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(DON'T TREAD ON ME)
SCRIPTURE - Matt 18:7 DECEMBER, 2003
Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come;
but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!
SUBJECT - DON'T TREAD ON ME!!!
The subject this month, deals with a problem that faces every person that names the name of Christ. It sets the record straight, as to exactly what is the reason most Christians seem to go through life, seemingly being the brunt of everyone's jokes, being persecuted, and even killed. Yet they carry no animosity towards their persecutors, and even pray for them. It all seems like these misguided souls, have lost their minds.
Well, they have. They have lost their natural minds, and put on a new mind, the mind of Christ. [Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 1Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.]
Let's look at Christ for a minute, and the life He lived, especially during his ministry.
Despite all of the taunts, the ridicule, the persecution of all sorts, and even His crucifixion, He was as a lamb being led to the slaughter. When reviled, He reviled not. When He was being abused, He retaliated not. He even, while on the cross, asked the Father, to forgive them, because they didn't know what they were doing. Talk about wimpish. But, was He??? You be the judge.
In every one of these instances, He could easily have called down lightening or any other element from Heaven and destroyed the entire earth. After all, that's what happened when the earth was flooded during Noah's time. When His disciples wanted to defend Him, He told them to put away their weapons and said, Matt 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
In the field of martial arts, and even outside of that field, students are taught, that just because you know you can defeat a person, is no reason to fight him. We see ads all the time on television, when addressing the violence that plagues our nation, especially our young people, to just turn and walk away from those that are trying to goad you in to a fight.
The world would say, 'it's a pride thing.' They say, if you walk away, and let those that are 'picking on you' get away with it, they will continue to do it, and you will never have any peace. Really?? Let's see what happens if you do stay and fight.
If we look at a case where someone being picked on, or goaded in to fighting, decides on doing it, he may get beat up. If he does, he may go home and get some friends together and hunt down his enemy and they all will beat him up. If the victory goes the other way, then the one that forced him to fight, will go and get his friends, and hunt this person down and get revenge on him, or her. The end result is, what started out between two people has escalated in to a gang warfare. Thousands of people, mostly innocent bystanders, have died, because of something that originally started out as teasing or persecuting, of one person, by another. It's all a PRIDE thing.
Now, let's look at what happens in the same situation, when a person walks away from a problem like this, the way that Jesus says they should.
In the natural, usually somewhere down the road, the person will pick on the wrong individual, and get what they deserve. It never fails. Practically every one that gave me all types of grief, when I was a teen, are either dead, in jail, or crippled. There are a few, that, by the grace of God, have turned their lives around, and are now, preaching the gospel.
However, the point of this message, is not necessarily what will happen to you, at the hands of another person, or the legal system, but what will happen to you, at the hand of God..
Notice, Jesus started out, using the word, WOE!! That word alone, should strike fear in the hearts of any one that knows what it means, as far as God is concerned. It means that dire consequences are in store, that far and above, out do what man could even possibly think of doing to someone.
Woe, is mentioned 110 times in the bible, and in the old testament, when the person, group, or even nation was the subject of this warning, and God fulfilled the warning, we find out the terrible consequences that followed.
Now, if we look at the subject verse, we see Jesus is giving His disciples, as well as the Church, a basic reality of Christian life. And that reality is, as long as you live here on earth, things are going to happen to you that will make you doubt whether or not there is a God, or if there is, why is He punishing you, or neglecting you. And based on your mindset, and knowledge of the word of God, you will either trust totally in Him, or turn away from Him.
Just for the record, another definition for 'offense', is an attack against you, that makes you think about committing sin. We could say, temptation. Sin, remember is the transgressing of God's law [1 Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.]
That means that everyday of your life, some thing, or someone, will cause you to consider going against what God says is right. The bible says, that in order to avoid trouble, you would have to leave this life, in other words, die. Because, if you were completely
alone, with no one around you at all, you would still have problems, because your biggest enemy, would still be there. And who is your biggest enemy?? Your flesh!! You don't need anyone helping you to sin, because your flesh will do it for you. However, while God helps you with your battle with your flesh, He gets angry when someone, or some thing, makes that battle, more difficult, by helping your flesh to cause you to sin.
The warning that is given, by Jesus,, is to those that either tempt, persecute or otherwise cause a believer to consider doing wrong. This warning goes to other believers that may be criticizing another believer. It is not uncommon for believers to do something that they shouldn't be doing, and as a result they could end up on the wrong side of God's favor.
Jesus, went on to say. that it would be better for the one that offended one of His, to have a millstone tied around their necks, and that they be drowned in the depths of the sea. Now that, is a frightening thing. Notice Jesus didn't say they be drowned in a shallow body of water, but in the deepest part of the sea, and that a millstone be tied around their necks. He said it like that to signify that they should never be seen again. They can't even be buried.
People that talk against God's children, and especially against His anointed, (talking about preachers, evangelists, teachers, prophets and other spokes people that He has called to convict the world of sin, by telling them what 'Thus sayeth the Lord.'), are in for a whole lot of trouble. Why?? Because God will take an active roll in meting out punishment to them.
That's right, God will move against them, and believe me, you don't know the results of God's anger, until you see it. Individuals, groups, and nations have experienced the wrath of God in the past, and they are still experiencing it today. God can do anything He wants to do to anyone, and be justified in doing it. The bible says, concerning the Christian that is being tempted to do something that God disapproves of, [2 Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;].
God says, [Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.]
The things that God can do, are unlimited, and as the bible says, [Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.]
When I see, in the bible, the things that God has done to the enemies of His people, I can see why I, don't have to worry about getting even with those that persecute me, and that I should actually pray for them, because I know what they are in for.
The beautiful thing about all of this is, when God moves against someone, on my behalf, they don't have anyone to retaliate
against. They will see their problem as, bad luck, or something like that. They will have no idea that their misfortune, is the result of what they did to one of God's children.
In present day examples, I look at groups such as the gay community, and women's groups that mount all out attacks against preachers that dare to call what they believe in, (the gay lifestyle and abortion),sin. They, and their cohorts in Hollywood, and the media, and dare I say, some preachers, are already experiencing God's vengeance, on a big scale. AIDS, is decimating the gay community, and according to statistics, it's getting worse, despite all that man tries to do, to stop it.
Women's groups, support the right of women to slap God in the face, at the tune of 1.5 million abortions a year, (over 44 million to date). These are, despite what scientists say, innocent human lives. What is God's response??? Our young people are dying at a rate, unheard of, by means of violence, and diseases that previously were known as old peoples diseases. AIDS, strokes, heart failure, accidents, suicides, and you name it. And think about this. Since God has plans for each baby born in to this world, some of them, that have been aborted, would have grown up and discovered the cures for AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases that plague mankind. But, since they were aborted, we continue to suffer, while men try to find the answer that only God can provide.
The message is clear, you don't mess with God's people. You don't put your hands on them, and you don't talk about them, maliciously.
It's too bad that people have to learn the hard way, but that is what they want. They have been told, time and time again, to repent, and turn from their wicked ways. But no, their response is to attack their accusers, and to try to make their lives miserable.
This warning, not only goes for those, outside of the church, but to those that are in the church (saved).
A lot of Christians, feel like they can run somebody down because they are doing something that they feel is not right. If the person you are criticizing, is a preacher, and the criticism is unfounded, or it is something that you disagree with biblically, you had best leave it alone, unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are right, and the preacher is wrong. Doctrinal differences, are no reason to criticize a preacher or a Christian brother or sister, if the fundamental beliefs of the Church are held in common.
If you are in a church, and the pastor is doing something you don't like, the best thing for you to do, is leave the church, and go somewhere else. Staying there, and trying to overthrow the pastor, is not the way to go, because just like some of the children of Israel, tried to overthrow Moses, who was God's anointed, they found themselves, in direct opposition to God, and they paid for it. Not one single person of that generation, made it to the promised land, except for those that supported Moses.
Look at what an unsaved religious leader had to say about attacking the things that the disciples were doing. [Acts 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: Acts 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.]
If this man can realize this, then, you better take heed to it as well. Only someone that is anointed to call out a person like a pastor, or evangelist, for doing something wrong, can operate in that position. I can preach a message, whose content, addresses the problem, and not name an individual directly, and still retain my integrity, while getting the point across. Of course, a personal talk with the individual, is usually a better way.
It is past time for the church to come together, and bury petty differences, so that we can battle the true enemy, the devil, and those that he uses against us.
However, if you choose not to join with those of us that are called to lead, and proclaim God's word to this lost and dying world, then you best keep your mouth shut, and go sit down somewhere. Anything else, and you are asking for trouble.