Avoid False Teachers
Return To Index

 Ro 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
 21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you.
 22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
 23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother.
 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith--
 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
 (NKJV)

 Ro 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
As Paul prepares to close his letter to the Romans, he has one warning for them. Take note of those who cause divisions in the body of Christ, and those who cause offenses contrary to the apostolic doctrine that the Romans have learned and adhered to so well.

The Greek Word for “note” here is skopeo, and it means to take aim at. It’s where we get the word “scope.” as in what a deer hunter might use on his rifle. So we are to keep these divisive and offensive people in our sights. Monitor them.  Be aware of their movements and don’t allow them into the church.

Remember that the word devil comes from the Greek word “diabolos” and it means to cast asunder or divide. Diabolos is his name and division is his game. The devil will do everything in his power to separate you from the love of Christ.......never forget that.

He will do everything he can to separate you from the true church of Jesus Christ. he will do everything he can to separate you from your spouse, from your children, from fellow believers. Know that about the great enemy of your soul!  He always seeks to divide and conquer!

 1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
 (NKJV)


How does the lion capture it’s prey? He looks for the weak and then seeks to separate them from the herd. Isolate them and then move in for the kill. Are you fighting with your spouse? Consider diabolos and his strategy. Is there fighting in your church? Consider your enemy and his tactics! Is there a dispute in your family? Know your enemy and what he delights to do.

Remember too, his primary tool for division. He used it on Eve and continues to use it even today: “Did God really say?” He plants that seed of doubt and then uses his victims to accomplish his dirty deed of separation.

Think about it. What is the major source of division among professing Christians today? One camp says, “God says this,” and the other camp says “no He didn’t” and you have instant division. One side says, “this is what God meant” and another side says, “no, this is what God meant.” And pretty soon the gloves are off and the split begins.

So how do we know who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, for starters you must believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
 (NKJV)


Such belief only comes from faith. Such belief is a gift from God.  Such faith moves the external words of the Bible to the internal pages of your heart, where there is unquestionable loyalty to the truth and inerrancy of God’s Word.

 Joh 8:47 "He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
 (NKJV)

You may not understand it all, you may have questions, you may even spot what appear to be  contradictions, but with further study, they either dissolve away or you just must say, “I’ll have to ask Jesus about that when I get to heaven.”

 1Co 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
 (NKJV)

Do you want God to put that kind of faith in His Word back into your heart? Then you must humbly come back to Him, admitting that you have departed from that child-like faith given to you at your baptism. Ask Him for His forgiveness for your wayward ways, receive His forgiveness, and surrender your life anew to His lordship!


When you are right with God, His Word is right with you!

Now, once the question of inerrancy is settled, there will still be doctrinal differences, but this is due to our own imperfect understanding, our own imperfect yielding to the lordship of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

One day, all will be made clear, in the meantime think and act on God’s Word according to the understanding that has been given to you. And act as if it were God Himself speaking to you....because it is.

The biggest problem we face in regard to false teaching today comes from those who have bought the lie of the historical critical method of biblical interpretation. They are found mainly in the mainline liberal denominations.

Without going into a long dissertation on what this method all entails, let’s just say that it’s adherents hold that the Bible is a human book, that contains some of God’s truth, but that it is not to be taken as absolute truth..

Some seminaries actually require that their professors hold to this view of Scripture and the result is they are turning out pastors that question the Word of God, (did God really say?) rather than proclaim it. (Thus saith the Lord!)

What school does your pastor come from? There are some questions you may ask him that may give you some clues.

Ask him if he believes the Creation account of the Bible. Were Adam and Eve real historical persons? If he say no. It’s a red flag.

Ask him what he believes about the miracles in the Bible. Did the parting of the Red Sea really occur? Did the Walls of Jericho really fall? Did Jonah really get swallowed by a big fish?
If he says no,  another red flag.

Ask him if Jesus really meant it when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6)
Ask him if he believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation!

If he says no....another red flag.

A typical pastor who holds to the historical critical method of biblical interpretation will not be opposed to abortion, homosexuality, remarriage of divorced persons, living together before marriage, and other clear biblical teachings.


They will refer to biblical accounts as “stories” and they will over-emphasize and teach the parables because in their belief system, parables, stories, fables, are all they have to work with.
These are not acid tests, but they will be strong indicators of what your pastor believes about the Bible. And the Bible says.....Avoid those who would dispute the inerrany of Scripture...they are divisive. They are being used by the devil to tear you away from God.  

Tit 3:10 Reject (have nothing to do with) a divisive man after the first and second admonition,
 (NKJV)

 But it is not only the doubters of God’s Word that bring division and offense into the church. Some cause offenses or set traps by cleverly substituting good works for grace, or they try to get you to buy into adding works to grace in order to be saved.

Avoid them also, for any hint of salvation apart from God’s grace alone is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Works proceed from salvation, but they are no way responsible for it!  It is grace alone as we have sung in our worship service here today.

While it is grace alone, we must also be aware of those who wink at offenses, because when you wink at an offense, you invite an offense to come into the church, and you put souls at risk.

1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  (These are offenses!) 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
 (NKJV).

The reason many of you are here at Living Word is because you know that we adhere to the teaching that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and we do not wink at offenses. Unfortunately, it may also be the reason why there are not too many others with you.

But the church really needs to wake up in this regard. The Bible is clear as to what those in the pew are to do with those who wink at sin: Whether it’s a fellow member of the church or a false teacher in the pulpit.

 2Th 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
 (NKJV)

 1Co 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.
 (NKJV)

God is holy. His church is to be holy! His church is charged with keeping itself pure through proper church discipline, and if the church will not police itself, then flee from it, and find a congregation that will!

 1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."

Continuing in Romans 16:18,  Paul speaks of these false teachers and reveals their true colors.

18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly,

Let’s not sugar coat what Paul is saying here. He is saying that these false teachers are not slaves of Jesus Christ. (Which we ought to be) They are not slave to the divine nature, but rather to their own human nature. (That is what is meant by the term belly) It is not that they are in it for the money, but that they are interested in satisfying their human nature.

Christ is not on the throne of their lives, but their own earthy passions and lusts. And if any of these conflict with the Word of God, they yield to them rather than God and His Word.

These false teachers are like their father the devil, who used smooth words to beguile and tempt Eve. They will do the same to the gullible in churches today.

“and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”

By the simple, he means the unsuspecting. Who would expect that a seminary graduate, or any one who occupies a pulpit to bring false teaching into the church? That’s why it’s so important to put all Bible teachers under the skopeo. Examine their teachings in light of Scripture as the Bereans examined the teachings of Paul.

 Ac 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
 (NKJV)

Think of these false teachers, these charlatans that have been with us from the beginning, and the damage they have done! They are on both ends of the spectrum. From the most legalistic cults to the proponents of the cheapest grace.

One says, “You are doing a marvelous job in obeying the rules, surely you will be going to heaven. But you must keep obeying. ” The other says, “”Surely God is love, He wouldn’t send you to hell, indeed a loving God  wouldn’t even create a hell!

Both are ultimately teaching the unsuspecting to rely on their own perceived goodness,. One falsely thinking that their good obedience is earning them a spot in heaven and the other thinking that they are basically good persons and God certainly won’t judge them!

Many times these false teachers laugh all the way to the bank as the unsuspecting flock to them to have their ears itched, because their teaching appeals to their bellies, that is, to their own human nature.

Remember this about your human nature. It does not like to be disturbed with the truth of the Word of God! But don’t let that keep you from the truth, for it is the truth that will ultimately set you free!

This is why Paul admonished Timothy and all other would be preachers:

 2Ti 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Flee from false teachers, lest they woo you into thinking that you might actually have something to do with your salvation. Lest they cause you to think more highly of your wicked heart than you ought!

God provided the means for your salvation in Christ Jesus. He provided the conveyance of salvation through His means of grace, and you are wicked and you need His grace, you need His forgiveness!

He extends the gift to all sinners, admit your need for it and ....simply receive it!

Paul, then commends the church at Rome because their adherence to salvation by grace through faith alone has become widely known.

19 For your obedience has become known to all. (By obedience he means belief and trust in the gospel of grace for salvation!) Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.


Another warning: Be smart as it concerns the free gift of salvation, and be stupid as it concerns any other way to heaven. Trust God and His Word! Trust God alone for your salvation! And look what He will do.

 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

God will crush Satan. It’s not your job! Even as we speak, he has been bound by Jesus. He still operates through his agents of persecution, deception, and materialism. He still seeks to separate you from Christ and to bring offenses into the church,  but he is on a leash and when Jesus comes again, and He will be coming shortly, Satan will be utterly crushed and thrown into the lake of fire.

 Re 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
 (NKJV)

Paul concludes his warning with a prayer for power for the Romans to fight the good fight to the end. The grace, (divine influence on your heart) be with you until the end. Grace not only saves us, but it gives us the power to continue in our salvation. It gives us all we need to resist false teachers. It helps us overpower our human nature.

You have an unlimited supply of God’s grace available to you! Use it in this battle! Use it to help you finish the race!

 Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
 (NKJV)

Paul closes this letter with greetings from those who are with him in Corinth.  21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you.
 22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, ( He was Paul’s stenographer) greet you in the Lord.
 23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother.  24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (We don’t know why Paul repeats this prayer for grace for the Romans, and some manuscripts do not contain it. We’ll just say....”hey can you ever have enough divine influence on your heart? )

Paul then concludes this glorious letter with a doxology ( a salute to our glorious God!)

 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith--
 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Doxologies turn our attention heavenward and in this case also toward the Scriptures as Paul acknowledges God as the only one who can establish us in the gospel and keep us in the gospel. God is the only one who can reveal the mystery of salvation by grace through faith and keep us there.

He spoke of this great mystery through the prophets. And it was the incarnation, the life, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus that made the revelation or unveiling of the mystery possible. As we read in the Book of Luke:

 Lu 24:25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"  27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

God revealed this mystery to the apostles and they in turn obediently took the good news of that revelation into the world. That was their part, it is our part today. They were to take the solved mystery to the world and trust that God would use that message to bring others to faith. (This is our charge as well today)

Any fruit from their labors or our labors belongs solely to God and His Word, as Paul beautifully states: “To God alone wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever. , Amen.”

If the Bible were a human book, we could indeed take some of the glory, but it’s not! It’s God’s Book! It’s God’s Word not ours!

As we look back on this particular Book of Romans God’s graciousness and mercy toward us is it’s great theme.  Saved by grace through faith that comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God as proclaimed through the ages by the faithful preaching of the prophets, Jesus Christ, and the apostles, and all others who have proclaimed this Good News! .

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace. (Rom. 10:15)

My friend let us strive to continue to be faithful in proclaiming this good news. let us not waiver as to “Did God really say? Or introduce works to the salvation equation, or an anything goes cheap grace!  Rather let us purpose to be faithful in proclaiming the gospel, confident that if there are to be any results, it is in God’s hands, not ours. To God alone wise be glory forever and ever amen.