17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Paul wrote this most likely in A.D. 57, according to my ESV Study Notes, but it wasn't just to warn those in his day- it is also to warn us now. There are many churches and leaders who do not follow the Bible in its entirety. They change what they like so that it is fitting for their lifestyle. When a church or leader chooses to follow certain aspects and commands of the Bible, but not others, they are not truly worshiping God alone- they are also worshiping their "own appetites". When anyone worships something other than Jesus it is idolatry. When a church or leader decided that they think it is best not to follow the Bible completely, or believe it is not all completely truth, they are deceived, and you will be deceived by following them. The Bible is entirely truth, and when we follow any other representation of what the truth is, we are not following God, but allowing ourselves to be completely deceived. If such people or churches do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ as Paul writes, they are not leading themselves or the ones that follow them to eternal life, but to eternal death. Be careful what church you attend, what pastor you allow to teach you, what books you read, and what websites you conform to. If what you practice, hear or read, does not agree with God's word or preach Jesus, it is not a church of God. Some of the churches and leaders who practice and teach these things fully believe they are aligned with the Bible and think they are leading people to Jesus. They are wrong. They are so deceived. It is so unfortunate for those who are naive- to think that they have finally found the church that seems right to them- and for them not to understand that it is not a church built by God, but built by the devil.
I am going to be blunt here- you may like it, you may not. If you do not like what I am about to say, chances are you are among the deceived. An example of this God-less church or leader would be those who marry homosexuals in the church or have a homosexual as the leader in the church. God is very clear about homosexuality in the Bible- it is sin. It is just the same if the church allows drunkenness, marital unfaithfulness or murder. They are all sin. It is unfortunate that some christians have condemned homosexuals so much that all christians are labelled as unloving toward them. Please know, I love the person that practices homosexuality. I just hate their sin. Just the same- I hate my sin, your sin and my friends' sin, whether its selfishness, greed, adultery, porn addictions, drunkenness etc. It has nothing to do with singling any specific person or group out. To follow Jesus means repentance. A church or leader that does not preach repentance or changes what God says is sin, is not teaching Truth.
I hope you understand Scripture is teaching here, and I hope you understand what I am saying. If you have any questions, please- email me.
I hope and pray that all who are following destruction within a church or leader would recognize through this verse in Romans 16, that they are being deceived. Please convict those who need to be saved from such- that they might find a place to worship the True God. Lord I pray that if any reader has a problem with what was written, that you would show them it is YOU who wrote these commands- for our good and for your glory. I pray that you would free anyone from deceit and lies and show them Your Truth.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.