Dealing with Obstacles

A statement like “if your hand causes you to sin cut it off” causes on to sit up. Does Jesus really mean it? On deeper reflection, we need to ask ourselves what is causing us to sin and what should we cut off.


The Stumbling Blocks

Our Greatest Enemy

The Punishment

The Cure

Bible Passage

Matt 18.6-9; Mark 9.42-50; Luke 17.1-2;

Matthew18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

Bible Passage

Matthew 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Historical Context

Dr. Ron Charles reports that historical records indicate that the child Jesus picked up was a Down’s syndrome child.. As an object lesson. The dual reference is to his disciples as children.

In those days these children were treated as menial servants or sex slaves. They were in the lowest echelons of society.

He says that these children did not have the capacity for remembering anything bad that happened to them for more than 48 hours. They were very vulnerable to mistreatment.

Historical Context

If anyone offends the child, the “millstone around the neck” punishment is deserved.

That punishment was then given to those who offended the king and pharoah. They were cast into the sea with the millstone around their neck. Their name was wiped off all records. It’s as if they never existed.

What are the stumbling blocks?

What are the stumbling blocks in our lives? Hands? Feet? Eyes? Are they things? Possessions, wealth?

Jesus mentions two broad categories:

  • Ourselves
  • Others


Offer your bodies to God as a living sacrifice

 – dedicated to God’s service

 – Separated from worldly habits

Renew your minds

 – Let the spirit speak

 – let the word flow

 – let  your hearts be receptive

Stumbling Blocks - Ourselves

What causes us to stumble?

Jesus says “If  your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut them off?”

That sounds drastic. But are our hands/ feet/ eyes the source of our problems? No. They merely execute the commands issued by our brain.

So what really is the problem? Is it the brain?

Not really.


Stumbling Blocks - Ourselves

It is the thoughts and attitudes in our heart.

What are we feeding our thoughts.

Who are our friends, our major influencers?

What are we feeding our mind?

Wilson Bryan’s book “Sublimal seduction” talks of the daily influences on news and social media that we are constantly viewing or listening to which penetrate and start influencing our thinking patterns. We don’t even realize the power of the influence over us.

Our desires are the cause

James 1:14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Our desires are the cause

James 4:2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

How can we counter it?

On the flip side the word of God and positive fellowship with believers can influence us positively.

Regular prayer and the word of God

Good company, choice of friends

Listening to God’s inner voice

Removing / cutting off everything that hinders!!  (disconnecting with bad influences/ friends and cutting off inappropriate TV shows, internet sites,  videos, etc.)

Who is our Greatest Enemy?

We’ve seen earlier that our greatest enemy is ourselves.

Stumbling blocks - Others

These could be believers or unbelievers.

Jesus compares his disciples as his little, helpless children.

Susceptible to attack and misuse.

He threatens those who mislead them in any way.

Jesus is talking of the religious leaders primarily – as blind guides.

Stumbling blocks - Others

A blind man in a great city was found sitting at a street corner with a lantern beside him. Someone went up to him and asked him why he had the lantern, since he was blind and the light of it was the same to him as the darkness. The blind man simply replied, ‘So that no one may stumble over me.

Stumbling blocks - Others

The punishment

In being stumbling block those are endangering the anger of the Most High King and Most High God.

Jesus emphasizes the seriousness of the offence by a drastic comparison. – the millstone around the neck and into the sea.

The Cure

Cut it off!!

  • Our old habits
  • Our negative thoughts
  • Our selfishness
  • Our negative influences – friends, etc.

Cutting of should be accompanied by replacement

Allowing the Spirit to work in our lives:

  • New habits
  • New thoughts
  • God centredness

The Cure

Stumbling blocks?

While we may not intend to be stumbling blocks, our own blindness may trip others up.

We need to be very careful about our judgments, and pray for discernment.

We are here, like Jesus, to save others.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17


Choose to build with our lives

“We can choose to throw stones, to stumble on them, to climb over them, or to build with them.“ Andrew Ward



1.What are some drastic cuts we have to make in our lives to prevent sin? Share Examples.

2.How can we ensure that even subconscious influences in our lives do not derail us?

3.In what ways can our own blindness be a stumbling block to others? Share examples.

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