Summary: A sermon on troublemakers in the church (Outline and material adapted from Alan Carr at: http://www.sermonnotebook.org/romans/Rom%2016_17-20.htm)
An evangelist was speaking in a meeting when a heckler shouted, “Listen to him! And his father used to drive a wagon led by a donkey.” “That’s right,” said the evangelist, “and today my father and the wagon are gone. But I see we still have the donkey with us.”
Ever since the church was formed, she has been plagued by troublemakers:
““Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15, 16, NIV.
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29, 30, NIV.
Even today we have these same issues. We have those who, knowingly or unknowingly, work against the plan of God and seek to mold the church to their likeness!
This is preventative maintenance. As far as I know there are no troublemakers here. The best offense is a good defense! When trouble arises, we will be able to identify it and deal it a death blow before serious damage is done to the church.
Another benefit of talking about this is so that we can avoid being used of the devil to cause trouble in the Lord’s church.
Thesis: Let's discuss troublemakers in the church
The Deeds of the troublemakers (Vs. 17-18)
They are divisive (vs. 17)
Paul uses 2 words here that describe what the troublemakers do.
Divisions- To splinter and cause dissensions. This is anything that separates one group of brethren from another group.
Obstacles- To lay a trap or snare in the path of another to cause them to stumble and fall into ruin and destruction.
How do they do this? By deviating from the Word of God! They come in and being to teach doctrines contrary to what the Bible says. They teach doctrines that resemble what one finds in the Bible. But there are subtle differences. Differences that make all the difference!
The Message paraphrase says here: “These people take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble”
Peter says this about Paul’s teachings: “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16, NIV.
These teachings attract some (many times appeal to the sinful nature, the flesh) and before long, there is a division in the church. The devil loves nothing better! He loves to introduce something into the life of the church that will divide the flock, divide and conquer
They are dishonest with others and even with themselves (vs. 18)
“I’m doing this for God” but in reality they are doing it for themselves. Two patterns to watch out for and most of the time they don’t even realize they are doing this:
1. A pattern of disobedience, hostility, and defiant behavior toward authority figures. “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.” Jude 1:8, NIV.
2. An unhealthy preoccupation with themselves. Now we all are concerned about ourselves and that is natural, but this pattern of behavior takes it to an unhealthy level. This person is totally absorbed in self. People are things to be used on their all consuming hunt for power, money, or indulging their flesh. “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.” 2 Peter 2:10, NIV.
“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18, 19.
They are deceptive (vs. 18)
In order to get their way they are not only dishonest but deceptive. They use speech that sounds good and beneficial, speech that creates the illusion of truth based on its form, regardless of its content. Many a lie is hidden behind eloquence and personal charisma. We must never accept teaching as true just because of the packaging it comes in. We must discipline ourselves to remember that form and style are secondary to content.
They deceive naive, simple people. Must have a level of discernment with people. This is said of Jesus: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” John 2:24, 25, NIV.