“For it must needs be that offences must come, but woe to that man by which offence comes” (Mat. 18:7)
Jesus established two truths here: (1) that it is through a particular man that these offences come and (2) that it is inevitable that offences will come in the spiritual progression of the saints. Many offences have come among the Lord’s people. Before we consider what the Lord meant by offences, let us bear in mind the stern warning of the Lord to “that man” by whom offence comes. Indeed this man is at the root of all the issues of the religious system of Babylon.
We have been considering in our recent messages the offences brought by Mystery Babylon. Yet at the root of all Babylon’s perversions and trappings is the carnal man; the man of Sin who is right there in your midst. This is the man that diminishes the supremacy of God in the lives of the saints. He misleads the Lord’s people to submit to man-made religious rituals and traditions. This man is the Adamic nature that operates in every man.
Yet in Jesus’ warning we also see another man mentioned; “little one”. For “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mat. 18:1). Both the man by whom offence comes and the little one are in you and me. The former is causing us to go the way of self and flesh and the latter is drawing us into obedience to Father’s will by the spirit.
This ‘little one’ is the child of whom it is written: “the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). In the early stages of our spiritual progression we all received Christ as a seed (Gal. 3:16). That small seed is that little child within us who is growing and is causing us to becoming strong in spirit, in wisdom and in grace. This progressive journey of His growth and increase within His sons will continue until the day of his manifestation: for “the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Luke 1:80). This little one is precious in the sight of the Lord, for we read: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 18:10). You see, the communion of the Father is with the little one. It is through the indwelling Christ that we have access and fellowships with Father. For we are seated in heavenly places in Christ and it is through Him that we behold aspects of the attributes, characteristics, and qualities of God in our very own being and enter into union and intimate fellowship with Him.
So the growth of this little one is of great value to God. Thus, Jesus’ stern warnings for that man who causes on of these little ones to stumble. So what does this man have to do with Mystery Babylon? You see, the Babylonish religious system is merely another expression of the carnal man. It is an institutionalized, organized, corporate system that has grown in fame and dominion, but at its root it is energized by the carnal man. Mystery Babylon is an expression of ‘that man’ that causes the ‘little one’ to stumble. Thus, we see Jesus’ warning coming to pass in John’s vision of Mystery Babylon’s fall:
“Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.’” (Rev. 18:21).
Remember Jesus’ warning against ‘that man’ was: ” Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mat. 18:6).
You see, both ‘that man’ and Mystery Babylon are an offence to the increase of Christ in the saints and both have to be cast off, for their destiny is to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around their neck. The millstone is a heavy stone which signifies the inescapable and ultimate judgment of God against both religion and the carnal man.
Casting Off Offence
Keep in mind that the offence of which Jesus speaks here is not about being annoyed, upset or having our feelings hurt because of an insult or being wronged. Of course, not getting angry, irritated or reacting out of the flesh is a mark of maturity. Indeed this is a quality of life where the spirit of Christ subdues every agitation or emotion of the flesh and soul. As we grow into His fullness, He will cause us to live out of His nature in every situation. But the offence of which Jesus speaks is not this.
Consider the meaning of the Greek word used for ‘offence’. It means to be ‘a stumbling block, a snare, and any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin’. Thus the offence Jesus is referring to is anything or anyone that would be a stumbling block, preventing you from pursuing and fulfilling the will of God. Our Lord Jesus encountered such an offence, when Peter: “took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee’” (Mat. 16:22). Was Peter not sincere and well-intentioned in his rebuke? Perhaps, but Peter’s rebuke came from the thoughts and understating of the natural (soulish) mind.
Like peter, many ministers today are sincere but they are sincerely wrong. Very few ministers in the church system deliberately intend to deceive the saints. On the contrary, they themselves are deceived and the teachings they propagate are founded on falsehood and erroneous interpretations of scripture. Their teaching is an offence against the little one’s development. The sad reality is that they know it not. They, like Peter, think they are doing good by the Lord, not recognizing that they’ve missed the heart of God.
Jesus recognizing this told Peter: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an OFFENCE to Me, for you are not mindful of things of God, but the things of men” (Mat. 16:23). Peter was being an offence. He was being a stumbling block, attempting to deter the Lord from fulfilling the predetermined will of God. Indeed it was of Satan.
It is this very offence that Jesus warns us of when He declares: “offences must come”. Indeed many offences have come in this age in which we live. But the greatest offence has come by way of the religious system of man that has caused many saints to lose sight of the will of God, of His Kingdom and of His plan for the ages. Thus some get upset when we tell them there is hope after hell. They know not of God’s will for creation and like Peter stand to bring a rebuke against the Lord’s purpose. Such a people and the religious systems that backs them are an offence to us. They wish to divert us from pursuing and obeying the will of our Father. They want us to quietly submit to the Babylonish systems that has corrupted the spiritual matutiry of the saints.
Indeed there is a man by whom much offence comes. That man is none other than the Adamic man, the man of sin that exalts himself as God in the temple of God. He is a stumbling block by whom the systems of the world and religion have blinded men causing them to stumble from pursuing their spiritual progression into Christ’s fullness.
It is in light of this context that Jesus next states: “wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee” (Mat. 18:8). Of course no one in their right mind believes that He is referring to our physical body. So who are our hands, our feet and our eyes? By this statement, Jesus is simply referring to the Peters in our lives who mind not the things of God but the things of men. These are saints by whom ‘that man’ attempts to bring offence. In the body of Christ, one is an eye, another is a hand, a feet etc. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). If your brother/sister is a stumbling block preventing you from pursuing the pure walk of the Spirit, cut them off is the instruction of our Lord. The same Lord that summons us to “come out” is the same Lord that is saying “cast them off”. Consider the hands, the eyes and feet by which offence comes:
Hands. These are saints who would discourage us from acting on or doing the will of God. They stand in the way of our obedience to the Spirit’s council in our actions and conduct. We love them but we can’t commune with them for they are a stumbling block to us.
Eyes. These are brothers who would attempt to blind us from seeing (understanding) the spiritual truths of the kingdom of God. They push their erroneous doctrines, their denominational visions, and man-centered teaching over us to keep us from beholding the True light. These are persons whose words and teachings distract us away from understanding the deep spiritual mysteries of God’s kingdom. Cut them off is the council of the Lord!
Feet. These are members of the body who cause us to stumble in our walk. They place obstacles of fleshly works and soulish efforts. They demand us to submit to the traditions and religious observances keeping us from walking in the Spirit and from following the Lamb wherever He goes. Our Lord beckons us to cut them off!
May everything that is an offence to the increase of Christ in our life be cut off!