“Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

 

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Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 15.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, 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. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18). The apostle Paul winds down his letter to the Romans with a warning against  ungodly teachers who might work their way into the church. Paul warns believers to be on their guard against any such persons who set traps to stumble the faith of those vulnerable. Christians then, as believers today, should be on the lookout for those teaching contrary to sound doctrine. Paul urges that such people should be avoided completely, not because he was promoting self-righteousness, but rather, wise judgment. With all Paul instructs, throughout the epistle, concerning the matter of love, it would be inconceivable to reach a conclusion that his intentions were nefarious. “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

Paul was glad that his readers’ obedience to the Lord was well-known; however, he still wanted them to be able to discern and obey good teaching and to be unresponsive to evil. In this way, the God who is the source of peace would give them a swift victory over Satan (Romans 16:20). I wonder how Paul’s instruction might be received in churches today, perhaps, he would be accused of intolerance, or his wise counsel misrepresented as a stumbling block. But if the gospel we share isn’t really the gospel at all, then on behalf of whom are we reaching people? No wonder the saying goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Paul ends his letter with a doxology addressed to the God who is able to make His people stand firm in accordance with the gospel. “Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from fait—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:25-27). Paul’s characteristic benediction wishes all needed enablement for the saints as they journey toward glory.

Romans 16 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.

I have enjoyed my Roman holiday, and I thank everyone who has joined me on my journey.

Romans 16 speaks into our lives today; the Body of Christ must be discerning and wise, overflowing with humility and love, and in light of all Paul has shared, perhaps, we ought to reexamine our own definition of love. Paul’s was a public heralding of the message about Jesus Christ, concerning the revelation of a marvelous truth kept secret since the world began; there is only one way of salvation. Until next time!

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