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Be on Guard

Briefing: Do you know any fake people? The minute they see you they will act like you are their closest friend. The minute you walk out of their sight they talk about you like you are their worst enemy.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read Romans 16:17-20.

On the Street: Paul has just spent sixteen verses testifying about the good friends and co-laborers he has had in the province of Asia. This was a big group of people and it must have caused quite a bit of excitement in the area. Usually when we are involved in something like this it attracts all kinds of people. Those who want to help and those who want to tear down. There is a law in science that gives some insight to this. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you show up to do good, someone else will show up to do evil. There is a war on this earth for the souls of the men and women who are alive. This is part of that war.

Jesus warned His disciples of this very thing when He told them, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” – Matthew 7:15. The first part of the next verse Jesus tells us how we can avoid being deceived by them. “By their fruit you will recognize them” – Matthew 7:16a. These deceivers may look good and talk a good game but they cannot keep up the act. Their own actions will give them away. Satan hates the church and wants to destroy it. He learned early on, the best way to destroy a church or Christian organization was to get inside and cause trouble. It was easier to divide a church from within than to attack it from the outside.

We have to be on alert for the evil that wants to destroy us. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Do not be surprised when you get someone in your group, Bible study or church who looks good but does not produce good fruit. They need to be ministered to and prayed for. Remember, it is the sick person who comes to the hospital, not the well. In Matthew 10:16 Jesus told His disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” We must know what to look for in a deceiver while helping the sick.

This is very similar to what Paul writes in verse 19, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Paul says to be wise about what is good. He expands on this in Philippians 4:8 saying, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

There is a lot to digest in this section of Romans. This requires more thought and awareness than previous teachings by Paul. This last chapter has the feel of a parent who is about to send their child off to college for the first time. Some of the best advice and counsel can be given in times like these.

Investigational Resources: Nehemiah 4.

Officer Safety Principle: Remember the words of Jesus, “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”.

from The Book of Romans Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!