A Brief Primer on Sin – Part 1

Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from Scripture
Matt. 18.1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst
of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles
himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever
receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of
these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a
great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the

As a section unto itself, Matt. 18 forms what we might label A Brief Primer on
Sin. Sin is Jesus’ focus in this chapter, and it is occasioned by a discussion
among the disciples over who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. From
Mark and Luke we know this was part of their discussion on the way to where
this event takes place. And so it is we see the most insidious of sinful tendencies
among those who seek and follow Christ – the tendency toward desiring rank or
recognition. Just as 1st John warns us that one of the three things the World can
offer which we are to be careful not to love, is a sense of who we can be in ours
or other’s eyes – so here it is set before us as a very great problem. And isn’t it
appropriate in a cultural climate where ambition and achievement seem to be
everything, to have it brought to us once again? Indeed, it is one thing for fierce
competition and seeking the forefront to be present in business affairs, but what
a wretched and miserable thing it is when it not only creeps into the Church, but
finds sanction and a warm welcome there. So in our day, it is not hard to find
Churches competing both with the World and with one another. It is not hard
to find us as individuals secretly or not so secretly as wanting to find recognition
among God’s people. But in truth, we are not to compete with the World, but to
speak with God’s voice and words in contradistinction to it. And in the Church,
our tendency toward elevating personalities as virtual stars in our own circles,
and seeking the growth of our churches and missions budgets and outreach
efforts as badges to flash at others, of Christian glory, rises up like a stench in
the nostrils of our God. Yes indeed, let us labor with all our vigor until the setting
sun, but let us be sure we do it in such a manner that it brings glory to our God,
and not to us. “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for
the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Ps 115:1


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