Unless You Turn
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.’”
Jesus did not “mince words.” He did not speak vaguely or indirectly. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He was completely direct in stating what he meant, even when he used parables or illustrations. For, Jesus wasn’t concerned if people liked what he said or not.
And he was completely consistent with his messages, too. When he spoke, he “drew a line in the sand” that basically said that we are either on his side or we are not on his side, and there is no middle ground. For, he didn’t sugar coat his messages to appease the flesh or to make people feel good.
When he spoke, therefore, he made it clear what was required of us to enter into eternal life with God. We must turn away from our lifestyles of sin, and we must turn to him to follow him with our lives. For that is what it means to be “born again.” We start over with him as babes in Christ (cf. Lu 9:23-26).
And what this means for us is that we don’t continue living the way we did before. Now we come to Jesus with the trust and innocence of little children, eager to hear what he wants to teach us, believing him fully, and anxious to do what he says to do, for we want to please him (cf. Gal 2:20; Col 1:9-11).
Causing a Believer to Sin
Matthew 18:5-6 ESV
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 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.”
Now here Jesus is not necessarily speaking of literal children, but he is continuing his thought that his followers are like children, because they have started over with new lives in Christ, because of their innocent trust in Christ, and because of their desire to obey the Lord and to please him.
So, Jesus is saying that if we receive (welcome) another believer in Christ, who has such childlike faith and trust in Jesus as this, and we do so in the name of Jesus, that we receive him. And to receive Jesus means more than a mere acknowledgment of Jesus, but it is to make room for him in our lives.
In the case of receiving Jesus, it means that we are a receptacle for him. He now comes to live within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. And we join together with him in his life, i.e., we unite with him and with his plan and purpose for our lives. And we accept him as Lord (master) of our lives.
But if we cause another believer in Jesus Christ, as is described here, to sin against God by putting a stumbling block in their way, or by setting a snare for them, or to hinder right conduct or thought, it would have been better for us to have died before we committed the sin of leading another to sin.
And you know who is doing this today? The flesh-driven church which is in bed with the government and with the world, which has turned the church into a marketplace to be marketed to the world, and which has diluted the gospel message to give people permission to continue in their sins.
For, they are teaching that we can “believe” in Jesus Christ but that this “belief” does not have to alter how we live our lives. Many are teaching, in fact, that it is wrong to turn from our sins and to walk in obedience to our Lord, for they call that works-based salvation. Woe to them!
What is Leading to Sin
Matthew 18:7-9 ESV
“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! 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.”
I don’t believe this is to be taken literally as us actually cutting off parts of our bodies, but the message is still the same. If there is anything in our lives, which is a part of our lives, which is hindering our walks of faith with the Lord and our purity of heart, we need to cut those out of our lives.
And since the market-driven and flesh-driven institutional church of today is leading people into sin by the droves, we must cut it out of our lives, too. We must sever our relationship with the institutional church and unite with the body of Christ apart from that ungodly “church” body (Rev 18:4-5).
For, these market-driven and flesh-driven “churches” are putting a stumbling block in people’s paths which is leading them into sin or back into sin, while they are promising them a false hope of heaven as their eternal destiny. And thousands are being led astray.
Thus, it appears that the vast majority of people in America who call themselves Christians are living no different or not much different than those who make no profession of faith in Christ, for they have the same mindset, and they do and say the same things the world does.
But Jesus called us to be his holy people. He called us to come out from the world and to be separate, unlike the world in thought, word, and deed. And he said if we want to come after him, we must deny self and daily die to sin and follow (obey) him, or we will lose our lives for eternity (Lu 9:23-26).
And the apostles taught the same. We must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness. For, if we continue living in sin, making sin our practice, we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God no matter what we profess with our lips.
So, please understand here that not everyone who dies goes to heaven, not even everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. We must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to our flesh, and righteousness is to be what we practice, not sin, or we don’t have eternal life with God but a fearful expectation of the fires of hell.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.