6 “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. 7 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!” (Matthew 18:6–7, NASB95)
A stumbling block (Gr. skandalon) is a “trap-stick” (G4625). It is “the moveable stick or tricker (“trigger”) of a trap” (Thayer, 577). Thus, a stumbling block is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall” (Thayer). It is an enticement to sin. Jesus warned against becoming the “cause” (stumbling block, v. 6) that lures and captures another person in sin. We must not entice others to sin. Solomon warned his son to avoid the enticements of sinners (Prov. 1:10). But today’s passage warns against becoming the enticer of others. The apostle Paul explained that even a sinless act (like eating meat previously dedicated to an idol) becomes a stumbling block when it leads the weak in conscience (toward eating such meat) to eat in violation of his scruple (1 Cor. 8:4-13). Being a stumbling block is a “sin against the brethren” and a “sin against Christ” (1 Cor. 8:12). Therefore, Paul would forego his liberty to eat meat to avoid being a stumbling block (1 Cor. 8:13). Jesus said the punishment for being a stumbling block is worse than being drowned in the sea (Matt. 18:7). Woeful punishment awaits those who are impediments to righteousness and enticements to sin (Matt. 18:7). Love does not harm a neighbor (Rom. 13:10). Therefore, love carefully avoids becoming the cause of someone else’s sin (Rom. 13:8).
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent… 15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path. (Proverbs 1:10, 15, NKJV)
We must not underestimate the power of peer pressure. The enticement to fit in, to not be different, to not stand out in a crowd draws many into compliance and participation with others in evil. The mob’s façade of anonymity emboldens misbehavior, even violent treatment of others. Solomon’s warning to his son is plain. Do not listen to the sinful promises of sinners to cast your lot with them (see Prov. 1:11-14). Greed and visions of grandeur at the expense of others is the devil’s snare that destroys those who would destroy others (Prov. 1:16-19). It takes moral courage to resist pressure to join others in their sin. Little wonder God’s word exhorts us to add to our faith the courage of moral excellence (2 Pet. 1:5). Courageous faith is essential to resist the devil (Jas. 4:7). We do well to learn and heed Solomon’s wise advice to his son. The principles of goodness and justice that supported God’s command to Israel remain valid, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice” (Exo. 23:2).
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10, NKJV)
The godly must have clear eyes to see when sinners are enticing them to do evil. Under the guise of what is good and beneficial, the innocent and the gullible are deceived into following sinners into all sorts of destructive behavior. Just as the serpent deceived Eve, our minds can be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Deception and lies are the hallmark of the devil and his cohorts (see John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Many loving parents have warned their children against following the path of sinners (Proverbs 1:15-19). Such instruction, when followed, beautifies one’s life with grace (Proverbs 1:8-9). But, to refuse such warnings to resist and turn away from evil people and their enticements is foolish indeed (Proverbs 1:20-27). When a parent, a friend or a fellow Christian warns you of spiritual danger, accept their counsel and follow the wisdom of divine truth. God’s word turns you away from lusts while urging you to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Do not be enticed by sinners. Instead, flee sin and expose it for the evil that it is (Ephesians 5:11).