Thursday, January 7, 2016, 11:21 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Do Not Fear.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 18:1-9 (NASB).
Become Like Children (vv. 1-6)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus said that unless we change and become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven, I believe he was speaking of the kind of pure trust and faith small children have. God can get through to small children so much easier than he can get through to many adults, because small children don’t have all the filters adults have preventing them from such sincere faith. They so easily believe, and they so easily act upon what they believe, too, and they also are not afraid to tell others about what they believe, as well. There is a certain transparency about small children that is often missing in many adults. So, we need to be unpretentious like small children, we need to have a sincere and honest trust and faith in what Jesus Christ teaches us, and we need to act on that faith.
So, how does this look? Well, when you tell a child to jump, because you will catch him or her, rarely do small children hesitate, but they freely jump into your arms, believing that you will catch them. In fact, sometimes they jump without you knowing they are going to, and even then they believe you will catch them, based upon previous experience. Young children, particularly those brought up in a loving and healthy environment, usually are not afraid to trust people, and readily believe what you tell them. And, that is how we should be with Jesus, too. We should believe the things he has told us, and we should jump into his arms, acting on that faith, and do what he tells us to do, believing he will catch us, i.e. that he will care for us, hold us, nurture us, and will guide us safely to our eternal home.
In other words, child-like faith is faith in action. It puts feet to profession. If we truly believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross to save us from sin, then we will willingly surrender our lives to Christ, leave our lives of sin behind us (die with Christ to sin), put our lives in his hands, and do what he tells us to do. We read in John 14 that whoever has God’s commands and keeps (obeys; holds to) them is the one who loves Jesus. If we love Jesus, we will be loved by the Father and by the Son, and he will show himself to us. If we love Jesus we will obey his teaching. The Father will love us, and the Father and the Son will make their home with us. If we do not obey Christ’s teachings, then we do not truly love him. If we do not love him, then all bets are off, i.e. none of these promises apply to us. So, love for God means keeping his commands, and his commands are not burdensome.
Causes to Sin (vv. 5-6)
And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Jesus said that whoever receives one such child in his name receives him. He could be speaking of a literal child, or it could be he is speaking of followers of Christ with child-like faith, which seems to be the preferred interpretation. In other words, how we treat sincere believers in Jesus Christ who have this child-like faith, is how we treat Jesus Christ. In our day and age, such humility, devotion, surrender and sincere trust in Christ and in his word, which acts on the faith to believe in what God’s word teaches, is not acceptable, even within organized religion. Why? Because it believes what God’s word teaches about sin, heaven, repentance, obedience, judgment, and hell, and it believes that many will hear from Jesus one day that he never knew them, and that they must depart from him. And, this is an offense to people, even to many who call themselves Christians, because it calls them to change their lifestyles, to humble themselves before God, and to obey Christ and his word.
God takes sin seriously. That is why he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross, so that through his shed blood we might be delivered out of slavery to sin and so we might become slaves of his righteousness, instead. In other words, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). He did not die just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Because God takes sin so seriously, and because Jesus died to set us free from sin, God takes very seriously the thought that someone might lead a believer in Jesus Christ to sin. So, in what ways do people lead Jesus’ followers into sin? The first way, I believe, is by example. If a young believer, especially, who is just learning how to live for Jesus, sees us, especially those of us who profess to have known Christ for many years, living just like the world around us, they may feel they have the freedom to do likewise. We need to not be ones who merely talk the walk, but we need to be ones who walk the talk. Many young believers (young in the Lord) will get their cues from us, so we need to make certain that we are following Christ with our lives, for our own sake, as well as for the sake of others.
Then, there are those who will literally tempt believers in Christ to sin, and even among those are many who profess to know Jesus Christ, too. They can sound just like Satan, too, like when he whispered in Eve’s ear and tried to convince her to not trust in God’s words. They will try to convince us that God’s word doesn’t really say that, like telling us that God does not require repentance or obedience, and that he smiles on us and delights in us even when we are steeped in sinful behavior. They will try to get us to doubt God’s word and to follow the teachings of man instead. They will also twist scriptures to their own advantage and promote a “Jesus” of their own making who fits with their lifestyles. Sin loves company, so those who are sinning will try to get us to sin with them so they don’t feel so guilty.
Throw It Off (vv. 7-9)
“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”
I would hope every believer in Jesus Christ, and/or everyone who confesses the name of Christ would get this, and would apply its truths to their lives. This is monumental! So many people in this world are trapped in sin because they have not trusted in Jesus Christ to save them, i.e. to deliver them out of bondage to sin and to set them free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Yet, many who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives live no differently from the people who make no claims to know Christ at all. They watch sensual material on TV, view pornography, cheat on their spouses, lie about it, cheat their bosses, lie on their tax returns, work their way around laws, brag about how they cheat the system, and think that as long as they don’t get caught, they are ok. Wow! Is this what Jesus intended when he hung on a cross to die for our sins? NO!
So, the counsel here is that whatever might be leading a Christian to sin must be cut out of his or her life. If we play with fire, we are bound to get burned. So many Christians talk about how they pray for victory over sin, but they still struggle, meaning they are still giving in, but they don’t take the necessary steps to cut the sin out of their lives. If we are daily taking in the junk of the world via TV, the internet, social media sites, porn sites, and/or TV programs, movies, or even commercials which glorify and entertain us with what is truly sinful, we can’t expect that we are going to have pure thoughts honoring to God, or that we are going to know and do the will of God for our lives, or that we are going to have victory over sinful habits.
Some Christians continually “shoot themselves in the foot” because they “tempt fate,” i.e. they lead themselves down a path of sin by their own wrong and ignorant choices. For example, if I want to lose weight, but I keep stocking my cupboards with sugar and fatty foods, and I keep going to the cupboard and partaking of these foods, then I will never lose weight. As well, if I don’t have some kind of a plan for losing weight, and I don’t change my eating habits and exercise, I won’t lose the weight. That just makes common sense. And, yet, many Christians (or professing Christians) continue to give in to sin because they don’t have a plan to not sin, and because they keep opening the door to temptation in their own lives by daily consuming what is only contrary to what they say they want to avoid.
If we want to walk according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, not only do we have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, via faith in him and in what he did in dying for our sins, but we have to turn from sin and away from all which would tempt us (lead us) into sin, and instead of setting our minds on what is worldly and sinful, we must set our minds on things above. This means cutting out of our lives all which is hindering our walks of faith so we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us to run. If Facebook is dragging you down and keeping you from walking with the Lord, cut it out of your life. You don’t need it! If you can’t control what you look at on the internet, maybe you should not have private internet access. If you are continually struggling with lustful thoughts or your mind is drifting away from your spouse to someone else, cut out of your life everything that is leading you that direction. This is just common sense!
Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” is going to be in heaven one day. Many will hear, “I never knew you. Depart from me.” Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him (Lu. 9:23-25). He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. The apostles taught the same message. Paul said that if we walk after the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. If someone is telling you that you can be saved, have your ticket into heaven, and still live like hell, they are feeding you a big fat lie! Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
Do Not Fear / An Original Work / June 2, 2013
Based off John 14
Do not let your hearts fear.
Trust in God. Trust in Christ.
“In My house you will find
Many rooms I have
Prepared for you,
And I will come back
And take you to heav’n.”
“I will take you to be with Me;
You’ll be where I am.”
“I am the way and
The truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father,
Except he comes through Me,
So put your faith in Me,
And do all of what I command.”
“Whoever has My commands
And obeys them loves Me.”
“I did not leave you as orphans.
I sent you the Counselor;
The Holy Spirit to live in you.
He teaches you all things,
And He reminds you of Me.”
“My peace I give to you,
So do not fear, trust in Me.”