The conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Romans rings so true. He easily lists the names of people who have been a blessing to him, those who have laboured and put their hands up for the gospel.
Then you have those fifth-columnists who wish to sabotage things for their own purposes. Those who cause divisions and are contrarian.
People who have an agenda that attempts to undo all the work that faithful Believers have put into advancing the kingdom.
Those types of people are inevitable, no matter where you are.
Some people just like to see things burn, or stir up controversy and step back and watch the fur fly.
Paul knows the church at Rome has done okay with nipping that sort of thing in the bud: “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (16:19, NIV).
They’ve managed to keep things right and go forward in obedience to the gospel, but Paul writes to them to make sure they don’t fixate on the evil that some are spreading in the community, but to remain resolute and anchored to the gospel.
The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Basically, they should know the truth so intimately that they would easily be able to spot the fake. Kind of like the US Secret Service who don’t study fake dollar bills, but study genuine dollar bills with such thoroughness that fakes are easy to spot.
Be excellent at what is good, and innocent of evil.
Paul writes that God will soon cruch Satan and his deception under their feet.
The church should do what Adam and Eve didn’t do in the garden. When confronted with falsehood and doubt, to refer back to the gospel and affirm it. A regained innocence as it were.
Paul concludes reminding the Romans – and us – that God is able to establish us in accordance with the gospel. He will make us able to stand firm in Christ.
The church shouldn’t be distracted by controversies and divisions. The gospel is what unites us but is also the purpose of the church: to reach out to those who will be saved in the purpose of God.
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. The sound of the church on the move spreading the gospel.