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Avoid Them

Romans 16:17
   Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

   This verse has caused great concern within the body of believers as it has been used to justify breaking fellowship with other believers.  Yet this verse IS the Word of God and it IS part of the foundational doctrine of the book of Romans.  Lets look at what it says.  It is clear from the doctrine, reproof, and correction of the church epistles written by the Apostle Paul that the doctrine he taught was given to him by revelation.

Romans 16:25
   Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.

    The doctrine that the Romans learned of Paul was the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.  The mystery of the grace of God available without works to all that believe (Jew or Gentile) in one body was first revealed to the Apostle Paul.  This gospel is the standard.  Paul told the Romans to mark those which caused divisions and offences contrary to this doctrine and to avoid them.

     The word avoid is the Greek Word ekklino which means "to move away from."

Romans 3:12a
   They are all gone out of the way, [ekklino] . . .

1 Peter 3:8-11
   Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous;
   Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
   For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
   Let him eschew[ekklino] evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it.

   We are to be of one mind regarding the mystery of the grace of God.  We are to have compassion one of another.  We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are to have pity and kindness.  We are to bless one another and speak no guile.  But we are to avoid evil.  When it comes to those who would turn us away from the gospel of the mystery of the grace of God and the one body of Christ we are to move away from them.

Titus 3:9-10
   But avoid[periistemi] foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
   A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject[paraiteomai].

   The Greek word for "avoid" in verse 9 is periistemi which means to be a bystander.  A bystander watches from a distance.  He or she does not get directly involved.

John 11:41b-42
   . . . And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
   And I knew that thou hearst me always: but because of the people which stand by [periistemi] I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

   Those standing nearby were not directly involved with the praying.  Jesus was talking to God.  They were bystanders.  When foolish questions arise about the Word of God and contentions and fights arise regarding the law we are not to get directly involved.  We are to stand aside.  These questions are unprofitable according to God's Word and they are empty (vain).  If God thought it was necessary to tell a leader like Titus to avoid foolish questions, what about us?  If God thought is was necessary to warn Titus about contentions and strivings regarding the law, what about us? God says avoid them.  Therefore, as much as I would like to believe that I could handle such conversations, I would be wise to listen to God and stay away from these situations.

2 Timothy 2:15-16
   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
   But shun[periistemi] profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

   We are to study God's Word and rightly divide it if we are to stand approved before God.  But when it comes to an open door of empty discussion (profane and vain babblings) we are not to get involved.  We are to move to the side and avoid such discussions as they will drive us toward ungodliness.  We have a spiritual relationship provided by the grace of God and the accomplishments of Christ.  Empty discussions that move us away from the gospel of the mystery of the grace of God are to be avoided as they do not promote a spiritual relationship.  They promote works and sense knowledge ways of worship.  Once again, the epistle of 2nd Timothy is written to a spiritual leader.  One who was being given the responsibility of caring for the mystery of God given to the Apostle Paul.  Timothy was to carry on after Paul's death.  Certainly if it was necessary for God to remind Timothy to study His Word and avoid empty discussions, we would be wise to follow suit.

Titus 3:10
   A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject[paraiteomai].

   The word reject is paraiteomai which means to excuse yourself and leave.  A heretick is one who is schismatic or divisive.  A heretick offers a choice other than the doctrine which we have learned and believe regarding the mystery of the grace of God and the revelation of the one body of Christ.  God says that after gently calling his error to his attention twice, we are to excuse ourselves and avoid him.

Luke 14:17-18a
   And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
   And they all with one consent began to make excuse. [paraiteomai]

   Each person in this parable gave a reasonable excuse for not attending the wedding.  They excused themselves and did not go.  This is what we are told to do after gently calling error to the attention of one who is schismatic or divisive.

1 Timothy 4:6-7
   If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
   But refuse[paraiteomai] profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

   Timothy was nourished up in the words of the right way of believing and of "good" doctrine regard the mystery of the grace of God.  He was admonished to put the brethren in remembrance of these things and when it comes to "old wives' fables". . . excuse yourself.  We have no reason to listen to or participate in conversations that lead us away from the good doctrine which we have heard and believed.  Instead, we need to exercise the godly spiritual relationship we have been given.  Speak in Tongues much. Walk and talk with God.  Operate all nine manifestations of the spirit.  Live the great grace of God given freely to you in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:22-23
   Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
   But foolish and unlearned questions avoid [paraiteomai], knowing they do gender strifes.

   God has made us righteous in Christ Jesus.  We have the good doctrine of His Word regarding the mystery of His grace to believe.  We have His great love.   We have peace with God.  These are the things we are to continue in with all that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.  And when it comes to foolish and unlearned questions - excuse yourself.  They just promote strife.

   None of these words for "avoid" are harsh or cruel.  ekklino - turn aside.  periistemi - be a bystander.  paraiteomai - excuse yourself.  You just don't get involved with those who promote divisive doctrines that move you away from the truth of the mystery of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

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