Rom 16:17-20 NASB - "17 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. 18 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. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."
This passage tells us how a local church can bring the victory of Messiah Jesus on the cross and resurrection into their city. It is a battle plan. This passage is the playbook of the Apostle Paul for the local church to exercise the authority of Messiah within their civil community. Let us see if we can see the main points.
The Apostle knows that there will be people who will attempt to cause a civil war within the visible church and set up traps for the people of faith to stumble over. There will be “false disciples” who will infiltrate into the community of faith and attempt to undermine its unity and purity. Discerning such inner attacks is critical for the local church to keep itself protected from the lies of the dark spirits, the unbelieving culture, and our own rebellious passions.
The church must be obedient to the gospel to win in its city, community, and culture.
Romans 1-7 - "1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus the Messiah our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
When people obey the gospel by believing the true story of God's amazing love found in the Messiah Jesus, this is reason to have joy. To become trusting in the idea of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness given as a free gift through the suffering of hell fire by the Messiah Jesus on the cross and then the start of the new creation through the resurrection from the dead is the greatest blessing any person can have in this life or in eternity. This great news of the defeat of the rebellion, the curse, and the adversary of our souls has the power to protect us from every scheme of the devil.
But we must become very skilled in knowing and using this gospel. On a daily basis we must be able to apply it to the realities of our relationships and complexities of our communities. We must be able to have our souls transformed by the gospel and our spirits revived by its awesome revelation of God’s infinite love.
It is vital we keep our understanding and practice of the gospel pure and free from both legalism and lawlessness. In the light of the gospel our self-righteousness must be examined to be an illusion and a lie. To make light of sin would be insane when we see the bitterness and necessity of the hell fire suffered of the Messiah Jesus. Our aim is to become a manifestation of the gospel in word and deed. The goal is to become the gospel incarnate both individually and corporately.
When a local church substantially experiences such faith then the power of the victory that the Messiah Jesus is seen and the powerful lies of the devil are destroyed (Genesis 3:15).
Psalm 8:6 NASB - "6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,"
Malachi 4:3 NASB - "3 "You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD of hosts."
So the power of the kingdom of God and the resurrected Chris will be released as the wonderful message of God’s unconditional and sacrificial suffering is truly believed in by the community of disciples of the Lord Jesus and applied to every moment of every day and in every sphere of our lives.
So what is God’s strategy for the local church to beat the darkness of its culture and the deadly purpose of the devil?
1. Discern people who promote in word and deed legalism and lawlessness within our own communities of faith and guard our hearts from these false ideas.
2. Become very skilled in knowing, believing, and applying the gospel into every relationship and aspect of our lives.
3. Keep the gospel pure and uncontaminated from both lawlessness and legalism. Strive to detect the earliest signs of departing from the path of depending on the gospel of Messiah Jesus alone to save us.
So there we have it. The gospel is the power of God to defeat the unbelieving culture, the devil, and our own unholy passions. So how could you become skillful and pure is your understanding and living of the gospel? This is the critical question. May the Lord, give you opportunity to be the gospel in word and deed today. Amen