“But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissentions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes division (Titus 3:9-10 NRSV).
“I appeal to you brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement” (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV).
Satan’s Weapons for Sowing Divisions in the Body
Simply put, and from a Christian perspective, division is anything thing that distracts us from faithfully following Christ – money, a day, some leader or worldly things, these can become forms of idolatry. The spirit of division is so rampant among Christians that many of us walk in hatred and not love. I would like to emphasize, as in previous articles, obedience to Christ is evidenced in the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and not just the gifts. The fruits come first and it is proof enough to augment the gifts.
As it is, divisions are Satan’s most successful weapon. He weakens our work and the body of Christ through divisions and this is where countless souls are being led astray. Some of the weapons that Satan uses include: the Scriptures (Matthew 4:5-7); he uses church leaders (Number 16; 1 Corinthians 3:1-8); he uses money and worldly things (Matthew 4:8-9); he uses our evil desires, (Genesis 3:6); he uses jealousies and strife (1 Corinthians 3:3); he uses pride and boasting in man and worldly things (1 Corinthians 1:31); and he uses demonic spirits (Acts 16:16-18; Ephesians 6:11). The principle behind divisions is to deceive, control and destroy unsuspecting people (John 10:10). This is a wicked act of Satan and his agents who can be human or demonic. The spirit of division will always take Christ out of the picture and make some other object the focus. In addressing some common concerns among Christians and especially points sensitive to some people, the apostle Paul said, “…the substance (or what matter) belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).
How Do We Overcome the Spirit of Division?
I am going to use my own experience and that of our ministry with the Lord to try to explain. You may judge my motive whether it is to divide or to unite in Christ. In repentance, we accept Jesus as our Lord and He is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Therefore after accepting Christ the work of the church is to build us up in Him. He is the purpose of our unity and faith (Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 2:21-22). Therefore, every motive and doctrine must be based on this premise: does it lead to unity and obedience to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31)? If it is control and pursuit of some doctrine outside Christ, then the motive is to promote sectarianism and a display of ‘superiority’; this is what the apostle Paul warned the Corinthian church about (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Furthermore, when our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles gave us instructions to holy living, they did so to help us build up the inner attitude (Matthew 15:11; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:5-17). The spirit of division is broken through the uniting force of love (Colossians 3:14). When we as believers first came to the Lord, we heard that He loves us and as sinners He would forgive us if we believe in the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Experiences of Unity in Our Ministry
Please bear with me brethren, I am aware that I did mention in previous articles how I came to the Lord. For the purpose of this article I will briefly relate to my conversion experience. Remember our message is unity and to root out division. When I grew up as a child, I was sent to church by my parents. I had no relationship with God, so I just obeyed my parents. Although I did not understand the things I was taught in the church, I believed there was a God who created us.
As time progressed, I stopped attending church and made my own decisions. I was witnessed to by many people and I even questioned why there are so many churches. They could not really answer me and honestly, many people also use this as an excuse not to serve the Lord. They point to this as a division and they claim confusion. This is true to a certain extent; I say so because each person has the responsibility to inquire the truth from God Himself (Romans 1:18-21). Because we are by nature sinners, we totally ignore God’s message of salvation and use the spirit of division as an excuse not to obey (Romans 1:28-32).
I had no contact with any church-going person and found myself among people who practiced the same wrong things I did. Because there was no measure for my conscience, I just continued in sin like the above Scripture says, until one day, and out of curiosity, I came across a copy of a Gideon New Testament Bible. I started reading it in my free time, not to know God, but to understand for myself what the Bible actually says. I read each book of the New Testament in this pocket-sized Bible. Prior to reading the Bible, I never had dreams about God, but this started to happen and my attention was arrested to read more. I started to feel ashamed of my ways, and I realized that I needed God’s love. I was also gripped with fear for God; this especially bothered me when I read the book of Revelation. I wanted to be saved to escape the things written in this Book. I prayed and I inquired from people around me about a church. I wanted someone to take me to church because I was shy; I am naturally a shy person. I have confidence in Christ only!
Anyway, since there was no one, I stayed home and continued reading the Bible and I went on my knees and accepted the Lord in my room. Later on I was told by a colleague about a Full Gospel Church in my area. Since they were having services at night, I went to check it out. I liked the fellowship and decided to attend services there every night. I was just happy serving the Lord and reading the Bible and witnessing to others this great love and truth. The point I am making and in relation to our message today is that I only became fully aware of the divisions in the body of Christ when I started witnessing to people. They discouraged me through the various things I was told that I was not observing. I loved the Lord and I surely experienced His joy. I had a simple faith in Christ, doing and believing what the Bible says. But when I was pointed to doctrinal issues, I became discouraged and confused. My faith was shaken and I needed answers from those who served the Lord before me. I went to another church hoping to find answers, as well as reading every book that attempted to address the subject. This carried on for a few months until I was introduced to a very knowledgeable friend. This brother was an ordained minister of the Gospel, and I admired his Bible knowledge. He spotted my vulnerability and confusion in the Scriptures and I viewed his opinion as sacrosanct. I thank God that He enabled me to learn a lot through this brother; I loved him and still do, but he displayed bad fruit, and that was to control me and make me think like him. Brethren, I have shared this brief testimony to show how we can get confused and fall away from the truth. We in return take this state of confusion and spread it to the body of Christ and so we ignite the flame of division leading to further weakening of the body. Many ‘fathers’ of denominations expressed an interest in a particular set of scriptures and either deny or disprove certain Bible truths. This leads to followers of man and Christ is abandoned. This is the spirit of division, when we divide the word of God and decide what we ought to believe and what is irrelevant to believe. In contrast, the entire Word of God is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16) and useful for our salvation.
As a ministry, we grow out of a prayer group coming from various denominations. We set aside ‘denominational loyalty’ and focus on Christ Jesus and His Lordship. We concentrate on what He wants us to do. And as we come together and meet in His name, we focus on worship, praise, prayer, fellowship, testimony, the ministry of the Word, discipline through rebukes for wrong actions, and the furtherance of the Lord’s command of soul winning. As a local body, Christ is the centre of our lives, and we are God’s temple through the indwelling Holy Spirit. As we focus on Christ and the work we are called to do, unity of purpose in Christ is seen and He is glorified. Also, of all the messages the Lord gives us to communicate to you, He expresses no approval of any particular church or doctrine, but He concentrates instead on our relationship with Him and holy living. He warns us to focus on Him and what the Bible teaches.
May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and complete your salvation in Him.