Summary: The analysis of sin in Luke 17:1-4 teaches us about how to deal with sin.
The closer Jesus got to Jerusalem and his crucifixion, the more he taught his disciples about important aspects regarding Christian discipleship. Jesus wanted his disciples to display to the world the characteristics of those who were members of his kingdom. In today’s lesson, Jesus addressed the topic of dealing with sin in the community of disciples.
Let’s read about temptations to sin in Luke 17:1-4:
1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4)
Saint Augustine once said, “Man is a good thing spoiled.” By that he meant that God’s creation of man, which God pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 2:31), was horribly marred after man fell into sin. Since that first sin all people in all ages and in all cultures struggle with sin. John Blanchard said, “We are born in sin and spend our lives coping with the consequences.” That is so true, isn’t it?
But, thankfully, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to seek and to save lost sinners. Jesus would eventually go to the cross and pay the penalty for all of our sin. But although Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, we still have to deal with the presence of sin in our lives. Sin will not be eradicated in us until we see Jesus face to face. Until then, we still wrestle with sin.
So, while he was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, Jesus taught his disciples how to deal with sin in the community of disciples. It is a lesson that all Jesus’ followers need to learn and put into practice on a daily basis.
The analysis of sin in Luke 17:1-4 teaches us about how to deal with sin.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Temptations to Sin (17:1-3a)
2. Forgiveness of Sin (17:3b-4)
I. Temptations to Sin (17:1-3a)
First, let’s look at temptations to sin.
Jesus shifted the focus of his attention back to his own disciples. He wanted them to understand some important truths about Christian discipleship. Specifically, he addressed the issue of sin. In the verses dealing with temptations to sin, Jesus issued three warnings to disciples.
A. Woe to the Tempter (17:1)
The first warning is woe to the tempter.
In Luke 17:1 we read that Jesus said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”
Jesus knew that all people in all ages and in all cultures struggle with sin. There is no one who does not struggle with sin. However, in this verse Jesus talked about temptations to sin. The Greek word (skandala) means “occasion to fall (of stumbling), offence, thing that offends, stumbling block.” So, as Philip Ryken says, “Here in Luke it seems clear that Jesus is talking about something that causes people to fall down spiritually, something that leads them sinfully astray.”
How do we lead people astray? Philip Ryken suggests some ways we lead people astray:
We do it any time our actions or attitudes set a bad spiritual example. We do it when our complaining spirit causes other people to be discontent. We do it by speaking evil words that unfairly influence someone else’s opinion. We do it by carrying on an argument to the point where we provoke an angry response. We do it by enticing someone to commit sexual sin or join us for some juicy gossip. We do it by boasting of our accomplishments or acquisitions in a way that makes other people envious or boastful. These are only some of the many ways that we can become a spiritual hindrance to other people.
I am sure you can think of many other ways that you can cause people to fall down spiritually.
Now the person being tempted has to take responsibility for his own actions. The fact that he has been led into sin does not exonerate him from his own sinful actions.
Nevertheless, the warning is given to the one who causes people to fall down spiritually. Jesus said in verse 1b, “But woe to the one through whom they come!” The word for woe (ouai) is an “exclamation of grief.” Jesus meant that it was a terribly grievous thing to cause someone to stumble.
Is there anything that you say or do that is leading someone to stumble into sin? Are you making it easier for people to sin? Or, are you making it harder for people to be godly?