Unless You Turn and Humble Yourselves

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 small children that makes them our example for how we ought to be? It is their innocence and it is how they so easily trust God and other people. They have a very simple faith, one that believes God that what he says, he will do. All children are not like this, especially if they learned early on not to trust, but many of them are like this in their early years. They so easily believe, and they so simply and honestly act on that belief.

So, what are Jesus’ instructions to us here if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven? First of all we must turn. And “turn” means to change, to be converted (transformed, made new), to change (switch) direction, to go the other way, to transition, i.e. to repent of our sins. It is an about-face or a spiritual U-turn which involves going the opposite direction that we were headed. We were living in sin. Now by the grace of God we live in holiness.

For, if we have believed in Jesus Christ with genuine faith, we were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness. For this is what it means to change.

So, we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. For sin is to no longer have mastery (control, sway) over our lives, but now Jesus Christ is to be our only Lord and Master. And our lives are to be submitted to him. For if we choose not to change, and if we continue in sin, and if sin is what we obey, it will end in death, not in life eternal. But if we are obedient slaves of obedience to our Lord Jesus, that leads to righteousness and to sanctification and to eternal life with God.

So, we need to turn (change directions) and become like little children. And becoming like little children is not becoming naïve and childish. It is having this sincere and honest trust in the Lord Jesus and belief in him and in his words, which is then acted upon in our actions. For, if you tell a small child to jump into your arms he will do so usually without question or hesitation, for he believes that you will catch him and that he will be okay. He will obey you because he trusts you. And we need to be like this with Jesus. We need to trust what he says to us, and we must obey and do what he says.

And this involves humbling ourselves. This involves us releasing control over our own lives to the life of Jesus, our Lord, resting in his arms, doing what he tells us to do, and believing him that the outcome will be as he says. This involves following him wherever he leads us, believing him that he has a purpose for everything he does and allows in our lives, and trusting him with the results. And this involves us not putting our trust in other humans but us testing what other humans do and say against the word of truth in context.

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.”

This is not necessarily speaking of receiving literal small children, although it can clearly include that, and should include that, but this goes to what it said before this. This is about those who have “turned” (about-face) from their lives of sin to following Jesus in obedience to his ways. This is about those whose faith is sincere and pure and who will follow the Lord Jesus wherever he leads them. This is about those who have humbled themselves and have let go of self to being made into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

We are to receive such people as these who trust in the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly. But sadly, these are the ones today who are largely being rejected, and they/we are being called hyper-religious, self-righteous, hateful, crazy, teachers of works-based salvation, and unloving and uncaring because we believe in the truth of the gospel of Christ. And this is because we have turned, and we are following Jesus in obedience with a sincere trust in his word and in what it teaches us. So, if you receive such as these, you receive Christ, but if you reject such as these, you reject Christ.

Now, all of us are responsible for what we do in this life. If we choose to sin against the Lord, the fault is ours. We have no excuse. But there are many people right now in what is being called “the church” who are putting a snare or a stumbling block in the way of those who are potential believers in Jesus or who have a sincere trust in the Lord, and they are convincing many that their sins no longer matter to God and so they don’t have to turn or humble themselves and become like little children, but now they can continue in deliberate and habitual sin and still have the hope of heaven when they die.

And many who are trusting and naïve are buying into what these charlatans are teaching them, and they are being led astray and to continue in sin or to go back to sinning against the Lord, convinced that their sin will not affect their eternal salvation. And God will judge these who are lying to the people and who are pushing and persuading them that they can sin against God and still have heaven as their eternal destiny. So, don’t listen to them. Test everything people tell you against the Scriptures in context and believe God, not humans who may not be telling you the truth. And obey the Lord!!

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

I Will Lift My Eyes

An Original Work / December 12, 2012
Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

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