Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. Romans 16:17-18 (NAS)
You must keep your eye on even the most faithful teachers of the word. If you’ve lived long enough you’ll have been shocked to hear news of a prominent defection from the faith.
Lately I’ve been surprised that it’s not a subtle wandering away you see, but a defiant reversal announced loudly on social media. They might as well be saying, “I now hate Jesus!” I’d be running for cover if I did this, knowing the kind of vengeance that could rain down on me at any moment.
But God is gracious and longsuffering, not wishing for anyone to be reduced to ashes before given a chance to reconsider. I would not be so kind.
What are the telltale signs of a movement away from the truth? Dissension when there was agreement. Hindrances when there was smooth sailing. Contrarian views from what was stated as sacrosanct in the past. Strange doctrine rather than sound doctrine. Advocacy of or a growing deference to popular movements that justify sensual behavior. Seductive words (“smooth” and “flattering”) rather than sensible words.
We need to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. Study Satan’s ways and you’ll be able to spot the defects (Romans 16:19-20).
Keep an eye out!