“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.” Romans 16:17
We love new-and-improved. As soon as a product becomes popular, the marketers repackage it, raise the price, and call it new-and-improved. And we gullible consumers snap it up. Those same marketing strategies are often used within the church. Every few years, a “new teaching” comes along that is guaranteed to renovate your faith. Trendy young hipsters present a “this-ain’t-your-granddaddy’s-religion” concept, and people flock to them. Churches split, families divide, and God weeps. We were warned about this in Romans 16, but we often don’t see it for what it is.
So how do we avoid these false teachers and division-causers? First, we search our own hearts to see if we are among the guilty. Then we search our Bibles so that we can distinguish truth from error (2 Tim. 2:15). Next, we compare the new-and-improved ideas with the timeless truth of scripture, and discard anything that doesn’t line up with “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). We refuse to be drawn into any splinter group whose goal is to divide the church rather than build it up. Then we recognize that it is pride behind the idea that there is some “new truth” that the apostles, church fathers, and martyrs throughout history have all missed.
Are you attracted to the latest fads or splinter groups within the church? Let Romans 16:17 be your watchdog.