Watch Out! Romans 16:17-19

Romans 16:17-19 “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Romani 16:17-19 “Ora vi esorto, fratelli, a tenere d’occhio quelli che provocano le divisioni e gli scandali in contrasto con l’insegnamento che avete ricevuto. Allontanatevi da loro. 18 Costoro, infatti, non servono il nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, ma il proprio ventre; e con dolce e lusinghiero parlare seducono il cuore dei semplici. 19 Quanto a voi, la vostra ubbidienza è nota a tutti. Io mi rallegro dunque per voi, ma desidero che siate saggi nel bene e incontaminati dal male. 20 Il Dio della pace stritolerà presto Satana sotto i vostri piedi. La grazia del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo sia con voi.
     As Paul closes this epistle, he gives the Romans a final warning about destructive teachings that destroy the message of the church.  He cautions them to watch out for “those who cause division and put obstacles in your way” in an effort to derail them from the truth. The word for “obstacles” can also be interpreted as a trap or snare and conveys the idea of “smooth talk and flattery” mentioned in verse 18. Even in the early years of Christianity, there were many who assaulted the message of Christ. Paul described them in Philippians 3:18 as “enemies of the cross”.
     But what causes people to listen to smooth or flattering speech? The text tells us that the naïve are the most susceptible. It continues by saying that they are easily deceived in their minds. The original language uses the word “hearts” instead of “minds” but the intent of the text remains the same. Those not firmly grounded in the truth of the Gospel will be open targets for the “enemies of the cross”. Those who distort the Gospel message have “their own appetite” (verse 18) at their very core. Jesus modeled His life and ministry around serving others and ultimately giving His life as a ransom for many. It is imperative for all believers to “watch out” (verse 17) for those who reject sound teaching. 
     Today we live with the same issues that faced this Roman church. With the wealth of knowledge at our disposal through numerous media outlets (some good and some bad), we must rely on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to guide us in listening and discerning what glorifies Christ in contrast to what serves the interest of man.
Pray with me: Lord, I desire to be grounded solidly in Your Word but I know that there are voices that attempt to prey on those who are naïve in the faith. Help me to be wise and discerning of the things I hear from others who claim their message is from You. 

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