Today we completed reading Paul’s letter to the Romans and his final chapter includes an “appeal” [v.17-20] that has a great deal of relevance to the situations that challenge the steadfastness of believers today.
Paul warned “watch out for those who cause divisions.” Sadly that problem continued and multiplied and that is why there are so many different kinds of churches today – but the fountain and source of the original and real truth has been freely available to all for many centuries.
But as in those days there is a human inclination to “serve … their own appetites” [v.18]. This is the same self-serving attitude of mind as was evident in the scribes and Pharisees. Such, said Paul, “deceive the hearts of the naïve.” Jesus told the Pharisees that “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” [John 5 v.39] They searched them with the wrong motive – as an aid to promote their own self-importance.
Paul told the Romans, “I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” [v.19] We are surrounded today by so much that “is evil.”
Some of it may not be totally ungodly – but there is no spiritual quality to it so we must try even harder “to be wise as to what is good” – this is essential in helping us to come closer to God and to Christ so that we are ready when we hear the “cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ ” [Matt 25 v.6] May we all go out as “innocent” virgins.
Paul boldly stated, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” [v.20] Our world is full of ‘Satan’ characters, for most, their character is evident, but we must remember that Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” [Matt. 16 v.23] We must set our minds on the things of God – and the daily feeding of our minds on God’s word is the essential foundation for doing that – so that we become truly “innocent as to what is evil” in the face of the many influences of the godless world that surrounds us on every side..