Weight of Sin

To this point in Matthew 18, Jesus has shared what it means to have faith and to be in the faith with others. He now turns His attention to give us a fearsome warning to anyone who causes one of the little ones who believe in Him to sin or stumble (18:6a). The word He uses is (σκανδαλίζω skandalizō) it gives us our word scandal. Christ Jesus says don’t be a party to a spiritual or moral scandal. Matthew 18:6~…it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (ESV) 

The millstone is a large stone that could weigh hundreds of pounds. It was used to mill grain or create flour. This stern warning was not just issued to teenaged boys full of raging hormones, it was issued to every person, about influencing a believer, or anyone, to sin. Matthew 18:7 ~Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (ESV) To paraphrase, What horror awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin! Temptation is a part of our lives in this world, but if we’ve read the end of the book, what a woe that will befall our world.

Jesus says it’s better to not have something than to let it lead you into sin. No, He isn’t promoting self-mutilation, rather His figurative language is about removing anything from our lives that will cause us to stumble or lead us into sin. Therefore, if there a relationship, habit, addiction, attitude (such as bitterness or anger), or anything that leads us into sin, must be removed from our lives. No matter the difficulty it might cause. We are infinitely better without it, then to be thrown into the eternal fire of hell because of it. Christ Jesus offers us a somber warning about sin’s seriousness

Matthew 18:11~For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (NKJ) Listen as Jesus teaches this point for us with the parable of the lost sheep. Matthew 18:12~What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? Matthew 18:13~And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. (ESV) 

The joy is not because #36 came home, You know in numerology #36 is the favorite, it’s the perfect number arrived at when falling asleep. No, it isn’t. No one sheep is more loved than another, the joy is over peril and loss avoided. Matthew 18:14~So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (ESV) God doesn’t want to lose even one person. 

God doesn’t want to lose you to sin. That is why the Bible shares the most wonderful story about God’s Abundant Grace. When a stumbling believer repents and returns, he or she should be received with great joy. We ought to say to them I’m so glad you’re back, we have been praying for you. Who needs to know that you are praying for them today. It truly is a powerful thing to know that someone is lifting us up in prayer. Take time today to pray for them, and then let them know, hey I prayed for you.

Faith In Action

Now we probably already know that faith is the substance of confidence, not in ourselves but in the Lord. Who gives us the ability to walk in faith. When we talk about walking, moving, or going in faith, we are discussing faith in the sense that it is a vehicle. Something that facilitates us to move. Thus, our most holy faith provides us with a vehicle to live and move to operate and have our being as God guides and directs us along the path of life. Life takes faith. 

Turning to the book of Hebrews and the hall of faith found in chapter 11 we discover that: By faith, Enoch was taken (Hebrews 11:5), By faith Noah, when warned…built (Hebrews 11:7), By faith Abe, when called…obeyed (Hebrews 11:8), By faith the walls of Jericho fell (Hebrews 11:30) Hebrews 11:32-33~ And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through FAITH conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised. (NIV)

Moreover, we read in Hebrews 11:6~And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV) Do you remember the day that the Holy Father called you, drawing you into faith, encouraging you to get into a new life, to cast off the old and to do so by placing faith in Jesus. (John 6:44) God said let’s journey through life and faith, together. Ephesians 2:8-9~For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV) 

We must walk by faith, and that faith is placed in God’s only begotten son, Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:7) We live by faith, and that faith is in Jesus who justifies us. (Hebrews 10:38) We survive the most difficult situations and trying circumstance of life by faith. And the object of our faith is Jesus. Ephesians 6:16~In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. (ESV)

Faith is a very humble and innocent quality, which is perhaps why we associate it with childlikeness. Jesus’ disciples were concerned with who was greatest, who was closest, or the most important. Christ Jesus responds to their debate by taking a small child to His side and saying that the least among them was the greatest. This picture reveals childlike faith looks outside itself for salvation. Salvation is a gift; people do not pay for or contribute to his salvation—it is entirely of God. Romans 5:1~Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV) 

Today, take time to refocus your faith in Jesus. Ma’am maw is great, but our faith is not in her for salvation, healing, and eternal life. No, our faith is to be in Christ alone who is our hope of glory. As you refocus, God is going to share things that need to be adjusted or let go of. Just let God lead you and give-up what He asks of you. This is for your good and He will bless you with what you have need of. I bet He will even put a song in your heart to help you throughout the day. Just give yourself over to Him.

Abundant Grace

In chapter 17, Jesus gave His disciples a glimpse of His glory and coming kingdom through the Transfiguration and foretelling His death and resurrection. As chapter 18 opens, Matthew records the phrase “At that time,” which probably means at this stage of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples have a question. So, they get together and approach Him with the question: Who is… Matthew 18:1~At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (ESV) That’s a great question, right? Doesn’t everyone want to be great? The economics of greatness in Heaven’s kingdom has at least three requirements.

Today, let’s look at Being Great’s Refusal (18:2-14) As Jesus answers the disciples’ question of what true greatness is. We begin by what we must not be, if our goal is greatness, and that is a stumbling block. Jesus calls over a small child and says in Matthew 18:2~And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, (ESV) Matthew 18:3~Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (ESV) Yes, we get to be selfish and make life all about us, whoo-hoo! No, and Jesus is saying to them, that the way they look at greatness is all wrong. The disciples think greatness is about position, power and the accolades that ensue. But they are obviously wrong and so, Jesus explains Matthew 18:4~Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (ESV) 

Therefore greatness requires childlike faith, and our Lord is teaching us and all of His disciples to welcome children into His kingdom. Saying in Matthew 18:5~Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me (ESV). Thus, Jesus is referring both to children and adults who demonstrate a childlike faith. So what does the phrase, childlike faith really mean? It is not a phrase found in scripture, but neither is trinity or rapture. To learn about faith, we need a good Biblical working definition and that is found in Hebrews 11:1~Now faith is the substance (ὑπόστασις hypostasis) of things hoped for, the evidence (ἔλεγχος elegchos) of things not seen. (KJV) (ὑπόστασις hypostasis) is also rendered as confidence, assurance, reality. While (ἔλεγχος elegchos) is evidence, conviction, and certainty. 

Where in your faith, do you have the substance of confidence and assurance? This is the place that we need to cultivate our belief and trust in Jesus. We will know that we are growing in our faith by the evidence, conviction and certainty we gain as we grow closer to the Lord. So again, what area of life do you have the most confidence in Jesus? If you are not certain take time to analyze your faith today, pray and ask God to help reveal this to you, and also ask Him to help you cultivate a richer and stronger faith in Him.