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.
–Romans 16:17

This week marks the end of our journey through the book of Romans. We have come to the final section of Romans 16. We are going to see that Paul closed his letter with both a word of warning and a word of praise.

Let’s first look at the warning. Paul told the Roman Christians to beware of problem people in the church. Look at verse 17: “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.” Paul had every intention of coming to the church at Rome, but before he did, he said, “I want you to be on guard against any people that would cause problems in the church.” And he mentioned three types of people who will try and destroy God’s church. First of all, he mentioned those who are dividers. In the phrase “who cause dissensions,” the word “dissension” means to pull apart.

In every congregation, there are people who try to pull apart Christians rather than unify Christians. They are always questioning and rebelling against the spiritual authority in the church. They are trying to second-guess the decisions that have been made. Instead of quenching controversies, they add fuel to them. They go around and see if they can elicit negative comments from people by asking probing questions. They ask questions like, “What do you really think of our pastor’s preaching lately?” Or, “What do you think of our music? Is it ministering to you?” Or, “What do you think about the temperature in the worship center? Is it comfortable for you?” These people go around trying to stir up controversy. And sometimes they cloak it in spirituality by saying things like, “Oh, would you join me in praying for this person?” These people are trying to create controversy in the church. They try to divide people into camps.

Paul wrote the book of Romans while he was staying in Corinth. The church in Corinth was a divided church. They were divided over past leaders. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:12, “Each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’” In a church I used to pastor, a Sunday school teacher stood up before her class one day and said, “Today, I would like to have a group discussion about which pastor our church has had whom you like the best and why.” That is a question designed to cause controversy in a church. Paul said, don’t be that way. Let’s not cause division. Be on watch against those who cause division.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Beware And Behold” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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