Have you ever felt like your spiritual life just isn’t where you want it to be? You try to pray, read your Bible, and serve God, but you keep running into obstacles that trip you up. Those obstacles are what the Bible calls “stumbling blocks.”
As Christians, it’s so important for us to identify and remove any stumbling blocks in our lives that hinder us from fully pursuing God. In this post, we’ll look at 10 examples of stumbling blocks talked about in Scripture and how we can overcome them by God’s power and grace. Get ready to break through barriers to the abundant life Jesus promises!
- A stumbling block is anything that hinders our spiritual growth and relationship with God.
- Common sources of stumbling blocks include unrepentant sin, unforgiveness, doubt, pride, distractions, fear, and more.
- Scripture gives us wisdom for identifying and overcoming stumbling blocks.
- With God’s help, we can remove any obstacle that trips us up spiritually.
- Staying connected to Jesus Christ and His Word is the key to avoiding and eliminating stumbling blocks.
What is a Stumbling Block?
A “stumbling block” is anything that stands in the way of you fully pursuing God and His purposes for your life. We all have things that block us from experiencing intimacy with God, growth in Christlike character, and the joy of selfless kingdom service. Stumbling blocks inhibit our obedience, hinder our prayers, and limit our worship.
The Bible warns us that stumbling blocks are spiritually dangerous. Jesus said woe to anyone who deliberately tempts others toward sin, saying “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NKJV).
As Christians, we must be vigilant to remove any stumbling blocks, so they don’t trip us up on our walk with God. The good news is that with the Spirit’s empowerment, we can identify and eliminate anything that stands between us and God’s best for our lives.
1. Unrepentant Sin
One of the biggest sources of stumbling blocks for Christians is unconfessed sin. When we harbor sins and don’t repent, it puts a barrier between us and God:
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 NKJV).
Unrepentant sin dims our spiritual vision, twists our discernment, and prevents us from drawing near to God. Hidden sinful habits and thought patterns can easily entangle us and steer us off course. That’s why Scripture urges us:
“Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40 NKJV).
Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any unconfessed sins. As He convicts you, agree with Him about the wrongness of that sin and humbly repent. Accept God’s forgiveness, then actively turn away from everything that displeases Him. Maintaining a clean conscience through confession, repentance, and obedience safeguards you from major stumbling blocks in your spiritual life.
Another massive stumbling block for many believers is unforgiveness. If someone has hurt or offended you and you harbor bitterness and resentment in your heart toward them, it will cripple you spiritually.
Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV).
Carrying around a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. Unforgiveness gives the enemy a foothold in your life! It blocks your prayers, steals your joy, and prevents you from fully abiding in God’s love.
So check your heart for any unforgiveness. By an act of your will, as an act of obedience to God, make the choice to forgive those who have hurt you. Pray for them and let go of bitterness through the power of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual freedom depends on it!
3. Doubt and Insecurity
Many sincere believers struggle with crippling doubt and insecurity in their spiritual lives. The enemy loves to plant doubts in your mind: “Does God really love you?” “Are you really saved?” “Does prayer even work?” Feeling plagued by uncertainty can totally paralyze your faith.
But Scripture reminds us: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV). If you’ve put your faith in Christ, you can be secure in your salvation and your status as God’s beloved child!
When doubts creep in, the best thing to do is pray Scripture out loud. Quote promises from God’s Word about His love, grace, and sovereignty. Stay anchored to Scriptural truth, and your confidence in God will grow. Faith requires blocking out the doubt-filled voices in your head and tuning your heart to hear God’s voice above all the others.
4. Pride and Self-Sufficiency
Many bright, gifted believers stumble in their walks with God because of the sin of pride. We start thinking we don’t need the Lord like we used to. We rely on our own strengths and abilities rather than humbly depending on Him.
But Scripture warns that “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV). No matter how talented we are, we all desperately need Jesus! He says, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NKJV). Staying humble, teachable, and dependent on the Holy Spirit protects us from major spiritual stumbling blocks.
So watch out for the earliest signs of pride. When you start feeling self-important, entitled, or self-reliant, confess it! Submit your talents and abilities to God afresh. Determinedly walk the path of humility, and you’ll avoid much heartache.
5. Distractions and Misplaced Priorities
It’s so easy to get distracted from what matters most in the Christian life. The barrage of social media, entertainment, materialism, and the general busyness of life consumes many believers. They end up squeezing God into tiny gaps in their schedule rather than making Him central.
But Jesus reminds us: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). Make knowing Christ through His Word, cultivating your prayer life, and Christian fellowship your top priorities. Evaluate how you spend your time and resources. Cut out distractions that don’t align with God’s purposes for you. Stay focused on pursuing intimacy with Jesus above all else!
6. Toxic Relationships
One sneaky stumbling block for Christians is getting entangled in toxic, unhealthy relationships that pull you away from God. These could include romantic relationships, friendships, or even family relationships marked by anger, addiction, abuse, or other forms of dysfunction.
While God can redeem any relationship when both parties surrender to Him, sometimes you need strong boundaries or even complete separation to guard your spiritual walk. Don’t let harmful soul ties sabotage your destiny. Seek godly counsel to navigate complicated relational dynamics in a wise, Spirit-led way.
As 1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV warns, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” Choose friends and intimate relationships carefully, looking beyond surface charm to the character of one’s heart. Good friends and Godly partners will encourage you toward Christ, not trip you up.
One of the surest signs of a stagnant spiritual life is prayerlessness. Despite God’s open invitation to come to Him in prayer, many believers neglect this lifeline to the Father’s heart. When we rush through our days without praying, relying on our own strength, we become cut off from the source of true life.
Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NKJV). Set aside consistent time for heartfelt prayer, coming humbly before God’s throne of grace. Pray Scripture, pour out your heart, intercede for others. Let prayer saturate your whole life, and you’ll avoid this common stumbling block.
8. Lack of Biblical Community
Following Jesus was never meant to be a solo endeavor. God wired us for meaningful Christian community and spiritual friendships. But sadly, many believers try to walk alone, isolated from other passionate Jesus-followers.
Without the encouragement, accountability, and fellowship of the body of Christ, our spiritual flames can easily grow cold. We need other believers to stir us up toward righteousness and spur us on in using our gifts for God’s glory. Scripture tells us, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NKJV).
Make small groups, church participation, and Christian friendships a priority. Share your struggles, pray together, and spur one another on. Together we reflect the light of Christ so much brighter than any one of us could alone.
9. Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s so tempting to compare our spiritual progress to those around us, but this leads to either pride or discouragement. Pride says, “I’m more dedicated than them!” Insecurity whispers, “Everyone else has it all together, but I’m still struggling.” Both mindsets reveal a flaw: we’ve taken our eyes off Jesus to look sideways at others.
The Word reminds us, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).
Refuse to ride the rollercoaster of comparison! Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). Rejoice in His work in others, while also embracing your own unique journey. Your worth, identity, and calling is found in Him alone.
10. Lack of Total Surrender
At the root of many stumbling blocks is a refusal to fully surrender every area of our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ. We want to drive our own lives and set our own rules. We bristle at complete obedience and cling to worldly priorities.
But Jesus calls us to absolute surrender of our will, desires, resources, relationships – everything – to Him. He challenges us: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
Holding anything back from God gives the enemy a foothold. But when we surrender all, we find the blessing and freedom of living under His perfect will. Stop resisting Him today, and give Jesus sole ownership of your whole life.
Overcoming Stumbling Blocks through Christ
As we’ve seen, followers of Jesus face many potential stumbling blocks that can halt our spiritual progress. But take heart – with the Spirit’s power, you can identify and overcome anything hindering you!
Here are some keys:
- Stay in God’s Word daily. Let it expose and cleanse your heart.
- Cultivate a vibrant prayer life. Seek the Spirit’s wisdom and power.
- Deal with sin decisively through repentance and obedience.
- Release unforgiveness and pursue reconciliation.
- Reject doubts by declaring Scripture. Anchor to God’s promises.
- Maintain humility and reliance on the Holy Spirit.
- Prioritize knowing Jesus above all else. Cut out distractions.
- Sever unhealthy relationships, with God’s help.
- Avoid comparison and keep your eyes on Christ.
- Surrender every area of your life totally to Jesus’ lordship.
By God’s amazing grace, you can break through every obstacle to live a life of freedom, fruitfulness, intimacy with Him, and joyful service in advancing His kingdom. Don’t let anything hold you back from His best! With the Spirit’s empowerment, prayer, and scriptural wisdom, you can overcome any stumbling block. May your passionate pursuit of Jesus thrive as you remove all obstacles in your path.