|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|If you could sum up everything Paul is saying in these last verses and really the whole book of Romans, it's this: Our protection against any deception the devil throws at us is our submission to Christ and our obedience to His Word.|
If you could sum up everything that Paul is saying in these last verses and really the whole book of Romans, it’s this: Our protection against any deception the devil throws at us is our submission to Christ and our obedience to His Word. Do we understand that? If I’m not submitted to Him, if I’m not obedient to His Word, then I’m not protected from the deception that is around me. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” You see, our resistance to the devil and all the deception he throws at us is our submission unto God.
That’s why you cannot teach Romans 16 except out of the context that started back in Romans 12. If you just jumped into chapter 16 it’s just a group of rules; it’s just a group of verses. But go back to Romans 12:1-2 one more time. You’ve got to get the context down. This is the well that all of the rest of the book flows out of. The first eleven chapters are on the grace of God. Then from chapter 12 on it centers on the responsibility that man has because of grace. It’s a twofold thing. In verse 1 of Romans 12 we find we are to surrender, first of all, to Christ. We don’t surrender to His Word; we surrender to Him. That’s the first surrender we have. He says in verse 1, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Now, Christ is God. He’s the highlight and the focus of Romans. So we submit, first of all, to Christ. Secondly, once we’re submitted to Him, presented to Him, then we submit to His Word. It says in verse 2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The mind is the facilitator of sin that resides in our flesh. In other words, as a man thinks that’s the way he’s going to live. Therefore, we have got to get our minds renewed, totally renovated, by what God says and how God wants us to think. So first I surrender to Christ. Secondly I surrender to His Word. And with that surrender and obedience what results is a protection against false doctrine, a protection against deception that’s all around me.
Well, let’s look at Romans 16:19. The second thing Paul warns us about is to beware of the fleshly evil that’s around us that seeks to seduce and destroy us. Verses 19-20 say, “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” We’re going to focus on those two verses.
The believers who lived there in Rome were at the very heart of worldly and sophisticated things. There was always the danger that these things would creep back into the church. Into Rome’s markets poured the multitudes and the merchandise of the world. You’ve got to remember what we’re dealing with here. You’re talking about a Rome that was rich, worldly city in the day that this was written. Her citizens and nobles were rich. They were privileged. They were polished. They were everything that you would think that everybody would want. Vice was so prevalent that it was even lifted up to a higher level by putting it into the pagan temples of that day. They had prostitutes who were called priestesses in that day in the pagan temples. They drug immorality into their religion. This was a very, very pagan area.
The believers Paul is writing to have come out of all of it. But Paul is warning them that they may not have realized the lure that their flesh still had to this kind of stuff. In other words, you can’t come into Christ and bring this garbage with you. When you come into Christ, it’s a brand new life. It’s a life of obeying Him and obeying His word. You cannot allow this stuff to get into your life. This is what he’s dealing with here in verse 19 of chapter 16. He says, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.”
The term “wise” is a sophos. This term doesn’t mean just to know about something. All of us know about good. We studied it in Romans enough. But to be wise according to what is good, that’s a different thing. To be wise means to know how to appropriate what you know to be good. In other words, it has to do with the way you live. If a wise person is present amongst us today, then it’ll be seen in the way you live. If you know about good and you’re not living that way, you’re not a wise person. You’re a very unwise person. It’s not just the knowledge about something. It’s the ability to appropriate what you know and live out what you know about good.
Now the word for good is agathos. There are two words for good. There’s kalos which means inherent good, constitutional good. But then there is this word, agathos. It’s the word that has more to do with that which comes out of the other. It is deeds. It’s that which is useful and profitable, that which is spiritually beneficial in your life. Now Paul has taught us about this good in Romans. He says you be wise accordingly. He could have put it another way. You live out what you know. Stop talking about it and live it. It’s a wise person who understands how to appropriate this in the day by day situations he faces.
Let’s look and see how the word “good” is used in Romans. Turn back to 2:7. That’s the first place I want you to look. The Apostle Paul uses the word and refers to the behavior of a person who has inherited eternal life. Now if you want to know who the Christians are, watch the way they live. Now that doesn’t mean perfection. It means predictability. When a person begins to seek after these things it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t fail. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t sin. That person’s heart is geared into wanting God to produce this good in his life. Romans 2:7 reads, “to those who by perseverance in doing good [now this is the living out of this] seek for glory and honor and immortality [and what’s the result?], eternal life.” So there’s an eternal result to those who are living good. This is the lifestyle of the righteous.
In verse 10 of chapter 2 he says, “but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” So it’s a lifestyle, a behavior, of those who have inherited eternal life. Secondly, it can no way be produced by the flesh. Now, this is what separates religion from Christianity. Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. There’s a huge difference here. As we know God through His Son Jesus Christ and His Spirit now living in us, we obey Christ. His Spirit produces in us the good that we’re required. It’s not something we can do. You couldn’t do it before you got save. You can’t do it after you get saved. It’s what God has to do. That’s why I have to be obedient to Christ and submissive to His Word.
Look at this in Romans 3:12. It uses another word. It is translated good, and it’s synonymous with it. It says, “‘All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good.’” I can hear the religious person say, “What do you mean none who does good? Why I give money to the church. I send money to missions. I’ve been on mission trip. I come to church. I’m here, aren’t I? I do good things.” Now, hold on now. Isaiah would say right back to you, “Our righteousness [or better translated ‘our goodness’] is filthy rags in the sight of God.” We can strut sitting down. Don’t start thinking you can do good. You cannot do good. Your flesh cannot produce good. That’s what kept you lost for so long. Your flesh could not get out from that dilemma. We have to be saved, delivered and rescued. Once you’re saved, you still can’t produce that good apart from loving Christ and obeying His Word.
Look in Romans 7:18. Here’s Paul confessing the fact that he discovers how wicked his flesh still is even after he’s saved. He says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh: for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” So when you think about this good we’re required to be about, to be wise toward, we have to remember we can’t produce it. It comes out of obeying Christ, obeying His Word. God produces this good through us.
Thirdly, it’s the spiritual, profitable outcome of every circumstance that we ever go through. A lot of believers don’t see this yet because they’re not yet living obedient to Christ and to His Word. In any circumstance you go through God produces a profitable and beneficial spiritual result in your life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
If you ever want to examine the will of God, this good is the very quality of the will of God that Paul is talking about here. Look in Romans 12:2 again. It says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is [What is the will of God?], that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The fifth thing, it’s the lifestyle of the one who is filled with the Spirit. In Romans 12:9 he says, “Let love be without hypocrisy”. That’s a Hebraism. There’s no verb there. That just raises it up and makes it that much more emphatic. When God the Holy Spirit produces love in us there is no pretense about it. It goes on to say in the same verse, “Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.” That word “cling” is in the passive voice. When I’m obeying Christ and obeying His word, the Holy Spirit of God glues me – that’s what the word means – He glues me to the attitude of only that which is good, spiritual, profitable, and beneficial to others.
Sixthly, it’s what overcomes the pain, the injury that we receive when somebody else is not living toward the good. They’re living out of the evil in their life. Look in Romans 12:21. He says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” You can go on and on and on. This good is that which springs out of the heart of God Himself. It’s what God does through us. Paul says to be wise concerning that which is good. Don’t just know about it. Practice it. Live it. Appropriate it. How? Romans 12:1-2.
Let me ask you a question. What is it in your life that you’re holding on to that’s not Jesus? That tells you immediately that you don’t understand what Paul’s saying. You’ve been deceived. Do you think it’s worth holding on to? Do you think it provides you anything that’s worthwhile apart from Jesus Christ? That’s what he’s trying to say.
Paul goes on to saying 16:19, “I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil”. I love this. You’ve got to get excited about it. He didn’t say be unaware of evil; but he said, “innocent in what is evil.” Now there’s a way to do that. I’m going to try to show you. The word for evil there is kakos. It’s the word that means inherent evil, fleshly evil. It always has to do with the flesh and it’s out of this kind of well, out of this kind of source, this fleshly evil, that evil deeds come.
There’s another word for evil. But that comes out of this constitutional, inherent evil, that which our flesh has inherited. He says, “You be aware of it, but you be innocent in what is evil.” Whereas the good things that bless others and are beneficial to us come out of good and spring out of God and out of our relationship with Him, all the evil things that we do and are done to us spring out of this inherent fleshly evil, whether we’re lost or whether saved.
If you want to see the deeds and how they come out of that, look back in Romans 1:29-30. I want to show you the pit out of which evil deeds come. This word, kakos, is inherent evil, that which is constitutionally evil. It’s out of this that all the garbage comes, from which we are to die to our flesh daily. It says in Romans 1:29-30, “being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil [That’s the word. Look at what comes after that.]; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents.” There’s all kinds of wickedness that comes out of this wellspring of the flesh. The Apostle Paul says, “Hey, you be aware of this garbage, but don’t you be part of it. You be innocent in what is evil.”
Well, look over in Romans 2:9. The destiny of people who habitually live out of this source is perdition and tribulation. It says, “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.” Now, again, remember this is what the flesh produces. We’ve already gone over that. Romans 7:19 says, “For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” Verse 21 says, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.”
Now, this evil is all around us, folks. I’m not sure we’re catching it. I’m not sure we understand how wicked this world is and how wicked our flesh is and how devoted to this wickedness our flesh really is. The only answer is to say “yes” to Christ. The only answer is to surrender to His Word. Otherwise, we have bought the lie and our lives are reflecting it every day of our life. There is nothing the flesh offers that is worthwhile to me, ever. There’s nothing the flesh offers.
In Romans 12:9 he says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Listen, this love the Holy Spirit produces is in you is without pretense. It says, “Abhor what is evil.” When you come to church sometimes, does this happen to you? We’re praising God, and you’re thinking, “This is where I want to be. This is what I really covet in my life.” Then somehow a thought goes through your mind that’s lustful or something else and suddenly your flesh, something inside of you is just repulsed by it. You say, “God, get that thought out of my mind.” Has that ever happened to you? That’s exactly what Paul’s saying. When you’re pursuing good, you can’t stand the garbage that the flesh offers. That’s the whole point. This evil, this fleshly evil, whether it comes in the lost world or the saved world, we still have a body of flesh to deal with. Paul says, “You be innocent to what is evil.” As a matter of fact, it’s because of this evil that Romans 13 says that God had to appoint governmental authorities. You don’t like the government. Well, friend, it’s because of our flesh and the evil of flesh that God had to put some kind of order in this world after the original sin. So we realize that this stuff is all around us.
Paul says, “Don’t be unaware of it, but be innocent.” Now the word “innocent” is a great word. It comes from two Greek words. The first word means without, without something. The second word is the word, kerannumi, which means mixture. In other words, don’t have any of this garbage, this evil, mixed in to your lifestyle. Here’s where the downside comes, folks, if you’re not living out of the Word, if you’re not living daily submitted to Christ. “Well, Brother Wayne, you’re a preacher. You get to do this all the time. We work for a living. We don’t have time to do that.” Hey, don’t tell that to me, friend. Tell that to God, because you’ll definitely answer to Him one day. I’ll tell you another thing; you have become so deceived already you don’t even know it. That’s what he’s trying to warn the Roman church about.
Listen. Think about what I’m saying. Where’s Christianity in Rome today? Paul tried to warn them of that. Don’t let the wealth of the world, don’t let the glamour or the world somehow seduce you. It’ll somehow destroy you in your walk with God. It’ll take every bit of joy away from you. It’s a subtle type of thing the way evil gets into us, folks. You try to coexist with it, and you’re dead in the water. The Apostle Paul says, “Yeah, you better watch out for those false teachers, but I’ll tell you something much more serious: you better watch out for the false doctrine of the world that does nothing but deceive and deceive and deceive.” Once you buy it you’ll find your walk goes downhill from that point on.
What is it that you really want to defend in your walk? You can always tell a man by what he defends, what he spends his time trying to convince others is right. Look out! That’s what’s wrong in your life if it’s not Christ and if it’s not His Word. A boat in water is by design. Water in a boat is disaster. You can’t mix the water into the boat, friend. You can’t put water in the boat, but you can put the boat in the water.
Now, the way you know about the evil that he’s talking about here and not be a part of it is to practice doing good. The more I obey Christ, the more I obey His Word, the more I become sensitive to the evil that’s around me. The less I obey Christ, the less I obey His Word, the more insensitive I become. Therefore, I’m made wide-open by the lie, you see. But the more I’m living in His Word, the more I’m obeying Christ the more open I am.
They tell me in banks that they don’t get the employees to study counterfeit money. You don’t have to know what a counterfeit dollar bill looks like. They get them to study what a real dollar bill is all about. And the more they study what is real, the more they become aware of that which is unreal. That’s what Paul says. Be wise in doing good. Get after it, man. Like the commercial, just do it. “You’ve studied Romans,” he would say to us today. You know what Paul says is good. Get after it, man. What are you waiting on? Live it. And as you do, you’ll become innocent to what is evil. You’re not unaware, but they’ll be no mixture of evil that’s in your life. That’s what he’s saying.
Beware of the false teachers who seek to seduce and deceive you. Beware of the fleshly evil that is around us that seeks to seduce and destroy us. But the third thing I want you to see is in verse 20. Be aware not beware; you don’t have to worry about him – be aware that Satan is the source of all this evil that we’re talking about. He’s the source. Do you understand that? Look again at verse 20. “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” I hope you’re aware that if you could pull the curtain back behind all the false doctrine in this world, behind all the evil and the temptation of this world, you would see old sluefoot back there working the controls. He’s behind every bit of it. He’s masked by what our flesh looks for so we can’t see the other side, the flip side of where that evil comes from. Paul points to him right here.
You know, Satan lurks behind all the systems of deception that plague mankind. I read a statement on this. He’s the weaver of all the various, religious delusions with which fallen men clothe the nakedness of their soul. Do you want to know who’s in back of it? It’s Satan, himself. No wonder, after dealing with all this, Paul unmasks the culprit behind it all. Not only is Satan behind the false teachers, but he is also behind the false teachings of this world, the false message this world offers you that says anything would be better than Christ. He’s the weaver of all the deception the world offers.
Verse 20, again, reads “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” I hope you understand that Satan is the one on a leash. Do we understand that? That’s one of the reasons I play him down. People say, “You ought to be more respectful of Satan.” No sir. I’m going to be much more respectful of Jesus Christ who has defeated Satan. I’m not going to focus on darkness; I’m going to focus on light until Jesus comes back. What’s wrong with us, man? He’s on a leash. He’s allowed to do a lot of things right now, but we have the victory in Christ Jesus. If you spend all your life trying to figure out what the devil’s going to do, you’ve missed the joy of finding out what Christ wants to do in your life. So we’re going to focus on him.
Have you ever watched a dog on a leash and that dog takes after a car or whatever and forgets he’s on a leash? Have you ever watched that? There’s a reckoning coming in his life. He doesn’t understand that. That leash that he completely ignores while he’s roaming the yard is something that’s going to catch him by surprise one day. As a matter of fact, the word “soon” has within it suddenly without any warning. He’s running and all of a sudden that leash runs out. It just jerks his feet out from under him. Well, we’ve got a message for Satan. He’s on a leash, and our God is one day going to jerk that chain and he’s going to find out who’s in control of this world. Understand that. He will soon crush Satan.
The word “crush” is the word that means to just obliterate, suntribo. It’s the word that means to just smash, to destroy. It has the idea of taking something and mashing it. Have you ever taken a grain of something and rolled it between your fingers. It just mashes it. It just obliterates it. Have you ever done that? That’s exactly the word. He’s going to take him and just crush him. That’s exactly what Genesis 3:15 said, wasn’t it? As God spoke to Satan. He said, “You’re going to bruise his heel, the seed of woman but he is going to bruise or crush your head.” Which would you rather have? A bruise on the heel or a crushed head? That’s what Jesus is going to do to Satan. It’s going to come.
He said, “Soon the God of peace will do that.” I checked out that phrase, “the God of peace.” That’s a great phrase. Paul used it in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. He uses it over in Corinthians and Philippians, but the place I found that’s the most meaningful to me is Hebrews 13:20. This is the God that’s going to crush Satan one day. It says in verse 20 of Hebrews 13, “Now the God of peace [same phrase], who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord.” That’s the God who’s going to crush Satan one day under our feet.
The word “soon” is where you have problems. All of us do. Anytime you refer to time you’ve got to remember something: time is nothing to God who’s writing this. If you go back to when this was written, they would have said, “Next week He’s going to do it.” Next week rolls by. A century rolls by. Two thousand years roll by and here we are 2,000 years later and we say, “Soon, well when?” But remember a day is a thousand years to God. One day when we’re in eternity and look back it’s going to be a speck and we’re going to realize what He meant by soon.
As a matter of fact, in Revelation 6:9 it says, “And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ [Here’s their answer.] And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they would rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.” So when you think of soon don’t think of soon the way we think of it. Think of it the way God thinks of it because He’s timeless. He doesn’t see it the way we see it.
“And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
When I was growing up we had a cat. My sister wanted a cat. My mother got her one because my mom was that kind of mother. I named it Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great was the wimpiest animal that had ever been created. It just laid around and did nothing. I mean, it was good for nothing. They had a dog next door that was named Fritz. It was a boxer bulldog. When it walked, the muscles would ripple down his shoulders. It was a mean looking dog. Well, we used to throw Alexander out the door just to make him do something, walk around, do anything, instead of laying around eating all the time.
Well, it wasn’t long until I heard the worse turmoil on our porch that you’ve ever heard in your life. I walked out and Alexander had gotten cornered by Fritz. He had it backed up against the wall. This good-for-nothing cat got something through its thick head. “My days are numbered. My minutes are numbered.” It made a decision that made me have a little more respect for it. It decided to go out with a bang. Fritz had him cornered, and that cat jumped up on his head. Three paws had clawed into his head and the other one was free. That cat just began to claw on that dog’s face. The dog couldn’t go anything with that cat on its head. It couldn’t. So he was trying to shake that cat off. Our whole family came out and really started rooting for Alexander. “Come on Alexander. Come on, man. Do it.” I mean, that dog was having a fit. They got off the porch out in the yard, but that cat would not turn loose and was just raking that dog with that claw.
Finally, the dog threw the cat off and it took off yelping. You’ve never heard such yelping in your life. Alexander kind of got gained a little self-respect. We gained some respect for it. The next day Fritz walked out and came right to the edge of our property and turned just like it was in a military fashion and walked down, turned at the sidewalk, walked in front of our house and would not step foot in our yard. Alexander was walking out there saying, “Come on, big boy. You want some more? Come on, big boy.”
Well, you know, I tell that because to me the devil knows what this verse says. Don’t think he doesn’t know scripture? He gets it perverted half the time but he knows it. He knows his days are numbered. And, friend, he’s cornered. What do you think he’s going to do to the church when he is cornered like he is, knowing that his days are numbered, knowing that the One is coming to crush his head? What do you think he’s going to do? He’s going to throw every bit of hell he can throw at you and me while we’re living down here. But if you want to focus on that help yourself. I’m going to focus on the One who’s already defeated him, the cross.
Go back and read Ephesians 1:1-2:6. Above every power, above every name in this age or the next age. Do you hear that, devil? Above all of them. He’s defeated him. They’re under His feet.
But now wait a minute. It says that He will soon crush him under whose feet? Your feet. What? Yes sir, we’re going to be there, friend, and he’ll be under our feet as our Lord throws him into hell forever. I want to be there. I’m going to be there but I want to be on the front line right before he goes in. Just let me, with all the strength that my glorified body can offer, just run up and hit that Satan right in the mouth before he goes over into hell forever. Put out of business. Destroyed, crushed by the One who we live obeying and surrendered to everyday.
You say, “Well, He hasn’t done it yet. What am I going to do until He does it?” Ha! Look at the last part of verse 20. He doesn’t finish it with that. Because there’s going to be a time lapse Paul says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Look back in Romans 5:1. I want you to see this. Oh, folks. You think surrendered to Christ, walking by faith is not the answer? You think you’ve got a better way to serve God? Help yourself. You’re deceived, brother. Verse 1 is a very good verse. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, when we got saved and put our faith into Jesus, like the Japanese when they surrendered, we walked up, laid down our sword and said, “We’re not going to fight you anymore.” We have peace with God. Not only are we at peace with Him, He’s at peace with us. Then it says in verse 2, “through whom [Christ] also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace.” Now what was it that accessed grace in our life? Faith. And what is faith? It’s obedience, folks. You cannot say it’s anything else. It’s not what you believe. It’s how you live as a result of how you believe. It’s action. It’s obedience. Alright, faith accesses this grace. By putting our faith into Jesus we accessed His grace. Now watch. “in which we stand.” “What does that mean?” It’s in the perfect tense. Back here when we accessed His grace, He now allows us to stand in it for eternity.
What is grace? What we don’t deserve, folks. But it’s also His transforming power in our life. “You mean to tell me I’m standing where I can access His transforming power in me?” Absolutely. “How do I access it?” By faith which is where we started, remember? Our protection is obeying Christ and obeying His word. That is what faith is, believing what God has said. Faith comes from hearing. Hearing comes from what? The word of God.
What does James say? You can say you have faith but you have nothing to back it up. That’s not faith. That’s not saving faith for sure. So faith, then, is obedience. When I surrender to Him, bow down just bankrupt before Him, I have just accessed His grace. In the Old Testament they used to say, “Oh Lord, don’t turn Your face away from me.” He can’t do that to you and me because we’re eternally in His grace. He turned His face on His own Son on the cross so that He would never have to turn His face from you and me. You bow down to Christ and you’re going to find His transforming power like you’ve never known it before. But if you have bought the lie that you’re flesh or this world offers you anything that’s worthwhile how deceived can we be? You pursue Christ. He’s the One who gives what He wants to give to you and me. What we’re looking for is found in Him.
Well, beware of the false teachers who seek to seduce and deceive you. Beware of the fleshly evil that’s all around you that seeks to seduce and destroy you. And be aware of who’s behind all of it. It’s Satan himself, old sluefoot. Jesus will soon crush him. The God of peace will soon crush him under our feet. Until then may the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. Boy, what a message!