Do Not Keep Company with Self-Serving Brethren
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).
They do what?!?
They do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly.
How do they serve themselves?
By smooth words and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the simple.
A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side - Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BC).
Niccolo Machiavelli was a Renaissance political thinker who wrote a small volume called THE PRINCE (1469-1527). Machiavelli had been a government worker, close to powerful men, but never a leader himself. In this book he offered advice to princes on how to rule. His political philosophy was startling. His ideas on government were different from medieval ideas about the proper duties, obligations and policies of good rulers.
Where did Machiavelli get such ideas? Clearly not from the Bible. Nor did they come from the ancient Greek (Athenian) philosophers who stressed the well-being of the entire community and the rule of law. His best sources were the rulers he observed. The biographies of the men with whom he worked reveal them to be powerful, tricky, and often dishonest.
Some historians question whether Machiavelli was really as amoral (without standards of right and wrong) as he sounds. Perhaps he was actually making fun of the men under whom he worked and was exposing the extremes to which they would go to keep themselves in power.
Whatever his purpose, the adjective Machiavellian has come to mean unscrupulous, amoral, tricky, and manipulative. The term could be applied to many politicians today and, unfortunately, even to some leaders in the church. They are self-serving, not at all serving God except as it furthers their own agenda. They are more like wolves than sheep. Sheep do not bite, but wolves do. Wolves bite and devour the flock of God.
I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another (Gal.5:12-15).
Expediency is placed above morality; they use craft and deceit to maintain authority and power. They are characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, or dishonest, all this they do to gain control and fame.
What is the church to do with such men? Remember the admonition: Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).
May God bless us to recognize such oppressive leaders and be freed from their tactics before they destroy the flock. We must avoid them. God help us all to beware!
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The King James Version.
Published in The Old Paths Archive