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Guardians of Grace: Standing Firm in the Truth (Romans 16:17-27)

Romans 16:17–27 - 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. 21 Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. 


What does today’s passage say?

In today’s passage, Paul urges the believers to be on guard and keep away from those in the church who promote teachings that cause divisions and go against biblical truth, only desiring to serve themselves (vv. 17-18). He wants them to be innocent of wrongdoing while focusing on moral excellence (v. 19). Paul then sends personal greetings to many fellow workers in ministry, commending them and expressing appreciation for their service in building up the church (vv. 21-24). He breaks into praise of God's power to strengthen his people through Christ and proclaims the eternal glory of the all-wise God made known through Jesus Christ so that all believers can know God’s truth (vv. 25-27).


How can I apply Romans 16:17-27 to my life?

In the concluding section of Paul's letter to the Roman Christians, he provides some final exhortations to guide this community of believers. He knew that they would face threats of false teaching and divisions which could undermine their faith. He also wanted to express appreciation for the men and women through whom Christ had blessed and shaped this church. Above all, Paul ends his letter with a stirring reminder of the glory, power, and wisdom of the only true God displayed through the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Even centuries later, these culminating principles and applications still resound for followers of Jesus. By taking them to heart, we can nourish unity, cultivate wisdom, honor faith-building disciple makers, and exalt our gracious and mighty God. As those redeemed by Christ Jesus, we must filter all teaching and influences through the lens of Scripture, pursue spiritual maturity, appreciate those God uses to equip us, and bring all glory to the One whose power and wisdom transforms lives. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

1.    Avoid False Teachers Who Serve Themselves Rather than the Lord (vv. 17-18): Paul strongly warns the Roman believers to turn away from those causing disunity and offense in the church by promoting false teachings for their own gain rather than for Christ's glory. As followers of Jesus, we must be discerning and avoid such dangerous influences that can fracture church communities and mislead believers. Instead of listening to self-serving voices, we must focus on the truth of the gospel message. As we apply this, we first need to humbly examine our own hearts and motivations to ensure we are not promoting controversies and divisions. Our words and actions should aim to serve others, not selfish ambitions. We also must lovingly but firmly turn away from so-called Christian teachers who contradict or distort biblical truths for personal recognition or profit. Their smooth arguments may temporarily appeal to our own pride or desires. But false teaching ultimately divides believers and dishonors God by turning attention away from Christ. We can avoid such deception by grounding ourselves in scriptural truth through Bible study, godly counsel, and the Spirit's guidance. Then we can wisely discern truth from falsehoods that harm the unity and witness of the church. Staying rooted in God's Word and God's people protects us from the infections of false teaching (2 John 7-11; Titus 1:10-11; 2 Peter 2:1-3)

Food for Thought: What habits or practices help me consistently discern truth from false teachings? What divisive influences do I need to turn away from or confront in my church?

2.    Be Wise in What is Good and Innocent in What is Evil (v. 19): As followers of Christ, we are called to model wisdom, innocence, and humility before God and others. Rather than boasting of their superiority, the truly wise exhibit childlike faith and hunger for righteousness. After warning against divisive voices in the church, Paul urges the believers in Rome to focus on innocence and virtue. In practice, this requires aiming our minds away from evil, quarrels, or Impurity, instead pursuing what is noble, right, pure, and admirable. The wisdom from above is evident by righteous living, not just head knowledge. We can cultivate this wisdom by regularly immersing ourselves in God's Word and relying on the Spirit's guidance in applying it to life. The innocence Paul commends is not naivety, but harmlessness and integrity empowered by grace to reject wickedness and cling to the good. As we walk closely with Jesus, wise innocence will overflow into peacemaking, mercy, and compassion in a broken world. We will also humbly acknowledge that any wisdom and righteousness we show springs from Christ's transforming work in us (Philippians 4:8-9; Matthew 5:8; James 3:13-18).

Food for Thought: What habits or practices help me regularly pursue spiritual wisdom and innocence? Do I boast in my own wisdom, or humbly rely on Christ to make me righteous?

3.    Acknowledge Those Who Have Contributed to Your Spiritual Journey (vv. 21-24): In the midst of dealing with weighty theological matters, Paul takes time to acknowledge and greet many people who have played a role in his ministry. He refers to them as fellow workers, beloved ones, relatives and brothers and sisters who have served the gospel mission and church faithfully through partnership, labor, imprisonment, or leadership. Among the diverse names, Paul honors several women who have worked hard or risked much in serving Christ. As we apply this, we should follow Paul’s model by expressing gratitude for those God has put in our lives to impact our faith journey. We can reflect on teachers, pastors, family, and friends who have prayed for us, challenged us to grow, provided wisdom, or served as godly examples to emulate. Even people we take for granted likely contributed convictions or experiences that shaped our walk with Jesus. Letting significant people know we are thankful for their spiritual investment is an act of honor and encouragement. And when we encounter fellow Christians who are persevering under trial or tirelessly serving others for the sake of the gospel, we can send words of affirmation - reminding them that their labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7; 1 Corinthians 15:58).

Food for Thought: Who is someone I can thank today for positively impacting my faith? How can I affirm those persevering in gospel ministry?

4.    Glorify the Only Wise God Through Jesus Christ (vv. 25-27): Paul concludes his letter with a powerful doxology, glorifying the "only wise God" for the remarkable work of salvation and sanctification accomplished through Jesus Christ. This outburst of praise reminds us that the Almighty God deserves all glory and honor for designing the gracious gospel message and program by which the power of sin is broken, and we are transformed into His righteousness. Our limitless, perfect, and just Creator does not act or speak unwisely - and so we must trust in and glorify the wisdom of His plan of redemption. As those transformed by grace, we apply this passage by regularly exalting God's wisdom and glory revealed in the gospel of Christ with songs, prayers, awe, and gratitude. Only His mighty wisdom could perfectly satisfy justice while showing mercy. As we grow in understanding Scripture, we should increasingly magnify the multi-faceted wisdom of God displayed in the person and work of Jesus for our salvation. Our lives, words, and worship should resound with doxologies that echo Paul's poignant expressions of praise toward the God who alone is wise. All glory belongs to Him who offers eternal life through Jesus (Psalm 104:24; Jude 1:25; Revelation 7:12).

Food for Thought: How can I grow in magnifying and marveling at God's wisdom this week? What specific aspect of God's wise plan of salvation can I praise Him for today?

Paul's concluding exhortations to the Roman church underscore key truths for us as Christ-followers. We must reject teachings causing divisions, instead pursuing wisdom and innocence empowered by God's Spirit through immersion in Scripture. We should gratefully acknowledge those used by God to disciple us in the faith. And we must resound with doxologies that glorify the all-wise God for the gracious gospel of salvation offered through Christ alone. As those transformed by amazing grace, may we pass these principles on through our words, actions, influence and worship.



Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that You would give me discernment to turn away from false or divisive philosophies that contradict biblical truth. I ask You to nurture spiritual wisdom in me as I regularly study Your Word with an open heart, relying on Your Spirit's guidance. Please bring to my mind people You have used to positively impact my walk with Christ so that I can thank them. I pray for grace to live continually overflowing with praise that glorifies You alone for the remarkable wisdom revealed in Christ's sacrifice that redeems all who believe.

I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.


Romans 16:27 – “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”


With His Blessings,

Pastor Corby

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