In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave sound counsel on morality. He knew that our imperfect body members can have a dangerous influence on us. Jesus therefore said: “If, now, that right eye of yours is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost to you than for your whole body to be pitched into Gehenna. Also, if your right hand is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost than for your whole body to land in Gehenna.”—Matt. 5:29, 30.
The “eye” spoken of by Jesus represents the power or ability to focus our attention on something, and the “hand” relates to what we do with our hands. If care is not exercised, these body parts may cause us to “stumble” and cease ‘walking with God.’ (Gen. 5:22; 6:9) When tempted to disobey Jehovah, then, we need to take strong action, figuratively tearing out an eye or cutting off a hand.
How can we restrain our eyes from concentrating on immoral things? “A covenant I have concluded with my eyes,” said the God-fearing man Job. “So how could I show myself attentive to a virgin?” (Job 31:1) Job was a married man who was determined not to violate God’s moral laws. That should be our attitude whether we are married or single. To avoid sexual immorality, we need to be guided by God’s holy spirit, which produces self-control in those who love God.—Gal. 5:22-25.
To avoid sexual immorality, we might do well to ask ourselves, ‘Do I allow my eyes to arouse in me an appetite for immoral material readily found in books, on television, or on the Internet?’ Let us also remember these words of the disciple James: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:14, 15) In fact, if any individual dedicated to God “keeps on looking” with immoral motives at someone of the opposite sex, he needs to make drastic changes comparable to tearing out the eye and throwing it away.—Read Matthew 5:27, 28.
Inasmuch as improper use of our hands can result in serious violations of Jehovah’s moral standards, we must be firmly determined to remain morally clean. Therefore, we should heed Paul’s counsel: “Deaden . . . your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5) The word “deaden” stresses the strong measures that must be taken to fight against immoral fleshly desires.
In order to preserve his life, a person is likely to be willing to have a limb surgically amputated. The figurative ‘throwing away’ of the eye and the hand is vital for us to avoid immoral thinking and actions that can cost us our spiritual life. Keeping mentally, morally, and spiritually clean is the only way to escape the everlasting destruction symbolized by Gehenna.
Because of inherited sin and imperfection, maintaining moral cleanness requires effort. “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave,” said Paul, “that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) Let us therefore be determined to apply Jesus’ counsel on morality, never allowing ourselves to act in ways that show a lack of gratitude for his ransom sacrifice.—Matt. 20:28; Heb. 6:4-6.