Those Who Cause Division and Offenses
by Pastor Keith Hassell | April 19, 2011
Romans 16:17–20 (NKJV) "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. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
Did you know that the Scripture tells us to avoid certain persons? Yes. We are to avoid those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned (i.e. the Word of God). Paul says that those who cause division and spread offenses are deceivers who do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly--their own agenda. In order for deceivers to draw away disciples unto themselves, they use the power of seduction. Deceivers know that they must first soften the heart of those who have heard the truth before they will be willing to embrace the lie. Through seduction--smooth words and flattering speech--deceivers lure the simple. Proverbs describes the "simple" as those who are without wisdom and understanding and who live their lives without clear boundaries. The simple do not have clear boundaries because they are not settled in the truth. Rather than bringing every thought, emotion, and opinion captive to the Word of God, their life is characterized by subjective impulses causing them to wander from one opinion to another. As a result, the simple are easily led astray through the work of seducers who charm their hearts to go astray. The Puritan minister and writer, Thomas Watson (1620-1685) said of these seducers, "They have fine elegant phrases, flattering language, whereby they work on weak Christians. They possess a pretense of extraordinary piety, so others may admire them and suck in their doctrine. They seem to be men of zeal and sanctity, to be divinely inspired and pretend to new revelations." [Glorifying God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), January 3]. In order to avoid falling victim to the work of deceivers, Paul says we must 1) Note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the Word of God, and 2) Avoid them. Those who entertain serpents eventually get bit. If Adam and Eve had noted and avoided the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, they certainly would not have been seduced to believe the lie.