Whoever receives one such child receives me
Child in this passage represents Children of God. Little one is anyone who receives Christ as their Lord and Savior. No matter how immature or weak a believer is we have to accept them as if we are accepting Christ Himself. This is a very personal statement by Christ and it is the same thing that was said to Saul when he was persecuting Christians.
When we hurt other Christians we are technically hurting Christ. (See Acts 9:4; 1 Corinthians 6:15; Matthew 25:31-40)
Zechariah 2:8 For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me[a] to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:
This was meant to mean a sensitive spot that would draw anger . Just like we should accept young children and expect age appropriate things from them so we should expect different things from different Christians based on their age spiritually.
Receives means to take someone in and care for every need they have.
Our job is to care for each other and every need we have just as we would care for precious children.
Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin
This is causing someone to sin and can even mean to fall away from Christianity. Whoever, means that anyone can be a stumbling block and that we must all be aware of our own actions and not disregard it.
Stumble: influencing someone to intentionally sin. Placing things in front of them that cause them to fall.
How people are caused to Sin
A) False Teaching (Matthew 7:15-23; Revelation2)
Twisting the word of God is one way that causes people to sin. In Revelation 2:14 God had anger toward a church that held not only Christian beliefs but also the teachings of Balaam. The Gospel of Matthew is full of examples of how Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for making up man made rules that were not from God.
We are to test what people are saying and teaching and compare it to the Bible and not their interpretation of the Bible (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1-3)
Many people have twisted the Bible to make things that God calls sin no longer sins. Many people are being led astray by pastors and teachers who are teaching false doctrine. It is a serious offense to God for anyone who teaches that they teach lies and twist what God means in His Word.
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
B) Poor Example
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul told Timothy that no matter what you do you should set the example for those who believe. It is not just your teaching that matters but your lifestyle as well. Many people are known for saying one thing and living another but through that lifestyle people have followed their actions more than what the person has said.
C) Religious Freedom
1 Corinthians 8:12-13 Thus, sinning against your brothers[e] and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
The Apostle Paul addresses the issue of freedoms in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and how even though we are free to partake in something does not mean we should. If you believe drinking is alright to do and your conscience is clear about it but yet someone else struggles with alcohol, then you have a responsibility to the person who is weaker to abstain. We have to be concerned not just about our own weaknesses but the weaknesses of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
You may find this one a little more shocking but when we do not point people in the right direction we are not keeping them from sinning. Picture a person driving the wrong way and headed for a cliff. Would you say something or just say it is non of your business? When we do not warn people of the impending danger ahead by the lifestyle they are living we show that the love of God is not in us. God constantly is warning people through His word, His people and through many other ways that the sins many people are committing are leading them to destruction. We do not mind saying something if someone is doing drugs or misusing alcohol so why do we not say something with all sins?
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Titus 2:1-3 But as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,
We have bought the lie that it is not our business and so we remain silent while we watch from the sideline as someone’s life is destroyed.
Heavy Millstone around their neck
Jesus is letting them know that if you cause a Christian to stumble and fall this would be a better fate for you than facing Him. This was practiced by the Romans as a form of execution and it was especially scary to those who believed that without a proper burial there was no rest for the soul. This image was real to the disciples and it was not a death you wanted to face.
Woe to the world for the temptations to sin
Woe is a word of condemnation and judgment
It is difficult to live in this world and not be tempted to sin but Jesus is saying that those who tempt people will face a harsher judgment. Jesus is literally saying you would have been better off dead than to lead someone astray.Jesus understood that the world system would cause people to sin but that we should not be a part of anything that causes people to sin.
Jesus calls for drastic action against sin.We tend to flirt with sin instead of eradicating it. We tend to try and control it and Jesus says to kill it. We hang onto sins and call them family traditions or bad habits but Jesus says they are sin and need to be destroyed.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.
Death of a marriage, a job, a relationship all happen because of sin. Death meaning total separation from God also happens if we do not accept what Christ did for us on the Cross and through His resurrection.
What thing do you have around your house that causes you to sin?
What people are in your lives that influence you to sin?
Jesus is not saying it will be easy to part with those people or those things but He is saying that it would be better for you if you did. Although this verse applies to the individual making sure that they do not become a stumbling block there is also the idea that this includes church discipline as well.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it
The idea is that it would be better for the church to not function properly rather than let someone who is causing others to sin continue. It is better for the church to suffer on earth than to allow a person to continue to teach false doctrine or people that are blatant with the sin in their lives.
Again this applies to those who are calling themselves believers yet living a lifestyle that is not only detrimental to themselves but that are luring or tempting others to sin with them. A youth leader who teaches false teachings or takes students to places that cause them to sin, would be better to be fired and the church suffer for it now, than to let it continue.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord
The point was to show the man that his sin was serious and that if he was not a true believer then it would bring him to repentance and his soul be saved for eternity. Too many people sit in church week in and week out and just assume they are Christians and if they are living in deliberate open disobedience then the church is to take action.
It begins with humbleness because if you are sitting here with the attitude of not changing then you are missing out on following Christ. We do not just follow Christ teachings but Christ Himself and to do that we have to overcome the temptations to sin and call sin what God calls sin.
We have to remember that God hates sin so much that He died for it. God hates sin because He sees how it has destroyed His creation and how it is continuing to destroy His creation. God hates sin because He loves you. God does not call things sin to be mean or to keep you from what you think is fun. God calls things sin because He sees the end result and what will happen to your life if you continue to sin.