Romans 16:17-20 – I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
In his book, Satan Cast Out, Robert Haldane writes of these verses: “There were two victories to be obtained over Satan. By the first, his head was to be bruised under the feet of Jesus Christ; and by the second the rest of his body will be bruised under the feet of believers.”
Are you familiar with the story of Christ ascending into Heaven? The disciples “were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
As Christians, we are not to be motionless, staring into the sky awaiting the return, but working diligently to bring the Kingdom here.
Part of the model prayer Christ gave us was –
Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
So, how do we usher in the Kingdom of God? Paul told the church in our opening passage, and the principles which were given are echoed throughout Scripture.
I. Watch Out For False Teachers
Romans 16:17-18 – I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
It’s amazing how quickly false teaching spreads in this fallen world. I recall one night during a trip to a remote city in India, there was an old tv in the house in which I was staying. I turned it on and flipped through what couldn’t be more than twenty channels. What was incredible is that broadcasts from Joyce Meyer were on two different channels!
What a reminder that false teaching is in high demand all over the world!
As Christians, rather than to accept the teachings of these men and women, we must follow the example of the Bereans.
Romans 16:17-18 – Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
All teachers must be held accountable by those who listen to them.
Ephesians 5:6-11 – Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them.
II. Be Wise To What Is Good
We must constantly refresh ourselves in the knowledge of what Christ has done for us, seeking to live in a way that is pleasing to him, and serving as an example for others.
We must know the will of God and fulfill it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 16:19a – For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good…
Philippians 4:8-9 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
III. Be Innocent to What Is Evil
Romans 16:20 – For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
I like to study, but we are not called to be scholars of wickedness, we are called to be scholars of the Word.
As much as we must expose false teachers, we must be careful not to overly saturate ourselves with their teaching, even for research. Just like those learning to identify a counterfeit bill study an authentic one, so must we study true theology in order to identify counterfeit theology.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like an infection. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
If we will be diligent in watching out for false teachers, wise in what is good, and innocent regarding evil, we will be able to stamp out Satan’s final strongholds. Be unhindered in the work of the ministry and work to bring the Kingdom here.