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Matthew 18v7-9 – Temptation…

11/02/2018

Studies in Matthew 18 – Study 2.

THE GOSPEL and TEMPTATION

Text .  Matthew 18:7-9.

We are toddlers in the Kingdom. Furthermore, if anyone causes a child of God to stumble, it would be better for them if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Strong words.  In our last study I attempted to paint this for you before we ran out of time.  The seriousness of this is depicted in:

  • A millstone.   This millstone is μυλος ονικος a huge stone that can only be turned by an animal, a horse, donkey or ox.
  • The sea. The Jews were no seafarers, unlike the Phoenicians.  They hated the sea, and were terrified of it.  In heaven, there will be no more sea – indicating that when we are home in glory we are safe and secure from all dangers and sufferings.  The Romans used drowning as a punishment, for a Jew that would be an utter nightmare.  For Jesus to use the analogy of being cast into the sea, – into the deepest part of the ocean, with a great weight attached.

This scenario is pure horror.  Cause a child of God to stumble, and woe betide you.  It behooves us to bear that in mind, always. And the warnings don’t stop there.  Jesus warns us about causing offence.  So what does that mean, and how do offences happen and how do we about them?  Let’s move to verse 7.

  1. Committing an Offence! 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

What does ‘offence’ mean in this context?  σκανδαλων. Scandal! This verse links two blocks of text. In v1-6 Jesus is speaking about causing little ones (his children to stumble). In the following verses Jesus is talking about resisting the temptation to sin. This verse is directly linked to both.  In the first sense:-

  • OFFENCES OF GRIEF. And it is in this sense we must consider the offence of the cross. The world is offended by the gospel. The result of that offence is that they will go into a lost eternity. Woe to the world!  In the second sense:
  • OFFENCES OF GUILT. Or ‘offence’ in a judicial context?  Breaking the law is ‘committing an offence!’  We are all offenders against God’s law. The ESV reading of the phrase is ‘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!   I think this is important. So note what Jesus says here:

* The sureness of temptation to sin‘it must needs be that offences come.’  There is no possibility whatsoever that temptation will not befall us.we are all tempted to sin, and I suggest that this temptation will be a daily ongoing occurrence.   1 Corinthians 10:13  

* The sources of temptation to sin.

  • The world around us. Woe unto the world. This life is full of temptations to transgress. Matthew Henry speakavout the dangers along the narrow path – there are:
    • Stumbling-blocks. Dangers placed there deliberately to make a believer stumble.
    • Cliff faces. Natural dangers, sickness, disappointment, heartache,
    • False guides. Lots of people who will lead us astray, false teachers, wolves in sheeps clothing.  Matthew 7:  Acts 20:29,     Acts 20:30
  • Other people. but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.  Satan uses people to further his aims, to trip Christians up.     Satan is using that person to further his aims, and driving them into greater judgement before God.
  • Our own hearts. Isn’t the greatest danger to my soul my own heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked?  Yet the philosophy of the world today is “Learn to follow your heart.”     

* The seriousness of temptation to sin. WOE to the world. What possible woe can happen to the world?  The woe of judgement!  But this is not just some non specific, general woe to befall mankind, – this is personal. Pray for the humanists, and the liberal ministers and the professors, and the people mock and scorn, pray for them, for their punishment for causing Christian believers to stumble and sin will be very great indeed.   So, how can we deal with the temptation to sin?

 

  1. Constraint from Offence v8-9

So lets try to understand what Jesus is saying here:- If something you do, somewhere you go causes you to sin, – don’t do it, don’t go there.  If something you see causes you to sin don’t look at it!

 

Christian self-discipline. Self control.  Don’t underestimate the seriousness of this warning. This is strong stuff.  Consider the implications of the cost of avoiding temptation like this. There is a huge cost. The illustration is stark. It is better to be unemployed, to be infirm, to be a beggar, to be blind than to wilfully sin. It is better to lose close friends, lose your job etc than to wilfully sin. It is better to be greatly disadvantaged the sight of this world than to be cast into the Lake of Fire.  Jesus said, Mark 8:36  Why?  Because the wages of sin is death.

 

© Bob McEvoy

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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