April 28 2021
Today, Wednesday April 28
Friend or Foe? Romans 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
In this sixteenth chapter of Romans Paul listed at least 26 people by name that were friends and had partnered with him in his ministry at Rome. The importance of having friends and working with others to minister the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around us and the world can never be underestimated.
But it is also interesting that before Paul closes this letter, he takes the opportunity to warn the believers at Rome to be aware of those who are contentious and are causing divisions and who also encouraging the believers to offend one another.
Jesus was a friend of sinners and so should we. But this does not mean that we try to get along with everyone for the sake of unity at the expense of the truth. We should never compromise the truth of the Word of God just to appease someone and to avoid a confrontation.
Matter of fact, in this passage, Paul instructed the believers to “note” or “mark” those who were causing divisions. Make a list of their names and publish it among the believers so that they could be avoided. These people were probably the same Judaizers who had given Paul trouble in other churches (Philippians 3:17-21). Instead of preaching the truth, these men spread their own religious propaganda, using deceit and clever speeches.
We have the same problem today, and Christians must beware of false teachers. They come to you on their YouTube videos, pod-cast and television programs, trying to convince you that they are teaching the truth. Paul gives two instructions: mark them (identify them), and avoid them. It is a matter of obedience to the Lord and testimony to others. The issue is not making or keeping friends, but pleasing the Lord and maintaining a consistent testimony. Romans 16:20 suggests that these false teachers really come from Satan, and one day even he shall be completely defeated.
A real genuine friendship is one that motivates you to have a closer walk with the Lord and others who love Him too. May the Lord help us today to be aware of those who would lead us astray!