Final Conflicts

Romans 16:17-27

17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.

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

23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.

Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. [24] [e]

25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

So, here at the end, Paul sets out a reminder to the folks he is sending the letter to. He warns people to just stay away from folks who are making their faith more complicated than it needs to be. There have always been folks with “secret interpretations.” Just read the Scripture plainly, at least as plainly as you can from a Jewish perspective. Avoid fancy new interpretations. There have always been “Gnostics”, people with secret knowledge. And then he makes a mention of Satan that points out to me that the ultimate challenge from our faith comes from a source that is deeper than other people. This is why we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but we wrestle with spiritual forces through prayer with the goal of using the Word of God to establish our position, and then standing firm thereon! The good news is that God is invested in this process in our lives and greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!!

Let’s begin with Paul’s final warning about divisions and obstacles.

  1. A Warning about Divisions and Obstacles
  2. 17-19


  1. Keep away from present trouble

Obstacles are presented to make folks insecure in their        relationship with God so that they might be manipulated and used for the gain of the one causing the trouble. Watch out for      those people and just keep away from them. (At the very least     this would be a reference to cults who are quasi-Christian.)

You divide people from others who would help to make them       stronger.

Roman trouble: Emperor is given God status after they die. People must sacrifice to the Emperor to prove their allegiance to     Rome.


  1. Some people are serving themselves v.17-18

        Smooth talk and flattery. Stand firm, pray and quote Scripture.

Paul mentions these people years before he finally visits Rome     courtesy of the Roman government. But, once there, from prison       in Rome he writes to folks in Philippi:

Phil 1: 15-18

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but   others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the     heavenly places in Christ. Eph 1:3

There is one God and one mediator between man and God: Jesus

I Tim 2:5


There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we MUST be saved! Acts 4:12

21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could   be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Gal 2:21

Revelation 5 there is only one who is worthy to open the scroll   of God. He is the Lamb who was slain and who purchased people     for God from every tribe, tongue and nation.


  1. Jesus unifies and removes obstacles

This is what He does and is the emphasis of much of the gospel.

Your sin,

Jew and Gentile divide,

Ongoing struggles in sanctification are resolved by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And even in our suffering all things will work for our good.



  1. A Promise of Victory in Christ

The God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet. V.20

This verse is really out of the blue! This is the only mention of Satan in the book of Romans. There is a mention of one who will bring a charge against God’s chosen, and there is a mention of demons and “powers” in Romans 8 in the list of “created things” that are not able to separate God’s people from His love!

But here Paul seeks to reinforce that God’s people will have victory in Christ as long as they patiently endure their trials, in this case teachers who act in selfish ways.  What does Paul mean by this great statement of victory?

  1. Genesis 3 reference to Christ’s victory over Satan

When we think of the curse in Genesis 3, we think of the curse of         Adam, the curse of Eve, the curse of the ground and how that      affects marriage, family and work.

But the longest section and the first section of cursing relates    to the serpent being cursed.

  1. Satan is cursed beyond anything else in Creation. He will eat dust all of his days. Humiliation all of the time. He will ultimately return to dust: death. One commentator says, eating         dust is an idea that is associated with him dying all the time.
  2. There is enmity put by God between the Satan and Eve’s offspring.
  3. There is a purpose to the enmity, the serpent will strike the offspring of Eve in the heel. This of course could be a fatal blow if      the serpent is poisonous. But most are not. Can the serpent      strike the final fatal blow? He cannot. Not to Christ and not to you! He will crush your head. A head crushing is not confusing. It     is death.

We are united with Christ in the crushing of the serpents    head. We must patiently endure our hardships, we must       stand firm in our faith and this is the assured outcome!

In the Revelation 12 Satan is described as trying to kill Jesus     and His followers.  In each part of the story Satan is defeated over and over again. He causes trouble no doubt, but is always       defeated.


I believe that Paul states this because he sees that

  1. Persecution is brewing in Rome

There is conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. There always has been and will be. But this will    not last forever. Christianity will become the official religion of      the Roman Empire in years to come!

Paul will be murdered by the vile emperor Nero. And some might view that as defeat. Paul does not think that way.

Near the end of Paul’s life he writes:

II Tim 4: For I am already being poured out like a drink    offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought        the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the        faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of    righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to         me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have      longed for his appearing.

Psalms 116: 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord  is the death of   his faithful servants.


  1. The victory is peace

The God of peace gives victory over the conflict itself and over     the one who is behind the conflict.

Satan wants to steal your peace. Satan wants to kill your faith,    your hope and your love. Satan wants to destroy all that God      loves. He hates God, desires to supplant Him (which goes to       show he is delusional) and he thoroughly misunderstands the   patience of God. God pays for sin and creates a time of patience,        allowing folks to come to know Him.

I Peter 5:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Why will you have victory over Satan? Because we follow…

III. The God Who is Able to Establish You


25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.


  1. God is able to establish you

        To set fast: strengthen. The opposite would be what we saw with many buildings along the coast in the recent hurricane They are wiped away.

  1. To be established is one of the desires of those building a tower at Babel.
  2. To be established is a part of the blessing to Abraham who was called out by God to be blessed and established by him.

Abraham remains a great name, we don’t know the names of kings of days gone by.

The Roman government seeks to gain control over people by forcing them to sacrifice to the emperor. This will be trouble for Jews and Christians alike. There aren’t that many believers to begin with!

Will they wither away? Not from persecution! From losing their first love, from heretical teachings and immoral actions. Jesus says in

Matthew 7: 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

  1. We are established as God’s people

John 10:

27 My sheep listen to my voice;

I know them, and they follow me.

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

no one will snatch them out of my hand.

29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Why do we help people follow Jesus Christ? This is why!!

Finally at the end of verse 26 Paul states the goal for his ministry is so that the Gentile would have or know or exhibit…

  1. The obedience that comes from faith

        You and I are Gentiles as well. This is the goal of Paul for our       lives as well. This letter was written for the Romans to share. It       has made its way through history to us. We will know it better        perhaps than they did, but knowledge of what is here is not the   goal. The goal of Paul for our lives is that we would reflect in our       obedience a living faith in Jesus Christ.

There is no real conflict between faith and works.

We are meant for good works! We just will never deserve the gift         of righteousness given in Christ by our works. The righteousness     of God is by faith from first to last. But that faith leads one to live   a life of righteousness.

We will never stand before God and speak about what we    deserve. We will never deserve even a hearing before Him. We       deserve death. And it is only His mercy and grace that prevent        death and preserve life in us. This will never change. But because   we cannot work to gain salvation does not mean that we don’t    gain things from our good works. We gain our purpose and   meaning in life. We gain a partnership with Christ in His mission   on earth. We gain a greater understanding of the character of    God and of the way that we are to reflect that. We gain the fruit       of the Holy Spirit, the love, joy and peace of God.

We are created for good works. We are meant by God to be good         and our actions are the way that our goodness will be        demonstrated.

  1. Faith produces works. Your works demonstrate your faith. We trust in Christ alone for our salvation. And we work our salvation because we believe that God is at work within us both to will and       to do His good pleasure.

And a part of the good works that we are called to is endurance   of difficulties that are caused because we choose to trust and   follow Jesus Christ.