Satan has many devices to cause confusion and heartache for God's people. One of the tools he uses so successfully is to cause stumbling blocks to be placed in our paths.
A stumbling block is something which causes us to err or to stray from the truth. Casting a stumbling block in one's way is the opposite of being our brother's keeper.
The seriousness of casting a stumbling block in one's way was made very clear by Jesus when He said "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in" (Mt. 23:13). The very ones who should have been helpful were guilty of making it more difficult for God's people to do what was right.
The problem of causing others to err has been evident since long before Christ. Isaiah wrote ". . .Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people" (Is. 57:14). Malachi also wrote of the problem when he chastised the messengers of the Lord who " . . . . are de parted out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7).
Ezekiel wrote at length about the shepherds who were more concerned about their selfish interests than they were about feeding the flocks. In Ez. Chap. 34 he wrote of those who neither cared for the diseased nor sought those who were scattered. The sheep wandered upon the face of the earth and no one searched for them. The stumbling block was acts of selfishness and neglect.
From this example and other scriptures, we can understand that there are many ways we can cast a stumbling block in the way of God's people. Perhaps the most serious stumbling block of all was committed when the Savior was put to death. This was done to discourage others From following Him. The Jewish leaders at that time were willing to go to any extreme to silence the message of salvation and to prevent anyone from following Jesus.
Persecution against Christians has been tool that Satan has used ever since Christ arose from the dead. "...And at that time there was great persecution against the church. . ." (Acts 8:1). Throughout history and continuing to our time, persecution has made it difficult for those who want to worship God.
The preceding examples have been quite blatant and easy to recognize. We must also understand that there are more subtle, but very effective, stumbling blocks that cause men to fail. We must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be guilty of them.
"Christian liberty" has often been used as justification to engage in activities that, at best, are borderline sin. It is true that Christ came to earth to liberate us from Satan. It is also true that we ". . . shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Ro. 8:21) and ". . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II. Cor. 3:17).
The Apostle Paul wrote much about liberty. In Romans 14 he encourages us to have forbearance with a weak brother who may not have faith to do as we do. However, he also wrote of the need to "...take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumbling block to them that are weak" (I Cor. 8:9) and to "...use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Ga. 5:13). Peter wrote that we must not use "...your liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (I Pe. 2:16).
I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," Says the LORD.
Zephaniah 1:2-4 ...........So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 6:7-9 .........So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Revelation 13:3-5 .......And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.
Revelation 13:13-15 ............Revelation 14 ; Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.