As we wrap up Romans, we see a strong appeal from Paul to this church he deeply cares about. Here is a portion of the ending of his letter to them from the New Living Translation:
17 “And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. 19 But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Romans 16:17-20
We can see why the first part of the letter focused on building a strong theological foundation. Paul wants the church to be equipped to recognize what is true and avoid what is false. Too often people are swayed by charisma and charm rather than what is right and true. Substance should always take precedence over style, but in our current cultural climate, style often wins out.
One way to validate that a source of teaching is trustworthy is to see if the teacher is obedient and submissive to the clear teaching of the Bible. Does the teacher demonstrate the kind of character that shows their devotion to becoming more and more like Jesus? Are they humble in their attitude to God and others? Are they generous with their finances and material goods? Do they seek to serve the needs of others more than being served?
Paul reminds the Roman followers that as they trust and obey Christ, they will ultimately be victorious over anything that Satan tries to throw at them. I really like this challenge and promise!