S (Scripture) – Romans 16:17-18 “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. 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.”
O (Observation) – Lord, the choice of words in the NASB are rich in complexity. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, dissensions are defined as “partisan and contentious quarreling, a state marked by a lack of agreement or harmony, and implies strife or discord while stressing a division into factions.” Hindrances are things that “interfere or slow down the progress of someone.” The fact is that there are people within the church that are used by the enemy to intentionally cause disruption and attempt to cripple a community of faith under the weight of disunity. In John 17:21, one of the final prayers of Jesus was that His church would be one, even as He and You are one. Instead of following after You and Your kingdom, these people are driven by their own desires, or appetites – the worldly and fleshly passions that can only fester when one has fallen in love with this world and forgotten who You are. Flattering is defined as “encouraging or gratifying especially with the assurance that something is right.” Oftentimes, the people causing dissension firmly believe that they know more about a matter than You, and in so knowing, apparently have the ability to change what is true and what is false; what is right, and what is wrong. Isaiah heeds the warning, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Lastly, these people will ultimately deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting; in other words, those “unaware of any danger or threat.”
A (Application) – We need to be aware that there is a very real danger and threat at work. The word of God is inerrant, perfect, complete, and one of the primary ways that the Holy Spirit communicates with us. As such, it is constantly under attack by those trying to undermine its authenticity and authority. These same people will at the very least attempt to make it seem irrelevant to living in today’s society. The Christian worldview should be firmly rooted in the word of God. We cannot be “cafeteria Christians,” only picking the parts of the word that we feel are true and applicable to our lives while ignoring the rest. If something seems like it does not make sense while we are reading, make a note of it and dive deeper. Research it. Study it. Pray for wisdom and the Holy Spirit will lead you to answers and explanations. Don’t just dismiss something in the word because it seems difficult to understand. That is how we grow and mature in the Lord – through intentionally seeking His face, wanting to know anything and everything He has to say, and trusting Him to provide the knowledge and wisdom we seek. If someone around you attempts to cause dissension and has no interest in really knowing the truth of the word, it is best not to argue with that person. Respectfully have a conversation and pray for them. It is imperative to be relentless in our pursuit of truth and never lacking in grace for others; however, there is a time to discuss and a time to turn away.
P (Prayer) – Holy Spirit, come now. Flood our hearts with truth, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, and guard our hearts from those with smooth and flattering speech that contradict Your word. Help us to grow and mature in our confidence of the word so that whenever we hear someone proclaim “truth,” we can immediately know for sure whether or not it is. Thank You for never leaving us and for being our wonderful Counselor on this journey of life.