Disciples Contend for Greatness: Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. (Matthew 18:7-8)
Jesus now begins to speak generally about offenses, or scandals. He is referring to those who draw people away from doing good, and cause them to do evil. These are things, which cause grief, and make the heart of the Christian sad. There will always be certain things; various offenses that will come to us. And there is danger for Christians in these things, so we should be prepared for them. God has decided to permit them, and He uses these trials to temper our faith. It’s a blessing to be able to stay faithful to God, when these trials come to us.
There are many offenses in the world, which ruin millions of people; such things as false religions, false teachers, sins, stumbling blocks, snares, and sorrows. The world is a dangerous place. But God has called us out of the world, and those who are His are delivered from it, and preserved by the power of God. Psalm 116:165 has this to say about offenses, “They that love God’s law have great peace, and nothing shall offend them.”
Those who commit these offenses have a problem. Jesus said, “but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” There will be no excuse for these servants of Satan. If they hinder the salvation of others, they will bring terrible condemnation upon themselves. We may even bring offenses upon ourselves, and that’s what Jesus is saying, when He talks about our hand or foot offending us. A good example of this would be lying to cover up some sin.
When He talks about giving up an eye, a hand or a foot, he means anything that is dear to us which are a reason for us to sin. We don’t always need the devil to tempt us, because we are often drawn to sin by our own lust. Our eyes and hands can be instruments of good or evil. It is best to part with anything that causes us to sin. The desires of the flesh, must be crucified according to Galatians 5:24, where it says, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We must avoid going places where we know that the temptation to sin is waiting. In that sense, we cut off a hand.
There is a reason given for avoiding sin; “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than, having two hands, to be cast into hell.” The argument here is the same the apostle Paul gave in Romans 8:13, “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.” Those who are in Christ have nailed the flesh to the cross, but it isn’t dead yet; however, it can no longer dominate us.
And 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. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:9-10)
Jesus was not in favor of physical mutilation. The body is not responsible for sin. Lust begins in the heart just as pride does. Temptation also arises from within, and so does offending others and being offended. We need to recognize that this message is dealing with both aspects of the problem. We are most likely to offend others when we are selfish and proud. At the same time, however, we are also most likely to be offended when we are selfish and proud. What Jesus means here is that believers are to cut out of their lives anything that causes them or others to sin.
Today, there are people who not only cause others to sin, but they enjoy doing it. Jesus has another warning for this group; “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.” Jesus will be displeased with anyone who harms any member of His church, from the greatest to the least. Every child of God is always on the Savior's mind. How can He forget when all He has to do is to look at the nail prints in His hands to be reminded?
The children of God are blessed by Him and, “… their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Guardian angels are not promised for each child, although Scripture does teach the idea of individual guardian angels for believers (not all children, in general). It is, therefore, very important that children are saved as young as possible. Salvation is not just a privilege to be enjoyed by a special group, but it is also to be shared with the lost so that they too may be saved. Therefore, it is not the Father’s will … that any of these “little ones,” should perish.
We can be sure that it is not the ultimate wish (or desire) of God that anyone perishes. Although God permits man to perish in his unbelief, He does not condemn him against his will. A man or woman is lost and condemned to eternal separation from God by a choice to reject Jesus; not by the will of God. I pray that every lost soul will receive Jesus as a little child. I pray they will believe what God says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
JESUS IS READY TO RECEIVE YOU, BUT YOU MUST COME HIS WAY, BY FAITH IN HIS SON.