CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
July 24, 2022
Be On Guard
Last week we looked at the verse at the heart of this year’s Annual Conference, Romans 15:7. We looked at that verse and also verses 6-13. Since we were in Romans 15 last week, I have felt led to continue to look at what Paul was being encouraged to say to the largely Gentile part of the church in Rome. Before we go further, I want to point out that Romans may be the most controversial book of the New Testament for a variety of reasons.
Paul wanted to sound the warning alarm that there are those who either intentionally or unintentionally may not be giving the accurate gospel to the new believers, which is largely, at this point, the Gentiles in Rome. In verse 17 Paul is bluntly saying to watch out for those who may cause divisions within the church. Some of the divisions may be caused by putting obstacles in their way. In other words, some are telling these new Christians there are certain things you have to do before they can be followers of Christ. Paul clearly believes the truth has already been told to them so they should not be tricked into believing something else. Paul even goes as far as to say when they encounter such people, stay away from them. Paul is pointing out that these people have their own agenda that does not match God’s plan. He is also pointing out they know exactly what they are doing. Paul is implying what some may tell you will sound good or seem to make some sense, but it is really not agreeing with the teachings of Christ. Then Paul goes on to give these “new” Christians a little bit of a pep talk saying everyone has heard of their obedience. In other words, we all know their desire to learn and to be faithful to the Lord, but they must be on their guard to carefully consider those teachers who first brought the true, honest gospel to them. Match that up with the others who may be telling them something else. Paul goes as far as to say some who share a false view of the gospel are evil.
In the first half of verse 20, Paul tells what God will do to those who deceive His people. He first reminds them that God is a God of peace yet, he then goes on to say, the God of righteousness and justice will soon crush Satan under your feet. In other words, Satan and those who share Satan’s lies will pay the ultimate price and the day is coming when that will happen. Paul finishes verse 20 with the encouragement “the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
So as is the case with everything that has been recorded in God’s word, what is the Lord reminding us of and what is he telling us today in these verses? II Timothy 2:15 says we should, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” So how do we do that? Tomorrow, we begin Bible School. One of the songs I remember is, “Read your Bible, pray every day, if you love the Lord.” Now I am not saying God does not love us or that he won’t allow us in his eternal kingdom if we do not literally do those things every day, but the song is a reminder of how we can know God’s word and draw close to Him. These verses in chapter 16 of Romans are a reminder that we must be careful of what we are doing. Some will claim to be God’s people, but they have actually been deceived and are spreading Satan’s lies. The best way for us to be able to overcome Satan’s evil is to know God’s word, continue to study God’s word, pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us into God’s truth, and make sure those we are listening to are proclaiming the true and honest word of God.
Just as we were encouraged to be in unity within the church last week, Paul is making it clear: do not have unity just for the sake of unity, by diluting the word of God so what we are following is no longer the true message that the Lord Jesus Christ brought to those who will believe. No one is perfect or will ever get everything right all the time. No pastor will ever have everything exactly right all the time. No congregation or denomination will get everything God wants us to know exactly right either, but the important thing is to be able to point to God’s word for why we believe what we believe. Not pick and choose a verse here and a verse there that may seem to make sense when in fact the whole meaning may have been changed by how we piece the scriptures together. The great thing is, is that we have God’s Word now to refer to. They did not have the New Testament when Paul shared this truth with the Christians in Rome.
The next thing is, however, we know God wins! In fact, God has already defeated Satan, he just won’t admit it. And we His people will win as well when we stay true to God and His Word. I know I am preaching to the choir. However, I must continue to sound the alarm that Satan is alive and well and he wants to destroy every professing believer he can. But Jesus has won the victory for us. As Paul said to the church in Rome, I say the same to you here today. “I am full of joy for each and every one of you.” Do not give up, do not let Satan lie to you. The victory is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.