Romans: Day 40

Glory to God

by

Today's Text: Romans 16:17-27, Matthew 7:15-20, Jude 24-25

Scripture Reading: Romans 16:17-27, Matthew 7:15-20, Jude 24-25

I took a personality test the other day, and I wasn’t thrilled with the results. It confirmed what I already knew: I avoid conflict like the plague. Put me in a tension-filled room and I’ll moonwalk away so fast, you’ll never even know I was there.

I tell you this not to confirm that I was raised in the 80s (which I was), but so you’ll understand why I so desperately want to misinterpret today’s passage from Romans. I’ll show you what I mean.

Here we’ve come to the close of the longest of Paul’s letters. We’ve heard him preach on sin and salvation, grace and faith, and now we’re leaning in to see how he’ll land the plane. What does one say to wrap up what would become known as the most comprehensive expression of the gospel in all of Scripture?

He begins his conclusion with a warning:

Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who create divisions and obstacles contrary to the teaching that you learned. Avoid them… (Romans 16:17).

This is where my comfort-loving ears perk up. Steer clear of those who cause problems? Avoid conflict at all costs? If that’s what our friend Paul is selling, I’m buying in bulk. But he continues:

…because such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words (v. 18).

No smooth-talkers allowed? Yep, works for me.

In my humanity, I want Paul’s words to leave me right where I am: a well-intentioned gal who doesn’t like to rattle or be rattled. I want a divine endorsement for a head-down, hands-off way of living. I want to look to the folks on my right and my left and say, I’m fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine. In short, I want to read Paul’s words as permission rather than admonition.

He keeps writing:

The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (vv.19-20).

Crushing evil is not a passive activity. Our holy and sovereign God is currently and constantly at work, overcoming darkness with light (John 5:17). As Christ followers, our work is not passive either. We are called to right doctrine and right living—to cling to Christ and to His gospel, shunning all false gods and gospels that beg our worship. This is Paul’s parting reminder.

It’s true that I’m predisposed to being a coaster—a person who’d rather stay the course than question questionable coordinates. But the gospel Paul presents in this letter is not a matter of right or left. It’s a matter of life and death. The mystery of Jesus Christ has been “revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God” (Romans 16:26). Our Savior has come. He has opened the way to God, the rescue and restoration of our wrecked, restless souls.

The truth is, you and I are not fine. We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But in God’s great love and compassion, we have been “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). What’s more, “since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

This is the gospel. This is our hope.

This is what we cling to, what we live by, what we fight for—to the glory of the One who created us, saved us, and calls us His own.

To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to him be the glory forever! Amen (Romans 16:27).

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  • Becky Flores Alcantar

    “Its true I’m predisposed to being a coaster – a person who would rather stay the course than question questionable coordinates. It’s not a matter of right or left, it’s a matter of life or death .” Wooooo pa -reach sister Amanda Bible Williams!!! #sogood

  • Aimee D

    This is my first SRT devotion series, and what a book to start with. I’ve read Romans a number of times but have never gleaned so much. I’ve been doing devotions through books and youverson and journaling for years. But I’ve never felt so much like I’m in the right place, right time. Never felt

  • I Am immediately drawn to the verse “you will know them by their fruits”. It’s one I’ve heard quoted many times and never really understood. What fruits are we talking about here? If left undefined many people could put names on fruits and call them whatever they desire. But the Holy Spirit spoke to me today and showed me something that was already there- the fruit of the spirit are the fruits that will be our guide. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. That is what we use as our guide to evaluating character. When posed with a person or doctrine of questionable nature- evaluate the message and the deliverer. Are these the fruits they produce? Or is the vine withered?

  • I am so thankful to have found SRT. When I can’t study the Bible with a small group, I am able to learn more here. What a blessing! I look forward to my next study with SRT and look forward to growing even more than I did through this study. Thank you for your dedication and hard work, SRT team, you are blessed and a blessing to all of us!

  • I think I finish each study with “this is my favorite!”, yet this one truly is! Thank you, SRT team, for an excellent, challenging presentation of Romans.

  • What a great, strong way to end this series Amanda! Paul closes with a bang and you completely illuminated that. Amazing series SRT team!

  • Diane Huntsman

    27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
    The only wise God… just wow.

  • Wow, this really spoke to me. Thank you Amanda!

  • Lynette Gonzalez

    Im just curious. What might be your thoughts in reference to this scroprure verses globalization, and when it comes in conflict with our leadership roles.

  • Carrie Rogers

    Amen!

  • Mary E Johnston

    Amen I could not have said it any better or plainer. I believe all of us just want to live peaceful but God warns us of trials and tribulation so that’s out we gain peace by trusting him praising him in every situation knowing he is with us in it all.

  • Jenifer Metzger

    I am totally with you, H-A-T-E conflict! Beautiful words today Amanda! <3

  • Like many of you, Romans 16:19 also jumped out at me today. I found a really helpful sermon based on verses 17-20 called “Why & How to be Watchful” so I wanted to share it:

    http://www.cmcroanoke.org/sermon_player.php?id=20130602

    Or if you’re not able to listen to it right now, you can read the sermon notes:

    http://www.cmcroanoke.org/audio/2013/20130602_why_and_how_to_be_watchful_notes.pdf

  • Carol Gunckel

    Thank you for all the comments and SRT bible studies. They add so much depth and dimension to my understanding. Praying for each of my SRT sisters this morning. “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ —to Him be the glory forever.” Amen

  • Wow– I too took the Strengths Finder test in preparation for a class I’m taking this summer– my top “strength” is Harmony!! Boy do I relate to your devotion!!! Thank you for your insight!! Your words will go into my journal!! And into my prayers! Thank you SRT for this great study! I plan to attend BSF (studying Romans) again this year. I can’t wait to share from this study!!

  • I understand how knowing the Truth to it’s fullest allows me to identify the false and misleading. The analogy from churchmouse is awesome! My question/struggle is how to handle the misleading when it’s in my path, especially when it’s wrapped up the minds of the people near me. I’m fairly level headed and objective. I generally don’t get pulled in to the social engineering played in society, but I see so many do. I try to gently point out how they’re getting played but many times it falls on deaf ears. What do you do when you see the smooth talker that nobody else sees?

    • carrie

      Does it tend to happen with “smooth talkers” who are a part of your local community/church? In our situation, it took tremendous trust for me to submit myself to the counsel and decisions of my husband and pastor/elders when I wanted to confront it and pursue resolution myself. In the end, it felt right and freeing to me, even though in the flesh I still wanted control.

      It’s a different ballgame to some extent I guess if the smooth voices in question are internet personalities or faraway celebrity Christians or authors…

    • Lana

      This question made me think, Sarah. My two cents? You pray for the smooth talker. You pray that God softens his/her heart and opens his/her eyes. You pray for those being duped. You ask God for divine intervention. You show love and compassion to everyone involved. With the courage of gentle words, you speak the truth in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. You ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as you do so. Know that God sometimes hardens hearts and takes people on journeys for a greater purpose. Have faith. That’s all I got.

      • Susan

        Lana, these are my feelings exactly. We all find our truth in the Scripture. Go back to the Scripture and let its wisdom and instruction guide you when you get that ‘feeling’ about others’ words or agendas. Do what you know is right and will truly glorify our Lord. That’s all I got (wink). Thanks for your comments today and throughout this study. It has been the best one I’ve participated in … ever.

  • Aimeejoy

    The verse that jumps out today is Rom 16:19 “I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent to what is evil”. I think, Just as Amanda said, this is not permission to pretend that evil does not exist. However, I think Paul here is laying some vocational boundaries. God is the boss and he is the only being capable of defeating evil. Our job, is not the same as God’s job. Our job is to reflect and point to the Glory of God. We are mirrors created to reflect light. When we focus on magnifying the light (God) we, by default will not have to fret about accidentally reflecting darkness. However, sometimes we look so hard for evil so that we can point it out and reveal it for what it truly is. Again, this is not our job. When we know God, we automatically know what is not God. It is as simple as that. My job is not to be paranoid about possible temptations or darkness. God is the conquerer. I am the groupie, saying, “look look everyone! look and see what the Lord has done and is doing!!”

    • Sarah

      Perfect! Focus on showing the Light and let God take it from there. Thank you for your insight!

  • Such a timely word for all Christians today. I think we have so many divisions even among Christians/Christian leaders that are so deceived and being deceptive amongst Christians. These people are so “popular” and we all desperately want to agree with them because they are saying what the world wants to hear not what lines up with the Word. And who wants to be “disagreeable” especially when it comes to a Christian leader or person that is so well known and liked by the world “deceiving the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words”.
    We should not shrink back from the Truth no matter who says what!
    So timely today. Take heed! It’s always best to line up with Truth and Jesus!

  • Carrie, I identify with your comment. So.much. Our previous church just crumbled over a smooth talker who took over and all but pushed a church full of sweet Christians out of their church home. He basically dared people to disagree with his book “knowledge” as heart knowledge seemed to be lacking. It was heartbreaking for so many (us included)! Like you, I still wrestle with wanting closure. Basically, ditto to everything you said!

    • carrie

      Right? Eventually, I had to come back to the irony of my own false gospel being that of salvation by having my beliefs and practices right. Of course, we ask the Lord to correct us constantly, but at the end of the day, we trust in HIS rightness to save us in spite of who is right or wrong in the situation, knowing we’re likely some of both. THAT is our gospel!

  • Caroline

    Amen! He is our hope. May all glory and all honor be to HIM

    http://Www.in-due-time.com

  • Thank you, churchmouse!

  • Personality tests have pointed out that I am riddled with INNER conflict, seeing both sides of every coin and constantly striving for an ideal balance that will save the world. As for outer conflict then, I don’t enjoy it, but would rather press through to a place where everything’s in the open and tension can resolve, as elephants in rooms seem to sit on ME.

    Our small church recently encountered a “smooth-talker,” — the nomadic type whose ascetic lifestyle and counter-cultural vibe immediately lent a prophetic air. At first I was intrigued to have a cohort in wondering if our church culture has become a little bogged down by some of our American ideals. After all, Paul (and Jesus for that matter) would probably identify more with this humble, voluntarily homeless, bike-traveling encourager than he could some of our professionals, plans and programs…

    The smooth-talker positioned himself — very quietly in fact — as a humble servant in our home group for months before our differences became evident enough for his voluntary moving on.

    Much as I long to over-explain for validation, I’ll spare the details, because that WAS the takeaway for me:

    “We are called to right doctrine and right living—to cling to Christ and to His gospel, shunning all false gods and gospels that beg our worship.”

    In a quest for right doctrine and right living, I longed (STILL long) to see a detailed printout of what in the world was going on, who was what percentage of right, wrong or misled. I want affirmation, or at least a chance to say “I was wrong, but NOW I’m doing it right, and this is what we all learned here.”

    I desperately long for the closure and resolution that is only available on the other side of Christ’s return, and meanwhile, my identity in the unknowns MUST rest in Christ’s sufficiency for me. I am declared righteous by FAITH, not by knowing that I am doing church properly, and He not, personal perfection is my peace.

  • churchmouse

    To know whether or not currency is counterfeit, one doesn’t study all the various counterfeits that have been made. You study the real thing, the legitimate bills so that you are so familiar with the true that you can then readily recognize the false. So too with what Paul is saying here in the end of Romans. Know Jesus and His message so well that when someone presents a different one, you will know. You will not be deceived because you know the Truth. Yes there are a lot of ‘gospels’ out there but only one is truly Good News. Help me Lord to have a laser eye for Truth by studying and knowing You and You alone.

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