“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 offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Matthew 18:6-7
Sad to say, offenses — those things, whether it be false doctrine or a sinful life, which cause people to fall into sin and unbelief — come! People, as a result of their own rebellious and sinful natures, cause others to join with them in their unbelief and sin and often bring about their eternal ruin.
That is why Jesus has such strong words for those who cause others to sin and to turn away from Christ and His Word. And this is especially so when it comes to harming the faith of children and new believers.
Jesus said: “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.”
Thus, we must say with Jesus that it is a most serious matter when parents do not teach their children to know the LORD and His ways or when they deny them baptism and keep them from their Savior. And it is a grievous offense when one causes another who has come to believe on Christ and to hear His Word to turn away. As Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” It would be better to be drowned in the sea than to stand before the LORD God on judgment day responsible for the eternal ruin of souls. “Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
This is also why it is so important that, when we have erred or fallen into some public sin which could be a cause of stumbling for others, we give God the glory and acknowledge our own sin and wickedness and turn to Him with a penitent heart, seeking His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The way to remove an offense is not by hiding it or covering it up. It’s not by justifying or excusing our own sinfulness. It is by taking our sins to the foot of the cross in faith and having them washed away and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb who suffered and died for the sins of the whole world.
Offenses will come, Jesus said. We can expect, as long as we are in this sinful world, that there will be those who cause others to sin and who lead weak believers away from Christ and His Church with their lies. There will always be those who fight against Christ and the Gospel of forgiveness and life in His name. And we must say, Woe to those who cause offense and destroy souls redeemed by Christ’s holy and precious blood!
And lest we offend, let us also continually examine our own faith and life, agreeing with God’s Word, confessing and acknowledging our sins and errors, and looking in faith to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for mercy and forgiveness (cf. 1 John 1:7 — 2:2). And let us then follow Christ and heed His Word. He alone is our hope and salvation, and His Word is our only true light!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Amen.
[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]