by Tad Lindley
Before you read any further, I want you to get to a place where nobody is watching you. Are you there?
Now, look at your favorite hand, and tell it, “Hand, I love you, but I won’t die for you.” Next, look at your favorite foot, and tell it, “Favorite foot, we’ve been together all of our lives, and I love you, but I won’t die for you.”
In the American Civil War, the vast number of casualties did not die in battle, but they died later in agonizing infection from bullet wounds. Surgeons often amputated the leg that had been shot, or the arm that had been shot, in hopes of saving the soldier’s life. Their thinking was, “Better to sacrifice the arm or leg and save the life.”
Jesus had an amputation sermon
Sin is a spiritual disease. We all have it. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Sin spreads like gangrene, and its end result is death (see Romans 6:23). If we want to be saved, sin must be amputated from our life.
Jesus told the people in Mark 9:43-48, If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’(NIV)
Where’s all the amputees then?
As a child I read these verses of scripture, and I wondered, “Why aren’t people that used to be guilty of concealment of merchandise walking around with their hands cut off? Why aren’t there lustful people walking around with their eyes gouged out? Why aren’t there filthy mouthed people with their tongues cut out?” But Jesus is talking in a metaphoric sense to us here. He is telling us that if there would be something in our spirit that would keep us from entering the kingdom of God, then we’ve got to take care of it now. We have got to cut it out of our lives.
Amputate the sin, not the skin
The Bible tells us some of the very things that would keep us from heaven in I Corinthians 6:9-10: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (This is what a lot of us were).
Enter the operating room.
It’s not by our own surgery that we can take care of the situation. We’ve got to go under the supervision of the master surgeon. We might think, “I can fight off the infection.” And for a little while we will, but before long it will be back bigger than ever. If you’ve ever quit drinking for a while and then fallen off the wagon, you know that sin gets worse, never better. There comes a time when the sick person has to say, “I can’t take the pain anymore, I don’t want to die bit by bit like this. I don’t want to see my life piece by piece stolen away by this disease.” They that would be saved must come before the King in repentance. The Surgeon is only looking for serious patients.
It all starts when we go to the Doctor and plead with him to amputate sin from our life. For you it might be getting with God in prayer and asking him to take the homebrew or the homegrown out of your life. Maybe it is your anger, your depression, or your gambling addiction. Perhaps it is fear, or a sexual perversion. Whatever it is, if it will keep us out of heaven, we need to amputate it from our life. We have tried for years to fix things ourselves, but now it’s time to enter the operating room. In our prayer closet we ask God to deliver us from the sin that is bit by bit destroying us. This is called repentance.
Then we need to find a preacher who follows in the footsteps of Jesus’ disciples who will baptize us. We will be put under water in the name of Jesus Christ for the removal of sin (Acts 2:38). Baptism is the operation I’m talking about: Buried with him [Jesus] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)
Unlike natural amputation where the patient then has to adapt to life with a prosthetic device, we receive a replacement better than the old one. In fact the Bible promises us that if we will repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the removal of our sins, we will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38-39). That same power that raised Jesus’ broken and battered body from the grip of death operates in our own wounded spirit to restore it to a more glorious condition than before.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.