ROMANS 16:19-20: “But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What am I focusing on each day? Am I focusing on the good, or am I allowing myself to become entangled in the affairs and wisdom of the world? Is my life marked by a singleness of purpose and heart, or am I being pulled in a myriad of directions?
Paul shares his concern with the believers in Rome as he closes his letter to them. In these closing remarks, he warns them to stay away from those who cause division in the church and who are motivated by their selfish ambition and desires.
- “And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” Romans 16:17-18 NLT
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he referred to this as being blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Winds are blowing in the church to distract us from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ and winds are blowing in the world. Paul pivots to the winds of this present world when he writes,
- “I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong.”
We can ascertain that Paul is referring to this present world system because he reminds them of Christ’s coming victory over Satan.
- “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
When I read these verses I wonder – “Does this apply to me?” Am I in need of this exhortation? Is my life becoming compromised by the wisdom of the world which is contrary to the wisdom of God? It is time that I took an honest inventory of my life!
When Paul exhorts all believers to “…stay innocent of any wrong,” he is not calling us to hide our heads in the sand. We would have to leave this world to escape the constant 24/7 cycle of bad news and ungodly influences that fill the airwaves and are unfolding all around us. How do we “…stay innocent…” of these things?
The word that is translated – “innocent,” literally means unmixed. Paul is not suggesting that we can escape the knowledge of these things. He is exhorting us to stay “unmixed” with them in our Christian life. We cannot escape them, but we can choose to avoid them, stop them at the door of our hearts, and refuse to allow them to become a part of our thought life.
The only way I have found success in doing this is by focusing on the truth. This is what I believe Paul was referring to when he said – “I want you to be wise in doing right…”. When I am focused on hiding the Word of God in my heart, obeying the Word of God in my actions, and speaking the Word of God in my circumstances – I don’t have time or the opportunity to get “mixed up” with the entanglements of this world or its deceptions.
There is something wonderful that happens when we are abiding in the truth. We lose interest in the temptations of the flesh. We become inoculated against the deceptions of the enemy. And, we walk in spiritual discernment and we can test the spirits to see if they are really from God! The truth is the greatest weapon we have to keep us from getting “mixed up” with wrong thinking and living.
There is one more practical application that must be mentioned. While we are not called to understand and become wise in the things of darkness, we must be wise in the crafty ways the enemy tries to sow these things into our lives. One of the key weapons he uses is the media. Subtle deceptions, discouragment, doubt, misinformation, temptation, and ungodly social morals – are all communicated through the media. If we are careless in the choices we make concerning what media we partake of, we will find it an uphill battle in staying “unmixed” from that which is wrong.
We are living in the last days before Christ’s return. The enemy of our souls is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to kill, steal, and destroy. He is attacking individuals, families, and churches. He wants to render our lives powerless and ineffective in sharing the Gospel. If he can get us “mixed up” in the wrong things he knows we will become misdirected and self-centered. Our attention will no longer be to reach the world for Christ. And, our lights will be dimmed or extinguished.
I need to hear Paul’s exhortation today more than ever. I need to live a life that is “unmixed” with the wisdom of the world. I need to be wise in doing what is right. I need to surrender my heart, renew my mind, and commit my way to the Lord. This is not a time for faltering and fear. This is a time for faith and courage.
Lord, help me to live for what is right today! Give me grace to abide in Your truth!
In Jesus Name!