"I urge you, brothers, 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" (Romans 16:17-18)
Think back over all of the amazing truths that Paul has shared in the book of Romans. No wonder that he is issuing a warning to the believers to hold fast to the truth they know and protect it at all costs. From past experience Paul knew that others would come in after him with smooth talk and flowery speeches in hopes of causing division and confusion among the church.
His warning was against false doctrine. This is anything contrary to the teachings that they had learned from Paul. He doesn't encourage them to discuss or persuade those individuals, he tells them to have nothing to do with them. This is because deception is a most subtle form of trickery which can, in many cases, even if only slightly alter your course in life.
Turning from the truth even a little can completely change where you end up. Falling prey to deception will keep you from being free, keep you in the dark and hold you there. However, Jesus said that it is the truth you know that will make you free and shortly before that statement he gave the key to the truth, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" ( John 8:31-32 ). Staying in the Word, seeking understanding and applying these truths will protect your heart from those who mean to deceive you.
Our responsibility is to guard and protect the truth we know. We need to keep to the teachings we have learned from the Apostle Paul and the book of Romans. This book is a wonderful exhortation of grace, freedom from the Law, freedom from our sin nature and how to walk by the Spirit of God. It is essential for the health of the believer. This is the starting point to understanding how Christ has made us free and has rescued us from the power of sin and death. If this amazing truth can be stolen away from being rooted and established in our hearts then we will not experience the freedom Christ purchased for us. This is why Paul said to watch out and keep away from anything contrary to the truth he wrote.
What a great reminder for us today to compare everything we hear and read with the Word of God. If we stay plugged in to the truth then we cannot easily be fooled and deceived. As an added benefit we will reap all the rewards of the wonderful truth found inside. Knowing these things will make us free to live for Jesus in a powerful and effective way!