This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Being Wise And Innocent

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Being Wise And Innocent

Lesson 37 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder


Once you’ve worked hard to renew your mind, God wants you to keep it renewed.  And one of the best ways to keep it renewed is to be careful of the company you keep.


Believe it or not, there are people out there who don’t have your best interests in mind.  They’ll use smooth talk and flattery to try to lead you astray from the teaching you’ve learned-teaching that has helped you in many ways in your life.


In the final chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul warns about such people.  Paul says:


“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. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:17-19).


If you look at this paragraph closely, you’ll find some secrets for how to detect when people are trying to lead you astray for the wrong reason.


First, Paul urged the Romans “to watch out for those who those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.”


God had taken a great deal of time to teach the Christians in Rome good solid truths about Himself and the Bible, and Paul wanted them to hold onto those truths.  In the same way, God may have taken a great deal of time to teach you some good solid truths about Himself and the Bible, and God wants you to hold onto those truths, too.


If someone comes along and tries to teach you about a “new” truth, or “higher” way of looking at God and the Bible, be wise about how you listen to them.  Take what they say back to God and the Bible to see what He says about it in His Word.  While there’s value in keeping an “open mind,” you don’t want keep it so open that all the good teaching you’ve already learned falls out!


Be a good student of the Bible, like the people in the city of Berea, who took even what Paul said and examined it carefully according to what they had already learned.  The Bible says:


“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).


Second, Paul gave the Romans some simple advice about what to do when they came across people who were teaching them things that were contrary to what they had learned:  “Keep away from them.”


Why?  Because the company you keep matters.  If you don’t choose your friends wisely, Satan will be glad to choose some for you.  Satan knows that one of the best ways to lead you astray is to put people in your life who will pull you over to his side.


Paul gave a similar warning in his letter to the Corinthians when he said:


“Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33b).


How can you know who’s “bad company”?  By studying not just what they’re teaching, but by studying their character as well.  Paul alludes to this when he talked about the motives of those who might try to lead the Romans astray.  Paul said:  “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.”


Although it’s not always apparent right away, a little study can go a long way in determining someone’s true motives, whether they’re doing what they’re doing to serve the Lord Christ, or to serve their own appetites.


It makes me think of a girl who falls in love with a boy just because he tells her, “You’re beautiful.  I love you.  And I want to do something special to make you happy.”  All his smooth talk and flattery may work in his favor, but it may not work in hers.  If the girl were wise, she would study not only the words that were being spoken, but the motives of the person who is speaking those words.


If we’re wise, we’ll do the same: anytime someone tries to speak something into our lives that runs contrary to what we’ve already learned, we need to study not only the words that are being spoken, but the motives of the person who is speaking those words.


I think it’s interesting to note that leading up to this warning about “bad characters,” Paul begins the chapter by listing some good ones, people that Paul knew personally in Rome, and what made them noteworthy or admirable. For instance, he said:


“I commend to you our sister Phoebe… for she has been a great help to many people, including me.


“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them… 


“Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.


“Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you” (Romans 16:1a,2b,5b,6).


The list goes on and on, as Paul commends to them person after person:


“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.


“Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord.


“Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.


“Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ… 


“Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord… 


“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:7-10a,12a,13).


If you want to learn something about a person, a personal recommendation like this goes a long way.


In choosing a doctor one time, Lana and I talked with a friend who worked for a doctor.  Our friend told us that when the doctor she worked for needed a doctor, he chose a particular man in town, having seen his practice long enough and knowing his character was strong enough that he trusted this other doctor with his own life.  Now that was a recommendation that was worth following.


Contrast this with another doctor we went to visit who, with his smooth talk and flattery, almost convinced us to come to him.  But  when we went home and looked into his life and practice a little more, we found out that his credentials weren’t quite as good as what he made us believe and that the number of complaints against him by others convinced us to go elsewhere.


This isn’t to say that we might not be led astray at times by a personal recommendation, too, but many times, if we’ll take the extra effort to study the person as well as what they’re trying to teach us, we can save ourselves from being led astray.


Third, Paul concludes his warning with these words: “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”


Paul was full of joy over the obedience of the Romans.  Everyone had heard about it, he said, and he didn’t want anyone to take that away from them.  “Be wise about what is good,” he said, “and innocent about what is evil.”


Again, these are similar to words he wrote in his letter to the Corinthians:


“In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Corinthians 14:20b).


Paul wanted the Romans, and the Corinthians, to put their minds to work, being wise about what was good.  At the same time, he wanted them to be like children in regards to evil, having nothing to do with it, and being as innocent as possible.


What’s the end result of all of this?  As Paul said at the end of his warning:  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”


With all the work that goes into renewing your mind, be sure to keep it renewed by being wise about what is good, and innocent of evil.  Study the teaching of those around you-and the character of those teaching it-before allowing their teachings into your mind.  As you protect your mind, God will protect you, and keep Satan at bay.


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for reminding us to stay true to what we’ve been taught about You and Your Word.  Help us to study deeply any ideas, and the people behind those ideas, that are presented to us that conflict with what we’ve already heard from You.  Help us be wise and innocent so we can keep our minds pure.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


P.S.  Last week, I mentioned the importance of enlisting others in praying for you.  I wanted to remind you again this week that if you don’t have someone to pray with you, or if you’d just like to get some additional prayers from believers who love to pray, we have a special prayer page set up on our website where you can post your prayer.  Although we’re not able to respond in person to all of the prayer requests that come in, we do have about 275 volunteers who have signed up to receive these prayer requests each day and who are glad to pray for you and your needs.  To post a prayer request, or to read the requests of others and pray for them, too, please visit:
Prayer Requests


Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 16:1-20.  What are some of the words that Paul uses to describe those whom he trusts in Rome, compared to the words he uses to describe those who might be trying to deceive their minds?
2. Can you think of some times when you’ve been led astray by smooth talkers who’ve been serving their own selfish interests?
3. Can you think of other times when you’ve been blessed by the wisdom and personal recommendations of true friends?
4. What are some ways this week that you can “be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil”?


To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:

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Mankind Resists

Prejudice (Revised)

Lenten Journey Day 8; Temptation Free – Tanka

*image source:

29-Feb-12:  Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,

and serve only him.’ ”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

This Day’s Thought From Wednesday

This Day's Thought

Prayer Requests

Satan sometimes suggests that an offering will satisfy God, when in fact He is demanding our all.

Corrie ten Boom

This Day's Verse

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord- who is the Spirit- makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18
The New Living Translation

This Day's Smile

God warns us that seeking our own brand of contentment apart from Him is futile, for “the bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.”

Marsha Crockett

Whom Heaven Lost

 I am what you see
an angel whom heaven lost
for all of my eternity
its glory is the cost

‘Cause I was blinded by
the brightness of his light
when Lucifer his battle cry
I raised my sword to fight

When the angels with Gabriel
and Michael took their stand
by their righteousness we fell
and were cast from the land

When it was just for show
what a dumb fool I was
I really didn’t want to go
and for jealousy all because

“The Angel of Light should be
just as worshipped and adored
as the God of eternity
is praised as Almighty Lord”

So damned to hell am I
but as I pass inbetween
 it’s unto the Father I cry
“May these prayers my spirit redeem!”

Teresa Marie   8/20/11

Look Into My Eyes

Look into my eyes

There do you see

That you I despise

In the darkness of me

The things that I hide

Hate, greed and envy

The evil that’s inside

Of not just only me

I am always waiting

For you to be

The one they’re hating

As a mortal enemy

For it lurks there

Wanting to be free

And make you into where

You’re as evil as me!

 Teresa Marie  8/19/11




My Saturday Thoughts – Demons Among Us

Ever since the fall of Lucifer and his angels, ever since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden, we have been subject to the attacks of the demon world.  Have you ever done something that you knew you shouldn’t and later wondered, “Why in the world did I do that?”, because it was totally out of character for you?  I believe that we commit some sins because of demonic influences.  Other sins that we have committed are purely out of rebellion, but where does that tendency for rebellion stem from?

I’m not, by any means, trying to say the old Flip Wilson line of, “The devil made me do it!”  That is a cop-out.  Ultimately it is our choice to perform an act of any sort.  All I’m trying to put out there for your consideration is this, be wary!  As the Bible tells us, “the adversary looks to and fro for whom he can devour”, or something like that. 

The only way that Satan can have his “kingdom” and be “worshipped” is to influence us into sinning against God.  But, as a countermeasure, we have His grace and the offer of redemption from the Son.  When we do sin, by the death of our Lord Jesus, we have forgiveness and may be reconciled with our Father.  It is all a matter of choice, free will. 

What we have to realize and be on constant guard about is the demons among us.  If we could see the spiritual world around us like we do this everyday one, it would terrify us into paralysis.  We would be too scared to function and that’s probably why we can’t. 

It is not something that we often think about or even believe in today’s society but I’m here to tell you that Satan and his demons are a real as you and me.  I have seen them.  I have felt the evil and hatred that is the very essence of hell.  I was terrorized by them momentarily, but I quickly remembered that we have the God-given power over them through Christ Jesus.  By His blood, through His death and resurrection, hell does not have the ultimate power over the human race.  But, as Father Lucas said in the movie “The Rite”, “Choosing to not believe in the devil doesn’t protect you from him.”  I do more than believe that he’s real, I know it for a fact.  Which do you choose, belief or unbelief?  Think about it ’cause eternity never ends!

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

Humbly yours,
Teresa Marie

My Friday Thoughts – Possession By A Devil

To possess money is very well; it may be a most valuable servant; to be possessed by it is to be possessed by a devil, and one of the meanest and worst kinds of devils.

Tryon Edwards

Possession and exorcism – that is what was on my mind this morning when I opened my e-mail to find this quote.  Once again I wondered at the appropriate and timely nature of it.

Last night I rented the movie “The Rite” with Anthony Hopkins.  Any horror movie with him playing in it is scary to me ever since “Silence of The Lambs“.  The fact that this was based on a true story even made it worse.  And the worst part of all, with me being raised in the Catholic Church, was that I totally believe in demonic possession as a literal thing and the Rite of Exorcism.  To see it so realistically and graphically portrayed haunted my thoughts for an hour afterwards.  I also found myself praying in the Spirit often as I viewed it.  And all of that pushed my thinking towards this:

In the movie it was stated how many more reports the church had recently (in context with the movie) received.  As it is my opinion that the world is growing darker with every passing year, this was not hard for me to believe.  And the thing that concerns me about the gist of the movie in relation to everyday reality is that, as with the priest that was given to Anthony Hopkins’ character to train, people don’t believe in the devil, demons or possession anymore.  That’s good business for them and very, very bad for us!  As a direct result of the anti-religious belief system, the rise of atheism and Satanism, the runaway abortion rate, etc.  that we are now facing throughout the world, we have given Satan and his horde free reign on this earth to deceive us and pillage our very souls thereby condemning them to  hell for eternity!

I don’t know about you, but I believe it is real because the Bible says that it is so.  As Christians, we are to believe what the Bible tells us is the truth and not what the enemy says it is.  How do you know?  Prayer and spending time with God.  I will expound on this tomorrow as it is too hot up here to continue with this for today.  Until then…

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

In His love,
Teresa Marie

My Thursday Thoughts – Closer Is He

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears,
and Spirit with Spirit can meet-
Closer is He than breathing,
and nearer than hands and feet.

Alfred Tennyson

This was on my e-mail today.  It is more true than we could ever know and we fail to see it every second of the day.  With many of us, we speak to Him when we need something from Him and then forget He is there the rest of the time.

The Father created us to commune with Him.  He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  They fellowshipped together.  That has not changed in a million years, or however long ago He created us.  He does not change, ever!  God still wants only to spend time with us.  It’s us who have changed. 

In my opinion, when we fell from Grace and were cast out of the Garden, it broke God’s heart but He had no choice.  We were no longer innocent and couldn’t be trusted.  Therefore, our bond with Him was damaged but not broken.  I think that we have been striving ever since to reclaim it.  That is why we have this ingrained desire to know God.  It’s why we go on these spiritual quests to find the meaning behind life itself.  But there is one big problem, a wall has been erected between us.

When we fell into temptation, we gave Satan power over us and our world.  He does everything that he can to keep us from finding our way back.  He wants to be a god, or rather to be God Almighty.  He wants a throne right up there with Christ Himself.  He believes that he also should be worshipped and adored.  That’s not going to happen in heaven so he needs to keep us away from God and damned for eternity with him in hell. 

Therefore, he keeps us so busy, worried, and involved with this world and its cares that we don’t spend time with our Father.  For a majority of us “believers”, we don’t think about talking to Him until there is an emergency, then we run to Him!  We cry and plead and beg for His help.  We shake our fist at Him and accuse Him of not caring about us.  Then, after He does something to help us out of the situation or heals our sickness, we go on our busy way and forget about Him until the next time.

When we accuse God or Jesus of being unfaithful and not caring about us, I’ll bet They would like to wring our necks!  We are such a selfish, ungrateful, belligerent species.  We have turned our backs on Him so badly in this world we now live that it’s no wonder we are having all of these major catastrophic events going on.  Why should He help or protects us?  (Of course I am talking in broad terms and not personally because He has protected me and mine!) 

But that’s just me talking out of my human nature but, thanks be to Him, God is not like us nor does He think the way we do.  Our LORD is faithful, it is us who are not.  We need to realize that He is always there with us, “closer than breathing”.  Reach out and touch Him today.

Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!

With the love of Christ,
Teresa Marie