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19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.


19 For your obedience has become known to all.

Following a warning about false teachers, Paul commended the Roman church for their “obedience” to the faith. They had not succumbed to false teachers. This was a well-known fact. 

Therefore I am glad on your behalf;

Paul was glad that the Roman church stood solid in the truth of the Word of God.

but I want you to be wise in what is good,

Paul now laid out a policy about those who teach false doctrine (vv. 17-18). It is not wise to pursue false teaching, but it is prudent to be wise about biblical truth. The church should not mix truth with error.

Believers are to fill their minds with true teaching from the Word of God. This would help the Roman church to be “wise in what is good.”

and simple [unmixed, pure] concerning evil.

Still speaking of the false teachers of the previous verses, Paul told the Romans that it was not necessary to acquaint themselves fully with false teachings. The “evil” is anything contrary to biblical truth.

The word “simple” means pure, unmixed. The Greek used this term for wine not diluted with water. It is not necessary for the church to become sophisticated about evil. The word “simple” in normal English conveys the idea of the unsuspecting. The “simple” that God requires describes someone who is unmixed about truth. It is not necessary to be sophisticated about evil. It is necessary to be sophisticated about the “good.” We turn our attention to the Word of God to correct this. It is imperative to carry a system of priorities that puts primacy on what is important and diminishes what is not.

Mt 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

1 Co 14:20, Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.

Phil 2:15, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,


Adherence to truth displaces evil.


The application of biblical principles to experience will overcome false teaching in those who are biblically naive. The best way to deal with evil is to become familiar with truth. Having wisdom about what is good presupposes knowledge of what is good. Wisdom is more than knowledge; it also includes application of knowledge to experience. This is something far beyond book knowledge. This wisdom goes beyond the simple-mindedness that is susceptible to false teaching.

We recognize a phony hundred-dollar bill by studying the genuine bill. The only way to reliably deal with falsehood is to study the Bible. The best way to be innocent about evil is to disregard it.

Most people spend a great deal of time watching television. They can tell us what is happening in the world and in their country, but they are ignorant of the great principles of the Word. We wonder why we lack the power of the Word of God on our lives. We need to understand the criteria that belong solely to God. Good habits displace bad ones. We need the good habit of studying God’s Word to avoid evil lifestyles.