In the very early ‘90’s, and through a set of sovereign circumstances, God introduced me to the ministry of Keith and Melody Green at Last Days Ministries in Texas. Keith was the saved hippie songwriter whose prophetic voice still rings out to this very day. His untimely death in an airplane crash spawned the book No Compromise written by his widow. If you have never read this fine work, I exhort you and your loved ones to do so. Personally, it changed my life in the way few books do.
One of Keith’s teachings was on the missing and added parts to the gospel of the Kingdom. They were first offered in written form, and later offered in audio albeit extremely poor quality. But the written tracks were riveting.
And they were spot on.
The tracks were electrifying to a believer yearning for the truth of God to be manifest in all God’s children. And they were also scary all at the same time. I had been carefully devouring the Holy Word, listening to historical cassette tape messages, and reading all I could get my hands on pertaining to the nature of the true and real gospel of King Jesus.
I was in lamentation and distress as I unsuccessfully attempted to get elders and “pastors” in the growing church I attended at the time to discuss the missing and added parts of His gospel. The “senior Pastor” was ambivalent to any request as I met with him over 2 years as my courage grew to bring a new dimension of the Spirit into the discussion.
It began to feel like I and maybe a few others were behind enemy lines but still surrounded by professing Christians. It was very very strange and unsettling.
But…even in Keith’s track there was one key elementary and crucial theme from God Himself that was missing. And it’s totally missing today in the hyper-feminized Religion of Niceness (RON) we find ourselves immersed within.
Stumbling. This persistent theme of God includes causing others to stumble. Having the blood of others souls upon of heads. Being on the alert at all times, and being sober in all things to avoid this fate coming upon our lives.
Let’s do a quick survey. How many of you have heard this preached and extensively taught, say, in the last year? Ever? Please write us and let us know of your experience, one way or the other.
The Greek word group that describes this predominant idea includes these two words and their meanings: skandalizo – a verb, and skandalon – a noun: a stumbling block, to put a stumbling block in the way, cause to be caught, cause to fall away, a snare, be led into sin, offend, anger, shock.
It’s a “scandal” when we ourselves stumble, cause others to stumble by our actions, and even fall away from the faith. But never take my word alone for it.
So, how vital is the reoccurring theme of stumbling? Let’s see what the sacred Word has to say and the principles behind it. The bolded words in the verses reflect the “scandal” words in the Greek:
1. Matthew 5:29-30
“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Hyperbole (extreme exaggeration) to remove one of your physical body parts, or be cast into hell..so says our Lord and Savior to His disciples. Oops. This is serious business I’d say, no? As a disciple (whatever that means to you) one can lose their right to eternal heaven and be cast into “fiery hell.”
2. Matthew 11:6; Luke 7:23
“And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
Jesus Himself causes people to stumble, but the others are blessed.
3. Matthew 13:21
“…yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
“and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.”
Jesus says the 3rd group in the parable of the sower are lost and end up in hell.
4. Matthew 13:41
“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness..”
Jesus will command those who cause stumbling to be sent to hell.
5. Matthew 13:57
And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.
Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”
But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?
The actions and life of God through Jesus causes many lost people to stumble, and can even affect His earnest disciple if they’re not careful.
6. Matthew 16:23
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Even Jesus Himself can be affected by those who cause stumbling.
7. Matthew 17:27
“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.
Jesus is very careful not to cause any stumbling with His life.
8. Matthew 18:6-8; Mark 9:42-47; Luke 17:1-2
“…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”
A classic passage where six times (six!) Jesus warns His audience about causing stumbling in believers, causing both them and the influence to be “cast into fiery hell.”
A heavy millstone hung around someone’s neck, and drowned in the depth of the sea.
Heavy, not light.
Thousands of pounds.
Drowned not in shallow water, but in the deepest part.
That image just terrifies me – does it you too? I certainly don’t want that to happen to me or anyone else. It motivates me.
It reminds me once again God is not “nice.” Oh no, He is not that at all. But He is good. And gracious. And merciful. But very, very holy. And He ultimately expects us to obey implicitly. Amen.
The Jews were terrified of the sea. The storms, called siroccos, that quickly arose unexpectantly in the Galilean region were infamous. They blew in over the tall hills on that sea and descended upon the water. Remember Jesus asleep in the boat during this type of storm? The disciples straining at the oars in the middle of the night? That body of water was 150 feet deep and 64 square miles in area.
Imagine being caught in that type of storm miles from shore, and in the deepest part of the night. Are you sweating yet?
9. Matthew 24:10
“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.”
Jesus again warns during The Great Tribulation many will fall away. Many. Wow. Fall away from what? The faith. These people are believers. One can’t fall away from something you’re not a part of.
10. Matthew 26:31, 33; Mark 14:27, 29
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’…But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”
But the merciful Jesus came back, strengthened and restored His main men!
11. Romans 9:33
…just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
And David says, “LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM.
1 Peter 2:8
and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE“; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
1 Corinthians 1:23
but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.
Paul, and even Peter, continues the theme that real non-western Jesus causes many to stumble over His life, as well as the words we proclaim (not share) that bring conviction.
12. Romans 14:13
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
2 Corinthians 11:29
Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
1 John 2:10
The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Paul and John prophesy that causing stumbling is a heinous thing, and preventing it by abiding in Jesus, our Light, proves our love.
13. Revelation 2:14
‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
Finally, John relates how Balaam led Balak to negatively influence even God’s chosen people.
Paul’s letter to his Corinthian church plant offers a huge clue. The entire section from chapter 8 through 10 is dealing with his fear of sending some to hell by his actions.
And if that’s not enough, he adds that he himself would be lost if he didn’t consistently keep his body under full and complete control.
As you recall, the Jewish converts to Christ knew that the meat sacrificed to idols in the temples, the “deli’s” of their day, meant nothing to them. But the Gentile converts knew the evil spirit demons were invoked and were called to the pagan ceremony of offering the sacrificed meat.
Ironically, the Gentile converts here were called “weak” for abstaining. The brazen, self-centered, unloving Jewish Christians that were causing their brethren to stumble by eating this meat and causing huge problems were called “strong.”
Let’s take a closer look:
1 Corinthians 8:13
Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
Paul would give up eating a necessity of life for most people, animal protein, if it caused stumbling.
But, so what? Is there a real consequence as I claim above?
Now, leading up to that verse 8.13 right above, we see below why Paul would give up eating meat altogether.
1 Corinthians 8:9-11
But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.
Destroying a Fellow Believer? Causing Them Ruin?
Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. How often do you hear that from Christians in any given year? A dozen times? Two dozen? A hundred?
In your circles, how often do you hear: ruin, destroyed, fall away?
The word ruin above is the Greek word apollumi meaning ‘to destroy, destroy utterly.” It’s used dozens of times.
It’s not a stray concept. It permeates the New Testament. A terrible word. Very ugly. But, of course, the Religion of Niceness that we find ourselves immersed within avoids and suppresses this truth in all unrighteousness.
This word describes these very uncomfortable scenarios in the New Covenant record. Here’s only a small but potent sample:
Herod tries to destroy (Jesus) – Matthew 2:13, better for you to lose one of the parts of your body – Matthew 5:29, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell – Matthew 10:28, how (Pharisees) might destroy (Jesus) – Matthew 12:14, (God) will bring those wretches to a wretched end – Matthew 21:41, all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword – Matthew 26:52, put Jesus to death – Matthew 27:20, but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all – Luke 17:29
But doesn’t my freedom override everything, you might ask? What’s the big deal?
No! No! No! A thousand times, no, Paul declares! Love limits it’s freedom. For the sake of others. For Christ’s sake since He died for them too! Wake up arrogant and foolish Jewish Corinthians before you too are “ruined” spiritually, Paul passionately declares.
What is the principle here? What is Paul getting at? Why did he devote so much space, energy, and warning them that he himself could end up in the lake of fire?
For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
The same Greek word as above, and also used in the Revelation of Jesus Christ to proclaim “the destroyer” will run rampant during The Great Tribulation.
Destroy. The Corinthians were so causing those others to stumble that they were falling away. And a simple thing like food was a main ingredient to their perdition.
In the 9th Chapter of 1st Corinthians, Paul describes how his love was in action since he refuses to demand they support him which he could do “biblically,” and he works bi-vocationally with his own hands. His example here is to not cause anyone to stumble.
Paul Is Fearful He Too Will Be Destroyed Like the Wilderness Israelites
He ends the chapter in verse 27 with this serious admonition about his own potential loss of faith while causing others to stumble:
“…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Disqualified. Another terrible word. Every time used, it describes eternal destruction, ruin, the lake of fire:
Not standing the test, rejected: adokimos, a (not), dokimos (approved). Look at it this way: a (not) – dokimos (approved). Sort of like a (no) – theist (god).
Paul used the root word dokimos to described those “approved” by God:
approved by men – Romans 14:18; Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ – Romans 16:10; For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you – 1 Corinthians 11:19; For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends – 2 Corinthians 10:18; not that we ourselves may appear approved…even though we may appear unapproved (a-dokomis) – 2 Corinthians 13:7; Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth – 2 Timothy 2:15; Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him – James 1:12.
Notice the Lord must approve and commend us all, and in a big, big way it’s dependent on our post-salvation works by His available grace – being approved, obviously, is not automatic.
We must be diligent to not be ashamed, to preserve under trial to be approved and finally receive the crown of life vs. being disapproved…and as we have now seen…to be eternally destroyed.
Back to a-dokimos now. Let’s carefully meditate on some uses of this ugly word that Paul used to describe a probable end condition for himself:
God gave them over to a depraved mind – Romans 1:28; unless indeed you fail the test? – 2 Corinthians 13:5; men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith – 2 Timothy 3:8; they profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed – Titus 1:16.
Then he begins chapter 10 to drive home the ‘do not stumble or you just might go to hell’ theme were he recounts what God did to those folks in the wilderness, and uses the apollumi word again – destroyed.
1 Corinthians 10:9-10
Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
Brother Jude also uses the word to describe this, to amplify what Paul is proclaiming:
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
Our great God always provides a way of escape in His merciful love:
1 Corinthians 10:11-14
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (like I have been saying all along here, says Paul). No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
What? Flee from idolatry? What in the world does that mean?
Yes. Paul knew the pagan formal temple sacrifices involving the meat were part of a 3 step ceremony that drew the new Gentile converts back to that system of demonic idolatry, and all sorts of wickedness.
It could and would lead them to the lake of fire. And Paul was wisely fearful to buffet his body to prevent himself from joining them there!
Perhaps you’re still not convinced of the sobriety and seriousness of this for all our lives, and in the present kingdom of God.
Here’s what The Complete Biblical Library has to say, a key resource that you know we quote regularly:
“(skandalizo) in Daniel 11.41 (in the Greek Old Testament), (is) a reference to a military defeat…Idolatry is regarded as a ‘snare’.. (in) Psalm 69.22, of idolatrous meals…Thus the idea of ‘apostasy’ as well as the deceptive (bait, lure, a trap) nature of idols is brought together. The ultimate outcome of (this word) is ruin, and the image is usually tragic and violent.”
It goes on:
“Stumbling directly corresponds to a relationship with God. Thus ‘to stumble’ is to resist coming to the faith to fall from the faith….The gospel message does one of two things: 1) men and women are saved; or 2) men and women stumble and perish…The issue of ‘offense’ centers around Jesus and His message. Stumbling can be a form of apostasy in the face of tribulation or persecution. Jesus’ somber call to a new morality based on the inner law of the Spirit must either be wholeheartedly accepted or rejected…(His examples) reflect the seriousness and extent of His call for obedience.”
“The idea of a ‘crucified Messiah’ like a ‘triumphant loser’ is so paradoxical as to seem absurd…(to die) the ignominious death of a state criminal…The grace of the cross, which ignores any human effort or work, causes the self-centered to stumble…In contrast…believers must be careful not to cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall..This especially applies to children and those who are young in the faith.”
So, then, let’s take a brief look here at the end of this piece on five modern day examples of stumbling, where all of these are others
Stumbling in action in western Christian families – here’s four examples only from a vast array of 100’s I’ve seen over the last 25 years:
- A young teen is fed a steady and relentless diet of worldly a-musement, allowed seductive clothing, weekly interaction with church youth peers, and “socialization” by her parents. The parents now see the rebellion in this girl, but keep on the same path even after the admonishment of a older family member. The mega-church they attend has never broached the subject of stumbling, and being cast into “fiery hell.”
- A younger church leader seriously considers formally joining the staff of a prominent mega-church in attempts to “change the culture” of the church. He declares privately that the teaching is “worse than milk” but refuses to heed the admonition of causing his wife and children to stumble by continuing to immerse them in this demonic atmosphere. Sexual immorality runs rampant in the teens, and adults, and Jesus is portrayed as “nice.”
- Many Christian wives who effectively ignore their husband’s pleas for more physical intimacy in the face of relentless sexual temptation since she turns much of her time and affection to the children and secondary “church activities,” and, if older, adding in her grandchildren to the volatile mix. She justifies this as being her “spiritual calling,” forgetting her first and primary calling as a help-meet. Sexual expression to a husband is arguably the highest form of respect in his opinion. There’s a mystery and comfort of the highest spiritual proportion to him. And he can’t express that fact verbally, but he feels it in the very depth of his soul.
- The wealthy “Senior Pastor” (a demonic term created by traditions of men) of another large church is teaching thousands on a parable of Jesus (rare for him) on money, after he hears about an admonition from a visiting prophet to their business men’s group. Since few, if any, “members” of the church carry a Bible, when he gets to the punch line of obeying or being cast into hell, he conveniently leaves off the last verse as the passage shines brightly on the wall at the front of the “sanctuary.” Does he know that he has just suppressed the truth in all unrighteousness (Romans 1)?
We’re not ignorant or unaware of the schemes of our enemy, the apostle Paul declares. We’re alert and on guard, reminds and warns our King on the kingdom of God.
To be like the five wise virgins with oil in their lamps when the Bridegroom suddenly appears, and not the foolish five:
“Later the other (foolish) virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
Paul, the chosen one of God to the Gentiles, says goodbye to the Ephesians in Acts 20. What would you tell your closest friends in the faith before you know you’re losing your life as a martyr? What are the enduring words of truth you’ll leave with them to overcome the devil and his schemes?
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.”
Why was he innocent vs. guilty of causing others to stumble?
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
He didn’t hide the truth and suppress it, for there’s a partial gospel, a partial counsel of God that sends people to hell. Wow.
And finally, Paul prophesies rightly of the demonic danger that would invade their church in the future:
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
But, dear ones, it shall not be named among us, right? We’re not those who will ourselves stumble to perdition or cause others to do so as well. We love. We’re taking courage. We’re on the alert.
We’ll not give in to the fatal compromise of mediocrity. For living holy and the whole purpose of God is the normal Christian life for “little Christs.”
Let us make Abba proud of us to the end. And then we’ll receive the crown of life for those who endure to the end.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
You may view our Archives here: MONDAY MANNA – ARCHIVES; Complete Archives; feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion. May our Father richly bless you with His grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in order to walk worthy of His name.