7/9 Romans 16:17-18

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

The church has always been under attack from false teachers. The essential gospel of Jesus has been unchanged for thousands of years. God took on flesh in the virgin womb of Mary and lived a sinless life among us. He lived a sinless life and willingly went to the cross to take the sins of the world upon Himself so that justice would be satisfied. He conquered death and hell and offers eternal life to all who will receive by faith what He has done for them. He rose from death, ascended into heaven, and is coming again. False teachers will always emphasize something else.

The false teachers desire to be leaders to serve themselves, not the Lord Jesus. They feel that they have to be the most important person in the room. They may feign humility, but at the same time they will tell you why God has elevated them above everyone else. Their goal is always self-gratification in some form. The true spiritual leader humbly serves the Lord and seeks to glorify Him alone. That leader's emphasis will be what Jesus has done for us and how we all should have a personal relationship with Jesus.

The false teachers' tools are described in this verse. They use smooth talk and flattery to target those who are naive. They appeal to pride, which is the very thing that deceived them. The special new revelation they claim to have exalts them and their followers in their own minds. That revelation they claim to have often includes some kind of work that makes them feel superior to those who don't do that thing they think earns them favor with God. Paul warns us to watch out for them. They were around then, and they are just as prevalent today.

Remember: Guard your heart and guard the flock against ego-led sheep rustlers.