Rom 16:17 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles contrary to the teaching that you learned. Avoid them!*~
In modern warfare, as in spiritual warfare, the enemy does not identify himself. The enemy is without and within.
Paul was greatly concerned that the Roman churches have correct doctrine, a clear understanding of their responsibilities to each other, and peace and unity within the body. In the midst of growing persecution, any internal fighting, disagreements, or divisions were unacceptable. Christ provides forgiveness with His own blood (Acts 28:20), dwells within believers through the Spirit, and makes them members of each other and Him (1 Cor 12:12, 25). Creating divisions and dissonance in this sacred body is the highest offense against our Lord Jesus.
Paul was “continually urging” (i.e., to “ask for something earnestly”) the brethren in Rome to “watch out for those who create dissensions.” The verb means to “mark, spy out, examine or look critically at.” From the Greek word, we get the word scope, as in microscope or radarscope. Thus they were (and we are) to watch anyone who would seek to undermine or contradict the “teaching”— that is, the divinely revealed apostolic teaching and divinely inspired record of that teaching in the New Testament.
False teaching always creates “dissensions and obstacles.” These two words refer to “division,” which means “discord, tearing apart, disunion,” and those who “create obstacles,” which means “a trigger in an animal trap, a hidden consequence, an enticement to conduct which could ruin the person in question.”
Questioning the integrity or validity of God’s word or teaching heresy while pretending to be a Christian must be dealt with scripturally (Matt 18:16–17). We are to “decide to avoid” those people. There is to be no debate. John also warned us, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting” (2 Jn 10). If we love God’s word more than our own lives, we will protect its teachings. If we love His church, we will keep her true to His word and not allow divisive people to destroy her. Pray for the unity of your church.
“Lord, I love Your church so much that I do not want to have anything to do with creating dissension by fighting over different views of the church leadership. I want to be a peacemaker, but I will not tolerate those who contradict Your word.”
In order to practice this command today, I am going to …
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