Theology for Everybody: Romans (Day 361)

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. 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 naïve. 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. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. —Romans 16:17–20

Paul puts people into three categories: wise, foolish, and evil. As Christian parents, we need to stop telling our children to treat everyone the same. People are different, and we need to treat them according to their character. We treat wise people differently than we treat evil people.

Evil people tell you some things about themselves. They are intentionally dangerous and cause pain and harm on purpose. Evil people are calculating and malicious. They create obstacles and cause divisions. They make it more difficult for people to come to Christ or come to church. And if they do make it to Christ and the church, then they create divisions. “Are you with us, or are you with them?” Rather than having one vision, they have division, which leads to factious behavior, conflict, drama, and strife.

Sometimes evil people can be the most religious people who think they are doing the things they do for God. They believe they are justified. The people who opposed Jesus the most were the most religious. The ones who harassed Him, hounded Him, and harmed Him did so in the name of God. That is the religious deception of evil people.

What underlies some evil people’s actions and motives is unforgiveness or unhealed hurts. There’s bitterness or brokenness. If you hold any unforgiveness or bitterness, you are actually poisoning your own soul. If you have unforgiveness, resentment, or bitter jealousy toward someone, you are becoming a very unhealthy person—the worst version of yourself. The result is that you will do evil toward others because you have allowed evil into your soul.

Unhealed people can have triggers. There can be a relatively fine line when suddenly something happens or someone says something, and now they are very emotional and actively doing evil. Evil was done to them, so they do evil to others. Trauma happened to them, so they traumatize others. Someone tormented them, so they torment others. Someone broke them, so they are breaking others.

When you look at evil people, you can see that they have been through a lot. Their lives have been hard, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior. They need to forgive and heal so they can be healthy and bring life instead of death and evil. Evil people are often driven by unhealthy fear and anger. They are afraid that something is going to happen, so they’re constantly on alert. Their emotional lives are dominated by anger. The problem is that anger and fear do not guide you into God’s will. (Continued on Day 362 …)

Today’s Reflection

Do you have unforgiveness or unhealed hurts? What do you need to do to release those things to God?

This is an excerpt from Theology for Everybody: Romans, a 365-Day DevotionalClick here to get your copy.

To get daily devos texted to you Monday-Friday, text DEVOTIONS to 99383. Click here to find the sermon series that accompanies this devotional series.