Summary: Paul gives us some helpful hints in how to identify those that cause divisions and offences contrary to the Word of God
Title: Heads Up! (Using both the NIV and KJV)
(Romans 16:17-19, KJV) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
When you’re on the golf course and you see a ball that you just hit is lining up to smack someone a couple of hundred yards downrange, you yell out “FORE.”
When you’re working on a construction site, and you see something falling, you may yell, “watch out,” or “duck,” or, you may even yell, “HEADS UP!”
Whatever it is we say or yell, it’s intended to get the attention of those that are in danger of being hurt by something. It’s intended to grab someone’s attention and put them on guard.
Paul, in these verses, is telling us, “HEADS UP!” Because we need to keep our wits about us in this world. He’s warning us to keep our eyes open and our minds focused, because
not everyone that comes through the church door is seeking God!
not everyone that comes through the church door is looking to serve God!
not everyone that comes through the church door is humble and meek!
Paul gives us some helpful hints in what we can do. ((No, this is not judging! That’s for God to do.))
Here’s what we see Paul telling us in those verses:
Identify them by their (bad) fruit
Identify them by their (bad) fruit
I think one of the things that most annoyed Jesus when He walked this earth was the hypocrisy or insincerity of many of the people with whom He came into contact. Because it is sometimes hard to recognize a selfish or insincere person until it’s too late, Jesus gave us a way to recognize them. In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus tells us very sternly:
(Matthew 7:16-20) By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Now, in chapter 16 of Romans, Paul tells us to identify those same people about whom Jesus talked. He says in verse 17,
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those…
In the KJV it says mark those, or identify those who do not adhere to scriptural practices, then, he identifies their fruit or actions that will help mark them or identify them.
The first revealing fruit or sign of those that are contrary, or going against the Word of God, is their propensity, or tendency to always cause division. They are always going in the opposite direction that God is leading His Church. They are always going in the opposite direction of sound Church counsel or the pastor.
Those that are contrary to the Word will cause divisions in the Church. Those that are contrary to the Word will divide friends or even loved ones over big issues and even small and insignificant issues. They raise issues that are contrary, or against the Word of God and they don’t attempt to resolve them.
Not only do they cause divisions, but they also commit offences that are contrary, or against the Word of God.
Before we look at another fruit, or what offences they are committing, we have to say one thing. And, that is that those that are causing divisions and offences contrary to the Word of God are usually not Christians.
Now with that said, what offences are they committing? What are they up to? Let’s go back to Romans chapter 3, verses 12-18:
(Romans 3:12-18) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." 13 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Paul points out in these verses the qualities of the natural man. Or, the man that is without God. Now, we can safely assume that if there is someone in the church that is causing divisions and offences contrary to the Word of God, they are following the sin nature and he gives those characteristics that we will see develop or be exhibited in these kinds of people.