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To stumble or not to stumble

John 16:1

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.”

“Stumble” - Greek# 4624 “Skandalizo”- To be enticed to sin or to fall away. 

Jesus was speaking to His disciples here just prior to going to the cross. It is amazing to me that the creator of the universe was about to do the most important thing for mankind since creating them, and He was concerned with His disciples sinning and falling away! The main point that I desire to make is that God always gives us what we need before we need it. In this particular instance, Jesus was speaking to the disciples to warn them of what attack the devil was planning to use the situation that they were about to face. If you are honest and take a moment to think, you will become acutely aware that God has done this with you too. The way that it manifests is in your “gut” or “conscience”. These are the times when you have just “known” to do or not to do something. Depending on what you have chosen, you can look back and say that you made either the correct or the incorrect decision. God does not want you to be enticed to sin and He does not want you to fall away- to decide not to follow God anymore. Therefore, He will come into your heart and tell you those things that are to come both personally and sometimes globally with the intent of provoking you to follow His direction, walk by faith and stand on His promises. 

    If we continue to read the chapter, we see that Jesus told the disciples in John 16:32 that they would each be scattered “to their own.”  The term scattered carries with it the implication of running off in terror…. like chickens do if you run into the middle of a flock of them. This fleeing in terror was not sinful evidently because God never corrects any of them for it. The only instance we have record of any of the disciples sinning against God is when, in John 18:17, 25, and 27, Peter denied Jesus. The reason that Peter was “enticed” to sin here is because of his own pride. Jesus prepared Peter by making the statement above- that He told him what was coming so that he wouldn’t be enticed to sin. Yet even with this warning from the Lord, Peter fell away. As a matter of fact, only when Peter arrogantly stated that he would go with Jesus and die with Him {Luke 22:31-34} was a door opened to the wicked one to sift Peter as wheat. It was the pride in Peter’s heart that drew the wicked one to him because of the spiritual law that states that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. It was not that God was “working with” the devil, rather it is that the Spirit of God is repelled from pride and the voice of the Spirt becomes more and more suppressed by that pride. When someone exhibits pride, there are  two ensuing factors that escalate the situation… first, the person is so full of hearing their own voice {pride} that they cannot hear the voice of the Lord and second, the poignant “smell” of pride acts like an attractant to the wicked one in the same way that decaying flesh is an attractant to flies. 

Peter gave the wicked one an opportunity by his prideful speech, but the other disciples simply scattered. What stands out to me is that even though God tells us of things to come, we still have the opportunity to choose whether we participate with that scenario or not. I realize this may be a foreign concept to you but let’s reason together momentarily. Here, Jesus explicitly states that He does not want the disciples to be made to stumble, so it stands to reason that the choice to stumble or not rests solely with the disciples themselves and not with God. Otherwise Jesus would not have prepared them but said instead something like-“It is written, you will stumble and there is nothing you can do about it.” 

Before spending time with the Spirit of God and allowing Him to explain things to me, I myself have been disillusioned when I have been blessed with prophetic statements. For instance, I was told that Heath would be my husband. But I took that as- I had to marry Heath. Later when I approached the Lord about that, He told me that it was and had always been my choice to marry Heath or not, but that God was telling me that if I maintained the path that I was on, the end result would be that I married Heath. Please understand that I am so thankful to have married Heath, but I am using this as an illustration of this subject matter. Many many times, we receive warnings from the Holy Spirit, and we believe that the events told us by Him are without contestation; that they are predetermined and cannot be changed. This is simply untrue as John 16:1 very clearly highlights. 

    The conclusion of the matter is this, God always gives us what we need before we need it, but it is always our choice whether to listen to Him or not. 

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