obstacles to maturity

January 2015 (22)

Romans 16:17-27

17 Now I encourage you, brothers, to watch out for those who are causing the divisions and putting up stumbling blocks contrary to the teaching that you learned. Turn away from them! 18 Because these are the kind who do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own stomach. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the immature. 19 Your obedience is known to all and for this reason I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and untainted in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 21 Timothy, my coworker, greets you; so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who am transcribing this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus the city treasurer and our brother Quartus greet you. 24 [1] 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you as I teach when I share the gospel and proclaim Jesus Christ, according to the revealed mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, 26 but now has appeared, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, as the eternal God has commanded, to bring about obedient believers– 27 to the only wise God, on account of Jesus Christ, be praised forever! Amen.

obstacles to maturity

Paul’s final warning and statement of confidence is so relevant to the present day, but its relevance touches so close to home for most of us that we dare not pay too close attention.

  1. Paul’s goal is mature, obedient believers, who have taken in his gospel teachings and have been transformed by them.
  2. Satan has determined that he will not allow this, but God has determined that Satan will be crushed under the feet of his faithful ones.
  3. Some within the church will seem to have no purpose beyond the causing of divisions within the body. Paul warns believers not just to avoid the divisions, but to turn away from those pushing their chosen side.
  4. Some in the church will do or say things which actually prevent the maturity and obedience rather than foster it. Paul warns believers to turn away from them as well.
  5. Ironically, the process of trying to obey Paul’s instructions here often cause us to be divisive and put obstacles before those who want to be more mature.
  6. The good news is that God is at work, and if we stay true to him, he will strengthen and mature us in spite of failures and factions.

LORD, we want to be strong and mature in our faith. We want to be obedient believers. Show us how to avoid divisions and distractions.

[1] This verse is omitted from the most trustworthy manuscripts of Romans.


About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is a former Christian missionary who now lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. If your church or small group would like to hear Jeff speak, you can contact him at marmsky@gmail.com -- !
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