Scripture Reading: Romans 16:17-24

“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.” (Romans 16:17,18)

Over the years in my ministry, I have met a few people like Paul describes in this passage — people who cause divisions and who create obstacles to ministry. They major on minors and tend to be contentious people. They like to stir up strife and division. Paul tells us to avoid people like this.

Such people are not motivated by service to Christ; they are self-seeking people who are motivated by their own appetites for power and prestige. They can be smooth talkers who use flattery to deceive people — especially naive people.

Paul warns us about dangerous and deceptive people. He tells us to watch out for them and to avoid them. I have dealt with a handful of people like this over the years. They are critical and judgmental people who created disunity and disruption. Some even become teachers and leaders in churches.

Paul then gives this encouragement to us — “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 to what is evil” (v. 19). He doesn’t want us to be fooled by deceptive people; but we are to be wise as to what is good and innocent to what is evil.

Lord Jesus, protect Your church from people who cause divisions and who are obstacles to ministry. Give me wisdom to know who they are and enable me to be wise as to what is good and innocent to what is evil.


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