Matthew 18:1-9 Part 3

It becomes necessary – once more – to begin with a review of what we’ve recently heard.  And since our Lord is presenting His disciples with stern warnings with regard to entrapments – often translated “offences” – (which are, as you remember, enticements to unbelief and apostasy), it is, therefore, necessary that we, also, hear warnings concerning the deceptions of our day which may cause us to depart from living fully in the body of our Lord.

Having been reminded of what “entrapments” are, it is then a critical issue for us to understand that deceptions, in order to be deceiving, must be subtle enough, sensible enough, attractive enough to draw the Lord’s people away from the Light of Life and Truth which is only located in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And living in Him through faith, by the power of the Spirit of God, is the only way to access that Light and Life and Truth!  And all else – no matter how well-presented and reasonable and sincere it is – is an entrapment to those who are new-born in Christ if it does not originate in that same location – the Person of Christ!

But the facts are that the Eternal Only-begotten of God the Father emptied Himself of His rightful glory and was born of a woman.  God the Son, as a babe, came into a world which was in total darkness because it had rebelled against the Word and Promises of God; and even God’s adopted son, Israel, had turned on Him and become the worst of the lot.  Although He was the Word of God Incarnate, and the Royal High Priest and Savior of the world, Christ’s Own people knew Him not; and He was mocked and shunned and rejected.  He went through the most severe humiliations and rejections, enticements and deceptions imaginable; and then suffered brutal persecution.  And, then, in hellish savagery, the peoples of the world, in a roar of bitter defiance, murdered Him by crucifixion.

But the Scriptures say that Jesus Christ was raised the Son of God with Power, and given dominion and a Kingdom.  By His death and resurrection He became the “second Adam”, defeating the death and depravity of the first one!

But even His disciples (at the time of the events here in the text of Matthew chapter eighteen) didn’t understand what was taking place.  They were expecting a physical king to sit in the seat of king David and bring the nation back to its original prominence and glory.  And in verse one of the text they came to Jesus’ house in Capernaum to ask Him whether one or more of them was to be greater in the new kingdom of Israel than the others of the twelve.  What this was, was political jealousy and avarice among the group!

And Jesus’ answer to them is one of the most critical texts in all of Scripture for us to understand.  He set a baby in the midst of them and said,


“Amen I say to you, unless you be changed and become as the babes, in no way shall you enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens.  Therefore whoever shall humble Himself as this babe, this is the greater in the Kingdom of the Heavens.  And whoever receive one such babe for My Name, he is receiving Me.  And whoever entrap one of these little ones who are faithing in Me, it is better to him that a millstone of an ass had been hung around his neck and he had been plunged into the depth of the sea.”


The disciples were hearing of the rebirth for the first time!  There had to be a humiliation and mortification of the old humanity in Adam and a rebirth into the new humanity in Christ, the second Adam!  The old, depraved humanity in Adam was judged and condemned; and the only acceptable humanity to God was the body of His Own Son!  As the babies were newly born, man, too, had to be born anew.  There had to be a new creation in Christ because the old man in Adam was repulsive to the holiness of God the Father!  All men born from Adam are born dead; and all men born from Christ are made alive.  One is the father of dead humanity; but the second Adam (the second beginning of humanity) is life!

And one must be re-birthed into the new humanity; he must become “as the babies” – i.e. brand new!  One cannot retain the nature of his seminal father – Adam – and enter into the Kingdom.  He must be rebirthed into Christ!  The old nature must be humiliated and mortified (as Christ was humiliated and mortified)!

So the “greater” in the Kingdom (the language of political power) is not the one who sits with the king at the seat of earthly glory – as was the eschatological hope of the disciples, but “the greater” is the one who has become, by grace, a newly-born creation in Christ!

That’s why Jesus says, in verse five, that one who receives one of these new babes is receiving Christ.  As is evidenced by the Communion bread and wine, there is such a union between Christ and His new-born creations, that if one of them is received – He is being received!

But woe to the one who entraps one of these.  If one is dead to Adam and alive by grace in Christ (i.e. a “little one”), enticements to unbelief and apostasy bring the wrath and eternal judgment of God the Father!  Entrapments are “inevitable”, says Jesus, but woe to the man through whom they come.  It would be better for him if he had never been born – it would be better for him to have suffered the most ignominious end – than to have provided one of these little ones with enticement away from the body of God’s Son!  Persecution, suffering, denouncement, separation, humiliation, great arguments and philosophies, entanglements in the world, lustful temptations, false theology, errant preaching – all enticements and temptations to false belief and to apostasy and to a return to the thinking and practices of the old Adamic nature!  Woe to the world because of the entrapments of these “little ones” who have been reborn into the new humanity of Christ!  Woe to the man who seduces a babe in Christ.  Woe to the one who enchants and captivates one who has been covered by the blood of Christ.  Woe to the world when one of these is caused to suffer for the Name of Christ.  God loves His Son; and therefore He passionately loves all those who have been born into Him.  And He burns with anger toward any who might deceive one of these “little ones”.

Now.  As I’ve so often said, the Word of God must be exegeted and expounded in its own context – otherwise the sense of the words is lost and the Gospel takes on a flat (non-dimensional) obscurity.

At the same time, God’s speech (having been understood contextually) must be the final authority for all of faith and life.  Therefore It (God’s Word) is the “ground” by which all else is judged.

Therefore the “watchman” on the wall is to sound the alarm if there is danger approaching; and the “shepherd” of the sheep is to attack with impunity whatever might hurt the sheep; and the elder is to expose to the Light of God’s Word whatever might be an enticement to the “little ones” in Christ.  Therefore it becomes necessary that I expose to the Light of God’s absolute Truth some “entrapments” – or enticements – to unbelief in our present day.  We’ve uncovered false theology in the Churches; we’ve critiqued unBiblical economics, art, entertainment, philosophy, and politics; we’ve brought God’s Word to bear on false religions and cults – all of which have to be exposed to the radiant glory of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Darkness must be exposed to Light!

And now, because a man – a modern day phenomenon – has become so popular, especially among those whose Biblical philosophy is so similar, it becomes necessary that we turn the full Light of Truth upon his teaching.  I’m speaking, of course, of Rush Limbaugh, who has up to twenty million listeners every week, and who is beloved of many of us.

There are a number of reasons for his rise to stardom; some of which being:  the moral degeneracy of the nation and the extreme vexation that that causes many of us; the need for the exposure of evil; the talent of the man; the entertainment value of having absurdities and hypocrisies and inconsistencies of men and governments, uncovered on national radio and television; all of these – and more – are the reasons.  And I’m not qualified to analyze his ascent fully.  But it is truly a phenomenon.  The man is an icon.  His followers (listeners) are rabid in their enjoyment of his cutting humor.  And some of us are among that group.  And I wouldn’t attempt to diminish his impact in the marketplace of entertainment and ideas.

At the same time, as the Word says, everything has to be judged by the righteousness of God and His revealed Word.  Every thought of man has to be brought captive to Christ!  And when there are statements and arguments and analyses which run contrary to the plain Truth of Scripture, and they come from a man who has captured the ears of so many of us, then many of the Lord’s people could be entrapped to disbelief.  The point here is that great violence and damage can be done when the enticements are so subtle!  And what can be more subtle than to have ungodly presuppositions and doctrines couched in a steady stream of spirited language – most of which is pregnant with Truth!

So it is with a heart full of love and kindheartedness toward Rush, but with a zeal to sound the alarm of danger to the Lord’s people – His “little ones” – that I now proceed to address those issues in which babes in Christ might be entrapped to apostasy and unbelief.  And it is my desire that he strive with the Truth of Scripture in order that he not have to deal with the wrath of an angry God should any of His “little ones” be entrapped.

First we must be on the constant lookout for Rush’s evolutionary thought.  He does not believe in a recent, ex nihilo, creation by the spoken Word of God!  Therefore he has taken up the same underlying presupposition that drives the new agers, the environmentalists, the animal rights people and most scientists – the evolution of the universe!  You see, evolution is humanity’s way of challenging the Sovereignty of God and the Truth of His Word.  It is evolutionists who begin – not with God, but with form and matter and ideas which are universal.  And, therefore, the world is deified!  It becomes enchanted and mystified – and worshipped!  So how can one successfully counter the arguments of evolutionary, wacko movements of the day, if one’s presuppositions are the same as theirs!

But the Scriptures are not open to alternative interpretation.  God created the world from nothing; and He did it in six days; and He did it recently; and He Sovereignly controls its existence – as a whole and in all of its parts – by the Word of His Power, and for His Own glory!  He is completely distinct from the creation, and He is vitally interested in, and completely involved in, every detail of its existence!  And any deviation from this Scripturally perspicuous Truth is of utmost importance to Christ’s Kingdom, and could lure these “little ones” into apostasy.

Secondly, Rush’s view of the origin and nature of law is anti-God and anti-Scripture.  This is so critically important because it has to do with the ontological Being of God and His Supreme authority!  Rush says that there is “natural law” (an evolutionary concept) and a pragmatic law which a vast number of people put into practice in a time-honored fashion!  And thus he says that the nation, in all of its states, should put issues such as abortion to democratic referendum.  He also says that the “soul” of the country is lost because it isn’t honoring natural law nor holding fast to that which it has found to be “moral” in the past!

But the Scripture says that there’s no such thing as “natural law”.  What it says is that the world operates the way it does because God, Himself, is the first cause!  And “practical law” cannot stand the test of time if it is based on the morality of the multitudes!  As is evidenced in our generation, the morals of the majority change!  And if morality changes, upon what ground does the law stand?  Judge Moore – in Alabama – has it right when he said there is no foundation for any law outside of God’s Law.

The facts are that God is the same yesterday, today and for ever.  And His Holy Law is the absolute standard of life and conduct – for every generation!  There is no change.  The problem in the country is that people are rebelling against God and His Law-Word.  The standard is not nature; the standard is not democracy; the standard is not a constitutional republic.  The “way things ought to be” is not “the morality of our forefathers”!  Obedience to God brings blessing and prosperity; rebellion against His Law brings apostasy, economic ruin, plagues, tyranny and destruction.

These “theories” of law must not be heeded by Christ’s people.  They are entrapments to unbelief!  And wherever we hear them they must be vigorously opposed.

We’re not going to have time for all of these, but this third one we must touch on.  Rush’s positive message to the world is the single greatest entrapment to “little ones” in Christ today.  It is of the very essence of deception.  The text for today in Matthew says that the old depraved man in Adam has to be humiliated and killed; and a man must be reborn – he must become newly born in Christ.  The old human nature has to be mortified, and Christ’s nature is to be received!

But the message of “positivism” is in absolute contradistinction to Scripture!  It is “warmed-over” Robert Shuler, Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziegler, and Robert Tipton!  It simply says that the power for life is within man himself.  The “evolutionary”, “natural law” human being is “capable” and “able”.  The human animal must dig down and find his dignity and esteem – and operate with principal and honor and hard work.  It is within the human to find his life and make something of it.  And all human animals have the capacity.

But God says that humanity is depraved.  Humanity in Adam is repulsive to God Who is the very Source of life!  There is shame and indignity and idolatry at the very heart of man; so how can a man dig down deep inside himself and come out with life?!  Man must have life in the new humanity of Christ Jesus the Lord!  He is the second Adam Who gives life to the dead.

The message of Rush Limbaugh and all other vendors of the truth in this country must be verses eight and nine of the text of Matthew eighteen:  It says that our old man must be cut off and plucked out, humiliated and done away with – not nurtured and given self-esteem!  Why should a man give esteem to that which is the source of death and eternal destruction?  The old man in Adam is full of rebellion and hypocrisy and deceit and covetousness and murders and adulteries and every kind of abominable perversions (including Rush’s acceptance of homosexuality as an “orientation” of life – which we can’t get to today); and man’s only hope is to mortify – humiliate – the self (not give it esteem)!  The only hope of men is humiliation of the “self” in Christ – which is the exact opposite of what is being preached and taught all over this nation!  Hope and victory and happiness and prosperity and contentment are in Christ – not in fallen mankind!

The entrapments are inevitable, says Jesus in verse seven.  But woe to the man through whom the entrapments come. 


“Whoever entrap one of these little ones who are faithing in Me, it is better to him that a millstone of an ass had been hung around his neck and he had been plunged into the depth of the sea.”


So look out, Rush.  Look out preachers.  Take heed civil magistrates – God will not be mocked.  He will not withhold His indignation from those who lure His people into traps with false hopes and false teaching.  The only hope and healing of the nations is the King of Heaven and Earth.

The creation is His.  His Law is the absolute standard.  And man must repent and be born anew to have life.


“Therefore whoever will humiliate the self (reject it, mortify it, disdain it) and become newborn like the babes, this is the greater in the Kingdom….”


Remember – God loathes false human dignity and human pride and human power and human self-esteem.  He prefers the nature of His Only-begotten Son.