Watch Out


Division in a church can be so destructive. Perhaps you have witnessed the split of a church body over worship style, ministry philosophy, or a small band of people determined to have their way over a certain issue. In today’s passage, Paul mentions a killer to unity in the body of Christ: false doctrine. Doctrine means “that which is taught,” and is a set of core beliefs. The Bible affirms that doctrine is a necessary aspect of true faith and wisdom. To ignore it is not only foolish, but costly.

  • Do you think God holds us accountable for what we believe?
  • Why do you think it matters how we think about the truth?


17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What is the warning Paul gave in these verses?
  2. How are teachers of false doctrine described? Where do you see false teaching in the broader body of Christ today?
  3. How did Paul describe the church at Rome? What commands did he give them?
  4. In what way are the truth and blessing found in verse 20 an encouragement to the church?
  5. What can you do, practically, to be wise as to what is good? Why does it matter that you are intentional about this?


Obedient, faithful Christians—like those in the church at Rome and today at our church—are capable of being deceived by false teaching. Though there is the promise of the defeat of Satan, the father of lies, in the meantime he is prowling about, seeking someone to devour. And, he often disguises himself in a pretty package—as one who speaks well and flatters others—leading unsuspecting ones astray. We must therefore be diligent to search the Scriptures so that we know what is good and that our doctrine is sound. We can and must train our sense of discernment between good and evil by drinking deeply and consistently from the Word.

  • Pray that you would have wisdom and discernment about false doctrine and teachers.
  • Ask God that there would be no division or disunity within your church.