Matthew 18:6,7 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must need be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!
This is a clear warning by our Lord regarding being the one to cause offense (to cause another to stumble). As believers, it is to our benefit to diligently search the scriptures, all the while seeking the Lord's guidance as to how to properly interpret the Word. Because the time is short, each and every one of us needs to know for ourselves what the Gospel of Christ is. We find Christ's Gospel throughout the first four books of the New Testament. We need the Revelation of Jesus Christ within our own hearts and minds. Only as we walk in a personal relationship will the Holy Spirit open our understanding to discern the meaning of the parables of our Lord. It is not enough to accept what Jesus said as stories. He did not speak for our entertainment. He spoke that which He heard the Father say, and it is for our edification and instruction in righteousness, that we may be found pleasing in God's sight.
God loves each and every one of His children; but just because He loves us does not mean that He will tolerate disobedience and/or rebellion. God is Holy, and has made a way for us to walk in holiness. Through Jesus Christ the way was made for all of us to come to perfection. The way to perfection is through suffering.
If we do not know what Jesus taught, we cannot know if we are walking in His Gospel or not. We are all too familiar with the teachings and traditions of men. Let us not confuse them for the Gospel of Christ, even though they may be presented as the gospel. The best teacher we can ever have is the Holy Spirit. When we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit; it is not just so that we can speak in tongues. Our Lord sent the Holy Spirit "to lead us into all truth." We must learn to hear the voice of the spirit within our inner man. We must recognize the promptings of the Spirit as we go about our daily tasks. Intellectual prowess will not reveal the spiritual secrets we so desire. Man makes spirituality difficult, because man's way of obtaining things is by exerting mental or physical effort. The secret to obtaining spiritual understanding is so simplistic that it is usually overlooked. It is found by ceasing our own efforts; being willing to become as a little child. We must believe every Word that Jesus said. We must walk in His commandments. We must keep our eye focused on the Lord at all times. Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. It is not our fleshly abilities, but our ability to hear the Spirit that makes all the difference.
Right about now many of you are probably saying, "I already do that." Do you? Then do you also know that our lives bear the fruit of our walk? That our conversation, our responses, the way we treat other people is a reflection of how closely we are walking with the Lord? Are we walking in meekness and humility, or are we puffed up and self-righteous? Do we seek to be highly regarded and held in esteem by others, or are we content to be the servant of others? The Gospel that Jesus brought was all about the Kingdom of God. Then why is it that we know so much more about what Jesus did, than we do about what Jesus said? If the Lord's message was the Kingdom message, why is so little understood regarding the Kingdom? Because it must be spiritually revealed. And the price to receive this revelation is your life. Few are willing to pay the price. When it comes right down to it, few are willing to die to their own fleshly desires and appetites. That is why Jesus said in Matt. 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. It is not difficult because it requires great mental or physical attributes; it is difficult because it requires loving God more than we love this world, and all that is in it (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life). We can know God; we can walk with God; but God must be our #1 priority. God will not play second fiddle to anyone or anything.
Now let's take a look at the subject of offenses. In the opening verse Jesus emphatically stated that anyone that should offend (to "scandalize"; to entrap, that is trip up, entice to sin) one of these little ones that believe (have faith in, commit to, trust in) Him, it would be better for them to drown themselves in the sea. God is very jealous over His own. It is not possible for anyone to say or do anything to trip up or cause one of His children to stumble without God seeing it. Woe to the individual who commits this offense.
Firstly, we must know the Gospel of Christ, if we are to know what is truth and what is not. Secondly we must realize the seriousness of this issue. God does not take having a relationship with us lightly. We need to be equally serious about knowing God. Today there are multitudes of teachings that sound pleasing to the ear, but have their origin in the pits of hell. For a believer not to be deceived by these doctrines of devils, one must know the Gospel of the Kingdom. If it is contrary to what Jesus said, it is wrong. To accept one of these doctrines is bad enough. But to then try and pass it on to other believers, is really scary.
Look at what Paul said regarding this subject in Gal. 1:6-10 I marvel that ye are so soon removed (to exchange, change sides) from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Even though there is only one Gospel, the enemy has done an excellent job down through the centuries of diluting, perverting and misrepresenting Christ's Gospel. It was happening in Paul's day, and is even more widely prevalent today.
Paul exhorted believers in Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. The concordance says: to mark (to watch, take note of); offenses (snare (cause of displeasure or sin), occasion to fall, thing that offends, stumbling block); avoid (shun, go out of your way around) those individuals.
Jesus declared "Woe to Him" that causes one of His little ones to stumble; Paul echoed Jesus' sentiment with "let him be accursed." Those are pretty sobering words, and do not paint a very appealing picture. Here again, we are confronted with the critical importance of our walk. We can choose to please God, or we can choose to please men.
Do not expect those that are promoting doctrines of devils to approach you wearing obvious signs that they are promoting a delusion (they will not have horns and carry pitchforks). They will most likely be some of the kindest, sweetest, people you could ever hope to meet. They will smile warmly and speak with gentle persuasion. They will use the Word itself to support their doctrines; and they will be deeply committed and compelling. They will most assuredly have walked with the Lord at one time, but for some reason they slipped and fell. They themselves were seduced by the very doctrine they now preach.
2 Thess. 2:10,11 . . . because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. One of the false doctrines prevalent today is that we can never lose our salvation. Nothing in this world can take us away from God; but we can turn away from Him ourselves. We can grow cold in our heart, and desire the things of this world more than knowing God. That is why we must heed Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. We cannot judge by appearances; the only sure way to know if someone is speaking the TRUTH or not, is by our inner witness. And to hear our inner witness, we must be walking with God. We are not to judge anyone; Judgment belongs to God. But it is imperatively important that we know the Truth and reject anything that presents itself as truth, while contradicting or nullifying what Jesus said . We are dependent on the Spirit to let us know who is of God and who is not, but it is our responsibility to know what we believe and why we believe it. Jesus said in Matt. 13:41 the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. According to the concordance offend has the same meaning as when used in Matt. 18:6. Those who cause offense (entrap, trip up, entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure, make to offend) are going to be removed.
If there was ever any complacency in your attitude toward your walk with God, may you put it far behind you. If you have been accepting what the man behind the pulpit or your teacher or whoever has been telling you the Gospel of Christ is, I pray that you will see the critical importance of knowing for yourself. You cannot have a victorious Christian walk outside of walking with God, and we cannot walk with God through another person. There are many deceivers in the world that would like nothing better than to prevent you from being an overcomer.