I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
In Romans 16:17, Paul said, “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.” When we come across people who are dissenters, stumbling blocks, and false teachers, we tend to think, “They are good people; they are just a little misguided.” But that is not what Paul said. In verse 18, he wrote, “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.”
How do we deal with these people when we find them in the Church? First, Paul said, “Keep your eye on [them]” (16:17). Watch out for them. If you are in West Texas on a hot day walking in an open field, if you are smart, you will keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, won’t you? That is where they are, so you watch out for them. In the same way, we need to keep our eye out for anyone who would cause problems in the body of Christ. Second, Paul said, “Turn away from them” (16:17). When you encounter these kinds of people, what should you do? You do not try to rehabilitate them. You do not give them a platform. You turn away from them.
Some time ago, a leader told me, “I have been running around with a group of friends, and all they do is ridicule what is going on in the church. It was starting to affect me as well. I got to the point where I said, ‘I am going to get new friends.’” When he did, it changed his attitude completely. If you find yourself with a cynical attitude about the things of God, you need to check the people you are spending time with. Maybe it is time to turn away from those people. Psalm 1:1 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” A scoffer is somebody who makes fun of the things of God. To the scoffer, nothing is sacred. Everything is a fair game to ridicule. Do not hang around with those kinds of people. Turn away from them.
Paul gave one other word in Romans 16:19: “I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” Some people think that to be an effective servant of God, they need to understand what is going on in the world. They think they need to read this sensual book or watch this pornographic movie so they can be wise to the things of the world. Other people think that to be an effective witness, they need to study every cult and false religion under the sun.
That is the same line Satan used on Adam and Eve. He said, “Do you want to be like God? Then you need the knowledge of good and evil.” But when they ate of the tree and their eyes were awakened to evil, Adam and Eve did not become more like God; they became more like Satan. We do not need to be experts in what is evil; let us be experts in what is good.
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.