WHEN GOOD THINGS START HAPPENING by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
After almost two years, we have come to the end of our series on the Book of Romans. If you did not get a chance to be with us, you can listen to the messages on our website or through podcast. This morning we are in Romans chapter 16 for our last message titled, “WHEN GOOD THINGS START HAPPENING.” Anytime things begin to move forward in your life, home, work, or church, be careful. Don’t get caught up in the success syndrome. Don’t be naïve or complacent. You’re about to get hit. This is the time that you need to be most on guard.
Romans 16:17-20 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Overall Background: If I were writing the book of Romans, I would have chosen a different ending. I would’ve either summarized the main points or ended with a memorable quote or even left the readers with some wonderful promise. But Paul didn’t do any of that. Instead, he ended the letter with a grim warning. Listen to verse 17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
What an anticlimactic way of ending an otherwise glorious letter. Paul went from talking about spiritual things to dealing with earthly, sensual, demonic behavior. Why did Paul do that? Paul knew that the church in Rome was doing great. Listen to verse 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. Meaning: I know that good things are happening in your church. You seemed to have reached the mountaintop. You are no longer in the valley. That is good but now don’t get complacent. Now you are in the place of high visibility. Now you are a target. Now you are walking around with a big bulls eye on your back. As long as you were obscure, walking in the valley, you were safe. But now you are exposed. This is not the time for the victory dance. In fact, this is the time to be on guard more than ever.
Application: God has been doing some amazing things at Clearview. We are somewhere near the mountaintop. I don’t think we have reached the top yet. There are much greater things on the way. But did you know that right now we are the most vulnerable. This is the time when the Enemy wants to sneak in. This is not the time to lay down our guard and rest. This is the time to be more careful than ever.
By the way, it is the same principle in our personal lives. We are more vulnerable when we are near the mountaintop. I was talking to someone the other day about a leader who was just on the up and up. Nothing could have prepared me for what I heard. He had lost his work, lost his marriage, and lost his family. It’s what Rick Warren calls the “Lesson of the whale: When you get to the top and start to blow, that’s when you get harpooned.”
Let’s see how God’s Word helps us to guard ourselves as a church and also in our individual lives.
I. REJECT THOSE WHO BRING DISTRACTIONS.
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned,
Background: Paul begs them to be careful about those who try to bring distractions in the church – distractions from the message of the cross; distractions from the focus on Jesus Christ; distractions from reaching people with the gospel. How do they do that? They come in with some strange doctrine. They start with some unnecessary conflict. They incite some petty debate. “How many angels can dance on the point of a needle?” “Whether our hair and nails will grow after the Resurrection?” Paul warns them to reject all such debates and stick to the teachings “which you learned.”
What are the teachings? Teachings are what Paul has been talking about. God is holy. Human beings are sinful. Jesus came into this world as promised by God since the beginning of time. He died on the cross for the sins of every single person. All we have to do is look to Him and trust His sacrifice on the cross as our only plan of salvation. Now the Holy Spirit has come to dwell inside of us. We are to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is a literal heaven and a literal hell. Jesus is coming once again for His bride the church. He can come any moment. I can go on and on. But those are the teachings that you have learned.
What Paul is saying here is look out for people who come with a different belief than what you have learned from God’s Word. They usually come in by stealth. They appear spiritual and godly and pious but they’re really not. They are dangerous. They like prominence, power, and position. They are looking for some kind of controversy. They love to prey on the simple minded. They love to find some point of contention and before long they start brewing trouble. Before you know it the church is divided and confused. As Phil Hoskins said yesterday, “You can’t fish and fight at the same time.”
For e.g. We had a guy like that in our church back home. He had taken some correspondence classes and wanted his own class. My dad was young in ministry and he gave it to him. Before long he was contradicting what my dad was preaching. When the leaders removed him from the position, he decided to start a church in his home. He began to invite people from church to attend his house church. Sadly, he pulled many naïve families into his web.
How should we treat these people? 17…note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Background: Paul through the Holy Spirit does not tell the Roman Christians to learn to get along. He does not say, “live and let live.” To the contrary, he says, “When such people come to you, shun them.” Don’t associate with them. This is very hard for some Christians to do. We are afraid to hurt feelings.
Listen carefully – we’ve had some come through these doors as well. Some of the leaders may know that I had to apply Romans 16:17. It was not fun. Some People did not understand. They thought Pastor Shah is jealous or he is mean or he is harsh or a dozen other reasons.
Application: Clearview – we are at a critical point in our church’s life. Be careful of these troublemakers. Let me apply it to your individual lives – there are some people who are coming into your life right now whose intentions are not very clean. Either win them to Jesus or cut ties.
II. REMEMBER THE COMMAND OF OUR MASTER JESUS CHRIST.
18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
Background: Right there is the crux of the matter. “Serve our Lord Jesus Christ.” First, let’s look at the title “Lord.” It is a confusing word for a lot of people. It is the Greek word “kurios” – a translation of the Old Testament Hebrew word “Yahweh.” What does it mean? It means master, supreme authority, king, owner.
How about Jesus? Jesus – is again a confusing word. It comes from the Hebrew word “Joshua” meaning Yahweh saves. Meaning: This master, supreme authority, king, owner is also God who saves or rescues.
How about Christ? This again is a confusing word. It’s the Greek word for Messiah – the Promised One, the Anointed One.
So the meaning of Lord Jesus Christ means God who came to save us as promised by Him from the beginning.
What is the purpose of the church? It’s not to get wrapped up in petty arguments but serve this God. Serving Him means doing what He wants to do. What did Jesus come to do? Luke 4:17-19 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” What did He tell his disciples in the end? Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Do you know what the slogan of Clearview is “MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE.” Our mission is “to lead all people to a life changing and ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Application: That’s what we are called to do as a church and as an individual. It is very easy to loose this focus. My purpose as a pastor is to constantly remind you of this.
III. RECOGNIZE THE ENEMY BEHIND THE SCENES.
20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Background: What Paul is really saying here is that behind all these distractions and compromise, there is a shadowy figure. He is Satan.
I am hesitant to preach this passage. Pray for me. I’ve heard too many Christians torn to pieces, too many churches destroyed because they decided to take on Satan in their own strength and power. They say things like – “Let’s stomp on the Devil.” “Let’s chase the Devil.”
You do not challenge the enemy in your own strength and power. Listen again – 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
For e.g. A Church in a 30-mile radius decided to declare war against the Devil. Today it doesn’t exist.
Jude 8-9 8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Acts 19:11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
I am not telling you to fear – 1 John 4:4 “…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Fast and Pray and be clean and close to Jesus.