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Right Hand, Cutting Off


In the Bible, the right hand is a symbol of authority, strength, blessing, and service because most people are right-handed and they use it for signing decrees and documents, perform most actions, and offer help. The person next in command will have the seat on the right-hand side of the person in authority. Hence, Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father (Mk 16:19). The right hand per se has been used for blessing (Gen 48:14). Though God has no physical body like us, the Old Testament does present God as using his right hand to protect Israel (Ex 15:6,12).

God has given us the right hand to use our strength to serve others. If we misuse it to hurt others, that will lead to eternal destruction. Instead, we must use our hands to serve our family, community, and the less fortunate who need our support.

Cutting off the right hand is also a hyperbolic expression and should not be taken in a literal sense. The lesson is that life eternal is important for which we might need to sacrifice worldly pleasures including anything that might lead us to mortal sin. Paul clarified this: “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col 3:5). We need to be selective in the choice of our friends, entertainment, drinks, reading, viewing…. Scandalous media, agnosticism, negativism, pornography, links with immoral people, overconsumption of alcohol, and use of drugs can adversely affect our lives and the lives of those associated with us. So, we have to cut off such elements for the sake of our own salvation and of that of others over whom we might have any kind of influence.

Paul advises Christians to live by the Spirit in contrast to gratifying the desires of the flesh. “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissension, factionalism, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:16-24).

When we sacrifice the desires of the flesh, it would seem like losing a dear part of our body. However, that loss is worth anything if it can help us avoid going to hell and thus aid us in gaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Though we enter heaven with an imperfect body, we will be perfect in heaven. Paul wrote: “He (Jesus Christ) will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body” (Phil 3:21).


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