full wonder of intimacy with God.

Why must temptations come? The very fact that there was a prohibition in the Garden of Eden became in Eve's heart a temptation to disobey. Satan promised her what was partially true and it played on her imagination. The result was catastrophic. We live with it daily. Without prohibitions and freedom there is no choice. We must learn that nothing in all creation can substitute for God.

Jesus spoke more on the topic of hell than any other Biblical character. Being ensnared by temptation can lead us to hell. It is so serious that Jesus said we should do what animals in the wild do when caught in a snare. They will chew the ensnared limb off to escape and live. What an analogy Jesus has set before us! We must deal seriously with temptation. It is a life and death issue. Escape into the arms of Jesus.

Consider: Has your imagination been taken captive by a lie? How will you cut it off? Will you fill the longing in your heart with the only One who can fill it?