Sin, Faith, and Service (Luke 17:1-10)
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.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”
1. Grateful that this was assigned as a complete section due to connection between them.
2. Sin, Faith, and Service are the interconnected themes of this passage.
3. Drug Commercials are filled with warnings. DISCLAIMER: This passage is for disciples.
a. Do not confuse the root with the fruit.
b. If one is not already a disciple of Christ, one does not become a disciple by practicing these things.
c. You may listen in but do not confuse that Christ has different commands for different people.
4. Verses 1-2: 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
a. There is a very specific focus here.
b. The type of sin in question is the type where one puts a stumbling block in front of another.
c. A little one is caused to stumble in that he is prevented from coming to Christ.
d. It doesn’t matter if this is a child, a new disciple, or one who would be a disciple.
e. Christ is deadly serious about this.
f. Rom 1:32 testifies to the nature of man in the Fall.
(1) Men want to rebel in company.
(2) If others are sinning like me then I feel like its normal.
(3) The more people that do it, the more likely it is that it is right.
(4) Men and women celebrate wickedness.
g. Christ states it is better that a millstone be hung around a man’s neck and he be drowned than that he cause a man to stumble on his way to Christ.
h. This is not just for the non-religious but the religious.
i. This warning is for all.
j. Christ is dead earnest that men and women come to Him for salvation.
(1) The person who trips another on the way or inhibits that person faces a judgment worse than drowning.
k. What if a child asks his father: “Who is Jesus? Why must people believe in Jesus? Why is Jesus the only way?”
(1) If that father says that the child need not worry about such things, he is stumbling his child.
5. Verses 3-4: .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.”
Christ turns His attention to life within the community of faith.
a. Note He first states: “If your brother sins”.
b. Quiz: What is your duty when your brother sins?
1) Ignore him.
(2) Tell the Elders.
(3) Gossip about him.
c. Christ states that it is our duty to rebuke a brother who sins.
d. You may say that this is more than I bargained for in the Christian life.
e. I don’t like him. He offended me. This may cause me to have to repent of sins of my own.
f. It’s easier if I just ignore him and focus on myself. He’s not worth my time.
g. When we refuse to rebuke a brother, we are refusing to help him.
h. When we refuse to rebuke a brother we are refusing to love him.
i. This person names Christ and we say in our hearts: “This person can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. I have neither the energy nor the motivation to rebuke him.”
j. How many times does Christ forgive you in a day?
(1) You who spat in unbelief in the face of God saw that same God hanging on a Cross for your sins.
(2) You were an enemy of God.
(3) By faith, Christ died from your sins and gave you life.
(4) How can you fail to love who Christ loves?
(5) How can you fail to rebuke another and display the riches of Christ’s mercy to them?
(6) Imagine for yourself the joy of a brother who repents for your loving rebuke and is brought by your hand back to His savior’s arms.
6. You may say: This is hard.
a. Simple answer: Of course it’s hard!
b. Where did you ever get the silly idea that being a Christian was easy?
c. Nothing in the Christian life is accomplished according to our strength! Nothing!
7. The apostles had the same response as evidenced by verses 5 and 6: 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
a. The Apostles do not say: Give us faith. They believe they possess faith.
b. They ask for an increase in faith.
(1) They believe there is something that they have to produce within themselves to have the power to do what Christ has commanded.
c. There is no evidence from the Scipture or the historical record that mulberry trees around Jerusalem were being cast into the sea.
d. The mulberry tree was a symbol for something immovable. It had roots that could live for hundreds of years.
e. In the Scriptures, the mustard seed is used in the parables as the smallest of seeds.
(1) There is no degree of faith smaller.
(2) Christ is saying that weakest faith can move the immovable.
f. We could talk for hours about how people misunderstand faith.
g. The popular notion is that intensity or sincerity is what empowers us for greatness.
h. The apostles thought like many of us: If I just had more power of faith then I could accomplish more.
i. But faith is not a power.
j. Pagan magic seeks insight for increased power and this is how many treat faith. It is not the power of our faith that is important..
k. It is the Savior in Whom we have faith that makes all the difference in the world.
l. People may say: “I wish I had your faith” but the proper response is “Don’t desire my faith, desire my Savior!”
m. Little faith gets the same Jesus that strong faith gets.
(1) Christ is the powerful one.
(2) Christ is our King Who subdues sin and temptation.
(3) Christ is the fountainhead of all our blessings.
(4) Faith is an act of trusting and clinging to the strong Savior.
n. Christ is reminding His disciples that He has the power to grant what He commands.
o. Looking within for power will always lead to failure but when we trust that Christ is powerful we can do all things through Him because He is powerful to do all things.
8. Christ closes with this parable: 7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”
a. Christ knows our hearts.
b. We may find ourselves, in Christ, forgiving and being forgiven.
c. We may find ourselves serving others.
d. Our indwelling sin convinces us that our service merits a reward for our hard work.
(1) Even in the military, there is an expectation that we’ll get a medal at the end of our service when pay is our due.
e. In the parable
(1) The man is not very rich, has one servant.
(2) The servant works in the field all day and then must change his clothes to make dinner for his employer.
(3) The employer does not thank the servant for working in the fields.
(4) The master does not thank the servant for making him a meal.
(5) That is what he hired the servant for.
f. We’ve been bought with a price. The blood of Christ.
g. Christ stormed the dungeons of sin and death by defeating the enemy who had us in bondage to sin and death.
h. He gave us new clothes to wear, put a ring on our hand, and called us His brother.
i. We, who were enemies of God, have been adopted as God’s children. We are precious in God’s sight and Christ conquers every foe that comes our way to destroy us.
j. We are held tight in the grip of the Savior and He powerfully showers us with gifts for service in His kingdom.
k. How can we look within and say: “Christ, look how wonderful I am, you really are lucky to have me as your brother. I’ve earned more blessings from you hand.”
9. The story doesn’t end here.
a. Christ does say to His servants: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
b. The amazing thing about the Gospel is that Christ gives us every bit of strength and talent for a calling in His Kingdom and then He turns around and rewards us for what He granted.
c. When we understand that any reward for our effort was an effort born from God then we can never boast or claim that God owes us anything.
d. Christ reminds us to not fix our eyes within ourselves but to fix our eyes outward to amazing grace.
e. Be mindful that in the greatest things we do for the Kingdom we can never state we were doing more than the duty we owe our King.f. The reason I’m up here is that people like Doug Kittredge encouraged me and reminded me that I have a gift given by God and that God wants me to exercise that gift.
(1) The gift is not given that I might be exalted.
(2) The gift is given that Christ might be exalted for working powerfully within me.
(3) He further uses the gifts he’s given me to proclaim the Word to you and to build you up and spur you on to love and good works.
(4) At the end of the day, I’m only doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
(5) But Glory! What a pleasure it will be some day to see how unprofitable servants were used for the eternal salvation of human souls!
10. Are you on the outside looking in?
a. Perhaps you don’t know the reality I’ve been speaking about.
b. If Christ is not your Savior and Lord then these are not the first verses you need to hear from Christ.
c. Perhaps you feel the burden of your sin. It oppresses you and you feel yourself alienated from God. Christ commands: Come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
d. Christ commands that you look up on the Cross.
e. Christ did not come into the world to condemn for the world was already under wrath for its cosmic rebellion against God.
f. Christ calls you to look up on the cross and believe that He has put the power of sin to death on the Cross. Believe upon Christ and all your many sins have been put to death with Him.
g. Christ calls that you look at the empty tomb.
h. Christ has conquered death by His indestructible life and proved Himself to be the Son of God. All authority in heaven and earth is His.
i. Look at Christ and believe that He has risen from the dead by His power.
j. Cling to His feet. He is your only hope in this life and the next. You will be united to His indestructible life that gives you life and safeguards you as His own for eternity.
k. Christ will conquer sin and temptation in your heart as He makes you into a new creation.
l. Look up and believe that Christ has ascended on high and sit as the right hand of the Father.
m. There He ever lives to pray for those who believe upon Him and conquers all His enemies.
11. Believe upon Christ that you may be freed from sin!
12. Believe upon Christ that He might free you to love your neighbor and to tell other hungry beggars where the bread of life is to be found!
13. Believe upon Christ not because you‘ll be powerful if you have a mighty faith but because Christ is a mighty Savior!