Meditate on God’s Word continuously.

The New Testament teaches that the Bible is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians. 6:17) …… It is a weapon that we are to wield against the enemy.

Jesus modelled this when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew. 4:1-11) …… When Satan enticed Him, Jesus spoke the Scripture aloud in response …… Eventually, God’s powerful Word wore down the enemy and he left the Saviour alone.

Our battles as Christian believers are spiritual battles …… We fight against Satan and his demonic forces (Ephesians. 6:12); therefore, we must wage war against them with spiritual, not physical, weapons.

Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer …… To speak God’s Word is to release it and empower it, to unleash its conquering power against the enemy …… By speaking God’s Word, we swing the sword of the Spirit against our deadly, destructive foe.

As we focus our thoughts on the Bible, we learn more about God and His ways …… We learn that God’s holy commands flow from His loving heart and that they protect and guide us throughout life.

Through obeying God, we learn to appreciate His commands because God showers His favour and blessings upon us …… We become the blessed person of Psalm 1.

  1. The result (v. 3).

The blessed man (or woman) is compared to a tree, but not just any tree …… He is not like a wild seedling that randomly sprouts in an inconvenient place.

He is like a tree intentionally planted in a carefully chosen spot: …… by the river where it will receive plenty of water for its growth …… where it will have every advantage to become fruitful.

  • God is presented throughout the Bible as a husbandman or gardener …… His relationship with Israel is portrayed as that of an owner and dresser of a vineyard (Isaiah. 5).

He is seen diligently cultivating His choice vine, the Hebrew nation …… Those reached by the Saviour are called “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord” (Isaiah. 61:3) …… Jesus also described the Father as the vinedresser and believers as branches of Christ, who is the True Vine.

  • The Father’s work in pruning and cultivating fruit is again emphasized …… A believer is also portrayed as a field that is sown and watered, a field in which God produces an increase (1 Corinthians. 3:7-9).

Planted also indicates that the blessed individual is firmly fixed …… Like a deeply-rooted tree, the righteous are secure when the winds and storms of life rage against them.

The strong root system also delivers fresh water from the river, which produces abundant fruit …… The tree flourishes …… Its leaves do not wilt and fall off …… Its foliage is rich, thick, and lush.

  • As ones who are blessed, our lives are flourishing and fruitful …… Like a well-watered tree, we produce spiritual fruit when we delight and meditate in God’s Word.
  • The blessed man is prosperous in all that he does …… Prosperity may include earthly possessions, but God’s richest blessings have nothing to do with material blessings.

Scripture speaks of a more valuable prosperity, the prosperity of the soul …… True prosperity in our lives is producing the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience …… Bearing the fruit of God’s Spirit is the result of loving God’s Word and obeying it.

Also note this: water in the Scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit …… It is the Spirit who produces fruit in our lives …… Water is also a symbol of the Word, specifically of the washing and cleansing effect of Scripture.

Sin can quickly make us unfruitful in the service of the Lord …… Living in obedience to God’s Word protects our fruit from becoming contaminated, diseased, and destroyed by sin.

We must constantly evaluate how much time we spend in God’s Word, especially in comparison to the amount of time we spend on other interests.

Our spiritual growth depends on our attention to God’s Word …… as Christians we need to pay attention to the words of the Apostle Peter who wrote:

“As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter. 2:2).

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The Church must Mark Divisive People, Romans 16:17-20

Divisiveness and evil are always a threat to the local church. The reason can be simply stated: people have problems, even believers. The fact that we live in a corrupt and depraved world means that people become disgruntled, disappointed, unhappy, selfish, sinful, and in some cases evil. Even the strongest believers become contaminated with corruption by having to live in the very air of a sinful world. It is because of this that Paul warns the church and its believers: mark divisive people, for they are a constant threat to the church.

Note: this warning abruptly cuts into Paul’s greeting to the Roman church. Paul is greeting various believers in the church whom he has met on his travels throughout the world. All of a sudden, he interrupts his greeting and issues a severe warning. The abrupt interruption is not an afterthought; it is the final exhortation needed by a strong church—an exhortation against an event that is bound to happen: the seeping in of divisive people.

The most effective way for Satan to get a foothold into a strong church is to quietly and insidiously move a divisive person into some teaching or leadership position where he can influence immature believers. Paul knew this, so he left the warning until the end of his letter. It is a warning that must be heeded by a strong church if it is to keep its witness for the Lord.

There are three reasons why a divisive person must be marked and avoided.

  1. A divisive person causes division and lays stumbling blocks in the way of growth. Note exactly what is said: a divisive person acts “contrary to the doctrine which [believers] have learned.” He causes “divisions and offenses.”
  2. A divisive person does not serve Christ, but his own desires. Scripture clearly says that divisive persons do not serve Christ. They call themselves Christians, but their Lord is not Christ. They are not committed to His honour and glory and mission, but to themselves—to getting and doing what they want. The divisive person is still given over to the things of this carnal, sensual, and secular world.
  3. A divisive person uses talk and flattering words to deceive. He uses smooth, persuasive, and plausible words to lead people to take sides with him. He talks and acts godly, and he shows interest and concern for those whom he wants to convince. But note what Scripture says: the motive of the divisive person is to deceive.

The result of his divisiveness is tragic: he deceives the simple, that is, the unsuspecting, the innocent, the immature, the carnal, the new-born believers.

A strong church, such as the church in Roman was in Paul’s day, must constantly be marking and focusing upon what is good and untainted with evil. If a strong church fails to know and do good, it will be penetrated by evil (divisiveness) and it will become a weak church. Therefore, a strong church must always, with the utmost diligence, be looking for what is good and untainted with evil.

The point is this: a strong church must not only avoid evil (Romans 16:17); it must not allow evil to penetrate its fellowship. It must not allow a divisive person to stir up the “simple” (unsuspecting and innocent) believers of the church. A church must be wise: it must mark and focus upon what is good and untainted with evil. It must be wise enough to spot evil and to stop its penetration into the fellowship.

Note another fact: God is going to bruise Satan under the believers’ feet. It is the feet of the believers that God uses to bruise Satan. When genuine believers of a strong church do what God says, then God will act to deliver His people from evil and divisiveness.