If I asked you if it was ok to break fellowship with someone, what would you say? I can imagine part of you would say, "well, no. We should be kind and love all men." and part of you might think, "yes, if they believe differently."
In this part of Romans, Paul says it is ok to break fellowship (and you should) with a very specific type of person. Is it the scary, tattooed, intimidating biker-looking people? Nope. Is it really angry, violent people? Nope. It's not criminals or even non-believers. Paul says "mark" them and avoid those that are really good speakers and eloquent preachers who spread false doctrine which adds to the gospel. He says it will divide the church and drive weaker brethren away, thus avoid it at all cost.
What would this false doctrine contain? Adding works to salvation; you must be baptized, you must speak in tongues to be saved, etc. Paul says the result of adding to doctrine is that people will be divided--despising and judging one another and refusing communion with brothers. He clearly encourages believers to divide from them before they divide you.
So for us the application is to be on guard for those who add or subtract from the gospel. It may be a preacher, a website, or even a college, but if it is preaching a different salvation, mark it and avoid it right away.
Food for Thought: Read Romans 16:17-20. Should we separate from someone else? What biblical reason does Paul give for this view?
Amber AllenMy Wife and Best FriendAmber and I have been working together in youth ministry since 2008. We have two beautiful children - Graham and Cecelia.