Romans 16:10-19 NKJV
10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 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. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
In today’s reading Paul continues to extend greetings to many more fellow Christians just as he did in yesterday’s reading.
But then at the end he urges the Christians in Rome to “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.” Here we have some of the clearest direction given to all Christians when they encounter anyone who teaches or practices what is contrary to orthodox doctrine: AVOID THEM. Why? Because, as Paul also writes, “such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naïve people.”
Many a self-serving pastor or preacher is guilty of what Paul warns about. These false prophets preach a theology of glory which is basically the lie that you deserve good things and nice houses and fancy cars and good health all because you are a Christian and God loves you. These people pray on the gullible and the naïve because they can. They point people to themselves, tell them to look into their own hearts for peace, and straight-up lie about Christianity.
When faced with false theology and bad practice, Christians must call it out and avoid it like the plague, and not embrace it or stay in fellowship with it. And they do so because Christ is being robbed of His glory and the Christian is being robbed of his comfort and certainty which comes from Christ’s substitutionary suffering and death which paid for the world’s sins. Ultimately, eternal life is at stake; that is the threat level, and it could not be more serious.
Therefore, dear Christian, stand by faith in Christ your Lord who took your sins to the cross and who delivers the benefits of His death through His Gospel preached and His Sacraments administered rightly. Do not be deceived. Flee falsehood. Cling to Christ
Let us pray: Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word. Amen.