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 ROMANS 16:17-18

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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."

A Text that must, in these last days, be preached fervently.

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, "MARK" THEM:

It's a sad commentary on the state of our churches today, that these verses even need to be mentioned.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:17-18

Here certain men need to be "marked."

The Greek verb is "skopeo," obviously the forerunner of our word "scope." It means "to look carefully, to observe, to contemplate." One textbook said "to fix one's eyes upon" them.

Watch them!

These men, whoever they are, need special scrutiny.

We shall soon learn that they are dangerous.

Here is Paul "marking" one of them. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words." 2nd Timothy 2:14-15

While there are some whom we "mark" for their good works, such is not the case here! Not with these who cause divisions and offenses among God's people!

Here's Paul again, in the good sense. "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Hebrews 13:7

Of course, there's a danger in looking too closely at one another. We had best keep our eyes on the dear Lord Jesus!

Paul also wrote: "They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2nd Corinthians 10:12

He also wrote: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

We've all heard the term "marked" men!

But maybe not like Paul meant it here.

Troublemakers at Church, sowers of discord among the Brethren, haters of the Men of God, wolves among the sheep ... beware!

God's people will, or at least should, "mark" you and treat you accordingly.

As you already know, more on these verses tomorrow, Lord willing.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:16-17

Lord, help us to be discerning.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, DIVISIONS AND OFFENSES:

In the church there can occur "divisions and offenses." So said the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:17-18.

The Apostle first concerns himself with those who cause such things, however. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

But before we analyze the perpetrators, the guilty parties, let's see what they have done. Let's study their evil deeds.

They have caused "divisions and offenses."

The first noun here, "divisions" is represented by the Greek word "dichostasia." That prefix, "dis," just means "two." And "stasis" can mean "an uproar, strife, insurrection, dissension."

The picture is this: a bunch, at least two and maybe more, of cliques or clubs or groups in a church, out of harmony with each other.

There have risen some rascals, even in the Roman church Paul loved so dearly, who have sown such strife in the fellowship. Remember, God hates "he that soweth discord among the brethren." Proverbs 6:16-19

These folks have literally "separated" God's people into warring factions! "A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends." Proverbs 16:28

God is displeased!

But there's more.

These hate-mongers also bring "offenses" into the church. Here we have the noun "skandalon," which essentially means "a trap" to catch little unsuspecting animals! It then came to mean anything that causes someone to fall down! Thus, by definition, "a stumbling block."

When church "fights" occur, always, somebody gets hurt! Someone whose faith is weak stumbles and falls, never to regain their full faith! They get out of church. They quit reading the Bible. They no longer pray like they once did. "Trapped" by the devil's devices.

When these things happen at a church, a Bible-believing one, there is always an agitator involved.

Someone is stirring it up, causing constant turmoil.

Once that person, man or woman, is identified, take appropriate action! Even if it's a group, follow Paul's advice.

Immediately!

Mark them!

Avoid them!

Don't even eat with them!

For the "eating" thing, see 1st Corinthians 5:11.

Such people are dangerous.

They must be isolated.

Or ... the whole church will suffer.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we shall discover the "criteria" by which these troublemakers are to be judged.

It's pretty clear.

"Lord, deliver our churches from such divisions and offenses."

If this kind of trouble ever comes to your church, stand with the man of God. Oppose the division and offense causers!

Vehemently!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, THE DOCTRINE WHICH YE HAVE LEARNED:

To Paul "doctrine" was everything!

Today it is being downplayed, minimized, marginalized, and in some places, altogether ignored.

But "doctrine" in Paul's eyes was the very criteria for analyzing many areas of the Christian life, vital areas.

Here's an example. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned." Romans 16:17

A man is or is not a heretic based on his walking according to the doctrine of Scripture!

The noun "doctrine" is spelled "didache," which basically means "teaching." Or, better yet, "that which is taught."

Follow the Apostle's teaching ... or be rejected from the group.

The preposition "contrary" is "para," really indicating something "alongside" another object.

Though not necessarily the same as that other teaching.

Different.

Perhaps only slightly different, but still different!

Furthermore, that doctrine is to be "learned" is apparent from the Text, "the doctrine ye have learned."

The verb "learned" is "manthano," especially meaning "to learn by practice, by repetition."

To the Apostle Paul doctrine automatically led to duty!

Right belief demanded right behavior!

Words led to deeds!

And these men in question, those who have denied Pauline doctrine, Bible doctrine, must be censured!

See what I mean?

Everything to Paul hinges on what one believes and how one behaves.

And those commodities are functions of doctrine to Paul, correct teaching.

And, of course, any true doctrine, is merely an expression of Scripture!

Look at our verse again now. Let me capitalize the key words we've emphasized today. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned." Romans 16:17

That's the criteria, the standard of judgment.

May we therein stand!

The supremacy of the Word of God!

Not feelings!

Not contemporary issues!

Not popularity!

Not pragmatism!

But, the Bible!

Amen!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, AVOID THEM TOO:

Paul, in Romans 16:17, has issued a serious warning.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

He has identified certain men.

They are to be "marked," watched carefully. Scrutinized, as if under a "scope" of some kind, a microscope perhaps.

They "cause," a common verb for "create or make," divisions, rifts, and cliques in the Church.

They foster different "camps" of feeling, one group arguing against the other!

Such behavior of course is "beside" or "different" or "contrary" to what Paul has taught the Romans.

Now, today's lesson, these people are to be "avoided."

The verb Paul used, "avoided," is expressing a direct command. It appears in the imperative mood, spelled "ekklinate." In basic form, "ekklino." Really, "klino" is quite close to our word "recline." It means "to fall back." Or, "to turn away." With the added prefix, "ek," it's even stronger! Sort of, "fall back away from" them!

Most of what they have done appears to be "doctrinal" in nature.

They wish to "argue" with Paul. To contradict what the Apostle has taught the Romans. To overturn his preaching.

Of course Paul taught about right behavior as well as right belief.

Whatever these men are doing, more will be explained to us tomorrow in verse 17, it's hurting the Church.

Folks are "choosing sides."

Discord is growing.

Back to today's verb: avoid them.

"Ekklino" is only used three times in the whole New Testament.

In Romans 3:12 it is translated "to go out of the way."

Go out of your way to circumnavigate these people!

And in 1st Peter 3:11 it is rendered as "to eschew."

The history of "eschew" seems to be French, according to a dictionary I use. It's kin to our word "shy!" In other words, "shy away from" this crowd!

They will "splinter" the Church over their doctrinal wrangling.

Some who practiced such deviant behavior, at Corinth anyway, were to be so ostracized that even eating with them was forbidden. "With such an one no not to eat," word for word 1st Corinthians 5:11, at the end of the verse!

How can Paul make it any plainer?

A crowd rises up within a Church. They attack the Pastor. They stir up trouble, causing people to take sides. Often they, these rebels, eventually lose the battle, by the power of God's Grace. They leave the Church. Still grumbling and back-biting!

And what do the so-called "innocent" church members do? Many of them, too many of them.

They keep hanging around these troublemakers! "Fellowshipping" with them! Eating with them. Chatting with them. Phone conversations and all!

Paul says, No!

Stop that!

Avoid them.

Disincline yourself immediately.

No wonder these verses are not often preached!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, SERVING ONE'S OWN SELF, INSTEAD OF SERVING JESUS:

Basically, it's a power struggle!

A group has aligned itself against the Preacher.

Or against the majority of the Church family.

Or against another group or groups.

Often it's the older members, in years of attendance I mean, versus the newer members, more recently saved perhaps.

Or the more wealthy congregants versus the poorer ones.

Almost always one can observe that it's the carnal folks versus the more spiritual folks!

And, as these battles intensify, the become full-fledged "divisions" in the Church and will invariably lead to "offenses" aplenty.

But someone "starts" these things!

It's these initiators, these originators, these troublemakers, these spiritual terrorists, that Paul speaks today.

Read the whole Text with me again, please. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:16-17

The men and women who "cause" such schisms, they are to be noticed and avoided! Remember, the verb "caused" Paul uses translates the Greek verb "poieo," just meaning "to do, to make, to build or fashion, to construct." They are the architects of this whole mess!

They have begun these battles in the Church, but for what reason.

Why?

Certainly not for God's Glory!

Paul tells us today.

"They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly."

They have sowed this discord for completely selfish reasons!

Paul expresses it like this: for their "own belly."

The verb "served" here, because everybody "serves" some master, is "douleuo." It's linked to the common noun "doulos," a "bond-slave." A slave in chains! So, "douleuo" means "to work like a slave!" It also implies "to be in bondage!"

These perhaps-not-even-saved people live for their own desires!

They are addicted to having things "their own way!"

They feel it's their Church, anyway!

They know that their opinions far outweigh those of anybody else!

After all, who has donated the most money through the years?

And logged the greatest attendance records, except for those oft-occurring weeks in the mountains and at the coast?

They uplift not the Lord Jesus, but "their own bellies!"

This word, a noun, is "koilia," meaning literally a "hollow" place somewhere. That fits. God created us humans with a "hollow" body part called the stomach. It holds our food after we've eaten, helping in the digestive process. But it here symbolizes one's cravings and longings and personal tastes!

Their preferences!

Paul elsewhere, in Philippians 3:9, says of this same kind of folks, "whose god is their belly."

Wow!

This crowd, these troublemakers, will not "give in" and let the Lord's Will be done, not if that means loss of personal prestige and their power ruling the Church!

They are in slavery to their own pride!

If they are in the minority, and that's a big "if" sometimes, the spiritually stronger Members should take a stand!

They should, exactly following our Text, "mark" these people. Make them declare what "side" they are on! Expose them to the whole Church. A lot of them are cowards, standing with the ring-leaders out of fear or intimidation.

"Watch" them!

Then "isolate" them!

"Avoid" them Paul says!

No contact.

No phone calls.

No gossip sessions!

No "behind-the-preacher's-back" meetings!

Stay away from them!

See. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17

Next, figure their motives.

That's today's clause, part of Romans 16:18, "They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly." A transparently ego-centric mindset rules here, they want their own way!

Nothing else!

And when "self" is exalted above the "Lord Jesus Christ," a bad case of "idolatry" has developed!

They serve not our Lord Jesus Christ!

They do serve their own desires, their own bellies!

This spiritual blight must be excised, cut away, or the Church there will eventually wither and die!

Don't let this be mere theory today.

If it happens at your Church, when it does you might nearly say, follow Paul's template here. You will be doing the right thing. You also will be standing with the Man of God, almost without exception. That is, if he's a real Man of God.

The text, one more time. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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."

Romans 16:17-18, one of the most practical paragraphs in all the Bible, especially for these last days!

"Self-ism," I heard a preacher call it recently.

"Selfism," exalting one's very person above everything else.

"Humanism," in its worst sense.

Self-ism, as opposed to true Christianity, which is "serving the Lord Jesus Christ."

Where are you going to stand?

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, DECEIVING THE HEARTS OF THE SIMPLE:

One of the most dangerous things about this group of people, these troublemakers, is that they are so deceptive!

They lie!

Or at best, they "twist" the truth, which in reality is still lying.

They often lead innocent people in the Church, the "simple" Paul calls them, into their factious cliques.

I will capitalize the last clause of the Text, today's area of focus. Notice it with me please.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:17-18

These "dividers" and "offenders" who are already "in" the church, rebel against the leader there! They oppose the doctrine he has been teaching, the Pastor.

Paul knows by experience!

He also, by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, knows their "dark" motives. They are selfish! Their own personal interests are placed far above those of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Who is going to "run" this church?

Who is going to "control" the money?

Who is going to be in "authority" over the music?

Who is going to be on the deacon "board?"

Who will help us begin a Pastoral "oversight" committee?

Who is going to be in "charge" of the missions program?

Which translates into this; somebody has been infringing on "our" positions down at the church!

How dare they?

So, they seek new leadership!

They incite rebellion.

They cause "divisions," the Greek word "dichostasia," blending "dis" which means "two" and "stasis" meaning "standings or positions." They are literally splintering the church body into "groups or cliques or factions."

And as they selfishly and recklessly do these things, using every means possible, they hurt innocent people.

New converts to Christ.

The young people.

The normal peace-loving crowd.

That why the word "offences" is used. "Skandalon" literally means "stumbling block," and is so translated three times in the New Testament. Also it's "occasion of stumbling" once.

They, with their fights and quarrels and insurrections, "trip" and "hurt" other innocent Christians who are serving the Lord.

But who cares as long as the rebels' preferences prevail?

But Paul, today, adds even more.

He gives us the "methods" they employ. The "tools" Satan has these rebel-rousers to implement.

"And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Romans 16:18

They can "talk."

They can "persuade."

They can "exaggerate" too!

But all their verbal activity is really "deceptive" and "manipulative." Controlling others, like pawns in a chess game, for their own selfish ends!

Our clause today, our Text, says they "deceive" the simple.

"Exapateo" is the verb. The root here, "apatao," means "to beguile or to cheat." Here it is in Ephesians 5:6, still from Paul's pen. "Let no man deceive you with vain words."

They "mislead" the innocent, in order to achieve their wicked goals.

"And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Romans 16:18

They use "good words" in doing so. No, their "ugly" side does not appear, not now! "Good words" translates "chrestologia," two words fused into one. "Chrestos" primarily means "kind and gracious," but also can include a hint of "fit for use" too. They "slant" their hypocritically "kind" words to suit their selfish ends! "Logia" or "logos" is one of the key nouns for "talk," with "lego" being its verb.

Likewise "fair speeches" is "eulogia," with "well" being "eu" in Greek, something "faring well, well off or good."

They "coat" their poisonous lies with "sweetness," much like a fisherman "coats" his deadly hook with bait!

Here is the issue, the whole picture.

One group at Church just wants to keep on serving the Lord, following the Pastor as he preaches the Word. Seeing souls saved and Christians grow, using new folks in church positions as the needs arise.

Some don't like the progress. Or the Pastor. Or the new people joining the church. Again, maybe it's not the people themselves they despise as much as it's the fact that they are losing "control!" Slowly, but surely!

So, they begin to grumble.

A few join with them.

Then some more.

They go recruiting!

If their group can outnumber the Pastor's group, he can be voted out of the Church and the status quo can remain!

So, who can they "change," whose minds are that "malleable?"

The innocent!

Those who do not have the whole truth.

Paul terms them, "the simple."

That's "akakos" in Greek. It means "without," that's the "a" prefix, "harm," the "kakos" part. Those who have "no hurtful intentions." Those who have "no bad nature." Those who mean "no harm."

These "simple" ones are a bit too gullible, if you ask me.

Proverbs 15:15 sure "nails" them. "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Wow!

Let me tell you this. In such situations, I'm believing nothing against my Pastor until I talk to him personally!

I'm going to do some investigating!

Then, if that Man of God is preaching the Word, I'm with him!

Christ is the Head of the Church.

But the Pastor is His Under-Shepherd.

The Leader of the local flock!

Period.

Umm, guess I'm not one of the "simple," then.

That does not mean I'm all that "smart," necessarily. But it does mean I'm not standing with a crowd of troublemakers and church bosses and manipulators!

Not against God's Man!

No sir!

One more time. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:17-18

Can you tell I get a little "bothered" when God's Men are falsely accused?

Stand with your Preacher.

When that lying crowd comes around, look them right in the eye and say, "You don't have my vote!"

That will do the job.

They will be gone.

That's a pretty good way of "avoiding" them, too.

The Lesson today is too long.

It's Easter Sunday!

And I'm fighting for God's Men!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, CONCLUSION:

Paul practices what he preaches!

The Sermon: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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." Romans 16:17-18

The Practice:

"Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words." 2nd Timothy 4:14-15

Paul "marked" this Alexander.

And Paul is encouraging Timothy to "avoid" him. The verb "be ware" is "phulasso," in Greek meaning "to guard against!" In that sense, "to watch!"

And what did Alexander do? He "withstood Paul's words." He caused problems contrary to the doctrine Paul had preached! The verb "withstood" is "anthistemi," meaning "to stand against."

This is 2nd Timothy 4 obeying Romans 16.

Another example:

"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." 2nd Timothy 2:16-18

Paul names some of these resurrection deniers.

And he warns about them, commanding that they be avoided. "Shun," an imperative verb, translates "periistemi," meaning "to stand around" them. Walk around them. Don't go near them. Circumnavigate them. Detour  around them!

These men are dangerous, wrecking the faith of many.

Even this short fragment of a verse reflects the spirit of Romans 16:17-18. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." 2nd Timothy 4:10

Wow!

Paul is not immune to blunt expose, especially when it comes to protecting the people of God!

And the time will probably come in each of our lives when we will be required to do the same thing.

Lord, help us to do right.

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

                                                What Verses these are!

                

 

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