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).
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).
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3–4, NKJV)
The enticements of evil are prevalent and powerful. Those who practice sin allure the innocent to join them with offerings of personal pleasure and satisfaction. “Their delicacies” are designed to tempt, but leave the soul famished and starved of righteousness. One’s heart must not be willing to accept the temptations to join with evil and practice sin. Like David, petition God to set a guard over your mouth, that you will not utter compliance and agreement with evil. We cannot eat appetizers from the table of sin, without becoming workers of iniquity. Pray tell: how many delicacies off the table of iniquity can one eat (how much sin can one commit) without causing spiritual harm? To ask such a question is to answer it! Therefore, we must always “depart from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:10-11). Do not play around with sin. Protect yourself from the delicacies of those who practice sin. You cannot “partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).