Monday, 24 February 2014
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. Romans 16:19
“For” refers back to the previous two verses. What he said about “those who cause divisions and offenses” precipitates this admonition. By staying away from such ungodly people, they had thus far been able to keep free from stain and they had grown in Christ, being faithful and obedient to their calling. In order to keep them on that track, the words of this doctrinal epistle were shared with them. We know this is certain because in Romans 1:8, he said this –
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Their “faith” was “spoken of throughout the whole world” and now he states that their “obedience has become known to all.” He is tying the two together. Being obedient is to remain faithful. Thus the epistle was given to them to bolster their faith and keep them on a sound path. Every portion of the letter is directed to faith. Even those things which could be considered “works” are not works of obligation, but works of faith. This is the attitude that Paul desired in them always.
In order to spur them onto this, he states “therefore.” This word asks us to go back and review what it is there for. In this case, it is referring directly to the first thought of the verse – “For your obedience has become known to all.” Because of this, “Therefore I am glad on your behalf.” He is rejoicing in the recognition the Romans had earned through their faithful obedience.
His words here would be comparable to a letter from, for example, Billy Graham. In the letter he applauds the church for its high rate of conversions to Christ. This would be most notable because Billy Graham is an evangelist. Being noted for great evangelistic efforts by a great evangelist would be a note of high commendation. This is similar to what Paul is saying to the Romans.
However, despite his happiness, he adds in a warning… “But I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Hence, he gave them the warning in verses 17 & 18. By highlighting these ungodly people with their perverse agenda and then contrasting it to the recognition of those in Rome, he was hoping to instill in them how to not let their faith diminish or get sidetracked. In his admonition, he uses the same type of thought as Jesus used when speaking to the disciples he was sending out in Israel –
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
Like them, Paul desired the Romans to be wise in all things good, but be harmless and simple in faithful obedience.
Life application: Our work can be summed up in one verse from the Lord’s mouth – “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). Everything that we do in Christ and for Christ is either based on our faith in Him and what He has done, or it is not a work that can be credited to our account. Have faith in Him and set your heart and attitude on doing those things which are based on that precious faith.
Heavenly Father, my confidence in coming to You is based solely on the merits of Jesus my Lord. I know that there is no thing I can do to add to His work. My hope, my trust, and my heart belong to Jesus. What could I add to make me more right with you? Notta thing. He is my all-sufficient Savior! Hallelujah and Amen.