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Bible verses about Offense
(From Forerunner Commentary)

When the Bible speaks of offense, it refers primarily to some act or series of acts which lead another into sin. By themselves, offenses are generally not hurt feelings, resentment, and anger that begin as minor irritations or annoyances. We ought to be able to deal easily with these. However, irritations and annoyances have the unfortunate inclination to build into far worse bitterness and grudges, which are sins that a person has allowed himself to be led into—in many cases by his own devious mind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Matthew 18:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Anyone who causes a Christian who manifests this childlike attitude to sin, or who places anything in his way to impede his faithfulness, would be better off being weighted down and thrown to his death into the sea. It would be better for him to die before committing such a sin. Christ regards injuring or causing a weak Christian to sin as a very serious offence (Romans 14:19-23; I Corinthians 8:9-13). We are all human, so offences will happen, but our Savior pronounces woe on the person who offends and causes others to sin. Anyone who leads others into sin bears great guilt. Only a deep-seated wickedness attempts to confuse and destroy another's potential.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of the Millstone and the Lost Sheep


 

Matthew 18:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The word skandalon, translated "offenses" or "offense," is used by Jesus three times in this verse. Skandalon is the trigger of a trap on which bait is placed. When an animal touches the trigger to eat the bait, the trap springs shut, and the animal is caught. When used in a moral context, skandalon indicates the enticement to conduct which will ruin the person in question.

Obviously, the verse's context is moral. Jesus' concern is the sin of being the temptation or enticement that causes others to sin. He does not stipulate whether one is the direct cause through persuasion or flaunted worldliness, or indirectly through one's manner of life. Hypocrisy may very well tempt others to sin more than outright atheism!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Matthew 18:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Does this mean that we are then free to go to all the other church members and tell them all of the offender's infraction? No, of course not! Doing such a thing would likely precipitate an unpleasant and unnecessary split in the congregation.

It is interesting to note that, at the time that Jesus gave these instructions to the disciples, the church per se did not yet exist! His disciples were, of course, the nucleus of His future church. Yet, even they sometimes had jealousies and disagreements between themselves—yes, even after the coming of the Holy Spirit. We see a few examples of these disagreements in the gospel accounts and the epistles.

The idea that Jesus is getting at here anticipates the establishment of His church and its leadership. It is to that leadership—the church ministry—that the offended person is to go in the event of the failure of Step Number Two.

So Step Number Three is the appropriate time for the ministry to become involved. Again, we must avoid the temptation to jump the gun by trying to involve the ministry before we have completed the first two steps.

Moreover, we should not use the involvement of the ministry as a threat! Doing so will almost certainly inflame the problem. It is vital that we also understand that there are no absolute guarantees that the involvement of the ministry will definitely resolve the problem. Jesus' words in the second half of verse 17 show this possibility clearly. The offending member might not recognize the authority or experience of the minister who is brought in to intervene, or he may adamantly refuse to admit that he did anything wrong. Whatever the reason, there is still the possibility that Step Number Three might also fail. If it does, then we go on to Step Number Four.

Continuing in verse 17, Jesus says finally, "But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."

If the problem gets this far, and assuming from the beginning that our case is a fair and valid one, we are within our rights at this point to treat the offender as the Jews of Jesus' time would have treated the most despised people, both of their own people (the tax collectors) and of the Gentiles (the heathen).

Jesus implies that, if negotiations fail even after the involvement of "the church" (the ministry), then the offender's unwillingness might cause him to be officially treated henceforth by the church and its leadership as a non-member—maybe even to the point of disfellowshipment or even marking. The apostle Paul comments on this in Romans 16:17-18:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Paul says here that the church leadership is to "note" those who cause offenses. In the King James Version, the term "note those" is given as "mark those." Paul is telling church leaders to mark or name before the church, those who cause division or offense.

"Marking" is the extreme form of disfellowshipment from the church. If a person is disfellowshipped, it is done privately. But if he is "marked," he has done something so serious that it must be announced to the entire congregation. This illustrates what a serious sin the giving of offense can be if not properly resolved.

Staff
Islands and Offenses


 

Matthew 20:24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When the others heard of the mother of James and John asking Jesus for special consideration for her sons, they were indignant, angry. Why? From Jesus' reply we can infer that their vanity was pricked—they had been "beaten to the punch"! They had been thinking of the same request because in their vanity they thought they deserved special consideration too.

Their proud minds had pictured themselves as worthy of being served, and they were offended because they thought that chance might be slipping away. Jesus reminded them that, even to be in the Kingdom, one has to have a humble attitude of a servant.

Unlike love, pride is "touchy and fretful." When pride feels threatened, it broods against what it perceives to be hurting it or lessening its chances of "being on top," "coming out ahead" of another, "looking good," or "getting even." And so it competes against others. It looks for ways to elevate itself or put another down. It counts all the offenses, real or imagined, and puts them into a mental account book to justify its position until it finds an opportune moment to break out in "vindication" of itself.

Love does not do any of those things. I Corinthians 13:5 says it as simply as it can possibly be put. Love does not insist on its own way—it will not even become provoked in the first place. And it makes no accounting of the evil done against it! We all have a long way to go in this regard!

When love dominates a person's life, becoming offended either through hurt feelings or a strong temptation to sin is remote. When pride dominates, hurt feelings or strong temptations to sin seem to lie behind every bush.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Romans 5:14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The offense committed in ignorance or in willful ignorance is just as abominable as one done with knowledge.

David F. Maas
Is All Fair in Love and War?


 

Romans 15:14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse provides a clear sense of an active, even aggressive, goodness. Paul links goodness with full knowledge and admonition of each other. This gives us insight into what he knew of and expected from Christians in Rome, placing before us a target to shoot for in our relationships within the fellowship of the church.

But Paul lists goodness first, as though it is either the foundation for the other two virtues or at least their necessary precursor. I Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up." Knowledge combined with vanity can spew a torrent of self-righteous offense, but goodness will hold such a display in check and guide knowledge to build up rather than destroy.

Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were "full of goodness [and] filled with all knowledge."

This is quite a compliment, serving to reinforce what he writes in Romans 1:8: "Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world"! They were far different from the recipients of Hebrews, whom he tells, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12).

The Romans' full knowledge was an intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the faith and Christian responsibility. Strong faith is not built on weak understanding. They had given honest, serious thought to applying their faith to the sometimes bewildering tangle of life in this world. They were living it.

These two qualities—goodness and knowledge combined—present a sound vehicle for instructing each other on the best ways to "walk the walk" despite the pulls of this world. Goodness provides the right disposition and motivation, and knowledge, the correct instruction. One devoid of the necessary knowledge cannot teach; anyone destitute of goodness will not even try because he lacks the impulse to help others in the right spirit. Even if he makes the effort, only a spirit marked by active love will win the response without which no true education in God's way is possible.

The word translated "admonish" in verse 14 is rendered "advice," "counsel," and "instruct" in other translations. In I Thessalonians 5:14, the same word is translated "warn," indicating that it is more than mere instruction. The English word that comes closest to expressing the sense best is "inculcate." Inculcate means "to impress upon the mind by frequent repetition or persistent urging" (Webster's New World Dictionary). Among its synonyms are such strong words as "indoctrinate," "brainwash," "admonish repeatedly," and even "hammer"! No wonder William Barclay says that agathosune is goodness that "might, and could, rebuke and discipline."

This goodness does whatever loving wisdom calls for in a given situation. However, this in no way means that one should deliver the admonishment, counsel, or even rebuke with meanness of spirit. In other words, one with goodness does not viciously "chew somebody out." Numerous Scriptures counsel us to be gentle and tender with each other. Paul is himself a model of tact and diplomacy in dealing with difficult circumstances within congregations and between himself and a person or congregation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness


 

1 Corinthians 8:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These seemingly innocuous words may be the central issue in this whole book (or both books to the Corinthians) because this was the sin that led Satan to separate from God's government. He became puffed up about himself. Likewise, the Corinthians were puffed up about how much they knew.

Satan thought so much of himself that he became twisted in his thinking, and he attacked God. We do not attack God directly—this book shows us we attack each other! Therein lies the problem. We attack each other through gossip, rumors, accusations, and things of that nature.

We begin to draw up lists in our minds of the faults of those who have offended us, and we begin to withdraw from them. We will not associate with them. Division begins to occur because they offend us. We say to ourselves, "Well, they were mean to me," or "They aren't intelligent enough," or "They are peculiar," or "They wear garish clothing," or "They have strong opinions about unimportant things."

This is not to say that these things are right and good, or that one should be able to do his own thing at anytime, anywhere, and that others should be tolerant of it. Nevertheless, Satan can, if he is given the opportunity, lead our minds to find reasons to not associate with others—reasons that have nothing to do with sin. Satan is at work.

If the feeling continues unabated, we will eventually come to the place where we will withdraw from fellowship altogether. It will not happen quickly, necessarily, but gradually. Perhaps we stop attending Bible Studies or begin to find reasons not to come to Sabbath services, or we will arrive late to services and leave early. In this way, Satan is slowly but surely moving us toward self-indulgence rather than love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 Corinthians 8:9-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle Paul was fully aware that others studied and imitated his example, so he was very careful about how he appeared to the members of the church. I Corinthians 8:9-13 contains a fine example of his circumspect living.

The overall subject of this passage is meat offered to idols. After sacrificing an animal in the temples, the pagan priests often sold the surplus meat to local merchants, who included it along with other meat at his stall in the marketplace. Some felt that meat was meat, and since there is only one true God, the meat offered to a man-made image was perfectly fine to eat. Others who were new in the faith or more sensitive to issues of spiritual contamination, believed that to eat such meat placed them in fellowship with—and they were thus defiled by—the false god, a demon, to which it had been offered.

Verse 10 shows that some Christians would even eat meat in the pagan temple! The new or sensitive Christian, seeing this—and perhaps having recently rejected that false religion—would suffer a weakening of his conscience or his faith. In an extreme case, he might even return to his paganism and be lost (verse 11)!

Paul, however, provides the correct example in verses 12-13. Notice the apostle's starting point: Such a sin against a brother in Christ is a sin against Christ Himself! It is that serious! However "legal" eating the meat might be under God's law, the more important point is that the effect of one's actions on a brother's character takes precedence. Paul's conclusion, then, is that he would never even give the appearance of sin if it would harm a brother in the faith.

Is this not the love of God in action? God's love manifests itself in thoughts, words, and deeds of care and concern for our brethren (I John 4:7-11, 21-5:1). It should be our motivation in walking circumspectly, setting a right example and never giving even a hint of evil in our way of life. If we do these things, to our amazement we will prove to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!

John O. Reid
Abstaining From Evil


 

1 Corinthians 10:32  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice that the apostle Paul is writing to church members, advising them not to offend fellow church members!

And what did Jesus say on the subject?

Then [in the end time] they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

He tells us of a future time when people will offend each other—to the point of betrayal! What else does our Savior tell us about offenses?

Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." (Luke 17:1-2)

Who are "these little ones"? Usually, this term would refer to children and to the newer members and attendees of God's church. But the term might also refer to those who perhaps tend to be a little more sensitive than most.

So, if Jesus says that it is impossible that no offenses should come, then how should we handle those offenses when they do come?

Keep in mind that, no matter which side of the fence we are on—whether we are the offended or the offender—it will not be easy. Solomon writes in Proverbs 18:19, "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle."

What should we do if a fellow church member offends us? Should we immediately go running to the local minister and demand that the offender be disfellowshipped? Of course not! Instead, we are to use Jesus Christ's four-step plan, which He gives us in Matthew 18:15-17.

Certainly, this may not be the most pleasant way of resolving the problem. It would be much easier to just give it to the minister and let him resolve it. But this is the method that Jesus commands His brothers and sisters to use.

Staff
Islands and Offenses


 

1 Corinthians 13:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is interesting to note that the Revised Standard Version translates this verse as, "It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful."

The Revised English Bible translates it: "Never rude; love is never selfish, never quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs."

The Amplified Bible renders it: "It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]."

Each of these translations clearly catches the essence of why so many are so easily moved from mere irritation to resentment and bitter anger, which in turn lead to retaliation. This progression can divide blood brothers (Proverbs 18:19).

This verse does not deny the fact that offenses will come, just as Jesus said. They will range from hurt feelings, giving rise to a mild animosity, to direct powerful temptations to sin through a flaming temper bent on getting even. Yet we can overcome all of them because love "is not provoked" or exasperated.

There will be temptations to sin, and all of us will offend others from time to time, even unintentionally. But God expects His children to have the love to override the offenses when they come.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Ephesians 4:2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Forbearance is a vital part of agape love. Paul's immediate change of subject in verse 3 indicates that by bearing with one another in love, unity of the Spirit is produced. Very interesting and helpful for us today.

Forbearance in love produces unity. When we see disunity and scattering, we can be sure that someone has thrown out forbearance, love, and humility, which the apostle had mentioned earlier. When these virtues are absent, the church goes to the four winds because the members cannot put up with each other. They find reasons to be offended, and they scatter.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Philippians 2:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Philippian congregation was generally a wonderful group of people. Many different commentaries state that of all the groups that Paul wrote to, Phillipi was probably the best of them all. However, Paul was writing to these people with some measure of sadness because two ladies were feuding, and it was inexorably dividing the group into rival camps. In this section, the apostle is spelling out our Christian responsibility.

Notice that nowhere in the entire epistle to the Phillipians does Paul tell them, "Don't come to church." He did not say, "Split away by yourself." That is what is happening in the greater church. Paul did not say, "Just go sit in your living room." That is not an option with God. He tells us here that we have to look to and seek higher things. He says to let our conduct be worthy of the gospel that we say that we believe.

How far did Jesus Christ go to make peace? To the death! He did not allow the hostility of the world against Him to justify hostility against those who were mistreating Him.

We should not be misled by the word "if" in verse 1. Paul is not stating a "maybe." He is stating an absolute fact. That word "if" is better understood as "since": "Since there are these things in you because of God's Spirit, sacrifice yourself. Make my joy complete and use them." What are we to use? Love, fellowship of the spirit, bowels and mercies. "Fulfil you my joy, that you be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."

Because of God's calling, because He granted us repentance and gave us His Spirit, we have already been enabled by His spirit to use these things to make peace, to be of one accord, to be of one mind. "The mark of the beast" can be overcome by God's Spirit in us, but we must sacrifice ourselves to use it. It is already there. Thus, Paul is saying, "Use God's love in you, and be of one mind. Quit fighting with each other to gain the upper hand. Consider the other person better than you, and serve him by looking out for his interest."

When he says, "Let this mind be in you," what he literally says in the Greek is, "Keep thinking like this." How? As Jesus Christ has already shown us. He is saying, "Don't let your mind be drawn toward what you consider to be the cause of the offence." Or, "Don't dwell upon those things."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

James 3:2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We all make mistakes—and probably a majority of them are verbal. The challenge before us is to learn to control our words and use them effectively in dealing with others. For followers of Christ, "effective use of words" is using them as Christ and the Father do. If we do anything less, we stumble and run the risk of offending.

So great is this challenge that, if we can master our tongue, we have in essence come to master our entire bodies. We could conclude from this that our bodies function as they are instructed. We instruct our bodies and minds through words, whether spoken or thought. In other words, the mind speaks, and the body follows. We lead ourselves, as well as others, with our words.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:2-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

For years, I read these scriptures, and I always thought, "I'm not starting forest fires with my words. I'm not viciously devouring people like a roaring beast. I can take this in stride and not worry so much about examining this. After all, these examples are for the extremes: the Adolf Hitlers, the serial criminal minds, the hardened and bitter sinners who retreat from humanity. This isn't me!"

God sometimes focuses our minds on the things we are guilty of by allowing us to experience the same behaviors from others. David did not see himself as he was behaving and affecting others until Nathan described to him another man's behavior (II Samuel 12:1-4). David was so outraged by the man's gross actions and attitude that he, as king, declared the death penalty on him (verses 5-6). Had this been an actual individual, chances are David would have pursued the matter to see the man brought to justice! However, the man he judged as worthy of death was none other than himself (verse 7).

We experience similar lessons. We are at times brought into the company of people who are offensive to us, whose behavior hurts us, and whose words can cut us and wound us, because something in the experience will teach us what we need to learn. God is allowing us to experience ourselves.

We chuckle at times, observing how someone known for gossiping will howl in dismay when he is gossiped about, or how a person often critical of others is intolerant of criticism directed toward himself. We say about teasing, "Don't give it unless you can take it!" Similarly, we enjoy people who are warm and friendly, and we feel warm and friendly when we are around them. Happy people tend to attract other happy people, while bitter or angry people often find another unhappy person with whom they can share their complaints.

A deeper principle can be employed here: If we look at others' behaviors, we can learn to see ourselves. Job's friends had this opportunity. They saw Job going through his calamities, how miserable he was, and in their care for him, they did their best to find his fault and help him solve his dilemma. In the end, God simply dismissed these three friends and all their long-winded speeches because they failed to recognize the very thing God gave them opportunity to see: They failed to see themselves in Job.

Job was not singled out for this experience because he was Job. He represents mankind, blinded by himself and unable to see the reality of God. Even today, many centuries later, we examine the life and thoughts of Job in an effort to see ourselves in his shoes; we try to learn from his experience by exposing the same faults within us. This aids us by allowing us both to see what we might miss and to change what is incompatible with our Creator.

How often do these opportunities emerge for us to see ourselves in the actions of others? In the past decade, we have had many opportunities to witness the effects of deceitful men upon trusting and unsuspecting people. We have seen people shift allegiances and loyalties but deny doing so by their words. We have seen couples speak words of lifelong devotion only to cast them aside for a new attraction. We have seen friends and family who expressed the deepest of commitments to one another both deny those relationships and turn against one another. We have seen hearts broken by sarcasm and neglect. We have seen the crushing effects of criticism upon those needing reassurance and encouragement.

Most of us do not escape life without being deeply touched by such actions from others. But how incredibly sobering it is to see ourselves in these actions of others, to realize that we are guilty of the very things that may have hurt us deeply! We, too, are responsible for spreading the flames of a fire that devours and destroys all in its path. The evil of our tongues is as limitless as the evil James describes.

A sharp tongue is a weapon, no less as effective as a pointed spear or a sword honed to a razor's edge. A sharp tongue has no place among the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It does not express love, spread joy or promote peace. It shows no patience, kindness or goodness in its words. It betrays faithfulness and gentleness, and most of all, it shows no measure of self-control.

My sharp tongue has been a contradiction to the convictions I have expressed nearly all my life. I never saw it until I had to come face to face with the jabs, slices, and pricks of other sharp tongues, and to feel the fires they started within me. I would beg the Father for understanding, of why such communication should exist and why I should receive it with such bitterness—until I finally saw, as David did, that I am the guilty one.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

 




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