Extreme Measures

Text: Matthew 18:8-9

Typically, one will not purposefully harm himself unless he is severely depressed or mentally ill. Yet this idea is used in the New Testament to make a spiritual application – we must be willing to go to extreme measures to do what is right. In this lesson, we are going to see what we can learn from the passages that talk about this concept.

To Avoid Stumbling Blocks (Matthew 18:8-9)

  • Jesus’ point is that we must be willing to do whatever it takes to avoid stumbling blocks
  • This ought to remind us of how terrible sin is – separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2); required Jesus to have to die on the cross (Hebrews 10:4-5, 10; 9:22, 14); leads to eternal destruction (Romans 6:23)
  • We must be willing to do anything to avoid sin and remove it from our lives (Matthew 5:27-30; 19:10-12) – engage in the diligent work of learning and exercising self-control (1 Corinthians 9:27; Luke 9:23)
  • However, this is not just about things that are sinful in themselves, but about whatever causes us to stumble (Hebrews 12:1) – things that leave no time for God (Luke 12:19); that master us (1 Corinthians 6:12); that produce unnecessary temptation (2 Timothy 2:22; Proverbs 5:8)

To Help Others (Galatians 4:12-15)

  • Paul emphasized the love that these brethren had for him
  • Reminder of our need to put others ahead of ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4) – through love, serve one another (Galatians 5:13); love is shown in deeds, not just words (1 John 3:18)
  • We are to help others as we have the opportunity to do so (Galatians 6:10) – God judges us based upon our ability (2 Corinthians 8:12); but we must be willing to sacrifice (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Acts 4:32-35)
  • We need to be rich in good works (1 Timothy 6:18) – strive to go above and beyond for others

To Keep from Leading Others Astray (Galatians 5:10-12)

  • Some were trying to teach that Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved (Galatians 2:3-5) – this was so potentially damaging that Paul used some strong and crude language to condemn it
  • This reminds us of how dangerous error is – causes us to be severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4); causes those who promote it to be condemned (Galatians 1:8-9; James 3:1)
  • We need to be careful we are teaching the truth (1 Peter 4:11) – found in the Scriptures (John 17:17); requires us to learn (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:15-16)
  • We also need to make it clear that we are persuading others to believe Christ, not ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:5) – those we teach must be convinced to follow the word of God, not man (1 Thessalonians 2:13)


  • No one in a right frame of mind would want to harm or disfigure their body
  • While we are not called to do this, this illustration is used to make an important spiritual point – we must be willing to sacrifice anything to be pleasing to the Lord
  • If anything in our life needs to be cut off or plucked out to be faithful to Him, we need to do it

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