Matthew 18:8
If your hand or your foot causes you to fall into sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands and two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire.
Sermons
The Severity of Spiritual DisciplineR. Tuck Matthew 18:8
Necessity of Becoming Like Little ChildrenMarcus Dods Matthew 18:1-14
Better Suffer than SinDr. Culross.Matthew 18:6-9
Moral SurgeryJ. Kelly.Matthew 18:6-9
Occasions of StumblingJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 18:6-9
Renouncing Things that HinderOlshausen.Matthew 18:6-9
Self-DisciplineMatthew 18:6-9
Self-MortificationJohn Trapp.Matthew 18:6-9
The Offending MemberW.F. Adeney Matthew 18:8, 9
A moment's reflection will convince us that these stern sentences of Christ's are unanswerable. If the alternative lay between losing a limb and losing his life, who would hesitate with his decision? "All that a man hath will he give for his life."

I. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR WHAT IS VERY NEAR TO US TO BE FATALLY HURTFUL TO US. It would be a mistake to suppose that our Lord meant that under any circumstances self-mutilation would be a duty. The causes of stumbling are not bodily, although the body may be the instrument of temptation; they are in the thoughts and desires of the heart (James 1:14, 15). But there may be things precious as parts of our very selves, or friends dear as the apple of the eye, or useful as the right hand, and yet spiritually hurtful to us. Our own daily occupation, to which we have grown until it has become as a part of ourselves, may be a source of temptation and danger. Our habits, which are our second nature, may be a very bad second nature.

II. IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO LET LOWER INTERESTS BLIND US TO OUR HIGHEST GOOD. Eyes, hands, and feet are good and useful things in themselves. A maimed creature who has lost any of these valuable organs and limbs is certainly a pitiable object. Naturally and rightly we desire to keep our body sound and whole. Many possessions, though less intimately connected with our persons, are still justly valued when considered by themselves. But this valuation only touches a part of life, and that the lower part. If the enemy can seize the outworks and turn them against the citadel, it is desirable to demolish them, excellent as they may be in form and structure, because the principal object is to keep the citadel. The great necessity in spiritual things is to guard the very life of God within. If anything threatens this it threatens our highest interest. Selfish people are their own worst enemies, because, while pandering to the outer self, they starve and poison the true self.

III. IT IS WISE TO MAKE ANY SACRIFICE TO SAVE THE TRUE LIFE. We admit this in bodily disease. The shattered limb must be amputated to preserve the patient's life. The same principle applies in spiritual regions. The pain of losing what is very near and dear to us may be great. But we dare not be cowardly. A greater evil is the alternative. We may spare our friendship, our wealth, our pleasure, and yet destroy our souls. Then at best these things can but decorate the tomb of the dead spiritual nature. We have to rise to the stern severity of life. Sin is so terrible that it cannot be laid aside as one would put off a superfluous garment. It has eaten its way like a cancer into our very being. We shrink from the knife, but we must submit to it if we would live. Desperate efforts are needed - or rather a patient submission to the great Deliverer of souls who sometimes saves by terrible means. Yet he does save! - W.F.A.







Woe unto the world because of offences.
Some sinners defend themselves by saying that if they had not tempted their comrades to evil, some one else would. If your action made no difference in the man's ultimate course, it is not excused. It may be true that the temptation would have come without you; it by no means follows that it would have been equally powerful if you had not put it in the way; your example may have given it special force. How often is this so between friends and near kindred! Obedience to God extends to the temptation that is likely to lead to sin. The eye, the hand, must be plucked out, cut off, if it proved a temptation too strong for the man's resistance. If the temptation is clearly too much for you, you are bound to put yourself in such a position that it shall not be able to reach you. But our Lord not only requires a man to deal thus with himself, but also with his neighbour. We are not allowed to suppose that our brother's conduct is indifferent to us. We are to have regard to the effect of our conduct upon others. Let us consider the form which this teaching takes in sonic of the ordinary relations of life.

I. Look at life in our own HOMES. The doctrine that each must look only to himself would not be admitted here. We are ready to interfere with what affects our comfort; are we as ready with loving care to remove stumbling-blocks. It is easy to expose selfishness, but not so easy to be perpetually setting an example of sacrifice.

II. THE RELATIONSHIP OF MASTER AND SERVANT is peculiarly one which calls for the constant care for one another. How many temptations can we remove from the path of servants if we give our thoughts to it. Living in a household, servants imbibe the principle of their masters. What a power for removing temptation from a child does every servant possess.

III. Look at SOCIETY and see how the rule applies there. In a Christian country society should have regard for the weaknesses of humanity; to mould the customs of society so as to put as few temptations as possible in the way of these weaknesses. True, the demand for this is not so strong here as in our own homes; but it is easier to recognize. In the home you deal with individuals, peculiarity and diversity of temperament, and it may be hard to recognize what is a temptation, and what the best way of removing it; but in regard to society we have no such difficulties; here we have to deal with the effects of temptation on thousands, and this does not admit of much doubt. Every member of society is responsible for his share in customs which create temptation.

IV. Consider this rule as applied to LEGISLATION. No act of legislation ought to pass without consideration as to its moral effects, its likelihood to increase or diminish the temptations of the people. It is often urged that man gains strength by conflict with temptation, and that the removal of temptation is a weakness. This not the entire truth: the removal of temptation is often the only thing which gives the soul time to gather the forces of grace to triumph.

(Bishop Temple.)

I. LET US INQUIRE WHY IT MUST NEEDS BE THAT OFFENCES COME.

1. Not from any fault in the gospel of the Redeemer.

2. Not that God necessitates men to lay before others these hindrances in the path to heaven, and encouragements to sin.

3. Why then? "Light has come into the world, and men love darkness," etc. He does not interpose by omnipotent force.

II. LET US EXAMINE WHAT ARE THE CHIEF OFFENCES AGAINST WHICH WE SHOULD GUARD?

1. False sentiments in religion, and doctrines inconsistent with the Word of God often prove an offence and tend to lead others away from felicity.

2. The influence of unholy examples.

3. Persecution.

4. The unsuitable walk of professing Christians.

III. ILLUSTRATE THE PROPRIETY OF THE DOUBLE WOE PRONOUNCED BY OUR LORD.

1. Woe to the world because of offences, for many will be seduced by them.

2. Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.

(1)Because he frustrates as far as in his power the design which Christ had in coming into the world.

(2)Because he renders himself guilty of all the crimes he has led others to commit.

(3)Because the reparation of those evils is morally impossible.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

A caution this, as has well observed, "particularly necessary for the disciples at this time striving for superiority; for if they had continued in that spirit, they would have turned out of the way those they had gained to the faith." Let us inquire —

I. WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND HERE BY "OFFENCES." Stumbling-blocks in the way that leads to heaven. Figurative expression (Romans 14:13, 21): offences may be taken when they are not given. Offences may be given when they are not taken. Stumbling-blocks are of three kinds —

1. Such as God has laid in the way.(1) Jesus Christ is in this sense a stumbling-block (1 Peter 2:6, 8; Romans 9:31-33; Isaiah 8:13-15; Luke 2:34; Matthew 13:57; Matthew 26:64, 65).(2) The doctrine of Christ is a cause of offence (Matthew 15:12; Matthew 19:22, 1 Corinthians 1:22, 23; John 6:61-66; Matthew 13:54).(3) The suffering and death of Christ on the cross is a stumblingblock (1 Corinthians 1:23; Matthew 26:31, 33; Luke 24:21). The Jews called Christ, in derision, "Talui," the man that was hanged. An offence without reason.

2. Such as are laid in the way by the subtlety and malice of the devil and his children. Such as false doctrine, reproaches, etc.

3. Such as, through the devices of the grand adversary, are laid in the way by the inattention, folly, and misconduct of those who are, or profess to be, the children of God (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:7, 9).

II. How IT APPEARS THAT IT MUST NEEDS BE THAT OFFENCES COME.

1. Offences of the kind first mentioned must come (Matthew 2:6). These are only stumbling-blocks in our apprehension. They that stumble at these, stumble at their own mercies and salvation.

2. Offences of the second kind will come, not, strictly speaking of necessity, but in the nature of things. For the devil and his children will hate the children of God, etc. (Zechariah 3:2; 1 Corinthians 11:19; Acts 20:30; 2 Corinthians 11:26).

3. Offences of the last kind will also come, as appears from the text, and from (Luke 17:1), where the Greek word imports it is not to be expected, etc. He does not appoint or ordain these offences. He does not withhold the grace whereby they may be avoided. But He permits, or does not absolutely hinder them.

III. WHY OUR LORD PRONOUNCES A "WOE" UPON THE WORLD BECAUSE OF OFFENCES, AND UPON THAT MAN BY WHOM THE OFFENCE COMETH.

1. By "the world," may be here meant, those that know not, and love not, God (John 15:16, 19; John 17:9, 14; 1 John 5:19). Through offences, especially those of the last-mentioned kind, many of these perish eternally. Therefore, woe to them! They dishonour God, obstruct and injure others, and lose their own souls.

2. "The world," may mean mankind in general, including even the people of God.

3. "Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." For he dishonours God in a manner none else can do — he does the work of the devil and pleases him — he confirms the wicked in their prejudices, etc. All this mischief will be required at his hands, etc.Application —

1. See that you offend not (ver. 6).

2. See that you be not offended yourself (ver. 8, 9).

(Joseph Benson.)

1. The unavoidables of offences.

2. The woes pronounced against them.

I. What we are to understand here by offences.

II. From whence the unavoidableness of them doth arise.

III. That offences are of woeful consequence, both to men in general, and to those particular persons by whom they come.

(Bishop Fowler.)

1. The drawing of our brethren into erroneous opinions; such as have an ill-influence on men's lives and manners.

2. Enticing men to sin by wicked advice and solicitations.

3. Affrighting or discouraging others from being religious, or from the doing of their duty in particular instances: such things as(1) persecuting for righteousness' sake:(2) representing the ways of religion as very rugged and difficult, and the duties thereof as over-harsh and severe:(3) making a great number of additions to the law of God, and imposing them as necessary to salvation:(4) treating those who have fallen into errors of judgment or practice, with too great harshness and severity.

4. Offering an evil example.

(Bishop Fowler.)

Let us grant that in individual cases a man may give such care and attention as not to sin, yet it is impossible that — taking all contingent events in the lump — a man should not sometimes be remiss, and fail. or slip. For this is the infirmity of the mind of man since the Fall. In the same way it is necessary that the most skilful archer, who to a certainty hits the mark as often as he chooses to do so, should sometimes miss it, if he is perpetually shooting at it. For this is a condition and result of human weakness — that mind, hand, or eye cannot long keep up the strain of their attention, that a man should hit the mark a hundred times running. He must miss sometimes.

(Lapide.)

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