Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.
In Romans 16, Paul closed his letter with a word of warning. First, he warned against those who cause division in the church. Second, he said, be on guard against those who are stumbling blocks. These are people who are barriers to people coming to Christ.
In Mark 9:42, Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” We often think of “little ones” as referring to children. That is one application, but it is not the only application. “Little ones” refers to people who are close to coming to faith. If you cause anybody who is close to coming to faith to stumble, then it would be better for you to have a millstone around your neck and to be cast into the sea. You have become a stumbling block to people coming to Christ.
I see this every Sunday morning during our church service. Church members pray all week and invite people to come to our service. I prepare the message. We come together. I preach with the power of the Holy Spirit, and we reach the climactic moment in the service when we invite people to come forward to trust in Christ as their Savior and make the most important, eternal decision they will ever make. When we come to that time of invitation, every week I see people trying to make their way down the aisle to the front, but they cannot get there because of the rush of people going to the exits and trying to leave the service early. Whenever you leave during the most crucial time of our service, you are communicating to people who need to know Christ, “What you are doing is not important. In fact, for all I care, you can go straight to Hell, because I want to get to the restaurant before it gets crowded.” That is a barrier to the gospel.
But that is not the only kind of stumbling block. In Matthew 23, Jesus talked about those who tie heavy loads on the backs of people so that they cannot enter the kingdom of God. These are people who tell unbelievers, “To become a Christian, you need to trust in Christ as your Savior, but you also need to clean up your life before you can come to Christ.” No! No! A thousand times no! Only Jesus can clean up your life, and He does that after you are saved.
The only thing an unbeliever can do is call upon the name of the Lord for salvation. The unbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit’s power in him to clean up his life. All he can do is call upon Christ. Let’s quit tying up on the backs of unbelievers things that they cannot possibly do. Once a person has received the Holy Spirit’s power, he will begin making all kinds of changes in his life, but that is after salvation. Before salvation, all a person must do is call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. That is what Paul was warning about in the church.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Beware And Behold” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.