Turn Like Children
Matthew 18:1-4 ESV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
What is it about children that Jesus used them as an example to us as to what we must be like if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven?
For the past two weeks I have been taking care of my 2-year-old granddaughter so that my daughter and her husband and my husband can work on getting my daughter’s (and her husband’s) house finished, so that they can move into it soon. So, I have very recent experience in what a little child is like, at least this little 2-year-old, and she is precious.
Little ones, like my granddaughter, are very trusting, believing, and under good circumstances, are usually fearless. At least, she is! They will jump into your arms without thought that you might not catch them. They believe you will. They will pray for anything and everything, totally trusting their prayers will be answered. If you tell them something, they believe you, unless, of course, you have trained them to not believe you, because you are a teaser.
So, for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must have faith like that of a little child, which trusts God, believes what he says, and jumps into his arms, putting our lives totally in his hands, letting him catch us and hold us.
And, this is what the word “faith” actually means, too, for it means that we are persuaded by God as to his righteousness and holiness, and as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), then we submit to him and to his will for our lives, and we turn away from our sins, and we put our lives in his hands and we follow him in obedience and go wherever it is he leads us. We believe what he tells us and we act on that faith by doing what he says.
In His Name
Matthew 18:5 ESV (cf. Matt. 25:31-46)
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…
At this point, Jesus is no longer speaking literally just of little children, but of those who have come to him with the faith of a little child, and who have truly trusted in him to be Lord and Savior of their lives, turning from sin, and turning to walk in his love and in obedience to his commands.
For any of us to receive (accept, welcome) anything or anyone in the name of Jesus, we have to also have faith in Jesus Christ, for his name represents who he is – his divine character and will. So, this would be according to the will of God. Only by the grace of God, according to his will, are we able to fully embrace another follower of Christ, because only by the mind of Christ are we able to truly connect spiritually with another believer in Jesus Christ.
But, this goes even further than this. If we are in Christ Jesus, by this child-like faith in Him, which believes what he says, and which follows him in obedience, then we are part of the body of Christ, and we are his representatives.
Thus, if we are representing him in this world, and we are sharing his gospel of salvation, then how others treat us is how they also are treating Jesus. If they reject us, who are following him, then they are rejecting him. But, if they accept us, who are following him, then they are accepting him, too.
But, this is not just about people of the world coming to faith in Jesus Christ. This is about those who profess the name of Jesus and how they treat others who also profess the name of Jesus.
If we reject (dismiss, cast-off) those who are truly following Christ with child-like faith, as is evidenced by their lifestyles, according to the teachings of scripture, then we, too, are rejecting Jesus. But, if we receive those who, with child-like faith, are truly following Christ with their lives, then we are accepting Jesus and the work that he is doing now in this world of ours.
Woe to the Tempter
Matthew 18:5-7 ESV
“… but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, 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. 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!
This is a solemn warning to those who would attempt to lead a follower of Christ into sin. But, this is not about just tempting others to sin, but it is literally about laying a trap for them, putting a stumbling block in their way, on purpose, with the hope that they will fall, because they want them to fall. And, there are people who do this, and they are not all those who make no profession of faith in Christ, either, but they are numbered among those who profess faith in Christ, who are part of the gatherings of the body of Christ.
And, the thing of it is, this is not always so obvious. In fact, it usually isn’t, for traps are usually hidden, otherwise they would not be traps. There are many people, even within the gatherings of the church, who are clever enchanters, winsome, and manipulative individuals who are able very subtly to talk believers in Christ into sinning against God. And, they utilize many of the tactics Satan uses to convince Christians to not obey, or else they convince them that they don’t have to obey Christ.
Many of these liars and deceivers are even pastors in churches who are telling their congregations that God does not require repentance or obedience or submission to his will for our lives. They are giving people a false hope of salvation and free license to continue in their sinful practices, hoping to keep them coming back to their “churches” (businesses) for they are all about pleasing the customer base, not about pleasing God.
So, we need much wisdom so that we don’t fall prey to their traps.
Throw it Away!
Matthew 18:8-9 ESV
“And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Regarding any sin in our own lives, which might find its way back into our lives, we need to throw it off. By the Spirit, we need to daily be putting to death the fruitless deeds of darkness, dying daily to sin and self, and putting on the armor of God (See: Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 6:10-20).
But, this isn’t just about getting rid of sin in our lives, but this is about casting off anything which leads us to sin. We have to cut sin off at the root or it will continue to find its way back into our hearts.
So, how do we do this? Well, we first off have to find what is leading us into sin. Sometimes we repeat the same sins over and over again because of unforgiveness, bitterness, anger or resentment built up in our hearts against others and against God, for that matter. We may be angry with God because life has dealt us some hard blows, and so, rather than trust the Lord with our circumstances, we run from them into sinful practices. It is a form of rebellion against God and his sovereignty over our lives.
So, in that case, we have to repent of all bitterness, resentment and anger, and we must forgive God, who has done us no wrong, and others who have wronged us or who we believe have wronged us. Then, we need to trust the Lord with our lives, believe that he is in control, and that he has our best interest in mind in all things, and that, in all things, he is working out his purposes for our lives for our good.
Yet, there may also be physical things in this world which are leading us to sin against God, which we may have been unwilling to let go of, and as long as we continue to hold on to them, we will continue the cycle of repeating the same sins over and over again.
For example, so many people these days are addicted to lust, particularly in the area of sexual sin. Some of them have tried and tried to forsake their lust addictions, only to keep failing. And, that is why a lot of folks are embracing the false grace gospel, for it alleviates their guilt they feel, if they even feel guilt, for their continued failures, because it promises them heaven guaranteed no matter how they live their lives on this earth, and it gives them free license to continue in their sin addictions.
Still, if we are truly in Christ, by faith in him, and we fall into sin, he is our defense to God. We don’t lose our salvation every time we sin, as some do teach. But, the sin does break our fellowship with God, so we need to repent of it, and then keep walking in the ways of the Lord. But, if it is sin we keep repeating, then we need to find out the source, and cut out the source.
So, if the sin is lust addiction, in particularly pornography, which is what so many people struggle with these days, and the person struggling with this – which means he or she is continually giving in to the sin – wants to truly be free of it, once and for all, then they have to be willing to make the necessary cuts. Smart phones are really bad for those with lust addiction, for they provide 24/7 private access to porn from the convenience of their pockets with no to little accountability. So, make the necessary cuts!
Bottom line here is that, if we want victory over sin, we have to be willing to go the distance with God and cut out of our lives what is leading us to sin against God, and then, if we are willing, we can get victory over those sins. But, we have to cooperate with his work of grace in our lives, or it won’t happen. We have to mean business with sin. We can’t play with fire.
Shine Jesus Shine / Graham Kendrick
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be light
Thursday, May 10, 2018, 7:45 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this truth from Your Word. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen!