Dealing with Divisive Groups

November 10, 2020

Romans 16:17-18

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. 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.


This passage of scripture instructs believers on how to deal with people who create divisions in the church. The reason Paul warns the church about this is that it was already happening across the churches in Asia Minor. According to Paul, these people were imposters who somehow wormed their way into the church. These people were creating factions within the church. These oppositional groups would gather about and emphasize one particular point of doctrine, usually non-essential or disputable teachings, to the exclusion of everything else. Paul knows the negative impact this will have upon the church and writes to alert church leaders to the potential damage this could cause.

These people not only divided the church, they would also judge others who would not follow their teachings and adhere to their religious practices. They would insist that their way was the only way. If you did not agree with them, they would look down on you or label you as a heretic. Their motives were selfish. Even though they claimed to be serving Christ, Paul says they were serving their own appetites. They were hungry for power and control and would do whatever it takes to be in charge. These people were really out to advance themselves, to get a following, to gain prestige. Their methods were to use lies and flattery. On the surface, they appeared to be the most committed and faithful believers. They would use their intellect to impress you! If this didn’t work, they would butter you up using false praise or admiration. These oppositional groups will always cause division.

Our first reaction in dealing with these groups is to send them packing. Paul’s advice is to ignore them. As people are being properly discipled, something will happen to open the eyes of people to the unscriptural position of these groups, and they will lose their following. Therefore, teaching doctrine is so important. For people to recognize false teachers and false doctrines, they must be very familiar with the Apostle’s teachings found throughout Scripture. Believers must be grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

Questions to Ponder

According to Paul, how do you recognize those who cause division? What are you doing to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace? How do you respond when others speak their minds about issues you think are not universal truths or “essentials” of the Christian faith?

Prayer Points

  • Tell the Lord how much You love Him and His Word. Thank Him out of your own heart and words.
  • Repent from past times of disunity. Ask the Lord to dismantle hurtful words or actions you or your family have spoken. Pray the same about things spoken about you or our church/greater one church.
  • Pray protection over our Oak Pointe Church family. Pray for His love to abound more and more, and pray for unity and love.

Suggested Prayer
Sovereign LORD, I love You and give You honor and praise. You are stable, consistent, faithful, wise, and good. Thank You for being a shield around me. Thank You for being my protector, helper, sustainer. You are trustworthy, oh God, and such a wonderful Shepherd. Thank You for being my peace, comfort, help, and strength. Protect and preserve me and Your beloved church body, Oak Pointe Church. Set us apart for Your glory. Sanctify us. Lead us out of temptation and deliver us from evil and into Your truth, oh God. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.