SUBTITLE: Don't mess with another person's wife!
What would you think about someone who intentionally tried to mess with another person’s wife (or husband)? Well, unless you have some really messed up moral issues, that would infuriate you. What if that was YOUR spouse? I want you to think about marriage for a moment. Not necessarily your marriage, or one of someone else, but the concept of marriage as it should be. The husband loves his wife with a love reserved for non other. It is a passionate love, a fierce love and a rightly jealous love. We love our wives in a way no other person is allowed to love them. That means we have no tolerance for anyone messing with our spouse.
We must understand the image of the Church as Christ's bride to understand why Paul gives such a harsh warning
That is what happens when we cause problems in our local church. We must understand the image of the Church as Christ’s bride to understand why Paul gives such a harsh warning in Romans 16:17-20. Here he writes:
“17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”
Did you see that? There are people who cause trouble in the local church and they are in great peril. We see again, this same principle in Proverbs 16:
These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
Have nothing to do with them? That seems a bit strong, no? But is it the right action considering the fact that the Church is Christ’s bride (which was bought at a horrible and glorious price).
What can we gather about trouble makers in a local church
1- They are unregenerate (unsaved). Paul writes that they do not serve the Lord. Jesus makes it clear that the born again are concerned supremely with unity (John 17: count how many times Jesus says we should be 1). Unsaved people care little for unity, but are susceptible to causing issues.
Unsaved people care little for unity, but are susceptible to causing issues.
2- They seek the approval of others. More to the point, they gain the approval of the weak (V18). This comes in the form of the phone campaign, or email campaign. The trouble maker tries to build a base of “support” (here I commend the account of Korah in Numbers 16). The mentality is that might makes right, and if I have enough support, my way wins. So take that!
3- God calls us to obedience in respect to this harsh command (V19). The hard things about this kind of obedience is that we usually have some sort of relationship to the trouble maker. A family member or a close friend may be the culprit, and our temptation is to disobey the Scripture. Obedience is discipleship and worship, disobedience is sin.
The purity of the Church hinges mightily upon peace and unity. For as the Scripture does say:
“How good and how pleasant is it for brothers to dwell in unity and peace!” Psalm 133:1
A church that is unified around Scriptural truth:
-Demonstrates the forgiving boundless love of God
-Demonstrates the truthfulness of the Gospel
-Demonstrates the power of God’s indwelling Spirit
-Demonstrates the Holiness of God
Again, back to our analogy. Can you fathom a time when you might decide to divide a husband from his bride, just for the sake of yourself? If you have any ethical underpinning, the answer is no. But can you imagine that someone is God, whose name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)? That is both absurd, and terribly dangerous.
Don’t be a divisive trouble maker in your local church, and deal rightly with those who are. Eternity depends on it.