|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|In these verses, Paul in closing his letter, warns that there are going to be those who are going to come in and try and compromise the truth he has taught the Roman believers.|
Isn’t it wonderful to be in the epilogue of a book and find gems of truth that you normally would not think were there? Sometimes we have the tendency, or I do, to just skip the last part of a book when the author’s signing off. But oh, the truth that we have found in chapters 15 and 16 of Romans.
As a matter of fact, the title of this chapter is just a simple word, “Beware.” I thank the Lord for the fact that Paul put this warning where he did at the end of this book. He’s been talking about all of the faithful people whom God has used to effect the ministry to the Gentiles. Then he just simply stops for a moment and says, “By the way, I need you to focus on something.” He gives the church in Rome a warning. One of the toughest things to understand about the Christian walk is that not everybody who comes to church, not everybody who hangs with Christians, not everybody who names the name of Christ, can be trusted. That’s difficult because sometimes they use all the catch-all words. “I mean, he mentions Jesus and this person is awfully nice to me. This person must really be a believer.” Be very careful. The Apostle Paul is going to tell us why. There are those who are out to bring division and destruction to the body of Christ.
Now Paul, in closing his letter, understands this and he wants no one to come in and compromise the truth that he has taught the Roman believers. He warns that there are going to be those who are going to try to do just that. As a matter of fact, I kind of feel like Paul has the same heart that he had back in Acts 20 when he called the elders of Ephesus down to the island named Miletus and he signed out with them, basically telling them he would not see them again. But he had the same burden there that he has here in writing the book of Romans.
Turn back to Acts 20:28. The Apostle Paul knew that as soon as he was out of sight there would be those who would come in and try to destroy the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ that he had taught them. I’m jumping right into a context but I want to do that to let you see the heartbeat that Paul had when he wrote this. He says in verse 28, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore [he tells these elders], be on alert.”
You see the elders were assigned to watch over the flock, to guide them biblically, to guard them biblically, and to graze them upon God’s Word. He tells them to look out. Verse 31 continues, “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Then he says in verse 32 what they can do. He says, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace [that’s the message], which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
That same heartbeat that he had for these elders over the church at Ephesus is the same heartbeat he has now over the believers in Rome. Paul was aware that there would be those who would come in and try to compromise God’s message of grace causing people to lose their freedom in Christ, the power to do as God wants them to do. He had taught them about sin in the first part of Romans. He had taught us and them that no man can earn his way into Heaven, that all men are born sinners, depraved. Nothing that I can do is worthy in God’s eyes. That’s what he taught us about sin. He taught them about salvation by grace, what man cannot do. Jesus, God’s Son, came to this earth, became a man and died. He fulfilled the law and, not only that, but also paid our sin debt upon the cross, resurrected the third day and ascended. It’s through Jesus Christ man is saved. When you put your faith into Jesus Christ what He did is now written to your account. You’re no longer guilty. That’s what it means to be justified by faith. He didn’t drop the charges. He took the charges on Himself and paid the penalty for us.
He taught about sanctification. He taught us how the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, comes to live in a believer when he puts his faith into Jesus. It is that Spirit that sanctifies us, that makes us holy. The way we’re saved is the way we’re sanctified, by God’s grace and by His work. He taught us about the security we have in Christ Jesus. He taught us that the Spirit of God is so in us that there’s no way we can ever be separated. Therefore, God has already looked ahead and seen us glorified. Even though we’re in the process, God already sees it finished. We’re secure, as Ephesians says, all the way through. We’re kept and guarded until the day of redemption. He taught us about the sovereignty of God and salvation. Have you ever seen these little bumper stickers, “I Found Jesus”? I’m sorry, friend. No, you didn’t. Jesus found you. That’s Romans 9 through 11. He taught us that He knew us before we were ever born. He taught us about serving Christ in Romans 12 and as we serve Him presenting our bodies as living sacrifices in turn we will become sensitive and we’ll become servant hearted to others.
That’s been the message that he’s given to the Roman believers. He says that there are going to be those who will come in that will seek to undermine the message that I have preached to you. His central focus was Jesus. I guarantee He becomes the attack of all the deceivers who are around us. Paul says to beware and be on the alert. You know, this is a pattern that Satan has used all through history. In the Old Testament there were false prophets. In the New Testament there are false teachers. If you’ve ever studied the book of Galatians you know that somebody had gotten into the Galatian church. Paul had to write them and say, “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” He had to straighten out the mess. Somebody got among them and said, “Grace is not enough. Jesus is not enough. You need to be circumcised. You need to do this. You need to do that.” The people lost their freedom and went right back under the bondage to their flesh.
In the book of Colossians, Paul had to write to the church of Colossae. The Gnostic heresy had gotten among them. The Gnostics say that Jesus is not our redeemer. The Gnostics said that there were other ways of salvation, through knowledge, mystical knowledge, and this knowledge does not come from the Word of God. It came from the mystics of that day. Paul had to write and untangle the mess that these false teachers had made in the church of Colossae. He did so by bringing them back to their sufficiency in Jesus Christ.
In the church of Thessalonica Paul had to write to them to help correct the area in their eschatology. Somebody came in amongst them and told them they were in the day of the Lord. A lot of tribulation and a lot of affliction was going on at that time, and this person said the reason was because they were in the day of the Lord. “The wrath of God is falling on you.” Paul had to write and say, “No. As believers you’re not destined for wrath. Receive the lamb. God’s wrath fell upon the lamb. If you have received the lamb, the wrath is not destined for you. The day of the Lord could not have in any way come.”
He had to write Timothy and tell Timothy of the deceivers and false teachers who would come in latter days. It’s always been this way, folks. So it’s nothing new. What Paul is simply saying is that when the truth is preached, Satan always has his people who somehow come in to deceive others and to destroy and erode what that truth has done in people’s hearts.
You know, heresy is kind of like water that runs up against a dam. If that dam is not carefully inspected and over and over reinforced, that water begins to wear on that concrete. After a while it’ll wear a hole in it and that little trickle of water that first comes through is just the signal of a flood that is on its way. That’s the way false doctrine is in a church. You crack the door open. You let a trickle of it get in and there’s a flood behind it that’s on its way. That’s never been any different. So the Apostle Paul says, “You beware of these false teachers who are coming amongst you.”
Now the protection that we have, and I hope you’ve heard this, is Romans 12:1-2. If I’ll live daily surrendering my life to Jesus, renewing my mind in the Word of God and allowing Him to transform my character, then God’s going to put a grid in my mind through which I can make decisions and have great discernment as to what I’m hearing, whether it be of God or whether it isn’t of God. You remember back when the contemporary music scene came along? I wasn’t a real fan of that. I like classical music. I like music that has great integrity. I love orchestra music. I love that kind of thing.
Well, my kids started wanting to go hear some of the concerts that were goingon. We had some long, lengthy discussions about it, and I came to realize a lot of it is just flat out taste. I understood that. I understand when I was growing up there was a certain kind of music that we liked. I liked bluegrass. We finally came to a place that we realized that yes a lot of it is just simply what you like. But we came to a place that if the method of music destroys the message that you’re trying to get across, automatically it’s wrong. The message that you’re getting across must somehow be documented by God’s Word. Then you have the discernment to realize this is of God. It may sound good, but it’s not of God. Unless you develop a walk in the Word of God, unless you develop that grid in your mind, then you will not have the proper discernment to know if this is right or if this is wrong.
That’s the same exact thing Paul has been telling us in Romans. You may not give the Word of God the time of day. If you’re not going to live out of the Word, you are a target for deception. I’ll go a step further. You’re already deceived, and you don’t even know it. You have bought into a lie. It’s no wonder you’re not living in the freedom of Christ. Only when you come to the Word can you even know what is of Him and what is not of Him.
With that in mind, there is a protection that Paul has already told us we have from chapter 12 up to where we are right now in Romans. Understand why Paul brings this warning. There are two things that I want to show you in verses 17 and 18. Let’s read these verses and then we’ll take them apart. First of all we’re going to talk about what these false teachers do and secondly what they’re like. It’s a simple message but something I think we need to hear. Verse 17 says, “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.”
That little word in the first phrase there, “keep your eye on,” is the word skopeo. We get “scope” from that word. As a matter of fact, we get the words “telescope” and “microscope” also. Now, I’m going to spend some time on this word because I want you to understand what he’s saying. It’s not a casual glance. It’s not something you think of here or maybe there. It’s something that’s on your mind all of the time. Who is coming against the message of God’s truth and robbing people of the freedom they have in Jesus Christ?
Jesus used this word over in Luke 11:35. He warns them and says, “Make sure that what you’re calling light is truly light and not darkness.” He says in verse 35, “Then watch out [the word “watch out” is skopeo] that the light in you may not be darkness.” In other words, you make sure you give close attention to this. You examine it greatly.
Paul uses the word to the Corinthian believers to tell them to examine the things that are unseen not the things that are seen. He says in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “while we look not at the things which are seen [the word “look not” is skopeo] but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Paul uses the same word in Galatians 6:1. It’s in the context when you see your brother in a wrong and then he says for you to go to him. Verse 1 says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; (now watch this) each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” “Looking to” is the word skopeo.
What I’m trying to get across is this is not a casual glance. This is a part of the routine activity of a believer living out of Romans 12:1-2. Protect the doctrine. Be careful about the doctrine. There are people who say doctrine doesn’t matter. Oh yes it does. If you’re not going to base your life and your faith on what God’s Word says, you’re going to start basing it on experience. You’re going to start basing it on emotion. You’re going to start basing it on what is nothing more than a lie from the devil himself, and that will rob you of the freedom you have in Jesus Christ.
Paul said to the Philippian believers in Philippians 2:4, “do not merely look out [there’s the word skopeo] for your own personal interests but also for the interest of others.” I guarantee you when it comes to your personal interests you don’t just give them a glance. It’s something you pay close attention to them. That’s the word he uses.
He also says to the Philippian believers to watch those people who are obedient to Christ. It says in Philippians 3:17, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” This is in the present tense so this is something that is to be done every day of our life. Close examination, paying close attention. Is this what God’s Word says? I want to tell you something. Deception is really just that. It’s deception. I’m not deceived to something that is obvious. I’m deceived by something which is so close to the truth it looks real. Therefore, I’ve got to pay close attention to what I’m hearing.
The phrase, “those who cause dissensions and hindrances,” in Romans 16:17 to me is very important to understand. The word “cause,” and I know I’m oversimplifying it, means happen. In other words, these hindrances, these dissensions wouldn’t be there if someone was not behind them. I don’t know how many times I’ve had pastors come to me and say, “There’s division in my church. There are factions in my church. There are people who are taking a stand against what I’m teaching. What’s going on?” I can tell them what’s going on. Somebody in that church filled with the devil himself is coming against the truth and causing people to turn astray. It goes back to somebody. The devil uses people just like God uses people. And the way he uses them is to bring division and dissensions and hindrances.
The word “dissension” comes from two words in the Greek, dis, which means twice, again, and stasis, which means to place yourself or here it means dissension. People who cause factions within the church take a stand against the truth of God. Now, we’re to keep an eye on people who are causing this kind of thing, people who are outside the Word of God who are leading people astray.
It’s interesting to me that the Apostle Paul uses that word “dissensions” in the line-up of what we can attribute to the flesh in Galatians 5:20. This is in the list of things that are works of the flesh. He says, “idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions.” It’s right in the list there of what the flesh does. So we see immediately the outcome of what these people do.
The word “hindrances” is the word skandalon. I want to camp out on that for aminute. Skandalon is the word that really means the trigger of a trap. Now, get thisin your mind here. There’s another word for trap but this word here means the actual thing that sets the trap off. Have you ever tried to catch a mouse around your house? You know how you pull that trigger back and it has a plate on it and that little plate is where you put the bait. Now, don’t put cheese on it because mice have been around for a while. Put peanut butter on it. Crunchy peanut butter, they love the stuff. You put that on there. A mouse comes up and the moment that mouse touches that bait it’s on a hair trigger and immediately the trap comes shut.
You’ve got to think in your mind, skandalon, that little hair trigger trap that is being set among believers in order to deceive them, to snare them. The word skandalon carries with it the idea of not just being entrapped but also the idea of the conduct of one who has been entrapped. Now that tells you something. What Paul is saying is when you start seeing people act against the truth, when you start seeing people in factions rising up within the church, pinpoint it. Somebody in that place has fed a lie to somebody else and has entrapped them in their snare. As a result their behavior has radically changed from what it used to be.
Well, in verse 17 it says, “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.” What’s the teaching that they had learned from Paul and from other apostles? We really don’t know who had an affect upon those people in Rome. Paul said, “That which has been taught to you by God’s anointed, you adhere to, you stay to. These people are going to teach contrary against the teaching in which you have learned.” Paul says to turn away from it. The word, “turn away from,” ekklino, means turn aside, turn away, shun them, walk away from them. One of the most dangerous things you can do, folks, is when somebody walks up to your door professing to have the truth, is allow them into your home. The scripture says don’t even sit down and fellowship with them. Get away from them. Run from them. Turn away from them. Because unless you are more solid that what you think you are, some of these people can tie you around a tree. The Mormons have said that Southern Baptists are their biggest prey because they don’t have a clue about what they believe.
These people are rampant, folks. They’re everywhere. The spectrum of false people is so broad. The way that is narrow leads to life. But there’s a way that is broad that leads to destruction. You can just lap all kinds of deceivers into that. You can take a legalist in a church and put him into that category. You can take the antinomians that Paul dealt with in Rome and put them in that category. You can take the cultists, they’re all in that category. They’re trying to get us to believe a lie that leads us away from the message of grace that leads apart from the centrality of Christ. Immediately that will imprison us back again to our flesh. He says for you get away from them. You shun them. You turn away from them. This is the way we’re to treat them because we now know what they do. They’re there to cause dissension and ensnare people in their trap. Watch the radical change in a person’s behavior who has been deceived and all of a sudden they become hateful. All of a sudden they become arrogant and defensive and everything else. Look out. Somebody’s fed them a lie they have bought into. They have been ensnared in the trap of a false teacher.
Well, secondly, he shows you what they’re like. First of all he tells you what they do. Secondly, he shows you what they’re like. Verse 18 says, “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.” So the men Paul is talking about are men who are out to deceive the believers, and they’re good at what they do. Folks, I can’t get this across enough to you. They are good at what they do. I want to tell you something. When it’s false doctrine, they have their own grid. It’s not the grid of the Word of God, and they will not allow you into it. As a matter of fact, they will not answer your questions. They want you to answer theirs. They’re always on the offensive. You can never get them on the defensive. They’re good at what they do. They have rehearsed this and rehearsed this. We have got to know the Word of God, folks. We have got to know it.
He says, “For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites.” Now the word “slave” is the word we have seen already in Romans. Paul says, “I’m a slave to Jesus Christ.” They’re not. They’re quite different than what we’re talking about what we should be. They’re slaves of their appetites. The word for “appetite” is an interesting word. It’s the word koilia, which comes from the word meaning hollow. You get the sense of the word that they can’t ever be filled. Their appetites are insatiable. They keep trying to fill them, but they just won’t get filled.
Isn’t that the way it is? Any time we go after flesh, it’s always insatiable. It says in Proverbs, “The eyes of man are never satisfied.” That’s exactly right. If you’re not choosing to live Romans 12:1-2, then you’re choosing to satisfy your flesh. If you’re satisfying your flesh, you’re not satisfied right now. The more you get, the more you want. There’s no end to it. But when you are satisfied by the Spirit, that’s where real satisfaction comes, when you obey Him. That’s what the word “blessed” means. It means to be fully, totally satisfied from within.
Well, in Philippians 3:18, Paul says the same thing. He says, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” That’s what all of these are, enemies of the cross. Verse 19 continues, “whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” The King James translates the word “appetite” as “belly.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that every fat person you see is a false teacher. What he’s talking about is the appetites of man, the appetites of the flesh, that which they are seeking to satisfy, however they’re doing it. Metaphorically, that’s what it means.
In no way is a false teacher associated with our Christ. Now, here’s what I want you to see. When you’re dealing with a cultist, when you’re dealing with a person who’s totally against everything we represent, remember something. They do not even know our Christ, but they will always mention Christ. I want you to hear this.
Some of you are so gullible. I heard a lady one day tell me, “Wayne, don’t make such strong statements about some of these people because they talk about Jesus and they cry when they do it and they’re so sweet.” I thought, “Give me a place to throw up.” Is that where we are? Do we think that just because somebody sweetly says is and mentions Jesus he’s got to be a believer. Come on! Wake up! Get the Word in your brain and put that grid in there. If it doesn’t match the Word you get away from those people. Because they have an agenda, friend, and you are on their agenda.
The liberal mentions Christ. Everybody used to say they’re liberal. I say they’re lost. A liberal mentions Christ, but the Christ of the liberal is not our Christ because he’s not virgin born. Our Christ is virgin born. I want to tell some of these young people, when you get in an academic setting in a college or university, and someone walks in with seventeen degrees behind him, dragging them down the hall and makes some statement that comes right out of the pit of hell, don’t buy it. What does God say in His Word. Understand, you’ve got to beware there are people who are out to tear down the Christ of the Christianity that we have. In their academic way they say Christ was so good even His followers mistook Him and thought He was God. He was the world’s greatest ethical teacher the liberals say. He performed no miracles. The miracles were just exaggerations of events that could be explained by natural causes. He did not rise from the dead. So in no way is the Christ of the liberals our Christ. But they’ll mention Christ. They will mention Him.
The Mormons mention Christ. Have you seen their commercials? They say Jesus was the Son of Adam God and Mary. He was a polygamist who was secretly married to the Mary’s. Remember there are several Mary’s in scripture? His atonement had only to do with the sins of Adam and is not sufficient for our own personal sin. In no way is this our Christ.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses mention Christ. Oh yes. He was merely a son of God. Before He came into the Word they say He was only a created angel, namely Michael, the archangel. When He entered this life, He became a perfect being and nothing more. The ransom He offers does not guarantee eternal life to any man. He did not rise from the dead. According to the Watchtower we do not know what happened to the body of Jesus in Joseph’s tomb. Huh! In no way, friend, is this our Christ. We know exactly what happened to Him. He got up and walked out. That’s what happened. And He ascended one day off the Mount of Olives and the angels said, “As you’ve seen Him leave, you’re going to see Him come back to this earth.” We know exactly what happened to the body of Jesus. It rose from the dead.
The Christian Scientists mention Christ. He is merely a divine ideal. His blood was of no more avail when it was shed on the cross than when it flowed through His veins. He accommodated Himself to the immature ideas of His contemporaries and made great concessions to popular ignorance. In no way is this our Christ!
The Spiritualists mention a Christ. He’s nothing more than a medium of high order. He was not divine but is now an advanced spirit in the sixth sphere. Lord, help us. His death had no atoning value. He was simply a Jewish enthusiast who met an untimely death. In no way is this our Christ.
Who is our Christ? He’s the second person of the Godhead. He was supernaturally conceived of the Holy Ghost and was born of the virgin Mary. He lived an immaculate perfect life, claimed to be God, and proved that claim. His teachings were sublime, perfect, flawless, and He performed amazing miracles. He foretold His death exactly and was crucified just as He predicted. His death was vicarious. He suffered for the sins of the world and He alone can impart eternal life to those who trust in Him. He foretold His resurrection and rose again, physically and literally, the third day just like He said He would. He ascended, bodily, into heaven. He is seated today at God’s right hand from whence He will return to judge all men. This is our Christ. We must understand that.
The only God a false teacher knows is the god of his own self. That’s all he knows. He’ll name Christ. He’ll come in among us. But he is directly turned against the message of God’s grace and the Christ that came to effect it for us. He says, “For such men are slaves, not our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” The word “smooth” there is the word that means literally, fairly. It comes from the word that means kind or obliging and the word lego, which means to say.
You know, Paul warned Timothy. He said, “In the last days people are going to heap up teachers for themselves that tickle the ears.” I’m finding that. There’s some people who will not listen to sound doctrine. All they want is emotional experience. Folks, I’m telling you. There’s a broad spectrum of what is false. I think the specific thing he’s talking about are cultists and people who lead us away from Christ. But there are others who fit into that broad spectrum. They have that smooth and flattering speech.
The word “flattering” is eulogia. We see that in a good way of the praise that we give to God. It’s to speak well of Him. These people tell you anything you want to hear. That’s what he’s saying. Do you want to feel better? Help yourself. A lot of places around here make you feel better. The word of God offends my flesh every time I hear it because the flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh that we would not do the things we should. It means to flatter, say nice things. By their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
I think the heart, there, is a key word. It’s the control center. It’s what makes us what we are. It’s going to affect our choices. It’s going to affect our emotions. It’s going to affect everything about us. They go right for the heart. The hearts that he’s talking is the unsuspecting, akakos. It means without any inherent evil in them. What he’s talking about are precious people. That’s why we as elders are there to protect the doctrine because there are precious people out there. Sheep, they’re tender. Some of them don’t know the Word of God. I’m sorry to say that but they don’t know it. They are the targets. They don’t have a motive to leave and get something false. They just want all that God can give to them and these people come along and offer them something that hasn’t got to do anything with God. They buy it and therefore are ensnared.
The first thing you watch for is their behavior that is radically different than whatwe’ve learned from chapter 12 through chapter 15. There is no more love. There is no more sensitivity. There is no more submission. There is no more servant heart. They draw within, factiously stand aside and become a division in the body of Christ. They say just what you want to hear and lure you into their trap.
What’s our safeguard? Romans 12:1-2. That’s our safeguard. That’s where we’ve been coming from. Just live that way and you’ll have the discernment and the integrity to know what is and what isn’t. You’ll also have the love for these people but you’ll have the wisdom to turn away from them. You won’t hate them. You will love them, very deeply love them. Because that love is in you. God’s put that within you. God loves them but He’s telling us how to deal with them.
Years ago I did a camp down the Delta of Mississippi which is an area known for a type of snake that is very poisonous and very dangerous. I don’t if you’ve ever been around a cottonmouth moccasin. They’re mean. They’re not very long. They’re short, stubby snakes. As a matter of fact, in the middle they get sometimes as big as a fruit jar. Now they’re big snakes, and when they open their mouth it’s like cotton. It’s white as cotton inside their mouth. I don’t even like to think about it. They’re very, very dangerous. There are some dead people in Mississippi who would have sworn they can’t bite you underwater. Huh!
Anyway, I was doing a camp in the Delta. There was a twenty acre lake around this camp and this is where the kids would swim and canoe, etc. It was two weeks before the summer camp session started. While I was there two of my friends said, “Wayne, we want you to help us. We’re going down to the lake and we’re going to kill as many moccasins as we can tonight. We want you to go with us.” “Yeah, man, I’m always ready for an adventure.” I always have been. That’s why the scars are all over me.
We were in a canoe. None of us weighed less than two hundred pounds. Now, have you been in a canoe lately? I mean, you know, a canoe is made to turn over. I’m in the middle sitting cross-legged Indian style. We’ve got this huge guy as big as I am on the front and this guy almost as big in the back. Now, I’ve got a twenty gauge double barrel shotgun with birdshot because you use that smaller shot so you can kill those snakes. The guy behind me has a 357 Magnum. The guy in the front had a paddle and a prayer and that’s it.
We would go around and be real quiet for a long time. Then suddenly, we would turn on a spotlight. I want to tell you, folks. What I saw would just make you cringe. Those snakes were all in those bushes. Snakes were everywhere. I mean, three and four and five moccasins, cottonmouth, up in these bushes. They were within four feet of us. We’d go around and we’d try to get them to drop off the branch so we could shoot them. We shot fourteen in forty-five minutes.
There was one particular snake that I won’t ever forget. They’re not afraid of you. They’ll come right at you. He started coming towards us and, I mean, we’re only drawing about two inches of water. I mean, all he had to do was just roll over into the boat. He’s coming right at us. I’ve got a double barrel shotgun trying to find him. Have you ever tried to shoot in the night when you can’t see the end of the barrel? I couldn’t find the end of the barrel. I hadn’t shot yet. The wind picked up and started blowing that canoe towards the snake. Gary’s sitting in the front saying, “Shoot, shoot!” I said, “I can’t see.” He says, “I don’t care. Shoot the thing.” I shot and, boy, water splashed all over the place. The light was still on it, and he’s still coming in. That’s when I discovered the fellow behind me had that 357 Magnum pistol. It’s amazing that I didn’t walk out across that lake. I mean, boom! He shot the snake right by the boat.
I tell you that story because all around the shallow part of that water were the poisonous snakes that could take away your life. You see, the water of the Word, folks, is not meant for folks to stay in the shallows. I promise you, some of you haven’t got enough biblical doctrine to get in out of the rain. You are a dead ringer for a deceiver. You’re a target. Folks, that’s why the Word of God is so precious. When you get down in the deep water you don’t find cotton mouth moccasins. You find them in the shallow water. The false teachers are those snakes around the water. Look out. Somebody’s out to get your mind and put you back under the bondage to your flesh and keep you from enjoying Jesus until He comes back again. Watch with a microscope. Pay attention. Do you know what you believe? Are you standing on it?