"Paul said that these false teachers (Romans 16:17,18) are effective in deceiving believers. They're effective for two reasons: (1) These false teachers are very effective communicators -- 'They use smooth and flattering speech to deceive people;' ... (2) Believers aren't paying attention. Believers are unsuspecting ... They're [the false teachers] using smooth and flattering speech. They have personal magnetism about them. Our attention gets turned away from what they are saying to how they are saying it, to the impression they are making with their own personality. And when we are put in that situation, we turn our attention from the content of what is being taught, and ... we open ourselves up to be deceived and turned away from our purity and devotion to Jesus Christ.
"Now, one of the ways that believers get deluded is they begin to focus on what they agree with in false teaching, but what is at issue is what we disagree with ... Many believers are being deluded today [in this way] ... In such a debate [with false teachers], we have to be sure to focus on what we disagree on ... we have to be very careful as we are exposed to false teachers.
" ... If we're talking about it being the power of God that establishes us, how do believers get deceived? Did God's power not work for them? ... You must understand the means of God's power -- 'according to my Gospel ' ... The Gospel of God is the message of Jesus Christ. He is the subject of that message ... The Gospel includes everything related to His death, burial, and resurrection ... The whole book of Romans is a detailed presentation of the Gospel ... God's power always works in the context of His Gospel, His revealed Word ... That is true not only in the initial salvation of the lost, but the ongoing salvation that the believer experiences [i.e., progressive sanctification] ... God's power does not work in the life of God's child -- to establish them, to firmly plant them, to strengthen them -- apart from the ministry of the Word of God in that life. If you are not being regularly exposed and taught and saturated with the Word of God, then God's power will not operate to establish you, and you will become a prey to satanic deception.
"I hope you have this underlined in your Bible -- 'There will also be false teachers among you.' He doesn't say maybe. We're not talking about the [cults] ... we're talking about those that rise from within the Church of Jesus Christ and promote false doctrine. 'They will secretly introduce destructive heresies' (2 Peter 2:1). How can you secretly introduce a destructive heresy among believers? Well, you present it under the guise of being truth to believers who are unsuspecting. You present it very cleverly, very smoothly ...
"We [the Church] are more concerned with our feelings and our experiences than we are with the Truth of God ... You better be looking for a place where the Word is believed and taught. That's what the Church is; it's the pillar and support of the truth ... Are you looking for friends or are you looking for the truth? We want to corrupt and twist the Church to make it what people want ... Come to the church that believes and teaches the truth! ... God's power does not operate apart from God's Word ... If Satan wants to disrupt the work of God in your life, what does he do? -- attack the Word, so that the power of God does not work ... You could never have been saved apart from the Word of God, and you ought to understand, you can never grow, you can never be firmly planted as a child of God, unless you are constantly, constantly taking in the diet of the pure milk of the Word of God ... We must have that imbedded in our hearts and minds. Never be satisfied, never tolerate anything else, than a ministry that is focused in its entirety on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
* Taken from a commentary on Romans 16:17-20 & 2 Peter 2:1-3, preached 12/15/91 (Gil Rugh).