Avoid These People
After a few weeks in the hospital and then recovery I am blessed to be back in in the pulpit again. My text is from Romans 16:17-19 and it is powerful in it forthrightness and its consequences.
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
Here is a church that is powerful in its witness before an unsaved world and before other churches throughout the world. What a commendation! And what a goal and desire for any church. But it comes with a warning for Satan hates those who obey the gospel, for they have a nasty habit of being powerfully used by God to destroy the works of Satan through the gospel. So Paul knows that there shall arise within this church both the one who shall create infighting and disunity and those who shall teach falsely so as to draw the saints away from the sound doctrine that they know.
Why? For these people are not about the work of the Lord’s kingdom. Though they have much to say and they claim many good things, the propulsion of the gospel forward into a dark world is not their delight. They are servants of their own desire and not servants of the Most High.
So what to do? Simple, keep a close eye on them. Never let them out of your sight. And AVOID them. Not befriend them, not debate them, not engage them. But avoid them.
What stood out for me in all of this is that the church often has it all backward. We avoid those outside the church and we tolerate all sorts of evil within the church out of a twisted sense of love. But here, when these false Christians come into the church we don’t tolerate them at all, we find them and then we avoid them.
My prayer is that this will be abundantly and humbly made to my congregation today.