Question: My dad was very disturbed by Matthew:18:9 and asked me about the verse "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." I wonder if you have some information about that. I assumed it had something to do with sin in your life and doing whatever it takes to get rid of it.
Response: The Scriptures condemn religious activities such as self-mutilation or inflicting wounds or pain (Lv 19:28, Dt 14:1), so we know that the Lord is not advocating the literal removal of one's eye. Even in an act such as fasting, the Lord commanded, "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Mt 6:17-18).
The issue is, what things impede our coming to Christ? Due to the seriousness of this question, the Lord used this extreme example. It is instructive to consider how many prison inmates write to us and confess that going to prison was an extreme act that acted as a stimulus to bring them to Christ.
Similarly, Paul wrote to believers, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom:8:13). The literal meaning of "mortify" is to "put to death." Please note that it is the "deeds of the body" that are to be "put to death." Clearly, there are good deeds done by the body, but it is "through the Spirit" that believers discern what is proper and right and what is better set aside.